Bad acting performances are a dime-a-dozen and if you want proof, take a gander at TotalFilm’s 50 Worst Acting Performances for a sampling. What’s not as common, however, are abysmal, embarrassing, laughable and shockingly terrible performances turned in by truly great actors. Whether it be a good or bad film, how often do you witness an generally reliable, Oscar-caliber actor completely phone it in?
I’ll grant you everything that Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino have made over the last 10 or 15 years might fall under this category, and if you want to qualify Nic Cage as a great actor (he does have an Oscar, after all), most of his recent performances may qualify as well, although I find that Cage’s performances typically suit the role, good or bad. Other bad performances by great actors — say, Jon Voight in Anaconda — actually seemed designed to be bad. After all, you don’t deliver an Oscar-worthy performance in a movie about a giant, man-eating snake, do you?
They may not all be Oscar or Emmy winning actors, but they have at least been mentioned in those conversations, and that makes these truly awful performances even harder to stomach.
Josh Brolin, Into the Blue
Eric Bana, Star Trek
John Wayne, Genghis Khan
Guy Pierce, Count of Monte Cristo
George Clooney, Batman and Robin
Morgan Freeman, Wanted
Clint Eastwood, The Eiger Sanction
Christian Bale, Terminator Salvation
Helen Mirren, National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Lucille Ball, Mame
Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Secret Window
Sean Connery, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Marlon Brando, The Island of Dr. Moreau
Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List
Laura Linney, Congo
Tommy Lee Jones, Batman Forever
Ben Kingsley in Species, Sound of Thunder, Thunderbirds, and Bloodrayne