This summer has seen performances by female actors that have fallen on both ends of the spectrum in terms of quality. Charlize Theron absolutely kicked ass in leading an army of femme fatales as Imperator Furiosa in the Mad Max remake. Meanwhile, movie goers were not-so-secretly rooting for Bryce Dallas Howard’s whiny, high-heeled Claire to become T-Rex chow in Jurassic World. In recent weeks, we got to see if Rachel McAdams could add some emotional punch to Jake Gylenhaal‘s boxing drama Southpaw and we’ll soon discover how Kate Mara holds her own as Susan Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot.
Actresses have long had to endure a tougher road to Hollywood success than their male counterparts, with roles that typically become sparse as women venture past their twenties and into what Tinseltown considers middle age. In May, AlterNet posted a fascinating blog that laid out seven ways Hollywood unfairly discards ‘aging’ actresses that included women who are cast as the parents of barely younger actors and men who get older while their girlfriends remain the same age.
As is the case with men, there are talented female actors and those who we’d probably rather not see on the big or small screen, as this summer has shown us. Females don’t have to be attractive to reel us in (I don’t think anyone is compelled by Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren for their sex appeal), but if we’re being honest, it helps. Neither Jessica Alba nor Megan Fox are particularly good at acting, but I will gladly re-watch them in the Sin City and Transformers films, respectively, for their other, ahem, contributions.
Then, of course, there are some actresses who simply aren’t good. They have, at best, provided a major distraction to an otherwise enjoyable flick or, at worst, have wreaked havoc and ruined the otherwise promising vehicle that they somehow secured a role in. While guys have long been captivated by a strong female performance, these 10 actresses seem to stick around despite consistently failing to get it done.
10. Taylor Swift
Say what you will about her music (I, for one, am actually a big T-Swift fan), but Taylor Swift is an unquestionably talented singer and songwriter. Still, there’s something irksome about her need to lay a musical smack down on any beau who looks at her the wrong way. Not to mention her “wow, everyone is here to see me?” faux modest stage presence. She gets inclusion on this list of actresses because of her insufferable turn as Felicia, the gushy boyfriend of Taylor Lautner, in the ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day.
9. Katherine Heigl
After her breakthrough as Dr. Izzie Stevens on the smash hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl took over the rom-com genre in the late-2000s. Between 2007 and 2010, she starred in Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Killers, and Life As We Know It, all as the female lead. Somewhere along the line, the anti-Heigl backlash began, drawing attention to her diva rep on the set of Grey’s and her icy relationship with male comedy icons Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen. It also became difficult to separate the actress from the uptight character she always seemed to play.
8. Jennifer Lopez
Somewhere along the line, the scales tipped for Jennifer Lopez. Where J-Lo was once a sexy, dynamic and talented performer with what was maybe a slight diva complex, she has turned the page to a point where her looks and presence simply don’t make up for some of her reported behind the scenes behavior. On top of feuds with fellow American Idol judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, Lopez displayed a laughable lack of self awareness with the hit single “Jenny from the Block”. On screen, she followed up a promising career start that included Selena and U Turn with unwatchable chick flicks like The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Monster-In-Law and, of course, Gigli.
7. Rumer Willis
It’s unclear when precisely Rumer Willis became a Hollywood starlet of her own accord. The daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore didn’t seem to inherit any of her parents’ looks or acting chops, although their status as A-listers (one-time A-listers, anyway) did help a young Rumer land roles in their vehicles Now and Then, Striptease and The Whole Nine Yards. Unfortunately, she isn’t precocious anymore and hasn’t had a memorable role since. Instead, she has parlayed her ‘fame’ into a guest spot on season 20 of Dancing With the Stars, which she would go on to win.
6. Tori Spelling
Nepotism also helped launch the career of Tori Spelling, daughter of legendary (and late) TV producer Aaron Spelling. Through her dad, a 17-year-old Tori was able to land the plum role of Donna Martin in the 90s hit show Beverly Hills, 90210, where she easily became the least-liked character on the iconic teen drama series. With roles unsurprisingly sparse after the show ended, Tori anchored her own satirical sitcom, So Notorious, which played up her less-than-stellar reputation and lasted all of 10 episodes. Spelling eventually married actor Dean McDermott, with whom she has starred on numerous exploitative reality shows.
5. Hilary Swank
Tori Spelling wasn’t the only annoying actress to grace the set of Beverly Hills, 90210. It is, however, more difficult to explain the unlikability of Hilary Swank, who overcame an impoverished childhood to become a two-time Oscar winner. As Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry and Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby, she dug deep to tackle interesting, multi-faceted roles. Still, her characters seem to share a similar need to be “one of the guys” that makes her awfully tough to like, which may explain her surprisingly limited opportunities since her last Best Actress trophy in 2004.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
As far as we know, Gwyneth Paltrow has never committed adultery or domestic abuse. Still, she managed to finish ahead of Jesse James and Chris Brown on a 2013 Star! list of most hated celebrities. More than any one movie role (although she is unbearable as Pepper Potts in the “Iron Man” series), Paltrow earns our scorn for her recent, self-appointed turn as a lifestyle/nutrition/fashion/travel/parenting expert and author. Her efforts to showcase a relatable, every-woman persona produced a hilarious list of ridiculous quotes and only served to make her seem more elitist.
3. Rosie O’Donnell
Believe it or not, there once was a time when Rosie O’Donnell was popular and well-liked as the star of The Rosie O’Donnell Show, a daytime talk show. Since then, though, O’Donnell has come to be defined more for her loud, outspoken nature as a panelist on The View than as a comedian and entertainer. She has made a host of enemies over the years in targeting the NRA, the Catholic church and the George W. Bush-led Republican party, even creating tension with fellow View panelists Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters. In 2006, she stooped to racist humor in using a series of “chings” and “chongs” to imitate newscasters in China.
2. Maggie Gyllenhaal
Released in 2008, The Dark Knight was a tour de force blockbuster best known for Heath Ledger‘s haunting (and tragic) portrayal of The Joker and Christopher Nolan‘s brilliantly meaty story, not to mention a box office that surpassed $1 billion worldwide. Remarkably, Nolan’s epic was almost ruined by a supporting player who is (spoiler alert) killed off halfway through. Maggie Gylenhaal‘s Rachel Dawes was so grating and obnoxious that it was hard to muster much sympathy for Bruce Wayne’s erstwhile love interest when she was killed by The Joker. Even Katie Holmes, hardly a great actress, fared better in the role of Dawes in 2005’s Batman Begins.
1. Sarah Jessica Parker
It’s been called the ‘SJP Divide’, the typically, gender-defined gap between people who find her endearing and attractive (typically women) and people who can’t see what the fuss is about (mostly men). Those who defend Sarah Jessica Parker will typically point to her wardrobe as her defining trait, choosing to ignore her rather horse-like facial features and opting, instead, to align her with her famous Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw. Although she’s left the limelight in the time since the show wrapped with movies in 2008 and 2010, her bony features still emerge from time to time, as in a 2014 guest spot on Glee.