When I interviewed Bill Nighy last year, three things seemed to stand out about the man. One, he shakes hands with only the front part of three fingers like I have to imagine witches do. Two, he had a greater sense of humor about himself than anyone else I’ve ever met. Three, he was insanely, effortlessly cool.
He continues to exude both coolness and the self-effacing grace that makes him such a charismatic personality (aside from the willingness to star in serious work and movies about werewolves fighting vampires) by claiming that he can’t stand the experience of watching movies that he’s in. He, like most actors who have thrown out that claim in the past, seems completely put off by seeing himself on screen. Hardly an original claim, but one that rings true for anyone who has ever seen a bad photo of themselves (be they regional theater actors or international film stars).
So I decided to make a list. Because that’s what I do when I’m not watching hours upon hours of video footage of myself.
It would have been too easy to make a list of actors like Eddie Murphy and poke fun at people who have already fallen so far off the pedestal that they are Fure-esque easy targets. So, no friends, I’ve decided to aim a little higher by focusing on brilliant actors who should probably walk by a few of their own releases while browsing their local laser disc rental facility. In short, Great Actors in Bad Movies.
I realize that the actors featured have had long enough careers to statistically make a few duds once in a while, but these films are pretty unforgivable.
And here we…..go:
The Resume: The Silence of the Lambs, Titus, Shadowlands, The Road to Wellville, Oscar win, countless nominations, classic Shakespearean training, being called Sir
The Rest: Besides being stuck in the role of Hannibal Lecter so much that he was in Hannibal, Hopkins and his impressive talent might want to skip out on Bad Company, Alexander, Proof, The Human Stain, Fracture and (as much as people seem in denial about its sucking) Magic.
The Resume: Leaving Las Vegas, Rumble Fish, Raising Arizona, Oscar win, Guarding Tess, The Rock, Adaptation, Matchstick Men, you not believing I could come up with that many solid Nic Cage performances
The Rest: Your favorite bit player from Fast Times at Ridgemont High has had a long career, and in that time has made some beautiful movies, but it seems like that era is over (unless you count The Bad Lieutenant, which I do). While some might argue that Con Air and Face/Off are the beginning of the end, I truly feel like Cage should simply avoid his filmography past 2004 when National Treasure landed. Add to that pile The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider, Next, another National Treasure, Bangkok Dangerous and Knowing and the titles seem stacked against him. Especially when he’s threatening to make another Ghost Rider flick.
The Resume: 2 Oscar wins, Rain Man, Midnight Cowboy, Straw Dogs, Kramer vs Kramer, Tootsie, Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Neverland, Hook, The Graduate
The Rest: Probably a shorter list of bad films which include Racing Stripes, Meet the Fockers, Sphere, and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Hoffman also has the pleasure of being in one of the worst films of all time – Ishtar.
The Resume: Do The Right Thing, The Entire Coen Catalog, Quiz Show, Rounders, The Good Shepherd
The Rest: Such a great list of films, and all of us are mentally adding in every great Coen performance (like, say, Barton Fink and Big Lebowski). In fact, it’s a great enough list to make you believe that you really shouldn’t fuck with the Jesus. But the Jesus gets fucked with. Oh, yes he does. Movies like Secret Window, Summer of Sam, Monkeybone, Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, two Transformers flicks (I had to put them somewhere), Miracle at St. Anna and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.
The Resume: Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club, The Color Purple, King of New York, Boyz n The Hood, The Matrix, Mystic River, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Oscar nomination
The Rest: This was a difficult pick. Not because he hasn’t made that many bad movies (because he has), but because I had no idea on which list to put the other two Matrix movies and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. However, firmly in the avoidable section, Cowboy Curtis has Death Wish 2, School Daze, Event Horizon, Osmosis Jones, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and 21.
The Resume: Hear me out – School Ties, Dazed and Confused, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting, Boiler Room, Smokin’ Aces, Extract (just for his performance), Hollywoodland, Oscar win (that doesn’t count)
The Rest: I figured I’d have to prove Affleck was a solid actor at this point in his career rather than worry about what drags him down, but despite delivering some strong performances in great movies (be fair) this guy seems to be the king of bad movies. Although his list seems as long as the others’, they are impressively awful. Hold your breath: Armageddon, Phantoms, Pearl Harbor, Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, and He’s Just Not That Into You. Still with us? Still breathing? Thank God.
Editor’s Note: This list was lovingly brainstormed by Robert Fure, Kevin Carr, Neil Miller, Brian Gibson, and Brian Salisbury.