These actors have proved that they’re only human
5) Eddie Redmayne: Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Redmayne may be relatively new on the Hollywood scene, but he’s already made a major blunder. I’m not personally a huge fan of his overly expressive, unsubtle acting style, but his undeniably brilliant performance in The Theory of Everything has proven that he’s an actor with great potential. Devout fans of Redmayne should just be glad that this stinker is the exception in his expanding filmography, and try and confine it to the deepest, darkest recesses of their minds.
Whilst Redmayne’s acting is just one of a host of things wrong with this film, his performance is for me the standout slice of awful on offer. He plays a villainous, antagonistic character, a part he hasn’t attempted before. The issue is that Redmayne is far too unthreatening. He tries to lower his voice, attempting a brooding and ominous tone, but his voice is shaky, soft and he sounds like a cartoon villain who would fit into a Spongebob episode. He tries to be erratic to display an air of unpredictability and menace, but every time he sporadically screams a line it’s hilarious (although it might burst your eardrum). He just doesn’t have the appearance or domineering presence to pull this character off. He tries to play what should have been a fun, goofy character, in an overly serious manner. This was a massively ill-judged piece of casting. Redmayne is better suited to the Oscar bait cinema which made him famous, playing relatable, and most importantly, good characters.
If Redmayne wants to retain his Hollywood sweetheart status, he would be best advised to stay away from similar roles in the future. This exposed a seeming lack of range in Redmayne’s ability. Whilst definitely stellar in certain parts, this role does put his glittering reputation in a spot of jeopardy. The best actors can swim in unfamiliar waters, whereas Redmayne drowned. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that this was maybe just a blip. He hasn’t made any other major missteps, and in all fairness, his character was badly written. Maybe it was the fault of the underwhelming script and direction provided, not Redmayne. Either way, he’ll want to avoid another disaster like this.
4) Jeremy Irons: Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
Jeremy Irons’ turn as Profion in the disastrous Dungeons & Dragons seems to have been the inspiration for Eddie Redmayne’s abysmal Jupiter Ascending performance. The only reason he holds a higher place on the list is because he’s an established star who has proven himself, whereas Redmayne is still in the process of consolidating his status as a quality actor. It is more unforgivable for Iron’s, an actor with a diverse range, to deliver such a horrific performance.
The parallels really are staggering between Irons’ and Redmayne’s performances. They consist of the same formula: Take a star familiar with playing serious characters X A goofy, badly written, over the top villainous character = a performance they’ll want to forget in a film well worth forgetting. Irons displays the same sporadic freak outs, the same unconvincing menacing demeanour, and is hindered by the same poor writing and directing to further damage his chances of a good performance. In all fairness to him, he does embrace the silliness of the role, whereas Redmayne played it too seriously. He’s self-aware, realising that he’s not in an Oscar worthy film. He plays up the campy ridiculousness, but despite this, his performance is still as bad as it gets.
Yes, Iron’s embarrassed himself here. But when you’re an actor with such an extensive catalogue of exquisite performances it matters little. The fact that this film was so forgettable and has been relegated to the background of film history will please him immensely, as he is, for the most part, a consistently reliable actor. It may be one of the worst turns as a villain that I’ve witnessed, but the fact that Irons rolled with the punches despite the obvious shambolic role handed to him makes this mistake a forgivable one, especially compared to the later efforts on the list.
3) Bela Lugosi: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Bela Lugosi’s career is utterly fascinating. Famed for his title performance in the 1931 Dracula and popularised ever since it is generally agreed that he is a cinematic legend. However, he’s clearly gotten off lightly considering how many appalling films he starred in. The peak of dreadful in his rather questionable filmography would have to be his collaborations with so bad it’s good cinema pioneer, Ed Wood. Lugosi’s career had been ravaged by drug addiction, which maybe explains why he agreed to act in a Wood film. Notorious for being possibly the worst Hollywood director ever (with Michael Bay a close second), he would make a whole host of catastrophic, yet hilariously incompetent films. The most well-known of these would have to be Plan 9 from Outer Space, although Glen or Glenda, another disastrous film starring Lugosi, could easily have taken a spot on this list. So, what went wrong here for Lugosi?
Well, it would only be fair to say that with a director like Ed Wood at the helm, Lugosi was never going to excel. He just looks spaced out throughout the entirety of his scenes, never looking at all immersed in the role. I’m just speculating, but maybe his drug addiction played a part in this? When he’s not zoned out, whatever emotions he does try to conjure up, like his failed attempt at crying, are amusing because they’re so forced. Lugosi may be a legend, but his acting isn’t exactly consistently top notch. His performance is less interesting, however, than what happened during production. Lugosi died without having filmed all of his scenes, so I kid you not, they got another actor to walk around with a veil in front of their face and pretend to be Lugosi! Even though you can’t see this body-doubles face he still gives a more believable performance. As if this film wasn’t already bad enough, they genuinely couldn’t be bothered to just re-shoot Lugosi’s short amount of scenes. Cutting him from this film would’ve been the kindest thing to do in honour of him.
Anyone who thinks of Lugosi’s career as being stellar has definitely avoided a large amount of his back catalogue, but, at the very least, it’s a consolation for the memory of Lugosi that his time in this film was significantly shortened by his untimely death. He will forever be remembered as the greatest Dracula of them all, and no amount of performances in awful, yet charming Ed Wood B-Movies could taint his widespread popularity. In the end, he was one of the ‘miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal’ (I sure do love the opening monologue).
2) Robert DeNiro: Dirty Grandpa (2016)
Oh, DeNiro, why did you do this to yourself? I get that they probably dangled a juicy cheque right in front of you, but surely you have more dignity than this. To be fair to the man, he’s not the first legendary screen star to demean themselves later on in their career. Whether it be Helen Mirren in Furious 7 or Anthony Hopkins in Transformers: The Last Knight, every credible actor has their fair share of slightly questionable career choices. DeNiro will by no means be the last actor to be lead astray by financial gain. However, has a great ever appeared in such a crass, flat-out unpleasant film? I would argue otherwise.
It wouldn’t take a genius to see that this one would be bad from the outset. A film titled ‘Dirty Grandpa’ was never exactly going to be a cinematic landmark. Surely it didn’t have to be this bad though. The humour is your immature gross-out American college humour but on steroids. They try their hardest to make you hate every character and to feel uncomfortable, yet simultaneously uninterested. DeNiro just comes across as pathetic and sad. He’s an old man having a seemingly delayed mid-life crisis, pretending that he isn’t 73-years-old. He was never going to deliver a great performance in such a lazily written, by the numbers, lacking in substance ‘comedy’, and it’s just embarrassing. He doesn’t really try, as he’s clearly just there for the paycheck. Nothing in his performance suggests that he has been, and still is, one of the greatest actors in the world.
In this film which aims for shock value, the only really shocking thing is that an actor of DeNiro’s calibre was desperate enough to take this crap on. It truly is depressing for real cinema fans, to see such a great defiled in this manner. At least in his previous lesser efforts like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, he seemed to at least give some energy. This film and his performance in it suggests that he’s an actor contemplating the end of his career, with no passion left for what he does. I truly hope this isn’t the case, and that we get back the DeNiro of old. You don’t have to do this to yourself, Robert!
1) Marlon Brando: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
It’s not really a shock that Brando starred in this bizarre film. By this point in his career, he had gone off the rails, missing the mark consistently with his choice of films. His state of mind, however, doesn’t detract from the awfulness of his performance. It’s a sad time capsule, forever immortalising the fall from grace of the A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now megastar who all cinema buffs alike love. It’s a poignant reminder that even the best must make way eventually.
This was a film seemingly doomed throughout the entirety of its production. It was one huge mess from beginning to end, with the director and cast members leaving, and fiery feuds erupting. Brando was definitely dealt an unfair hand, starring in a film which, being handled by an ambitious young director and based on a work by one of the greatest authors ever, promised to be an intriguing effort at first glance. However, unlike H.G. Wells’ novel, this was far from a masterpiece. We’re first introduced to Brando, who plays the eponymous Dr. Moreau, looking like a mix of Emperor Palpatine and Liberace (he does play piano in the film, CONSPIRACY THEORY). Brando had gained a reputation by 1996 of being a difficult man to work with on-set, and with the tragic suicide of his daughter during production, he became even more untameable. His performance is just really really really really odd. He looks odd, talks oddly, and is, well… odd. His line delivery is stunted beyond belief considering this is the great Brando himself, supposedly down to the fact that he wore an earpiece instead of learning the script. He made several demands for script changes, resulting in confusing additions like having a Mini-Me like character beside him and wearing strange white make-up. It’s upsetting to see this film due to Brando’s clearly deteriorating psychological state and just the poor overall quality.
For the man who revolutionised a new form of realist acting in Hollywood to be seen in such a belittling role is terrible. The world of acting as we know it owes so much to this man, yet he was given so little in his later career. I think the one consolation that can be taken from this is that, whilst this performance is infamous, no one remembers him for it. And hey, at least this film provided a fascinating production tale. Brando is still commonly reminisced about for his brilliance as opposed to his later absurdity and madness. Regardless of this dud, he is a legend all the same.