Some people think that if there’s a role or a performance that the public will never forget, that experience must be the same for the actor or actress who played it, too.
Oddly, this isn’t the case. There are several reasons behind these performers’ amnesia, but there’s no arguing that these 10 actors are never going to remember filming their most memorable roles – at least not in the way we remember viewing them.
1. Raven-Symone on The Cosby Show
Raven-Symone played Olivia on The Cosby Show between the ages of 4 and 6 but has no memory of filming episodes at all.
She told The View:
“I don’t remember a scene. I don’t remember anything while it’s a rehearsal or a camera. I do not remember as soon as the cameras start. Something clicks off, and I do what I’m trained to do.”
She’s since explored the issue in therapy.
“When I turned 18, I knew something was going on, so I started going to therapy, and it’s disassociation. I just black out, I turn into who I’m supposed to be when the camera is on, and then, I come back to when normal life resumes.”
If you’re curious, she does have at least one great relationship from her Cosby days – she and Malcolm Jamal Warner, who played Theo, remain very close.
2. John Boyega in Small Axe
A key scene in the anthology series Small Axe – which won Boyega a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 2020 – is missing completely from the actor’s mind.
In it, Boyega played real-life British police officer Leroy Logan as he discovered racist graffiti scrawled across his police locker.
Boyega talked about his lack of memory with Radio Times:
“I don’t remember filming that scene. I just remember fuming and being angry. I didn’t see the locker room or the locker door until those cameras were rolling. So that reaction was all natural to the character and the choices I thought he would make.”
3. Ethan Embry in Can’t Hardly Wait
Ok, so this one disappoints me a little, since the movie is a favorite of this 80s baby – but Ethan Embry was so stoned during the making of Can’t Hardly Wait that he remembers nothing at all from the entire production.
In 2013, he confessed as much during an interview with VH1:
“At the time, when we were shooting that, I was the world’s biggest stoner. I remember the director came up to me and asked if I was ‘altered.’ But other than that, nothing sticks out because I was so stoned the entire time.”
When asked to recite a favorite quote from the film, he said “I haven’t seen the movie all the way through, and I was stoned. I never read the script.”
Honestly, he’s not even sure what it’s about.
4. Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future
It’s hard to believe that Michael J. Fox’s memory would be spotty on filming one of the most beloved trilogies of all time, but there you have it.
He explained why he thinks that is on Live with Kelly and Michael:
“When I did the movie, I was doing Family Ties at the same time. So I was doing Family Ties in the daytime and Back to the Future at night.
So a lot of it is a blur for me. I mean, I saw the movie, and I was like ‘Oh! That’s what we were doing?'”
He does remember filming the classic scene where his teenage mother is flirting with him and thought she pulled it off so perfectly.
5. Matthew Perry in Friends
Matthew Perry’s memory is spotty on entire series of the epic sitcom due to his addiction issues, which had tight hold of him at the time.
He told BBC radio host Chris Evans about it in an interview.
“I don’t remember three years of it. I was a little out of it at the time. Somewhere between seasons 3 and 6.
Perry is sober now and spends time giving back to other addicts in need.
He has told the Hollywood Reporter that his own relationship with Friends remains odd.
“When I was in big trouble, it was so public because I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching.”
6. Courteney Cox in Friends
Another Friends alum has similar issues, albeit for different reasons.
She confessed as much on Jimmy Kimmel.
“I don’t remember even being on the show. I have such a bad memory. I remember obviously loving everybody there and having fun, and I remember certain times in my life that I was there but I don’t remember episodes.”
Don’t worry, though, she’s binge watching the show now that’s it’s on streaming, and says “it’s really good!”
7. Colin Farrell in Miami Vice.
The actor says that Miami Vice was the last film he made while heavily using drugs and alcohol.
“I couldn’t remember a single frame of doing it. I was at the premiere and didn’t know what was happening next. But it was strange because I was in it.”
Farrell is sober now and devoted to raising his two children.
8. Malcolm McDowell in…everything.
British actor Malcom McDowell – famous for his roles in over 300 films, including A Clockwork Orange and Easy A – says in The Guardian he has no memory of doing most of his films.
“People stop me and say: ‘Oh, we loved you in blah-blah’ and I say ‘Sorry, that wasn’t me.’ And then they’ll show me on their phone or show me the DVD cover and sure enough, there I am. And I have no memory of doing it at all.”
300 is a lot of movies, though, and he does remember A Clockwork Orange (though not fondly). He thought the production and director Stanley Kubrick were “overbearing,” “brutal,” and “controlling.”
9. Frankie Muniz in Malcolm in the Middle.
This is perhaps the saddest story of the bunch. Muniz began playing Malcom when he was 15 and wrapped the final episode at age 20 – but he says he remembers almost none of it.
When appearing on Dancing with the Stars in 2017, Muniz revealed that after a series of concussions suffered as a child, he suffers from significant amnesia. In the interim he’s suffered at least 15 transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) – or mini strokes.
As he told Entertainment Weekly, though, he still has questions about his issues.
“Concussions don’t usually correlate with TIAs. The doctors did every test. A lot of times with TIAs, there’s a small hole in the heart that causes it. Clots go to the brain and you have a mini-stroke. I don’t have that hole.”
Muniz does his best to keep a positive attitude, and writes daily in a journal to help jog his memory, and his mother, along with his wife Paige, are a great support.
10. Brie Larson in Room.
Brie Larson won an Oscar for her performance in this riveting thriller, but she has no memory of filming the film’s pivotal scene – the one where her character is freed from captivity and is desperately searching for her son.
The Denver Post reported that she only remembers waking up the next day with bruises, and needed help from her coworkers to piece together what happened.
Apparently when the scene began, actors playing police officers charged Larson trying to wrap her in a coat. Then, Larson says she guesses she “was fighting them off and hitting them, and then I slipped and fell on the ice, and then, when I went to dive into the police car, I guess I hit my head.”
A concussion likely played a part in her memory loss.
What do you think about these claims? Does it make you feel badly for them? Do you think they feel strange watching the performance back now?
Let’s chat about it in the comments!