While promoting their new movie, Cloud Atlas, both Hugo Weaving and Tom Hanks have contrasted its acting challenges (both tackle multiple roles) with past work they’re less proud of. Weaving singled out his voice-acting as Megatron in Michael Bay’s Transformers series. “I didn’t care about it, I didn’t think about it,” he said in an interview. “I don’t regret doing it, but I very rarely do something if it’s meaningless. It was meaningless to me, honestly.” Bay responded defensively by encouraging “all those whiners” (co-stars Megan Fox and Shia Labeouf have also belittled their work on the series) to donate their salaries to a charity.
Some people have little sympathy for those who complain about a role that may have earned them millions of dollars. But there are occasions when actors should feel free to look back and publicly concede the silliness of some of their past endeavors—without earning any backlash from the public or scorn from prior collaborators. Herewith, a guide to belittling your previous work.