It may look like a great life, but being an actor is hard work. Going out on auditions, taking any acting role you can get, hoping that each gig will be the one that turns you into a success who doesn’t need to ask mom for rent money that month.
If you’re lucky, you get to be one of the few actors who makes a real living doing the thing you love. If you’re super lucky, you become a star, hobnobbing with the other stars at the Oscars. Not everyone can be Simon Pegg, going from living in a small apartment with his best friend to working alongside Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible series. It takes a lot of work, a lot of luck, and more than a few embarrassing moments.
Those embarrassing moments are the ones the stars hope will be forever forgotten. We’re not talking the drunken yelling at a photographer outside a restaurant – things like that will be forgotten in a few weeks. No, we’re talking about life long shame forever enshrined on film, put onto DVD or, gasp, showing up on Netflix for the whole world to see.
Look upon these not great movies that some of our greatest actors worked in and remind yourself that even the stars of yesterday and today started off just like you; just trying to get by and pay the rent. Here, to help boost your confidence, are fifteen stars who made some truly bad movies.
15. Paul Rudd And The Curse Of Michael Myers
Everyone loves Paul Rudd. How could you not? He’s a great actor, he’s funny, and he’s filled with charisma. While he’s best known for his comedic work in movies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Wanderlust, he’s shown the world that he can work in drama too, taking on roles in films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and now he’s an action star with Ant Man. Is there anything Rudd can’t do?
Just as his career was starting to really take off with the one-two punch of the successful TV series Sisters and the classic teen movie Clueless, Paul Rudd was facing his first stinker, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
The movie, to put it nicely, is terrible. Rudd does his best, but studio interference on what was reportedly a great script, mixed with re-shoots based on the reactions from a test screening, and the death of actor Donald Pleasence, lead to a disaster of a movie. Lucky for us, Rudd was able to get over the poor reviews and even poorer box office to become the star we all love today.
14. Amy Adams And The Unintended Cruelty
From the outside, Amy Adams’ career seems to have taken off overnight, and that rocket is still heading up. Since her attention grabbing performance in Junebug, Adams has been nominated for over a hundred awards, including five Oscar nominations.
If you think Junebug was where it all began for the amazing actress, think again! Along with a long line of TV appearances in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and The West Wing, Adams made more than her fair share of not great movies, including Cruel Intentions 2.
Unlike its successful but not very good predecessor which starred Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Cruel Intentions 2 started off as a TV series for Fox before it was cancelled without ever being aired. The three filmed episodes were edited together, and new scenes were filmed to get some nudity onto the screen before it was pushed out on DVD.
13. Robert Downey Jr. Rents His Lips
When we think of Robert Downey Jr. these days, it’s hard to imagine a time when his career was anything but great. The face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, RDJ has turned from a Hollywood cautionary tale, showing how drugs could ruin a once in a generation talent, to the story about a man who went through hell and came out the other end stronger, and we’re all lucky that he did. I mean, who else could play Tony Stark?
By 1988, RDJ’s career was already in a bad spot. He was part of the worst cast Saturday Night Live had ever, and has ever, seen. After the vast majority of the cast was fired from the classic variety show, RDJ found himself playing second fiddle to Anthony Michael Hall before taking on the role of Wolf Dangler in Rented Lips, a not very good comedy about a documentary filmmaker who is forced to make a blue movie. If you want to see Rented Lips, good luck – the movie, directed by Robert Downey Sr., has never been released on DVD.
12. Chris Evans May Wish He Hadn’t Scored
Before he was Captain America, before he was the Human Torch, Chris Evans got his big break playing Kyle in the much loved high school heist film The Perfect Score.
Did I say much loved? I mean little seen and poorly reviewed with a whopping 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the movie, Evans and his teenaged pals, including his Marvel co-worker Scarlett Johansson, plan to steal the answers to the SATs so that they can all get perfect scores and go on to great colleges. Evans’ character has the kind of grand dreams that draw audiences to the theater – he wants to study agriculture at Cornell! How exciting!
The movie, with a budget of $40 million, grossed just $10 million in theaters. Evans followed it up with the better but still not great Cellular and his first superhero role in Fantastic Four, a movie that no one seems to like but still grossed $300 million.
11. Scarlett Johansson Loses The Spirit
We’re on a Marvel roll here!
By 2008, Scarlett Johansson was already a big name. Having shown off just how great of an actor she is with movies like Ghost World, Lost In Translation and Match Point, everyone knew that Johansson wasn’t going to fall off the map any time soon. Why she chose to be in The Spirit is a question that will hound film fans for ages.
The movie, based on Will Eisner’s classic comic book character, was written and directed by comic icon Frank Miller whose own work – 300 and Sin City – had been turned into very successful films. What the producers, the studio, and the actors all seemed to forget was that the film versions of 300 and Sin City weren’t written or directed by Miller. Miller’s last movie work was in 1993 when he wrote the scripts for RoboCop 2 and 3, two movies that are not good.
10. Channing Tatum May Want to Supercross This Off His Resume
Channing Tatum‘s story is a Hollywood fairytale. A college drop out working as a male stripper, Tatum got his start in the music video for Ricky Martin‘s hit song “She Bangs” before getting signed to a modeling agency. After a few years of model and commercial work, Tatum was cast in Coach Carter and his acting career began.
Supercross isn’t just a serious bomb – with a budget of $30 million it grossed just $3 million – it is also an amazingly poorly reviewed film with a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Lucky for Tatum, the year after Supercross, he had a massive hit with Step Up and a critical success with A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, which co-starred Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBeouf, and Rosario Dawson.
9. Rosario Dawson Wishes She Never Went to Pluto
Speaking of Rosario Dawson…
Dawson started her career with the brilliant and controversial movie Kids and followed it up by working with such icons as Spike Lee, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Will Smith. Oh and Eddie Murphy, though she may not want to bring that one up.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash should have been a huge hit; Eddie Murphy had turned himself into a family movie giant with the Dr. Dolittle and Nutty Professor series, not to mention Shrek, and there were no signs that his new career direction would hit a speed bump. At least, no sign until this terrible movie.
The movie, about a former smuggler turned nightclub owner who lives in Little America on the moon, cost $100 million to make and grossed just $7 million. Adding insult to the box office injury, The Adventures of Pluto Nash was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, and Worst Director. If you’re wondering, Murphy got the Worst Actor nomination. Dawson walked away clean.
8. Tobey Maguire And The Not Very Good German
Its true. The Good German, based on the people in front of and behind the camera, should have been a surefire awards winner, but instead it sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed just a sixth of its budget.
The movie, set in Germany just after the end of World War II, was filmed to resemble the classic film noir movies of the 1940s, focused too much on style and not enough on character or plot. In it, Maguire plays the always needed dead guy in order for there to be a mystery. Maybe it would have been better for Maguire if he played dead when his agent brought him the script.
7. Sandra Bullock Probably Wanted A Fire On The Set
Sandra Bullock is an endlessly talented actor. Comedy, drama, action, horror… she can do it all. While she first started working in 1987, she was deemed an overnight success when she had the one-two punch of Demolition Man and Speed in 1993 and 1994, making her one of the biggest names around. Over the years, Bullock has had her ups and downs, each time coming back and reminding everyone just how great she is.
Still, there’s that one movie that we all know she wants us to never bring up, Fire on the Amazon.
The movie, which has a plot that is so boring I fear that if I make you read it, you will slip into a coma, features a scene that has spread across the internet with the fury usually saved for political scandals involving family first politicians who get caught with their mistresses.
The scene, which is shot like a softcore adult film that even Cinemax would reject, has Bullock and actor Craig Sheffer acting out the most uncomfortable sex scene ever put on video. For the betterment of humanity, I think we all really should forget this one.
6. Stallone Doesn’t Want You to Come to This Party
Sylvester Stallone‘s rise to stardom so closely resembles the movie that made him famous, it makes it hard not to believe in fate. The struggling actor, tired of not getting good roles, wrote the screenplay for Rocky and the rest is history.
But before Stallone showed the world just how good of an actor he was, he went through a lot of small roles in a lot of movies. From a subway thug in Woody Allen‘s Bananas to Machine Gun Joe Viterbo in the cult classic Death Race 2000, the guy took any job he could get, even starring in a softcore skin flick.
Originally titled The Party at Kitty and Stud’s, but re-released as Italian Stallion after the success of Rocky, Stallone plays the titular character, Stud, who throws a party with his girlfriend Kitty. The party, as you may have guessed, turns into an orgy. Stallone was paid a whole $200 for the two day shoot.
5. Tom Hardy Needs A Lethal Dose of Something To Forget This One
Tom Hardy is well on his way to being an icon. Between his amazing work in movies like Bronson to the work he put in to revive the greatest post-apocalyptic hero of all time in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hardy will never be forgotten. That said, there is one movie he may hope we all forget exists, and I’m not talking about Star Trek: Nemesis.
In 2003, Hardy popped up in a low budget British horror movie with the overly complicated title LD50: Lethal Dose. The movie follows a group of activists who break into a remote lab to save their buddy only to be taken out one by one by a strange electrical force.
Acting alongside Hardy is Melanie Brown, who you may remember better as Scary Spice from the 90s girl group Spice Girls. While LD50: Lethal Dose was savaged by critics, the movie did manage to make $38 million off of an $8 million dollar budget.
4. Tom Hanks Wishes He Was Alone In Remembering This One
Tom Hanks is the epitome of greatness. The actor has proven time and again that he can do it all. He’s great in comedies like The ‘Burbs, and great in dramas like Philadelphia. He even kicks butt when he’s animated, as we can all see in the Toy Story movies. Along with two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes, Hanks has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And through it all, he’s a kind and funny guy. If that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.
Of course, he wouldn’t be on this list if he didn’t have at least one flick he may want us all to ignore. For Hanks, that honor goes to He Knows You’re Alone, a horror movie that is light on horror and heavy on dull.
In the movie, which was inspired by the success of John Carpenter‘s Halloween, Tom Hanks is a psychology student who shows up in maybe two scenes. Even in this far from good movie you can see that Hanks is not just charismatic, but a good actor to boot.
3. Halle Berry Made A Purr-fectly Terrible Catwoman
Halle Berry is an actress who never gets the credit she deserves, and it may be because she chooses some terrible movies to be in, or at least movies that don’t show off her acting talents. Sure, the X-Men movies are OK, but Berry’s Storm never has much to do (and her accent in the first one is awful) but look at her work in films like Bulworth or Cloud Atlas. If those don’t convince you, maybe her Oscar winning work in Monster’s Ball will.
One movie that certainly won’t convince you that Berry is a great actor is Catwoman. The movie, which I still think was made as a dare, isn’t just bad, it is a crime against humanity. Along with Berry’s poor work there’s a terrible script, incompetent directing and even worse editing. The only positive is that Halle Berry looks amazing in the costume.
2. Bruce Willis Really Copped Out
The movie, originally titled A Couple of Dicks, follows two New York cops played by Willis and Tracy Morgan as they hunt down a stolen baseball card. Tagging along with the cops is a thief played by Sean William Scott. Now, based on the cast, you may think the movie would be funny, but you would be very wrong.
It would be easy to lay all the problems at the feet of director Kevin Smith, but a movie this bad is a team effort. In every scene it is painfully clear that Willis doesn’t want to be there. Would the film have been better if Willis gave even an ounce of energy? Maybe. At least then Tracy Morgan would have had someone to work off of.
Why Willis is so uninterested in acting in Cop Out is open to debate, but I get the feeling that the script just wasn’t good.
1. Leonardo Di Caprio Sues To Keep You From Seeing Don’s Plum
We’ve looked at a lot of great actors who surely wish some of their movies would go away, but only one of them actually sued to make it happen.
In 1995, when Leonardo DiCaprio was well known, but far from the celebrated actor he would become, he made a low budget film called Don’s Plum with some of his friends, including Tobey Maguire and Entourage’s Kevin Connolly. The movie takes place over the course of a single night while a bunch of 20-somethings sit around eating and talking about their lives.
Apparently, DiCaprio and Maguire didn’t like the final cut of the movie. Not only did they not like it, they worried that it could hurt their growing careers, so they sued to keep it out of theaters in the US and Canada. Did DiCaprio and Maguire overreact? You can decide for yourself, as the movie is streaming for free on YouTube.