It’s a film’s casting director who determines if an actor is right for a role. He or she considers the strengths and weaknesses of the character and then applies those to the talents of a pool of actors. Once an actor has been settled on, this casting director must then convince the director that the actor is worthy of the part.
Actors have some say in the films for which they’re considered. They read through a mountain of movie scripts. It’s from that pile that they select roles for themselves. If the casting director and the director agree, the actor gets the role, and it could make or break his or her career.
Katherine Heigl, whose role on Grey’s Anatomy destroyed her career, says she hopes to act in children’s films. She said, “I’d hope to never do anything that I would be ashamed for her [daughter] to see…I love stories and opportunities to play different characters, but I won’t do anything that’s shocking and horrible in terms of playing someone totally despicable.” Heigl really doesn’t have a lot of choices when it comes to roles because she made the grave mistake of pissing off prolific producer and screenwriter, Shonda Rhimes. Since then, Heigl’s career has been in the toilet.
Heigl is just one example of a bigger trend. The following 15 actors had their careers ruined because they took the wrong role. Whether they pissed off someone powerful in Hollywood or simply embarrassed themselves with bad acting, these actors paid the ultimate price for their poor decision-making skills. Their careers are ruined.
15. Cuba Gooding Jr. in Boat Trip
Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for his role in Jerry Maguire and a handful of Razzies for his role in Boat Trip. The movie has an incredibly low rating, just 7 percent of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers actually enjoyed it. The critic consensus reads: “Boat trip is a lame, juvenile farce that’s heavy on stereotypes and desperate antics, but short on brains and laughs.”
The film tells the story of two men who mistakenly board a gay cruise. It’s cringe-worthy and a bit homophobic if you consider the two men are forced to pose as lovers, so they don’t get hit on… Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper fame wrote, “This is a tasteless and tacky farce laced with cheap homophobic jokes and cringe-inducing stereotypes…”
It can be argued that this film also killed the career of SNL alum, Horatio Sanz. Like Cuba, he’s rarely seen in notable films now but does okay with television. Cuba seems to have recovered his career somewhat with the television series American Horror Story and American Crime Story. The FX Network seems to like him, and that’s kept him from signing on for a Radio sequel.
14. Demi Moore in Striptease
Striptease is one of those films that strayed too far from the source material. It was originally a comedic and satirical novel, but the film’s directors made it serious. Demi Moore’s role was taken far too seriously. She didn’t have an ounce of comedy in her character, and this ruined the film.
If you’re like me, you enjoyed Striptease’s ambivalence to the source material. It was funny because it wasn’t meant to be funny. It’s a cult classic if there ever was one. Consider this nugget of dialog: “No chance I’m gonna roll around in creamed corn with a bunch of yahoos trying to push Niblets up my hoo-hah.” That’s the cult-classic gold standard right there…
If there’s a trend here, it’s that stripper films are rarely box-office gold. Maybe Hollywood thinks it can recreate the success of Flashdance? So far, all attempts have failed. The result is laughable dramas, cult fodder that’s memorable only because it was so terrible.
13. Brandon Routh in Superman Returns
Superman Returns was boring. It wasn’t terrible, poorly produced, or poorly written. It was just boring, and the movie’s star, Brandon Routh, contributed to that. He lent little personality to the Man of Steel, and the result is a film that makes you tired just watching the opening credits.
It should be noted that Superman hasn’t been relevant since Smallville, and that show’s success rested on the character not yet becoming Superman. It was his period of self-discovery. Superman has a bit too much cheese factor for audiences. You’re really stretching my suspension of disbelief when you suggest no one recognizes Clark Kent is Superman because he wears glasses. That’s it… Glasses.
Superman Returns was a moderate success in 2006, but Brandon Routh wasn’t recast as Superman for 2013’s Man of Steel. Not to worry, Routh — that film wasn’t that great either. Unfortunately, Routh’s career has yet to recover. He’s not been cast in anything notable since.
12. Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me
I know what killed Lindsay Lohan’s career. It was 2007’s box-office flop, I Know Who Killed Me. The film’s muddled plot, poor acting, and pointless gratuitous stripping did nothing for audiences. Reviewers called the film, “gruesomely tawdry and inept,” “incoherent and semi-vile,” “pretentious and insane,” and “monumentally trashy.” Come on, guys. Tell us how you really feel.
I Know Who Killed Me was the box-office bomb of the year in 2007, when it won the most Razzies ever awarded to a single film. It racked up more Razzies than Showgirls and Battlefield Earth, which (until then) were considered the worst movies of all time. It’s also had a lasting effect on Lohan’s career, which has been in the toilet ever since.
2013’s The Canyons was supposed to revive Lohan’s career, but that film was a bomb, too. It was a borderline homophobic mess of bland characters weaponizing their sexuality and ultimately highlighting the film’s vapid frigidness.
11. Chris O’Donnell in Batman And Robin
Hollywood won’t cast Chris O’Donnell in any more movies because Batman and Robin was such a huge flop. To be fair, George Clooney had the more notable role and therefore was more responsible for the film’s suckiness. But he’s Clooney. He recovered because he had the good sense to choose some award-worthy independent films to star in. O’Donnell did not have that good sense, and his career has yet to recover from the flop.
The movie was just a huge failure, and it tortured audiences. One reviewer wrote, “It is nearly impossible not to feel ashamed for everyone involved in this mess (especially [director] Joel Schumacher), an over-the-top disastrous movie whose actors look like flamboyant drag queens in a colorful carnival parade uttering some of the worst lines ever written.” That about sums it up…
Maybe O’Donnell shouldn’t have turned down 1997’s Men in Black. He could have played Will Smith’s role, then who knows where he would’ve been now… But, he didn’t. He simply faded into obscurity, and when he’s remembered, it’s rarely for anything other than his poor portrayal of Robin.
10. Hayden Christensen in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Hayden Christensen was criticized for his performances in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. He lacked depth of character, didn’t fulfill the character’s potential, and was wooden in his delivery. In fact, one reviewer wrote of the films, “I’ve seen logs act better than Hayden…” Maybe “wooden” is being too kind to the actor awarded two Worst Supporting Razzie awards for his role in both films.
Since failing miserably as Anakin Skywalker, Christensen has taken to farming. He bought a farm in Canada, released a clothing line inspired by said farm, and in 2014, tried to work his way back into Hollywood. It’s unlikely you’ve seen him much as he’s not acting in blockbuster films anymore. That doesn’t seem to have gotten him down, however. He had this to say about his toileted career: “You can’t take years off and not have it affect your career. But I don’t know – in a weird, sort of destructive way, there was something appealing about that to me. There was something in the back of my head that was like, ‘If this time away is gonna be damaging to my career, then so be it. If I can come back afterward and claw my way back in, then maybe I’ll feel like I earned it.’”
9. Katherine Heigl in Grey’s Anatomy
For a while, Katherine Heigl was America’s sweetheart. She was the star of lots of romantic comedies, including Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth, Life as We Know It, and 27 Dresses. So, what exactly happened? Well, as I previously mentioned, Heigl pissed off the wrong producer, Shonda Rhimes.
Heigl’s role on Grey’s Anatomy was cut short because she ran her mouth. In 2008, she turned down an Emmy nomination for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy because she didn’t feel the content warranted the nomination. “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and, in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” she said in a press release.
You can imagine this didn’t sit well with Rhimes and other writers/producers for the show. No longer content to allow Heigl to waffle about, her character was written off of Grey’s. The rest of her career followed suit because once you piss off a Hollywood powerhouse like Rhimes, there’s nowhere else to go. Heigl is currently appearing in kitty litter commercials, but I like her and hope her career recovers.
8. Warren Beatty in Town & Country
2001’s Town & Country cost New Line Cinema a reported $125 million. When you cost a production company that much money, your career doesn’t recover. That’s why Warren Beatty doesn’t work anymore despite being a screen legend and having a decade’s long career.
Amazingly, it cost $90 million to make the sex comedy, which featured wealthy white people complaining about their problems. That’s a premise that rarely makes a blockbuster because it’s hard to feel sorry for rich people whose only gripe is their failing marriages. Was the audience supposed to emotionally connect with Beatty’s character who sleeps not only sleeps with his best friend’s estranged wife, but also several other women in rapid affairs?
Likely the budget went to the cast as there were a number of middle-aged, household-name actors cast to fill the various roles. Too bad their star power did little to draw audiences, and this film was a colossal flop. Stephen Hunter, contributor for The Washington Post, said, “The whole thing is too big, too loud, too expensive, and has too much Diane Keaton.”
7. Halle Berry in Catwoman
Catwoman was a horrible disaster. Halle Berry is a gifted actress, but her star power and talent weren’t enough to save the action flop. The film cost $100 million to make but only turned up $30 million at the box office. It’s hardly Berry’s fault, but she’s paid the ultimate price. She’s starred in few movies since and hasn’t been offered any blockbuster roles.
Keith Phipps of the AV Club wrote this about the movie: “Relentlessly gaudy and in love with its PG-13 approximation of kink, Catwoman is essentially an excuse to pose Berry in ever-skimpier outfits. It’s all too pre-fab to register as sexy, though, and even the fight scenes look like fashion shoots.”
Had the writers and directors stuck to the original story, the film may not have been so widely criticized. Most fans were disappointed that their comic book heroine was so completely changed. For example, her name in the film is “Patience Philips,” but Catwoman’s secret identity is really “Selena Kyle.” It strayed too far from the source, which ultimately left fans dissatisfied.
6. Mike Myers in The Love Guru
For a long time, Mike Myers was Hollywood’s golden boy. He scored huge box office successes with Shrek, Austin Powers, and subsequent sequels. He was afforded many roles and seemed to be climbing a gilded ladder to the top. However, somewhere near the top, a rung broke, and once he fell, he never quite made it back up…
The Love Guru is widely considered unfunny, racist, and obscene. It’s offensive to people of Indian decent, especially their spiritual icons. Always the nice guy, spiritual guru Deepak Chopra had this to say about the film: “The Love Guru didn’t work well because Mike Myers addresses a teenage audience, and he was trying to mix it up with metaphysics… Humor mixed with spirituality can work, if it’s done well. But frankly speaking, this was not a good attempt.”
That’s about as harsh as the Indian spiritual icon can get. What he fails to note is the overtones of racism throughout The Love Guru. Other reviewers caught on to that and pointed out how ridiculously whitewashed the character was. Tim Evans of Sky Movies wrote, “It seems the person in greatest need of a bit of self-help is Myers himself.”
5. Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls
Showgirls is a film so bad, it’s ridiculously good. It’s a movie you can watch again and again because the camp never gets old. It was released in 1995 but has remained a timeless cult classic. Consider yourself lucky if you’re able to catch it airing on daytime television because there’s nothing more hilarious than the CGI’d bathing suits on the topless female cast members.
Unfortunately for Elizabeth Berkley, the film was a gigantic flop. It basically destroyed any hopes she had of having a successful movie career, and she’s rarely seen on television either. Crazy because I always thought there was a huge market for actresses willing to lick a stripper pole. Top critics called Showgirls “one of the worst films of the year” and “a film of thunderous oafishness that gives adult subject matter the kind of bad name it does not need or deserve.” Yeah, but what other film is as notable as Showgirls i22 years after its release?
Unfortunately, even the film’s cult-classic status hasn’t revived Berkley’s career. That remains dead as a doornail. Hopefully, she doesn’t end up eating dog food like her character in Showgirls. “I used to love Doggy Chow, too!”
4. John Travolta in Battlefield Earth
John Travolta never got the memo that people don’t want to care about Scientology. Travolta seemed to be using the film to push his faith, which was not well-received. On top of the film being garbage, people were sick of Travolta comparing the film to his religion. “Well, they are kind of synonymous,” he said. “L. Ron Hubbard is very famous for Scientology and Dianetics. On the other hand, he’s equally as famous in the science fiction world.”
He claimed he didn’t want people to connect the film to Scientology yet seemed incapable of shutting up about their similarities. Perhaps, if it were a good movie, it could have survived the comparisons. But it was an absolute garbage movie.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critic consensus is this: “Ugly, campy, and poorly acted, Battlefield Earth is a stunningly misguided, aggressively bad sci-fi folly.” If you’re like me, you couldn’t sit through a single viewing. I was done after twenty minutes.
3. Kevin Costner in The Postman
As if Waterworld weren’t bad enough, Kevin Costner signed on for another epic failure, The Postman. The film takes place in post-apocalyptic America, a wasteland of unconnected communities. Costner, a surly vagabond, discovers a bag of 15-year-old mail and intends to deliver it in exchange for food. He inadvertently restarts the American government, which leads to a war of sorts.
It’s a terrific failure, much worse than Waterworld, which is redeemable in some parts. There is no redeeming The Postman. It stinks, and that’s one thing most people can agree on. It may be the one thing that connects us all.
The Postman is also way too long. If you’re going to watch this film, maybe just to riff on it, you’re in for a long night. As one reviewer puts it, it “wasn’t that bad for the first two hours but then kept going another hour.” A lot of reviewers agree: the film really takes a turn for the worse about midway through.
2. Jennifer Lopez in Gigli
Jennifer Lopez had a movie career before 2003’s Gigli. Since then, she’s starred in flop after flop. She doesn’t get offered blockbuster roles because she’s not a good actress and because she cost the studio so much money. Both she and Ben Affleck faced career troubles after their cringe-worthy performances in Gigli.
Before the awkwardly plotted Gigli tanked, Lopez had success in Maid in Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, and Enough. She wasn’t drawing in millions of dollars, but she had nailed down the romantic-comedy clichés she needed to continue working. That is, until Gigli.
Not only was the writing terrible, but Affleck and Lopez also had no chemistry. The two were an item in real life, so it just doesn’t make sense they couldn’t drum up some chemistry. The result was flat acting and a far-fetched relationship between two people who never should’ve signed on to make a film together. It’s so terrible, one reviewer suggested it has an “annihilating effect on your will to live.”
1. Chris Klein in Rollerball
Rollerball was the 2002 remake of a 1975 cult classic, which starred James Caan in the titular role. I like Chris Klein, but he’s no James Caan. The remake was bizarre, confusing, and seemed to be a parody of the original film, which is crazy because the original film seemed to be a parody of itself. Basically, Rollerball sucks, so if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and never watch it.
Before Rollerball, loveable hunk Chris Klein had starred in two American Pie films, the hilarious Farrelly Brothers’ comedy Say It Isn’t So, and Election. He had proven himself to have some acting chops and have the ability to fare well in comedic films.
Despite his stature, he isn’t right for action films. He couldn’t see this himself, so he took the main character role in Rollerball and destroyed his career. Since the epic flop, he’s starred in zero commercially successful films; although, he did have a recurring role on popular FX comedy, Wilfred.