Not everyone in Hollywood is on par with the acting abilities of Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet. There is a long list of actors that wishes they could be serious and distinguished actors, but flat out failed at doing so – at least according to the critics, anyway. Of course, we mean this in the nicest way.
In fact, you might even be surprised to see some of Hollywood’s biggest and highest paid actors on this list. Spoiler (kind of): Ben Affleck almost made the list, but we decided to give him a break after he dove into a deep melancholia and heartache at the realization that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a rather poor film (YouTube the version with Simon & Garfunkel playing over the clip!). It currently has been given a “rotten” rating via Rotten Tomatoes. Let’s reel it back, though: it was still a box-office success and has already pulled in 170 million dollars. In other words, we probably should have put him on this list.
In celebration of everyone who has ever attempted something and failed, we raise a glass in your honor.
15. Mark Wahlberg
Once a pop prince, Mark Wahlberg has made a mostly successful transition into acting – at least commercially. While he was praised for his performance in The Departed, The Fighter, as well as Boogie Nights and Three Kings, he has had a lot of serious flops – that doesn’t include all of his comedic films, which draw attention away from his more serious films. His most recent foray into serious films was in 2014’s The Gambler, a crime drama, which received mixed reviews. He took on a lot of other more serious films before that, all of which received negative and/or mixed reviews, including Broken City, Contraband and Shooter.
14. Adam Sandler
We aren’t putting Adam Sandler on this list because he attempted serious films and did poorly (in fact, he really only has one serious film, Punch-Drunk-Love, and it did well enough). We are putting him on this list because Sandler has done so many ridiculous roles that it is difficult – if not nearly impossible – to take him seriously in general. Come on – he is basically known for his roles in Grown Ups 1 and 2, Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore (OK, that last one is pretty good, but check out his IMDb page for about 50 others that aren’t). Out of 59 acting credits, he has basically one serious film. We don’t think he is going to be winning an Oscar any time soon.
13. Tom Cruise
This one might be a bit controversial given that Tom Cruise is generally viewed as a mega movie star. But, out of all the “serious” films that he is known for – Top Gun and Mission: Impossible, both received mixed reviews. Then there are all the other serious films that aren’t exactly movies-you-need-to-see before you die kind of quality. Some of the more recent examples include Oblivion and Lions for Lambs. Critics said his performance in 2008’s Valkyrie was “unexceptional.” You get the idea. Let’s be honest: no one can make a comeback after jumping on Oprah’s couch in the name of love. We will give you credit for Magnolia, though, Tom.
12. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger has done some alright movies, yes (we’re thinking Total Recall and The Terminator). But, he also has some less than stellar films that will forever mark his list of acting credits. On that list we have his more recent The Expendables 3, which didn’t sit well among the critics. Schwarzenegger’s performance even got him nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor. Sabotage received negative reviews and Escape Plan received mixed reviews. You get the point here. But does it really matter? After all, his many titles include filmmaker, politician, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist and professional bodybuilder. Mr. Universe has done it all (nanny included).
11. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf is an interesting one. Although his performances in the 2014 war film Fury alongside Brad Pitt, 2013’s Nymphomaniac films and 2012’s Lawless all received positive reviews from critics, LaBeouf has attempted a number of other serious films that simply did not pan out well critically. Charlie Countryman, The Company You Keep, Eagle Eye and Constantine all received mixed and/or negative reviews. His ridiculous public persona also makes it difficult for one to see him as a serious actor, even if he has pulled out a few good films in his career.
10. Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves’ wooden or one-dimensional acting may have served him well in The Matrix, but it has stopped him from really being considered a top-notch actor. 2016’s Exposed received negative reviews as did Knock Knock – two of Reeves’ most recent films. 47 Ronin didn’t fare too well, either. In fact, one of the reasons given for the movie’s flop was because people have not been interested in Reeves since The Matrix, a film that is more than ten years old. One of the films he is known for, The Devil’s Advocate, didn’t pan out too well among the critics either.
9. Jennifer Aniston
Everyone’s favorite, Jennifer Aniston, hasn’t attempted too many serious roles in her time amongst all of her comedies and rom-coms. We have 2014’s Cake and 2005’s Derailed. Derailed, a crime-thriller drama, received straight up negative reviews and had a rotten score of 20% on Rotten Tomatoes while Cake received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes had this to say: “Cake finds Jennifer Aniston making the most of an overdue opportunity to test her dramatic chops, but it lacks sufficient depth or warmth to recommend for all but her most ardent fans.” Although we love her, serious roles just might not be Aniston’s thing.
8. Ice Cube
When a singer turns to acting, it generally doesn’t bode too well. Case in point: Vanilla Ice. Ice Cube is another such example. Yes, we heard you: we can’t ignore Boyz n the Hood. However, although he hasn’t even attempted too many “serious” roles, most of his movies have received negative to mixed reviews from critics – hardly does he have a redeeming film in his list of acting credits. That would be a difficult feat indeed when you’re working with Barbershop scripts. The last serious role that he took on where he was actually a major player was all the way back in 2011 with Ghost of Mars. As expected, it bombed at the box office and among critics, who commented on the bad acting.
7. Lindsay Lohan
We know Lindsay Lohan primarily from her childhood and teen roles, as well as 2004’s Mean Girls, but her foray into serious films, like 2013’s The Canyons, an erotic thriller drama, received a lot of negativity from critics. 2007’s biographical crime drama about the death of John Lennon, Chapter 27, received mixed ratings. Lennon’s son went so far as to call Lohan’s role in the film “tacky.” We will give her credit for her performance in A Prairie Home Companion where she acted alongside Meryl Streep, but otherwise, her serious films have mostly been flops.
6. Jennifer Lopez
J-Lo has a lot of things going for her, but you won’t necessarily find her on too many ‘Best Actors of All Time’ type of lists. Let’s examine her acting credits, shall we? Her most recent serious role is in the crime-drama television series, Shades of Blue, which sees her as the star. However, the show has received mixed views. The 2015 film, Lila and Eve, also received mixed reviews from critics. The Boy Next Door received negative reviews as did Parker. In other words, most of J-Lo’s most recent serious films have been flops (and mostly everything after that). You aren’t going to make us bring up Gigli, are you now?
5. Megan Fox
We’re not quite sure what kind of career Megan Fox is looking for – serious actor? Megan movie star? She has taken on some serious roles, but sadly, they have received a combination of mixed to negative reviews and some have been straight up flops (we’re looking at you, Passion Play). See Jonah Hex, a weird mash-up of a war, Sci-Fi and Western film, and Whore for further evidence. Megan Fox’s performance in Jonah Hex even earned her the “Worst Actress” award at the 31st Golden Raspberries Awards. Ouch. Megan Fox is one of the leading contenders on this list.
4. Vince Vaughn
We advise Vince Vaughn not to attempt any more serious roles after his latest attempt in HBO’s True Detective, season two. Daily Mail said that Vaughn is “wandering round looking permanently puzzled – confused by his own character and virtually gagging on his over-written dialogue.” We don’t mean to bring up any further evidence, but he took on a lot of serious films back in the day – all of which received mixed to negative reviews, including 2001’s Domestic Disturbance, 2000’s The Prime Gig and South of Heaven, West of Hell, 1998’s Psycho, A Cool, Dry Place and Return to Paradise, 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Locust… We could go on, but you probably get the point. Wait, wait: let’s at least give him credit for Into the Wild.
3. Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice: rapper, television host and “actor.” Yes, we had to put that in quotation marks because we are wondering if it is even right to give him the title. Sure, he does have seven acting credits to his name. But it was his popularity that landed him his initial acting role – not his acting ability. Nevertheless, his acting credits are quite the splendor: his combined movies have the equivalent of a 9 on IMDb. The Helix… Loaded and Cool as Ice were spectacular fails and are rated lower than Keeping up the Kardashians. That is saying something. Not only did Vanilla Ice fail at becoming a serious actor, but he basically failed at acting altogether.
2. Ashton Kutcher
During his time famously playing the role of bimbo Kelso on That ‘70s Show and doing various rom-coms, Kutcher tried his hand at doing some serious and “smart” films like The Butterfly Effect, which was all about chaos theory. While the film was a commercial success, it failed critically, garnering a poor 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. His role as Steve Jobs in the 2013 biographical film, Jobs, did just as poorly. In fact, it garnered a mere 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a poor 5.9 on IMDb. Critics said that Kutcher “failed to portray Jobs in an iconic manner.” Nevertheless, it is clear that Ashton Kutcher’s venture into serious films hasn’t gone as planned.
1. Nicolas Cage
No disrespect to Nicolas Cage fans but let’s take a look at Nicolas Cage’s most recent serious roles, shall we? Let us tell you: it is certainly a sight. We’ve got Pay the Ghost, The Runner, Dying of the Light, Left Behind, Outcast, Rage, which were all panned by critics. Many critics went so far as to comment on the atrocious acting in some of these films as well. None of them even have over 5 on IMDb. The Frozen Ground received mixed views. Stolen did poorly as did Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Same for Trespass. We’ve covered basically all the roles that Cage has done between the years of 2016 and 2011. At this rate, we might as well call Nicolas Cage the new Vanilla Ice. I know there’s an Oscar in there somewhere, but no one remembers it at this point.