Sometimes movies are hard to watch simply because their plot lines are horrible, the casting is subpar, or the subject is simply not covered in a way that viewers can relate to. The worst thing that can happen however, to the viewers and the actors involved, is to place the actors in a position that they must essentially put aside their principles and even their passion for acting by accepting the worst movie roles possible. When this happens it’s pretty obvious most times that the actors aren’t having a good time. This can affect a movie in many ways, not the least of which is that it will flop just because those directly involved with the end result weren’t feeling up to the challenge.
So with that said, here are 20 of the worst movie roles for some of the most fantastic actors.
20. Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble – Flintstones
The rest of the cast seemed to fit pretty well in this lovable flick that was essentially a quick ride to nowhere. But whoever was responsible for casting O’Donnell as the diminutive Betty Rubble obviously didn’t grow up watching the show. Not only is O’Donnell not even close to being the same body type, but her attitude and acting chops couldn’t even come close to make this character believable. Like her or not, O’Donnell is just not a good fit for this part.
19. George Lazenby as James Bond – On Her Majesty’s Service
Ask any fan of 007 who the best representation of the world’s most famous spy has been throughout the years and you might hear Connery, Brosnan, and even Craig mentioned more than once. You might even hear Dalton or Moore, but you will certainly not hear Lazenby as one of the absolute favorites. Not only did his acting flop, but his very person seemed to disrespect the character in a way that drove many fans away from the Bond franchise until the mistake was finally corrected. Give credit to the fans on this one, they actually came together as a group in declaring that this role was not meant for Lazenby.
18. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker – Dracula
There are moments when the timing is what really counts. In this rendition of the famed prince of darkness, Reeves wasn’t quite suited to the part largely because 1) he was too young, 2) his acting hadn’t reached its peak yet, and 3) His adventures with Bill weren’t quite so far in the past just yet. When you’re remembered fondly as being the guy with lines such as “Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K”, it’s kind of difficult for fans to adjust to a fake British accent and a very stodgy demeanor.
17. John Wayne as Genghis Khan – The Conqueror
Oh just think of how many people would be up in arms about this in the current day and age. Not only was an iconic character set into a role that didn’t play to his strengths, but he was given a title that many native Mongolians couldn’t live up to, let alone a star hailing from Winterset, Iowa. This role made absolutely no sense for a man such as John Wayne to perform largely because of how he’d been built up in the film industry. Placing him in a film such as this made about as much sense as placing Clint Eastwood in a musical, which unfortunately did happen.
16. Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush – W
This one is a little confusing but still easy enough to understand. While Banks doesn’t look a great deal like Bush, her costar didn’t closely resemble his counterpart either. It’s widely speculated that the director decided to put all hope on the movie doing well by hiring star talent rather than those who might have been a better fit. Unfortunately even a great actor can’t always pull a horrible role out of the fire without some collateral damage.
15. Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Let’s put it out there right now. This was offensive even during the time period it was made. There’s no question that it had no redeeming qualities then or now, and has gone down in history as one of the absolute worst depictions in any movie, ever. The harmful stereotype that was produced didn’t just damage the movie’s reputation, but did a number on one of America’s favorite actors as well. While some people either don’t remember or just don’t know, this role was one of the few that would go down in history as being a terrible presentation by both the actor and the director.
14. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates – Psycho
The thrill was still there, the suspense didn’t change, but the additions within the new version of this Hitchcock classic certainly didn’t do it any justice. And despite the fact that he does have talent, Vaughn just wasn’t suited to the role of a meek, shy innkeeper that liked to hack women to pieces while dressed as his mother. He can be funny, he can be serious, but psychotic is a bit of a stretch for him. Manic might work, but then it wouldn’t be the same.
13. Jessica Alba as Sue Storm – Fantastic 4
The choices made in this film were simply bad across the board. The only one that seemed to make sense was Mr. Fantastic, and even that was a stretch. Choosing Alba as the invisible woman however was a mistake that some agreed was bad while others contended wasn’t so horrible. In retrospect however many people simply feel that Alba was a mediocre actress in a role that almost demanded her to be over the top. Comic fans have been divided on this issue since the first film came out, and the debate continues to this day.
12. Mark Wahlberg as Captain Leo Davidson – Planet of the Apes
Here was the first failed attempt at a reboot for a true classic, and one that made the erroneous judgment call to use an up and coming star to push it into the mainstream. At this time it was almost as if everyone in Hollywood wanted Wahlberg just to see if he fit their niche. It was decided quickly however that many directors just couldn’t use a man that was more effective playing a sniper, a cop, or a hometown hero. Somehow a space captain just didn’t seem to fit Wahlberg’s character.
11. George Clooney as Batman/Bruce Wayne – Batman and Robin
The Batman franchise put in its revolving door not long after Michael Keaton left the role, and it proved to be a fast track to obscurity that Clooney just dodged. As Bruce Wayne he was the charming playboy that could change the mood in a room just by walking in. But as Batman that charm never seemed to go away, which mean that he lacked the dark and moody persona that makes Batman so memorable to so many. Clooney is right at home in films like “Ocean’s Eleven” and even “One Fine Day” where he can be the wisecracking charmer he plays so well. But Batman is best left to the brooding bunch, like Keaton or Bale.
10. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane – Superman Returns
Let’s say it plainly, she looked way too young to be a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist. In truth Bosworth looked like she just stepped out of college no matter that she put on the attitude of a seasoned and hard-nosed reporter. While age shouldn’t ever be an issue, and neither should appearance, sometimes using both as criteria for a role are a way to make certain that film has a little more credibility.
9. Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom – Spiderman 3
Yes, that kid from “That 70s Show” played Venom. Yes, it was terrible. Yes, it was cringe-worthy, and yes, it is preferred that people just forget it ever happened. With the news that fan favorite Tom Hardy will be taking on the role of the titular villain many fans have already been rejoicing and likely trying to forget Grace’s lackluster performance and the fact that he looked like a knock-off Spiderman crossed with one of the vampires from “30 Days of Night”. Grace didn’t really have much going before this film despite his very believable act from his role on “That 70s Show”, but after this, it’s not too much of a surprise that people don’t hear about him more often.
8. Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Every story has to start somewhere, and a character that acted in the 1970s and 80s isn’t a likely choice to play their younger selves, but Christensen was on a fast track to becoming famous, until this role came along. The throngs of Star Wars fans have been greatly divided when it comes to the prequels, as well as how the roles were cast. Christensen however has taken tremendous criticism for his acting, his look, and even the origin of his character. It’s ludicrous to think that he can control anything other than his own acting, but fans of Star Wars are perhaps some of the most demanding of any genre, and have for years now given a definitive thumbs down for Christensen’s performance.
7. Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone – The Godfather Part 3
There’s no doubt that this story was winding down by this point, and had passed the boundary that many fans would not cross. The first two films focused largely on the Corleone family and their problems, while the third film seemed intent on branching out in ways that fans were not ready for and introduced characters that many people did not know or did not care about in an effort to expand the film’s influence a bit. Mary Corleone was established in the prior film, but she was a child at that point and not as crucial of a character to the plot. By the third film she is grown, but her character arc is so far from the point of the story that it becomes more of a distraction than a welcome addition.
6. Kevin Costner as Robin Hood – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
As entertaining as this might have been in some areas it was not in any way a part that should have been given to Costner. Thankfully his career has been so great for so much of his life that he could take a hit like this and keep going. As a wisecracking archer that’s second to none when performing trick shots, he’s not too bad. But as a believable Englishman he’s about as effective as placing John Wayne in the role of Genghis Khan (see above). Despite the excellent backup from Morgan Freeman and the over the top villain in the late great Alan Rickman, Costner would have been better of just saying no to this less than adequate role.
5. Demi Moore as Hester Prynne – The Scarlet Letter
Has Demi Moore ever been believable in anything but a modern role? Signs point to no when it comes to this classic tale that most kid have read by junior high. As Prynne, Demi simply doesn’t seem to know how to act from one minute to the next, and in all honesty seems to stumble through the role. She might be better off playing a cop, an exotic dancer, or the tough-talking damsel in distress that she’s nailed before.
4. Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs – Jobs or Dude Where’s My Car
You can at least give Kutcher props in looking like the late Steve Jobs, as he was almost spot on there despite being a little more bulky than the real person. However, despite the fact that Kutcher can make us laugh and even have a genuine feeling at times, this film brought out none of that. It was in reality more of a rush job, no pun intended, than a true biopic of one of the most innovative minds of all time.
3. Jamie Dornan as Christian Gray – Fifty Shades of Gray
Like a lot of actors on this list, Dornan has had successful roles elsewhere and made a name for himself. But this film was not the role that he was meant to play. Despite the turnout for the film and the unbridled anticipation, a great many moviegoers and readers were no doubt quite disappointed when the film, and the acting, did not live up to their high expectations.
2. Joel Edgerton as Ramses II – Exodus: Gods and Kings
There seems to be a craze that allows for Caucasian actors to be placed in roles that are better suited for those that actually share the same heritage as the characters being played. Edgerton is Caucasian and there is no doubt about that even when he is in full makeup. As he and Christian Bale go about telling the story of Moses and how he saved his people from Egypt the biggest distraction isn’t the acting or the rest of the story, it’s that they are both Caucasians dressed as Egyptians. This simply doesn’t work, and obviously it didn’t help at the box office when the movie flopped.
1. Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau – The Pink Panther
A lot of us might remember the cartoons that made this franchise stinker possible, but we also remember a time when Steve Martin was genuinely funny. His stints on SNL and his notoriously funny F-bomb tirade on “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” are moments in cinema history that have cemented his place in Hollywood. But many fans would like to forget that he took on a role that essentially made him look like one of the biggest, bumbling buffoons in all of Hollywood. So just close your eyes and pretend it didn’t happen. Remember Steve Martin as a one of “two wild and crazy guys!” That should help.
*There are a ton more of these so expect a follow up piece!
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