Breaking into Hollywood is not easy. If you want to be in the movies and make it to the big leagues, then you’re going to suffer. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and everyone is climbing over each other to get the role of a lifetime. That said, true acting requires more than just simple hustling. Rather, those who work on the art itself are required to demonstrate a tremendous amount of emotional energy and vulnerability. The scariest challenge the large amount of actors face is their audience. One can never be sure how viewers will respond to something that presumably took plenty of work.
There are actors who dedicate their life to the craft, honing their skill into the acting equivalent of a surgeon’s scalpel. Some of these actors find success, but success doesn’t gear towards artists. It does however seem to favor those with inflated egos. Inexplicably, some of the world’s most famous actors only have limited talent and yet continue to monopolize the film market. When this happens, the real actors, as it were, are rarely seen. While they still make movies, those same films are buried underneath tons of generic popcorn flicks from straight off the presses.
While we’ll be looking at some of Hollywood’s most overrated stars, and we’ll also be examining a number of several underrated performers who, for one reason or another, have yet to gain the acclaim they more than deserve.
20 UNDERRATED: JAMIE BELL
A powerhouse of an actor, Jamie Bell broke out onto the acting scene when he starred in the beautiful film Billy Elliot in 2000. The movie was a terrific success. Nominated for three Academy Awards, Bell won a BAFTA for Best Actor on account of his performance. All that should have been enough to secure Jamie Bell’s future in acting. This was not the case.
Rather than taking Hollywood by storm, the young actor seems to operate on the fringe of the entertainment industry.
Yes, he has appeared in big hits like King Kong and Jumper (and was great in each of them), but Bell only seems to get cast for supporting roles. As Variety pointed out, Bell recently took part in the movie Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. It’s supposed to be great, so check it out when you can.
19 OVERRATED: WILL SMITH
Will Smith was introduced to the world in a big way when he appeared on the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That was enough to rocket him to the stratosphere; a place he’s never come down from. Many fans worship at the figurative altar of Will Smith. He’s charming, intelligent, and knows how to play a crowd; he also seemingly does any and every movie he can get his hands on.
Weirdly, even though many movies Smith has been in have flopped, these failures did absolutely nothing to hurt his career. He’s above that.
CyniCritics points out that he only seems to either play a smoother version of himself or he attempts to be morose and serious like Denzel Washington. The Pursuit of Happiness might be a great film, but you’d be hard-pressed to think of other amazing movies Will Smith has starred in.
18 UNDERRATED: THOMAS DEKKER
If you’re unfamiliar with his name, perhaps you’ve seen something Thomas Dekker has been in. First appearing on The Young and the Restless and then a couple Star Trek-related shows, he also did a bunch of voice-acting for various roles on TV and animated movies. It was his time on Heroes that made him stand out. Afterwards, he took on the role of John Connor on the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series. To the dismay of many, the show was cancelled before it could be given a proper finish.
Through it all he appeared in movie after movie, but was unable to catch the spark of stardom. His 2010 film Kaboom, while not necessarily his most iconic role, is essential viewing if you want an indicator of Dekker’s talent.
The role, which he pulls off organically, is complex, the movie is trippy, and everything about his performance works.
17 OVERRATED: HUGH JACKMAN
There’s no denying the talent that is Hugh Jackman. With a personality and a career that many actors never even approach, Hugh Jackman is at the top of his game and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Beloved by millions of people around the world, he’s one of the main reasons people go see the Wolverine-related X-Men movies.
A remarkably kind individual with a deeply loyal fanbase, it sometimes feels like Hugh Jackman can do no wrong. Well, that’s just not the case.
Many folks, including websites like Taste of Cinema, believe that although Jackman is a fun guy and gives over-the-top performances, he’s not exactly a nuanced actor; his characters are rarely fully fleshed. People love to praise Hugh Jackman, but maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for an exemplary actor.
16 UNDERRATED: TIMOTHY HUTTON
The youngest recipient in the Best Supporting Actor Category of the Academy Awards, Timothy Hutton blew people’s minds as Conrad Jarrett in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People. Starring alongside household names like Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland, Hutton ended up carrying most of the film and did so marvellously. Ordinary People was the sort of melancholic piece that critics adore and adore it they did. They also liked Hutton, just not enough to give the then 20-year-old his shot at the limelight. For whatever reason, according to Refinery 29, Timothy Hutton is still working, but it’s only in minor roles or playing minor parts movies. To his credit, Hutton almost caught a break when the show Leverage was on TNT, but since then, we haven’t seen much of the critically acclaimed actor. Still, chances are good that he has at least one great performance left.
15 OVERRATED: BRAD PITT
Brad Pitt. The name is synonymous with the idea of the male movie star. From his early career and even until now, Brad Pitt has paved the way for what it means to be the best-looking man in all of Hollywood, and even the world. Thanks to his good looks, he’s become one the biggest movie stars on the planet. However, as websites like Among Men are more than happy to point out, Brad Pitt is a movie star, but not a truly profound actor.
Granted, he’s been in some stellar movies, but those movies weren’t necessarily great just because he was in them.
Lately, Brad Pitt has taken some time away from being in front of the camera and is focusing on the role of a producer, and traveling the world with his family. Surely the time will come when Brad Pitt takes on a challenging role like with Fight Club or Moneyball.
14 UNDERRATED: LOGAN LERMAN
The earnest-looking and melancholic actor Logan Lerman caught the public imagination when he starred in the 2010 movie Percy Jackson & The Olympians. Yet people weren’t rushing to see him, but a YA book on the big screen. Even before then, he’d appeared in movies like 3:10 To Yuma and Gamer.
However, for all the big titles he’s done, it’s the indie films where he shines… it’s just that few people don’t take the time to watch them.
Always starring in movies or working in entertainment to some degree, the 26- year-old actor has done enough that he should be a household name. With films like The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Fury, Indignation, and The Vanishing of Sidney Hall under his belt (the final of which demonstrated a gift for acting unlike nearly anything seen in years), why isn’t Logan Lerman more recognizable?
13 OVERRATED: LEONARDO DICAPRIO
Let’s start by admitting Leonardo DiCaprio has proven his acting chops time and again. The problem isn’t whether or not DiCaprio is a good actor; it goes much deeper than that. What Culture remarked that actors like Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Hardy completely inhabit their roles, transcending their own personalities. Actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and others, not only steer toward roles that match their respective image, but roles they know will bring in the big bucks. It got where DiCaprio was so desperate to be taken seriously, everyone joked about The Revenant and how it was his grand attempt to win an Oscar. Thankfully he did, which prevented him from going insane, but the issue remains: when you’re watching a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, you know you’re watching DiCaprio. There is little separation between the characters he plays and him, and it can be distracting.
12 UNDERRATED: CILLIAN MURPHY
Coming from Ireland, the 41-year-old Cillian Murphy is an actor like few others. Quite frankly, the man does not get enough credit for the many performances he’s given over the years. Starring in a rather startling number of films, many of which you likely haven’t seen, he often chooses roles that are challenging and complex for himself and the audience. This has enabled him to avoid typecasting, but likely serves as a double-edged sword, since getting typecast allows for more roles.
Even though he’d been around beforehand, Cillian Murphy caught the attention of people back in the 2002 zombie movie 28 Days Later and shortly thereafter in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy as the Scarecrow. While he’s been in high profile movies, Murphy hasn’t become high profile. That doesn’t mean he isn’t working. Deadline reported he’s pretty active on the BBC Two show Peaky Blinders.
11 OVERRATED: ADAM SANDLER
There has to be a reason why Adam Sandler keeps getting work, at least in theory. Back in Sandler’s early days he put out some quality comedy classics like The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, and Billy Madison, but it’s come to feel like those days are long gone and never coming back. In spite of this, Sandler continues making movies and his movies keep bombing at the box office. Has this deterred Sandler? Not in the least! If anything, he’s taken it up as some kind of challenge. When you look at reviews from The LA Times, you notice how everyone has picked up on what Sandler has not: he’s a depreciating asset in Hollywood. Nothing he does works anymore, but he remains one of the highest paid actors on the face of the planet.
10 UNDERRATED: AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON
A Golden Globe winner and one of the best-looking young actors out there, Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn’t only a pretty face. Behind those baby blue eyes is a performer with a raw talent for acting that can’t be simply learned. Starring in movies like Nocturnal Animals, Nowhere Boy, Kick-Ass, Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and numerous others, Johnson first began acting at the age of six. Like many talented thespians, Johnson requires exceptional material so he can deliver an exceptional performance.
If you were looking to see what the 27-year-old actor is capable of outside of mainstream Hollywood productions, we’d highly recommend Nowhere Boy; it’s essentially a coming of age story of singer John Lennon of The Beatles.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson deserves plenty of praise more. According to IMDB, he’ll appear in Outlaw King later this year; might be worth checking out!
9 OVERRATED: ZAC EFRON
To be fair, Zac Efron is trying his best to get recognized as an A-list actor. However, it doesn’t help that he’s based much of his career on refusing to wear a shirt, just so he can show off his ridiculous muscles. It’s something actor Matthew McConaughey recognized when he transitioned over from being just another pretty-boy in romantic comedies, to a serious actor who was well respected. Regardless, we’re here to talk about Zac Efron.
Since his time with High School Musical, the man has definitely shown artistic growth, but the main reason he fills seats in theaters isn’t because of his dramatic chops, but because people are hoping to see this frat-boy comedian take his shirt off and make dumb jokes.
Many online publications such as Screen Rant claim there’s little hint of emotion in his performances.
8 UNDERRATED: EDDIE REDMAYNE
By now, many people ought to be aware of Eddie Redmayne. Though he started his career as fashion model, the gentle-mannered Englishman moved to acting. From there, he received plenty of critical acclaim for movies like The Danish Girl, Les Miserables, The Theory of Everything, and even Savage Grace; just as people paid attention to his performances, they forgot about him just as suddenly. It doesn’t matter that he’s in the new Harry Potter-related movies. People are attracted to the Harry Potter brand and not Eddie Redmayne himself; there’s a difference. Indeed, there are moments when Redmayne seems to eclipse the world with his presence, but then he disappears into the ether. One could spout endless praise for Eddie Redmayne and his hypnotic presence on screen, but it’d be better if everyone just watched his movies.
7 OVERRATED: JOHNNY DEPP
Do you remember the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie? That was good stuff! As for everything that’s followed since? Well, its felt like Johnny Depp has pulled audiences into a perpetual fever dream nobody, including himself, can escape. Before the endless Pirate of the Caribbean sequels and bizarre Tim Burton movies, Depp was in quality cinematic features like Donnie Brasco.
Clearly Johnny Depp is talented, or he wouldn’t have received all the work he’s been given. However, there’s the lingering sense that we’re living in Depp’s world, a world that involves outlandish costumes and weird accents.
If he didn’t dress like he threw on whatever he found in the attic of a crazed fashionista from around the turn of the century, it’d be easier to take him seriously nowadays.
6 UNDERRATED: BEN WHISHAW
If ever there was an actor who encapsulated what it meant to have a quiet talent, it’s Ben Whishaw. The handsome Englishman has been in many movies and TV shows; the amazing thing is that he’s terrific in them all. From shows like London Spy and The Hour, to playing James Bond’s tech assistant Q, there really is no role Whishaw cannot command. Able to play the smartest man in the room, or perhaps a recovering addict, your eyes never waver whenever Ben Whishaw works his magic. With a penchant for playing damaged characters, there’s a degree of innocence to his look and mannerisms that disarms the viewer; his eyes hide raw emotion behind the surface which pulls the viewer in. The Guardian claimed that he’s the actor that directors call upon when they’re in need of someone with great emotional range.
5 OVERRATED: CHANNING TATUM
Actors like Channing Tatum are a mystery. It’s hard to know whether people like him because of his disarming smile and good looks or whether they think he’s a talented actor. If you ask the Internet whether Channing Tatum is overrated or not, the answer is yes, and websites like Ranker emphasize the point.
Certainly the man is intelligent, that’s not even a question considering where he came from and where he is now. He knows business and knows the best way to make loads of money. Channing Tatum is also well aware that in order to make lots of money, you don’t need to act terribly well. Many find him boring on account of his lack of stage presence. In looking over his filmography, the only movie that required emotional range was Dear John. Everything else involved explosions, Jonah Hill, or the removal of clothing.
4 UNDERRATED: NICHOLAS HOULT
Nicholas Hoult is, and has always been, a dynamo of an actor since he appeared in About A Boy. He isn’t satisfied with doing the same thing over and over, but seeks out roles of numerous varieties. He’s known for the TV show Skins, and movies like A Single Man, Rebel In The Rye, Warm Bodies, and even some of the latest X-Men movies. Unfortunately, much of the good stuff he’s in is often buried and one never sees it.
Given an excellent screenplay, Hoult will deliver a whirlwind of a performance, the likes of which is rare amongst young actors. In a perfect world, he’d be remembered as one of the greats. While still making movies, People reported Hoult just became a father, so he might be taking some family time for a bit.
3 OVERRATED: BEN AFFLECK
People seem to forget that before it was announced Ben Affleck would be playing Batman, there wasn’t much attention given to him. Fans of the superhero genre were originally outraged that Affleck would be portraying one of the most iconic fictional pop culture characters of all time. Though the rage was somewhat unwarranted, the man has had a tough time with giving consistent performances. For every Argo, there was at least several Giglis.
Again, Ben Affleck isn’t a bad actor, it’s just that people should spend less time focusing on his acting chops and instead marvel at how awesome a director he is. Forbes hit it on the nose when they said it’s a shame that it’s taken so long for Affleck to get behind the camera.
2 UNDERRATED: MICHAEL BIEHN
If you want an actor who can do everything from fight like a pro to give emotional dialogue heartfelt enough to make grown men cry, then Michael Biehn is your guy. Michael Biehn should’ve been one of the biggest action stars on the planet. His name ought to be side-by-side with other action movie alums like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Horribly underappreciated, Biehn really jumped in the public eye in James Cameron’s The Terminator in 1984. Playing the part of a soldier sent from the future, Biehn could have played the role carelessly, but instead added depth to Kyle Reese; the character is popular to this day.
Biehn would go on to star in other great movies like Aliens, The Abyss, and The Rock, and each time he would give it his all. With over 100 acting credits to his name, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be considered A-list.
1 OVERRATED: TOM CRUISE
Beginning his acting career at the age of nineteen, Tom Cruise embodies what it means to be a box office sensation. Climbing the Hollywood ladder in sensational fashion, it wasn’t long until Tom Cruise became a household name worldwide. Everybody with a TV knows who the actor is and everyone always goes to his movies. Though people give him a hard time about this and that, he’s proven very capable and a good number of his performances are rather memorable. What Culture claims that it’s a shame that, for the most part, Cruise chooses to play it safe and stick with generic, blockbuster roles. You could swap Tom Cruise out of any of his movies and put him and any other of his movies and it would feel the same; there’s hardly any differentiation in acting technique from one role to the other.