There are times when I almost feel sorry for actors. They live their lives in the public eye and no action or omission goes unnoticed. On top of that, there is never a shortage of critics and haters. Their job is among the most heavily scrutinized on the planet. Then again however, there are people starving and suffering from innumerable diseases who would love to list “too much attention” as their main problem in life.
With that said, in any show business job there are performers who take nonstop scrutiny but also those who take nearly none. For instance, in music, when is the last time somebody said something to the effect of “why is Eric Clapton even famous?” The answer is, of course, that he is a gifted guitarist with some of the most addicting riffs and intricate solos ever created. On the flip side, bands like Nickelback can’t get a kind word (whether they deserve one is another discussion).
The same variance exists for screen actors. There are some actors who are widely accepted as brilliant. Sir Patrick Stewart is one of them, and Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio can also be considered for the list of sharp, consistent talents. On the other hand, there are some performers out there who just mail it in every time. Along with those who just show up on screen poorly, there are those whose personal lives prevent them from being liked in the eyes of some fans. Here is our list of ten actors who receive far too much criticism, and why we think they deserve some praise.
10. Matthew McConaughey
We start off our list with an actor who has been lampooned all over the internet and more than once on Family Guy. People hate on Matthew McConaughey for (allegedly) being a pot-smoking, semi-philosophizing, womanizing pretty boy with an accent, and plenty of people think he can’t act and hate the amount of cheesy rom-coms he’s been in. With regard to the first five things listed there; don’t hate a guy because you’re jealous. The list of beautiful women with whom he has been is long, he has the accent of a laid back southerner and has clearly spent plenty of time making himself look good.
Moving on to the “can’t act” accusation and romantic comedies: Interstellar, A Time to Kill, Dazed and Confused and Dallas Buyers Club are solid movies and ones in which he performed well.
9. Sylvester Stallone
Go watch that final scene of Rambo: First Blood in which John Rambo pours his heart out to Colonel Trautman, and then tell me Sylvester Stallone has no acting chops. Unfortunately, people call Sly a “one-trick-pony” and other similar synonyms. Admittedly, Stallone is first and foremost an action-adventure movie maker and actor, but why is this used as a criticism? Imagine you’re a successful beer brewer (maybe you are, if so, well done, I’d like to watch football and talk about beer with you), and somebody said “hey you one-trick-pony loser, why don’t you brew whiskey?!”. Who wants to see Stallone in something that isn’t an action-packed shoot-em-up or a sports flick? He makes the kind of movies that suit his style and he plays his characters well. Get off his case.
8. Charlie Sheen
The Warlock, also known as Carlos Estevez and “Cocaine Incarnate” has been criticized throughout his career for not only his acting, but also his personal life. With regard to his acting, much of his early career was action and war movies, with some exceptions, such as Wall Street and Major League. Platoon was incredible and Sheen was no exception. He played Chris Taylor, a somewhat educated soldier who enlisted in the United States Army. The character was a tough one and he played it well. He went on to star in Navy SEALS, a campy, but passable flick about, well, you guessed it, SEALS.
Later in his career, he has switched to television shows, starring in Two and a Half Men and Anger Management. On these shows, he played/plays, well, himself. On Two and Half Men, Charlie Harper was a drunken slacker who loved prostitutes and cocaine. That is Charlie Sheen. Charlie Goodson was an anger therapist with a fondness for womanizing. In real life, these are the things that appeal to Charlie Sheen. No matter how many people criticize him for this, many of us would seek that kind of life, were it available. Again, he isn’t the best actor in the world by any means, but he’s been making people laugh for ages and deserves plenty of respect (at least for that).
7. Dwayne Johnson
The Rock is the most successful athlete-turned-actor out there. He was a defensive lineman at the University of Miami, went on to be one of the most popular wrestlers of his time, and is now one of the biggest actors out there. On top of that, he’s a great guy, treats his mother and family like gold and entertains his fans with pictures of his post-workout meals, and offers workout motivation in his spare time.
It would be hard to say he is the greatest actor out there, but at the end of the day, his work makes people happy, there is absolutely no need to hate on the guy.
6. Ashton Kutcher
Back to the defense of another actor criticized for being a “pretty boy”. Much like McConaughey, Ashton Kutcher is hated by many for being a good looking guy who “can’t act”. On television he is best known for Michael Kelso on That 70’s Show and Walden Schmidt on Two and a Half Men. Kelso was an immature, class-clown type and one of the funniest TV characters of the last couple of decades. Walden Schmidt was the replacement for Charlie Harper after Charlie Sheen’s “meltdown”. He was a childish but incredibly intelligent billionaire with a heart of gold.
Ashton Kutcher is not a brilliant actor by any means, nor are most of the members of this list. But, he plays silly, fun, entertaining characters and nobody should hate him for that. Will he ever win an Oscar? Probably not; but as an entertainer, he is solid. Give him a break, sit back and enjoy some laughs.
5. Keanu Reeves
This is a tough one because when it comes to facial expressions, many people think Keanu Reeves is just a step above Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Plenty of his criticism comes from The Matrix trilogy, in which he played Neo, the man who frees the human race from robot overlords. All of the characters in the movie were somewhat emotionless however, and that was part of the story. They were freedom fighters in a David versus Goliath type battle.
His acting is besides the point, however. He’s clearly somewhat talented or he wouldn’t have been working since the 1980’s. The fact of the matter is: Keanu Reeves is an amazing person to work with, having taken pay cuts so that movies could hire other big names, and also so that more money could be given to other crew members. Along with that, even outside of the world of movies, he is known as a kind and generous soul who actually donates significant amounts of his money from acting to his favorite causes.
Does all this make him immune from criticism? No, but calling for him to shut down his career because he doesn’t show the right amount of emotion is just ignorant. If he was actually bad, nobody would work with him. Too many critics out there just like creating punching bags. Good for them.
4. Samuel L. Jackson
Most of the criticism for Samuel L. Jackson stems from his willingness to be in just about any movie. People have called him things to the effect of “whore” but at the end of the day, he has a talent, and when somebody offers him money to exercise that talent, he does. His attitude of “pay me and I will act” is a testament to his attitude toward life and his work ethic, which is among the best in the industry. Plain and simple, his hardworking nature is something that started early in his life and he has taken it into his acting career. That’s what hard work can get a man; over $170 million in gross earnings across all of the movies in which he has acted.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnie takes plenty of criticism over the fact that his acting is somewhat suspect. He generally plays either a robot or a soldier. Neither show much in the way of emotion and he seldom has a lot of lines in his movies. Is this a problem? When he started acting he barely spoke English; get off your high horse.
On top of that: Schwarzenegger has accomplished more in his life than most of us can even dream of. He’s made tens of millions by acting, and been elected Governor of California, despite not being from the country. For those of you saying “but he’s Republican”, there are millions of brilliant Republican voters and supporters, just like there are millions of stupid Democrat fans. Without perfect diction and a slightly off accent, this man has done things that even other powerful people can’t achieve. Plenty of politicians don’t get elected as Governor, plenty of actors never get huge roles, and plenty of body builders never get selected as Mr. Universe. This guy did all three.
2. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler is currently taking a great deal of heat for some off-color jokes about Native Americans in a flick on which he is currently working. A group of Native Americans walked off his set in response to some parts of the script that were deemed offensive and disrespectful. I won’t advocate ridiculing a culture, but if one shows up to be an extra for a comedy film, be ready for something that might offend. At least half of any decent comedy is offense.
But getting back to Adam Sandler and his career, beyond the recent complaints, his work is constantly criticized because he always plays the same character: the man-child. From Billy Madison to Bobby Boucher, he’s the same guy. He makes corny jokes, appeals to our inner child and offers some cheap laughs that distract us from having to go to work the next day. He’s a gifted entertainer and while he has made some less than stellar films, there is a reason he is one of the most successful comedians of all time.
1. Hayden Christensen
Admittedly, I was not a fan of his performances in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. With that said however, there are far too many people out there who denigrate his career based on those two films alone. The problems with chapters 1-3 of Star Wars start well before his casting. The script is among the most awkward to ever hit the big screen and unfortunately, Christensen was thrown under the bus for “overacting”. I’m willing to play “Devil’s Advocate” here and say that what others call “overacting” is actually a decent portrayal of a young Darth Vader; terrified but also riding an unbridled adrenaline rush fueled by his increasingly unharnessed power. With that said, those two movies were so poorly concocted across the board that fans have had to find a scapegoat; and as Yoda might say, “young Vader it was”.
Still disagree? Fine. I’ll live. But watch any non Star Wars film featuring Hayden Christensen; he’s a talented actor. Shattered Glass is based on the true story of Stephen Glass; a reporter for The New Republic who fabricated numerous stories. Christensen’s performance was phenomenal.
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