Now that the former host of Celebrity Apprentice is the Commander in Chief, we need to assess how we got here and why the bar is set so ridiculously low. From the news that we glean over to the food we eat, the clothes we wear to the entertainment we indulge – somehow we fall further into rock bottom with every passing year.
This translates directly to the Hollywood industry, seeing the same old tired actors churn out the same garbage annually and no one is flagging the studios for this. With “retro” being all in vogue, anything that was semi-cool in the 80s and 90s is regurgitated with a “reboot” and what better way to remake a classic than digging up the cast?
This might go some way to explaining the following list – 15 actors we can’t believe still get work. Some tap into our nostalgia for simpler times when action stars and comedians could carry a motion picture by themselves without the need for an ensemble, but everything and everyone has a shelf life in the spotlight and these candidates are well beyond their used-by date.
The comedy genre seems to be a common denominator for recycling these faces. From Tyler Perry to Shawn Wayans, Eddie Murphy and of course Adam Sandler – these guys have bypassed the need to actually be funny by creating their own company and running the show. Credit to them for this, that is American entrepreneurship at its best, but as the audience, we’re the people being punished here.
The blurring of the lines with television offers us a release to escape this monopoly of terrible and before long they will be replaced with younger talent not tarnished with a ruined CV, but for some of these actors that time cannot come soon enough. They keep popping up on our screens and they keep cashing those paychecks – how did we stoop so low?
15 Hugh Grant
The stereotypical bumbling Englishman, Hugh Grant has been a stalwart of the big screen for a couple of decades and for some out there he has grown on them. But unless you are a 50 to 60 something housewife, chances are Mr. Grant does not do much for you. His hits in the 90s with Nothing Hill next to Julia Roberts with Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mickey Blue Eyes and Extreme Measures were followed into the turn of the Century with About a Boy, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.
All of these were good movies, some really good, but he played the exact same character and he keeps showing up with an identical shtick – check The Rewrite, Florence Foster Jenkins and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. If Hugh can do something radical and not portray a loveable floored white guy after 25 plus years in the industry, that would be great!
14 Armie Hammer
Far be it for us to write off a 30-year-old; there is time to develop skills and harness your craft until such time as you are ready. But in the case of Armie Hammer, there really isn’t much to work with. Putting aside The Social Network, a brilliant 2010 drama that mixed a haunting soundtrack and incredible screenplay from Aaron Sorkin. Directed by David Fincher, Hammer played both Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler.
Yet the boy from Los Angeles has been dining out on that ever since and cashed in on the comically bad The Lone Ranger with a cameo in Entourage and a half decent go at it in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He has been cast in the Amy Adams drama Nocturnal Animals, a film that is receiving warm reviews, yet Hammer should count himself lucky to be on the set. He has grown up around Hollywood types and looks the part, we just doubt he is made of the right stuff.
13 David Hasselhoff
Oh yeah – the Baywatch guy still works as an actor, did you not know this? Fair play because performers far more illustrious and talented have perished into the shadows long before The Hoff ever did, as Mitch Buchannon has got in on the joke and is carving out a niche for himself in comedies, animation features, and ridiculous reboots. Since the Knight Rider star helped to bring down the Berlin Wall singing his hugely popular track “Freedom” over in Germany, Hasselhoff became synonymous with the small screen and television movies.
Even by those low standards, he featured in some of the worst projects out there, such as various Baywatch spinoffs like Hawaiian Wedding, Baywatch Nights, the Marvel flop Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (now played by Samuel L. Jackson thank goodness) and Anaconda 3: Offspring – the titles kept coming. His latest work comes in the 4th installment of Sharknado and you know when that franchise passes you over for the first three, it is time to call it a day. Please.
12 Jennifer Lopez
It wasn’t until South Park took the absolute Micky out of J-Lo that the penny dropped for many people. Ms. Lopez is unquestionably a gifted entertainer who can sing and dance and radiate on screen, but her acting credentials? Starring in Gigli alongside her then hubby Ben Affleck in 2003 came after appearances in Enough, Maid in Manhattan and Selena. None of these movies left an impression of note and Lopez’s portrayals were fairly bang on average and that is being kind with some of these features, many flopping at the box office and with critics. Such is her ego though, she forged on with Parker, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Lila & Eve, The Back-up Plan and The Boy Next Door. This is a body of work that makes her recording career look like a masterpiece. She told us in 2001 “I’m Real” but her movie history would suggest the 47-year-old is anything but.
11 Eddie Murphy
For a moment there, Eddie Murphy did retire into the background and we remembered him for those classic 80s performances. Now at 55 he has re-emerged onto the scene and his choices have been less than glamorous. The stand-up comedian transitioned from funny guy to Hollywood box office material, starring in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, Coming to America, Trading Places, 48 Hrs., Harlem Nights and The Golden Child. The 90s were just as lucrative for the man that helped spawn the hour-long comedy special, making Boomerang, Bowfinger and The Nutty Professor iconic.
Then that sharp wit appeared to have abandoned him, much like his career choices. What would follow would be films like Norbit, A Thousand Words, Meet Dave, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and a litany of other features you have never watched or heard of. He might have a third coming with 2016’s drama Mr. Church which has received some good reviews so perhaps he has rediscovered that magic we fell in love with 30 years ago.
10 Ray Liotta
It would be superficial to judge anyone on their aesthetic look to determine their qualities, but something is going on with Ray Liotta and it is as obvious as the nose on his face. The 61-year-old must have had a mishap with some plastic surgery as his disfigurement appears to have impacted his movie career. Arguably the most talented of the 15 candidates, Liotta helped to pioneer that 90s gangster character in Goodfellas, Cop Land, Revolver and Forever Mine.
Liotta always brought an intensity with his roles and perhaps this cuts both ways when the profile of the films dropped off. See Stretch, Kill the Messenger, Sticky Notes and Go with Me for the most recent examples. Ray went from an A-lister to just another guy hanging around the back lots of Hollywood sets and it is an indictment no one has pointed this out to him. Try and remember the good times. Goodfellas was brilliant after all.
9 Anna Faris
There are few more loveable faces on screen than Anna Faris. She doesn’t take herself too seriously and always comes across like she is having a lot of fun on set. But if we are to strongly critique her male colleagues in the comedy industry for featuring in low-budget flops continuously, then we would not be doing our job for pointing out that Faris is lucky to still be getting the amount of work she does. Making her mark as Cindy Campbell in the Scary Movie franchise, that series was drained for all it was worth before Chris Pratt’s partner went on to films like Just Friends, Mama’s Boy, The House Bunny and Movie 43. Her most recent work aside from her regular gig on the sitcom Mom is starring as herself in a cameo in Keanu. Again, we must emphasis, she is a bubbling, engaging personality. But the CV speaks for itself.
8 Rob Schneider
Saturday Night Live has produced some of the best and brightest talents not only in comedy but drama as well, spawning actors who are adept at playing all types of characters and doing so in a pressurized environment. But Rob Schneider is very much the exception to this rule. The 53-year old scored a big break in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York as a bellhop and instead of using that film as a springboard to run for President like another certain Donald J. Trump did, he attached himself to Adam Sandler and would no let go.
Whether it be in the lead or cameo roles in mediocre to shocking flicks like 50 First Dates, Deuce Bigalow, Grown Ups, The Hot Chick, The Animal, The Benchwarmers or Big Stan – a movie whose entire punchline revolves around the hilarious concept of prison rape - Rob Schneider absolutely sucked. There is nothing worse in cinema than a comedy that isn’t funny and a comedian failing a that job. He does it as a career.
7 Ashton Kutcher
Whoever decided to hire this male model back in the late 90s and hand him an acting role has a hell of a lot to answer for. There have been fleeting moments of glory for Ashton Kutcher like The Butterfly Effect, a cameo in Reindeer Games and even the 2013 drama Jobs were he put in a decent effort playing the iconic Apple creator. But the misses heavily outweigh the hits and many argue his crowning achievements haven’t surpassed the mediocre bar.
From Killers to Just Married, What Happens in Vegas, My Boss’s Daughter, The Guardian and Spread – you’re left clutching at straws to understand why he manages to score these gigs. Now a regular on Two and a Half Men, it would appear as though that dumbed-down environment suits him following on from 2000’s Dude, Where’s My Car? Incredible to think they made an entire motion picture from a question that isn’t even close to verging on a premise. That’s Ashton Kutcher movies for you.
6 Megan Fox
OK, we get it, Megan Fox is hot. But what now? Much like her male counterpart in Mr. Kutcher, Hollywood has a terrible habit of mistaking beauty for ability and given her track record, the 30-year old is now the default hottie in most movies. Her biggest supporter Michael Bay loves using the actress in the overblown and bloated Transformers franchise, illustrating how cosmetic modern cinema has become. Fox’s cameo in This is 40 was invariably funny, only because Judd Apatow was able to contrast her against Leslie Mann’s character and her insecurities.
Throw in Jennifer’s Body, Jonah Hex, Friends with Kids, Passion Play and the awful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot for good measure and what are we truly left with? We don’t expect everyone to be Helen Mirren but we shouldn’t be seeing a living, breathing version of the mannequin challenge making such high profile appearances like this. There is more talent out there than they are given credit for and it’s an indictment they’re passed over for people like Fox.
5 Steven Seagal
The 90s version of Jason Statham. The cold, hard killer. The bad ass who wasn’t meant to be trifled with. Yes when you used to drive down to the local Blockbuster, invariably you would come across a litany of Steven Seagal movies in the action section with titles like Under Siege, Out for Justice, Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Exit Wounds, On Deadly Ground and other discarded James Bond draft names. He would have a serious expression across his face, holding a weapon and look up for a fight.
Don’t think for one moment he has slowed down, recently featuring in Force of Execution, Gunshot Straight, Maximum Conviction and other new B-grade pictures that go direct to Netflix. If you’ve seen one Steven Seagal instalment, first of all, sorry for that, but secondly – no need to keep going through his history because they are a carve and copy of one another.
4 Shawn Wayans
Shawn might be taking the brunt on this one, but the fact remains this really could be any of the Wayans clan. From Marlon to Damon and Dwayne – this is a high profile family who know how to stay employed on the big and small screen. Even the female side of the family tree in Kim and Elvira are out there doing their thing and are arguably the most talented of the group. 45-year-old Shawn though has made a comeback of sorts with the 2016 comedy White Chicks 2, a film that embodies whatever the opposite of “hotly anticipated” is.
It was 7 years previous Shawn Wayans last featured in anything of note, that being Dance Flick in 2009 and Little Man next to brother Marlon in 2006. Some may say he is trading on his name but we can’t be sure how much currency the Wayans name is worth these days. When LL Cool J exclaimed “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years,” at least we had fond memories.
3 Adam Sandler
His name is now a punchline, such is the absurdity of Adam Sandler circa 2016. The SNL performer burst through an edgy 90s scene where he would go from a bit-part player in a movie like Airheads and go on to be the lead character in Bulletproof, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy. He was even regarded as a quality dramatic actor by the early to mid 2000s through Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me alongside Don Cheadle. This was going to be his breakout moment, then he fell back into a comfort zone where he has remained ever since.
Check Grown Ups, The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, That’s My Boy and the nadir of bad movies – Jack and Jill. And even when he tried to do something semi-biographical and introspective in Funny People, it didn’t quite hit the mark. We hold out hope that something good will come our way and our patience will be rewarded because as sure as night follows day, Adam Sandler will be making movies. And s*** one’s at that.
2 Tyler Perry
There are things in this world that cannot be explained. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? And why do people keeping going to see Tyler Perry movies? His cross-dressing performances in the Madea franchise, a series of films where the 47-year old author, playwright, and director portrays an elderly black woman knows no bounds. His short appearance in the Ben Affleck drama Gone Girl reminded audiences that he is actually a very switched on, talented creator in his own right and credit to him – he is milking this for all it is worth.
Yet it is bewildering to think that Martin Lawrence was scorned and laughed out of town for doing the exact same thing in 2000 with Big Momma’s House, with Madea going on to be a cultural phenomenon. We hope and pray Boo! A Madea Halloween would be the end of it but we thought likewise when he made his debut with Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Make it stop!
1 Nicolas Cage
When was the last time Nicolas Cage made something of worth? The much maligned 52-year old has a voice and a manic personality that is fun to parody but many people forget how well he was received in the 1990s. From the classic thriller Face/Off next to John Travolta to Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas and the crazily good Wild at Heart, Cage was all the rage. But then something happened to the Academy Award winner, coinciding with one of the worst films in modern cinema – the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man.
From that point forward the man from Long Beach featured in endless flops from G-Force to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice to the side-splittingly awful Drive Angry – a movie where the trailer appeared like a Funny or Die segment more than a motion picture. Perhaps this is just the course of time and there is no rhyme nor reason for his staggering decline in Hollywood. Whatever the reason is, Nicolas Cage tops the lot for actors we can’t believe still get work.