21 Dreadful Performances Phoned in By Truly Great Actors

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