Hollywood is filled with all types of actors. From the stunningly beautiful to the heart-stoppingly handsome, the hysterical comedians to the poignantly dramatic. The fat, the skinny, the dorks and the chameleons. The comic relief. And the leading ladies and men. As Davy Jones once said, “There’s an audience for everything.”
But the most common type of actor in all of Tinsel Town is the “bad” one. The streets of Los Angeles – and the small and silver screens – are littered with them. These “talents” are what make the real stars that much better by comparison. And just like those actual stars, bad actors come in many shapes and forms.
Some actors are so bad, Hollywood naturally weeds them out. Your Dane Cooks, your Adrian Greniers and your Tara Reids. These thespians got a couple shots, were chewed up and spit out, and we never heard from them again (thankfully). The masses – and the powers that be – have spoken, and that was that.
Some actors are so awful it’s funny. The shtick is amusingly enjoyable. Like watching Dude, Where’s My Car? on loop while under the influence. It’s so bad it’s good. William Shatner and Chuck Norris come to mind. As does Nicolas Cage, who’s a good actor incapable of saying “no” and has embraced his role as a living cartoon for the viewing pleasures of the rest of us. Watch him wear a helmet of bees sometime, or inexplicably put on a bear costume, or coif his hair in the most ridiculous styles possible and ham it up like no one has ever hammed before. These actors are national treasures – their awfulness is played to exact perfection, and we’re all happier for it.
But of all these types, the most rare breed of bad actor is the one who outstays their welcome. These are the men and women who ruin every movie, taking you immediately out of the story. We all agree they’re terrible, over and over again, yet for some reason they keep popping up in your nearby cinema. And getting paid handsomely to do it! It leaves you scratching your head and talking endlessly to your friends – why did that person get cast? Wasn’t there someone else? Was no one better available?
Here are the 10 crappiest actors who keep getting work…for some reason.
10. Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba is one of the best looking women to ever walk the face of the Earth. This much we can agree upon. But sadly, being beautiful and mind-numbingly hot doesn’t mean you also have acting talent. Since she burst onto the scene in 2000 with the (purposely campy) Dark Angel, Alba has given us terrible turns in Honey, Fantastic Four and it’s equally horrible sequel, Into the Blue (especially atrocious), Good Luck Chuck, The Love Guru (wow – forgot about this one), Valentine’s Day, and Spy Kids. And her performances in each have been…less than stellar. If that list doesn’t make you say WOOF, I don’t know what will. Oh, and she has four upcoming films on her slate.
Sadly, Jessica’s bland acting ability doesn’t equal her looks. Yet she continues to be cast time and time again. At least Alba is a bit likeable, and clearly brings something to a movie…
9. Michael Jai White
This one’s a bit of a deep cut. Michael Jai White is something of a low-rent Wesley Snipes – he’s an action hero with some pretty slick moves. Yet his acting ability borders on comical, and his charisma levels might be too low to chart. White started out on some pretty big TV shows, then transitioned to film and eventually landed the lead role in 1997’s Spawn. It did not go well. Since that debacle, he’s been relegated to bad action sequels and direct-to-DVD movies. Yet with his small (but very successful) part as a mobster in The Dark Knight, White has assured himself steady work ever since.
By popping up on the radar every few years with a mainstream role, Michael Jai White has made certain he will be in all of our lives for many years to come.
8. Chris Klein
When Chris Klein first came into the national conversation with Election and American Pie, the general consensus was that he was going to be one of the young Hollywood actors to watch. Since then however, his downward spiral has turned into more of a bottomless abyss, as sadly his personal issues have affected his chops. Curiously, it hasn’t stopped him from getting work, though. Each time he does, it’s safe to say there’s probably another actor who could bring more to the part. One who’s not quite as hammy.
Still, nothing he can ever do will make any of us forget this brilliantly awful audition tape that somehow found its way online…
7. Katie Holmes
Katie Holmes has been in all of our lives for quite some time. She’s gorgeous, has a loyal fan base, and she plays her God-given cuteness up to perfection. Her breakout role as Joey on Dawson’s Creek certainly had us all thinking she was a star in the making, and she’s been given many chances since to headline big-budget movies.
The only problem is that her acting is…serviceable. And that’s the best compliment you could probably pay her. She’s never been able to bring anything extra to the screen in low-performers like Pieces of April, Phone Booth or First Daughter. And she was replaced by the immeasurably better Maggie Gyllenhaal from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight (even though she’s widely considered not as attractive, in a role that’s supposed to be a woman fought over left and right). She’s elongated her career with an odd marriage and divorce to Tom Cruise, but it’s safe to say Holmes has never lived up to much of her hype, and clearly goes on the “bad actor” pile.
That being said, she has two upcoming movies ready to be released…
6. Rosamund Pike
Regardless of her recent turn in Gone Girl where she was perfectly cast by David Fincher, Rosamund Pike has been a B-rate actress for her entire career. Unable to shake the crazy eyes from any of her performances (which is why she was great in Gone Girl), she’s generally unbelievable as really anything and stands as a low-rate Diane Kruger type. Who, let’s not forget, saved the Declaration of Independence with Nic Cage, but then was excellent in Inglorious Basterds and The Bridge.
Giving us such shockingly unmemorable turns in Doom, Surrogates, Johnny English Reborn (what?), Wrath of the Titans, and Jack Reacher, Pike arguably made each of those movies worse, especially Reacher. Because of the success of Gone Girl though, we can all expect to see much more of Rosamund Pike for the next few years.
5. January Jones
There are very few actresses more wooden than January Jones. Since playing the “hot girl” in movies like Anger Management, American Wedding and Love Actually, the undeniably beautiful Jones broke out as Betty Draper in TV’s Mad Men. No one can deny her success in that performance, and she had everyone convinced that she was the next star in the making.
Turns out, no. Absolutely awful in Unknown, X-Men: First Class and the Nicolas Cage classic, Seeking Justice, Jones has been relegated to direct-to-DVD status. Especially noticeable was First Class, where she played an actual ice queen…rigidly. That’s a tough feat to accomplish. Yet combine her general hotness with her prevalence on one of television’s greatest shows, and you can be sure January will keep working for a long time to come.
4. Jai Courtney
Jai Courtney has the rare distinction of being a Hollywood “It” actor – one of the young up-and-comers in line for every big new role – while simultaneously being horrendous at his craft. He was the worst part in the worst Die Hard movie (that’s saying something), and was borderline unbelievable as a generally personality-less “scary drone” in Jack Reacher, which also takes some doing. Yes, the Die Hard thing cuts us pretty deep.
Still, that hasn’t stopped him from having five major releases on his slate before 2016. However, one of those is Terminator: Genisys, which somehow makes sense, though not in a complimentary way. He’s pure ham. Our guess is you combine “good looking actor” with “cool name” and you have the recipe for getting work. It’s just our best guess.
3. Kristen Stewart
If you’ll allow a bit of paraphrasing, “Pale, bland and awkward is no way to go through life, son.” Known for her turn as Bella in the Twilight saga, Kristen Stewart has been an A-List movie star for quite a few years now. However, that doesn’t mean she’s much good. She has a reputation for being emotionless and odd, which are two qualities you’d never want in a leading lady. And her roles post-Twilight – Adventureland, Jumper, On the Road and The Runaways – have all been extremely forgettable, showcasing many of those characteristics.
Especially noticeable is her title role in Snow White and the Huntsman, which was a box office success. Yet for the sequel, the producers have decided not to bring her back. Repeat: in the sequel to a Snow White reimagining, Kristen Stewart was so underwhelming they decided to write out Snow White. That’s actually impressive. Still, the incredible financial haul of the Twilight films will continue to keep Stewart working for quite some time.
2. Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves borders on that William Shatner/Chuck Norris “so bad it’s good” level of bad acting. Yet there is a seriousness about him, a longing to be taken at least a little seriously, that nets him a spot on this list. And a high one, at that.
Long trading on his surfer-boy image, Keanu has had an incredible stay on the A-List that’s lasted for years, even though no one would ever confuse him with an actual “good” actor. Everyone seems to have the exact same reaction to him, actually: “Ohhh Keanu!” As Exhibit A, Keanu had said the word “Whoa!” in every single one of his movies for over a decade. Think about that. That’s a Lou Gehrig type of streak.
Still, Reeves continues to find himself in wide-release movies every single year, and has a loyal fan base that’s willing to pay top dollar to watch him break out of the Matrix, fight an army of Ronan, or be in a strange romance flick that borderline makes no sense. Keanu is bad. We all know this. But he ain’t going away anytime soon, and I think everyone’s OK with that.
1. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler‘s inclusion on this list gets a little bit of an asterisk. Yes, he’s terrible. Yes, his movies are increasingly awful, unwatchable messes. And yes, he keeps getting work. But the only reason he’s consistently in movies is because he makes his own, and keeps casting himself as the lead. Noted? Noted.
But that will not distract us from the point: Sandler is absolutely, unquestioningly, historically bad. Sure, his movies make money. Actually, tons and tons of money – he certainly has an audience that pays to see him do his thing. But as sad as it is for us to say (because we all love his earlier films probably more than we should), he’s just not that funny anymore. Or maybe he is, but refuses to access it. What he is now is just…it’s not good.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Bedtime Stories, Grown Ups, Just Go With It, Jack and Jill, Grown Ups 2, Blended. Please, find us even a decent movie among those. Or give us a memorable performance. Heck, how about a funny moment that stuck with you, if you happen to have had the misfortune of seeing one of those films. You can’t, can you? We thought not. And honestly, that makes us just as sad as it does you.
Adam Sandler gets the top spot on this list. But honestly, we hope that he’ll start working his way off of it any day now. We’d love to see Opera Man make his triumphant return.