Scott Pilgrim’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead Reveals Why She Almost Quit Acting

Mary Elizabeth Winstead blue hair in Scott Pilgrim vs the world

Mary Elizabeth Winstead has made a name for herself in the acting world with cool projects ranging from films like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Birds of Prey to TV’s very own Fargo. However, there was a time when Winstead very nearly quit acting and she vividly recalled why in a lengthy interview.

Speaking To Sam Jones as part of The Off Camera Show, Mary Elizabeth Winstead made the surprising reveal that there was a time she almost didn’t continue. It wasn’t as much of a confidence issue or one of not loving acting as much, but it was more about the stress of being an actress in general. She noted:

I had no idea. I was just kind of depressed. Like I can’t handle the stress of all of this. I can’t handle the stress of what it takes to be an actress, you know? So I was like, I just need to pick like a low stress job. I was having these fantasies of like, ‘I can work in a coffee shop. I could… maybe a bakery?’ Those were my big fantasies.

As Mary Elizabeth Winstead opened up about her personal stress, it’s also mentioned that work stress related to acting is “not really talked about” all that much in Hollywood, even as it’s clear that actors on sets often work long and weird hours to get the job done. From how the actress is talking, it seems to have been earlier in her career when she was considering quitting. If that's true, finances and wanting bigger and better jobs would likely compound other stressors considerably. Luckily, over time Winstead says she was able to talk to some of her other female friends in the industry and that’s what ultimately helped. And then her career boomed.

Elsewhere in the interview with Sam Jones for The Off Camera Show, the actress also talked about trying to put on a brave face, particularly during conversations with other actresses in Hollywood. She noted the difficulty of achieving your dream, becoming a household name and then complaining. How could she possibly do that when there were so many struggling actors and actresses out there?

I think you go through a lot of it, just kind of repressing that stress. You’re like, ‘Everything’s great, everything’s fine. Everything’s fine. Nothing bothers me.’ And then one day it just kind of hits you in the face. You know, where you have to acknowledge [the stress]. …There’s a stigma about complaining about work, I guess because it’s so hard to do what we do and it’s a dream for so many people. You feel like you don’t have the right to complain about anything.

Nothing in life worth having generally comes easily and that’s true of building a brand in Hollywood. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is more successful than most and was making headlines twice this year thanks to her role in the female anti-hero film Birds of Prey, in which she played Huntress. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was also a major topic of conversation over the (mostly) movie-less summer when the Edgar Wright flick hit its 10th anniversary. She ended up appearing in “Scott Pilgrim vs the World Water Crisis,” reprising her role as Ramona Flowers.

As it turns out, Mary Elizabeth Winstead did not quit acting in order to learn to make latte art. Next up we’ll see her in another badass role in Kate, a flick from Cedric Nicolas-Troyan which will feature the actress playing an assassin who gets poisoned and has 24 hours to seek vengeance before her ultimate end. Like so many films in 2020, that one’s heading straight to Netflix. While we wait, you can take a look at what all is hitting the subscription streamer coming up with our Netflix schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.