Everyone has seen a performance in a movie that leaves you shaking your head. As you walk out of the theater or turn it off in your living room, you vow never to watch that actor again. Well, what if everyone who watched it left that movie thinking that way? What if the studios and filmmakers were left feeling that way? That’s basically what happened to these poor list members. They’ve been abandoned, forgotten about. Some have managed to keep the embers of their careers glowing, but they’re certainly not the burning flames they once were. Sometimes we ignore them because we’re embarrassed about their acting ability. Other times, it’s because we’re afraid their terrible acting might rub off on us, like being untalented is somehow contagious.
Some of the members on this list saw their careers crumble, not necessarily because of a poor performance, but because the movie itself ruined it for them, changing the perception of the actor forever. Many may have been unworthy of their initial popularity, and their big failure was simply bringing them back down to where they belong. Whatever the reasons for their career collapse, for all of the members on this list, one film was really to blame, sometimes two, but mainly one film. This one film (but in some cases two) that was (or were) the straw (but also the straws) that broke the camel’s back. One role to ruin them all. One role to blind them. One role to… Alright, let’s look at these disastrous career choices: 15 roles that ended an actor’s career.
15. Hayden Christensen – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Ok, so maybe Hayden Christensen wasn’t the biggest of names prior to playing a young Anakin Skywalker. But when you’re cast in one of the biggest film franchises of all time, you are catapulted into A-list stardom, whether you deserve it or not. Unfortunately for Christensen, his performance, his role, and really the films as a whole, were far less than stellar. Christensen’s wooden delivery, unconvincing emoting and just general creepiness turned him into a target for basement dwellers everywhere, casting downward gazes from their Wookie costumes. It wasn’t all his fault, though. The script itself felt as if it were written by a robot who thinks he knows what it is to be human. You’d think that Harrison Ford, the Blade Runner himself, would have been able to see through this replicant’s human disguise, but alas, he did not. Maybe he didn’t visit the set though.
14. Alicia Silverstone – Excess Baggage
Terrible in Batman & Robin and terrible in Excess Baggage, 1997 was a real brutal year for Alicia Silverstone. At the end of the day, it was the latter which really opened the public’s eyes to Silverstone’s acting ability. People started to see that she was really incapable of performing anything of substance anymore, so they buried her (not literally). Since then, she’s faded into a distant memory, appearing in the odd role here and there, mainly on TV, mainly in stupid shows. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Silverstone’s popularity was unwarranted, and this is coming from someone who really liked Clueless. I just think that it was a perfect role for her, and no other role could ever match up so perfectly again. She’ll always have her claim to fame in Clueless, but once audiences and critics clued in, Silverstone was forever tarnished.
13. Tom Green – Freddy Got Fingered
Tom Green was not a superstar, but he was big enough that he and his comedy antics were recognizable. He was gaining traction as a strange comedian and things were heading upwards, that was until he did Freddy Got Fingered. Afterward, people started turning their backs to him, trying to forget he existed, ashamed that we once watched him and chuckled. Freddy Got Fingered was hard to watch. You immediately felt bad for Tom Green in it, like he was being forced to read the lines by a director holding a gun to him from behind the camera. Then you realize that Green directed it; he wrote it; he’s holding the gun. Why would he do this? I’m not sure of the cause or the timing, but I’m pretty sure this movie made Drew Barrymore divorce him as well. Soon after, their house also was set ablaze. Though I was unable to verify the tale, rumors say that Green’s final copy of Freddy Got Fingered set itself on fire to end its own misery, eventually spreading throughout the house.
12. Demi Moore – Striptease
When news broke that the insanely beautiful Demi Moore was going to be in Striptease, drool could be heard dripping from the mouths of men and women everywhere. And, although she looked absolutely amazing in the movie, her acting looked, felt and was awful; it was scary bad. Even though G.I. Jane followed this movie before Moore got a clue and took a break from acting, it was the massive disappointment of Striptease which put the final touches on her career. She was paid an exorbitant amount of money for the role and she flopped, meaning she wasn’t bankable, she wasn’t insurable. With the slight exception of an appearance in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Moore has only stayed somewhat relevant because of her personal life.
11. Chris O’Donnell – Batman & Robin
So many people just hate (and we mean HATE) this Joel Schumacher Batman film: Batman & Robin, but I can’t say that I’m one of them. Having said that, even I can admit that Chris O’Donnell was a colossal disaster in the film. Prior to this role, he was just at a turning point in his career, becoming a household name, getting huge roles, everything was looking great for the actor. Then he sucker-punched us with his lacklustre performance as Robin. To be honest, if we would have found out that he was intentionally overacting and trying to be terrible in this film, it might have been an Academy Award worthy performance. Unfortunately, it was unintentional. He didn’t mean to be so awful, he just was.
10. Taylor Lautner
There were a lot of things wrong with Twilight. It was basically just the stupidest set of films ever made, but even among a cast of people who look more uncomfortable on camera than burglars when they realize they’re screwed, Taylor Lautner stuck out like a sore thumb. It became very obvious, very quickly, that Lautner was only hired because of his abs. In fact, I would be surprised to learn that he auditioned with actual spoken lines at all. Really any role would have ruined Lautner’s career, but once audiences, critics and filmmakers saw his acting ability, or lack thereof, there was no doubt about it, this kid needed to be blacklisted. Few of the powers that be in Hollywood care about audiences, but even they couldn’t continue to torture viewers with a stink bomb like Lautner. So they asked him to play a game of “Hide and Seek” and he obliged. So far, he’s doing really well.
9. Lindsay Lohan – I Know Who Killed Me
When Lindsay Lohan did Mean Girls, it was a different Lohan than the one who did I know Who Killed Me. Fame and ego had taken over and changed Lohan into a self-serving disaster. Most people had long since stopped caring about what she did, even though each week brought us more and more antics from the red-headed brat. While her star status and money magically kept her out of jail or even from serving any real punishment, her once bright future was disappearing rapidly. When she took on the film I Know Who Killed Me, it was a last ditch effort to salvage some semblance of a film career. If anything this pile of trash gave us an identifiable moment of when Lohan became officially irrelevant. Ironically, because of the film, we too now know who killed you Lindsay. Sadly, for us, it was long overdue.
8. John Travolta – Battlefield Earth
John Travolta really has two careers. One is everything before Pulp Fiction, and the other is everything after Pulp Fiction. Unfortunately for Travolta, almost everything after Pulp Fiction has been utter garbage. The worst culprit of them all is the scientology-funded film Battlefield Earth. One of the worst movies in history of film, Battlefield Earth is a stain on the industry, an embarrassing link to anyone who’s ever participated in cinema. People look at Battlefield Earth and Travolta’s performance and think, “if he’s so terrible in this, maybe he’s so terrible in everything. If he takes a role as bad as this, maybe he doesn’t know what a good role really is.” While Travolta is always going to get calls for future roles, his image has never recovered. His Academy Awards fiasco with Idina Menzel, certainly didn’t help, instead making him look as strange in real life as he seems in his films. Is Travolta acting at all?
7. Cuba Gooding Jr. – Boat Trip
Despite his recent performance as O.J. Simpson on television, Cuba Gooding Jr. has disappeared from his prominence in the 90s and early 2000s. The reason for his recent invisibility is undoubtedly because of Boat Trip. One of the most offensive movies in recent memory, Boat Trip and Gooding Jr’s role in particular made people question his ability and his choices. The movie and the role were both so bad and rather embarrassing, that he was essentially shunned from any and all good movies moving forward. It takes a lot to erase the memories of an Academy Award, but Boat Trip was a lot; it was more than enough to do so. Before the credits had finished rolling, his name had changed to Cuba Badding Jr.
6. Eddie Murphy – Norbit
Remember Eddie Murphy? The comedy legend who was in so many great films? Yeah, where has he been? He’s been in Hollywood purgatory, a special place that only actors who act in the worst movies ever get to go. Murphy gets a special seat here because technically he did a few of the worst movies ever. He’s purgatory royalty, really. Norbit, though, more than any others of his awful performances is the ultimate. The Adventures of Pluto Nash was horrifying, but at least it was a collective effort. Norbit is almost all Eddie and almost all terrible. There’s not a single redeeming quality about this train wreck of a movie. If you have an ounce of respect left for Eddie, please avoid this one. It will change you, and you won’t like what you become.
5. Kevin Costner – Waterworld/The Postman
Even though Tin Cup was released in between these two stinkers, it was Waterworld and The Postman which did in Kevin Costner’s career. Both were films that he directed as well, and both were lambasted by critics and absolutely ridiculed by audiences everywhere. In the late 80s and early 90s, it seemed Costner simply couldn’t miss. He was in several films that performed amazingly well at the box office and his performances were applauded in almost everything. But when he decided to try to work both sides of the camera, things went terribly wrong; actually, everything went wrong. In recent years, Costner has been reviving his career a little bit with roles, like that in Man of Steel, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him as a frontman ever again (at least we hope not).
4. Halle Berry – Catwoman
This film is high up on my list of the worst movies of all time. I think it’s especially disastrous because Halle Berry was so fresh off of her Academy Award win for the brilliant Marc Forster film, Monster’s Ball (not to mention, we would have hoped that Berry appearing in a tight black suit could do no wrong). Catwoman is so bad that it almost single-handedly ruined comic book movies forever. It actually almost toppled the entire film industry. Literally. No, not really, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if I found out that were true. Like, if someone approached me and said, “hey, did you hear about the movie industry? It’s completely gone!” Catwoman would be my first wild accusation. Have you seen Berry since Catwoman? No, me neither.
3. Sean Connery – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Bond ladies and gentlemen, James Bond. Dr. No, Goldfinger, Ernst Blofeld, none of these villains could kill Bond. No one could. But The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did it with ease. Playing Allan Quatermain, Sean Connery and his fellow castmates ran around on screen wildly and without direction as if there were no script. You can almost pin point the exact moment when the script seems to run out, about halfway through. At that moment, it becomes a jumbled mess and all sense is completely lost. It’s unclear what happened after this film to make Connery walk away. Perhaps he just lost faith in the industry, or maybe he lost his faith in humanity. Whatever happened, the man simply gave up acting, and this most villainous of films gets the title of “the one that killed an acting giant.”
2. Mike Myers – The Love Guru
God I miss Mike Myers (and by saying this, I can probably speak for a lot of people). His early comedy was simply fantastic. Austin Powers, Wayne’s World and So, I Married an Axe Murderer were brilliant, but The Love Guru made him into an absolute farce. Unfunny, embarrassing, awkward and infuriating, The Love Guru deleted Mike Myers from the halls of relevance. It’s unclear if the comedy great will ever return to a starring role, but after missing so hard in The Love Guru, I’m unsure if I even want him to come back. Which version of Myers would we even get? Austin Powers or the goofball from The Love Guru? It might be too big of a risk. The second Mike Myers is scary, even scarier than one from Halloween.
1. Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator
In Charlie Chaplin’s final major American performance in The Great Dictator, a film which parodied Adolf Hitler, Chaplin concludes the film with a 5-minute dialogue in which he breaks character and the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience, pleading to them to stand up against war and fascism. This connective tissue between the actor and his politics was the beginning of the end for Chaplin. What followed was a series of accusations from the FBI, a few personal scandals, and another film, Monsieur Verdoux, that voiced Chaplin’s politics once more, spelling the end of Chaplin’s popularity in America once and for all. Monsieur Verdoux was met with a chorus of boos when it debuted and he was accused of being a communist henceforth. The man who created “The Tramp,” one of the most important figures in the history of film, would leave America in 1952 and not return again until his honorary Academy Award in 1972.
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