We all know that even the greatest of actors with have a bad day at the office once in a while. They’re great… but even the best has a bad performance or two on their resume, that if you saw it, and ONLY it, you might be fooled into thinking that person couldn’t act or should at least sign up for some Takelessons acting classes. Well… sadly, the opposite of that is true as well. There are actors out there who just can’t carry a film to save their lives, and yet they fluked into have ONE good day at the office that tricked you into thinking they were good actors, and thus got about 10 more movies lined up… which didn’t work out.
So I now present to you, 9 actors who can’t act, but tricked us into thinking they could with one good outing.
1) Hayden Christensen (Life as a House)
At the 2002 Golden Globe awards Hayden Christensen got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Life as a House. A very special movie with apparently some very special performances. I thought Christensen was so good in it, that it became my fall back position for whenever over-zelous fanboys would harp about how Hayden couldn’t act. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of years defending the “talent” of this good Canadian boy. Sadly, after a long string of piss poor performances like in Awake, Jumper and Factory Girl… I can no longer just write off his wooden performances in the new Star Wars movies to George Lucas just not knowing how to direct actors. At some point you have to start looking at the actor themselves… and we’ve reached that point with Christensen.
2) Heather Graham (Boogie Nights)
Oh she was that sexy little girl on the roller skates… and Boogie Nights was awesome… so that means everyone in it was awesome too right? That’s a mistake a lot of people make. Just because a movie was good, they believe that everyone who was in it was good too. That just simply wasn’t the case with Heather Graham in Boogie Nights. What you saw is what you got with her… and she spent the last several years pretty much proving that she doesn’t have anything else left to show us. She just can’t act, it’s that simple. Go watch Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged me, or perhaps anything else she’s appeared in since.
3) Chris O’Donnell (Scent of a Woman)
Damn this guy was the Hollywood golden boy for a while. Scent of a Woman comes out where he gets to act opposite Al Pacino, he does a great job doing more than just holding his own while on the screen with a legend… and suddenly everybody wanted him. Great. One problem… it appears that instead of holding his own, Pacino was carrying this guy, because as we started to see in just about everything he appeared in afterwards… this guy can’t carry groceries. Batman??? Are you kidding me? The Bachelor??? Vertical Limit??? These movies didn’t just suck… he sucked in them. Some people may argue that he’s found his groove on TV. Personally I haven’t been impressed with his TV work either. He almost pulled something off with Circle of Friends, but that was more Mini Driver than him. Yeah, Scent of a Women almost had us fooled, but Chris O’Donnell is Hollywood’s golden boy no more.
4) Amanda Peet (The Whole 9 Yards)
There aren’t enough digits in modern mathematics to calculate how often I fantasized about licking chocolate off this woman after seeing her in The Whole Nine Yards. She was my movie day dream girl for a couple of years and as a matter of fact I still think she’s one of the 3 most beautiful women in Hollywood. She was sexy, funny and apparently talented. She was a big reason why I loved that movie so much. I’ll still zone out once in a while imagining her and I running on some beach… but I digress. Sadly, after The Whole Nine Yards she got several opportunities that she just couldn’t capitalize on. Saving Silverman, Changing Lanes (which was a GREAT movie, but she just stood out for all the wrong reasons), The Whole 10 Yards, A Lot Like Love, yadda yadda yadda. That magic she had in 9 Yards seemed to disappear. I hope it comes back some day, that it wasn’t just an illusion. Sadly, the proof suggests the illusion theory.
5) Kate Hudson (Almost Famous)
Kate Hudson looked like her career was being shot out of a canon after Almost Almost Famous. She was poised for huge success. Bread from fame, a sexy look, and seemingly could really act. Yup… she was going to be the next “IT” girl. I’ll even give her that she wasn’t bad in the solid Rom-Com “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days”. But that special something that everyone thought she had wasn’t there. Nor would it ever rear its head again as we’ve been subjected to her horrible performances in movies like Four Feathers, Raising Helen, The Skeleton Key, You Me and Dupree and most recently Fools Gold. Yes Kate, you did a great job fooling us into thinking you could really act in that one movie… but the jig is up and we’re on to you now! Maybe you should hook up with Owen Wilson again. That’ll create some headlines.
6) Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)
Napoleon Dynamite was one of those pop cultural phenomenon’s that spread like wildfire through nothing but word of mouth primarily, and at the heart of it was the performance given by star Jon Heder. A total unknown who was suddenly being quoted by everyone on every campus in America, and whose image was adorned on every 5th t-shirt you saw on the street. This guy was going to be the next big thing in comedy! Oh wait… no he’s not. Turns out Heder was a one trick pony who can’t live nearly up to the hype created by his early (and fluke like) success. Usually the exact same guy, Heder has tried and failed in projects like The Benchwarmers, School for Scoundrels, Blades of Glory and Mama’s Boy. Hear that bell Heder? It’s the alarm clock… your 15 minutes are up. Please move along.
7) Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite)
To be fair, I suppose it’s hard to go anywhere but down after winning a frigging Academy Award! Man Sorvino was good in Mighty Aphrodite. I mean REALLY good. So what happened to that girl, and when was she replaced by the look-a-like who ended up appearing in movies like Mimic, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and a few other totally forgettable roles? I mean really… someone this seemingly talented, beautiful and from a good bloodline steeped in Hollywood with an Oscar on her shelf should at the very least be a legit A-Lister right? Nope. Today you’ll be hard pressed to find her on the direct to DVD shelves or guest appearing on House MD. A potentially fantastic career flushed away because it was a torch just too big for her to handle. Shame.
8) Ed Furlong (American History X)
No one gave much notice to Edward Furlong in Terminator 2 because he was just “that kid” in the movie. He neither brought anything to the film nor did he distract from it. He was just sort of there doing his thing which is fine. But in American History X it looked like he was showing us flashes of brilliance. Perhaps a prodigy was emerging before our eyes? Oh no… those are just sun spots, cause it ain’t Furlong. There are a lot of stories that run around this town about the whys and hows of Furlong apparent fall from Hollywood grace, but really the bottom line it he just doesn’t have the chops to be a movie star. Some people try to champion a couple of his smaller projects (like The Crow flick he did), but I just don’t see it… apparently no one else does either.
9) Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings)
Orlando Bloom was the face that made all the little girls scream with delight in the Lord of the Rings films. Women went bloody NUTS for Legolas. As a matter of fact, my friend Mylana watched Two Towers with me in the theaters… and at the scene where Legolas grabs the horse that Gimli is on and swings himself onto it’s back while the horse was in full stride (you know the scene) made her turn to me and basically proclaim that the first man she saw (present company excluded) after the movie was going to get raped. Yes, Orlando made the juices flow. But more than that, he played the role well. Surely this skinny hunk was going to have a great career! Nope. Everything Orlando Bloom has been in since dreadfully shows his lack of ability time and time again. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Pirates films, Kingdom of Heaven, Elizabethtown or Troy. Each time given a great opportunity… and each time fell flat on his face. Too bad.
So there you have it folks. I’m sure there are some on this list that you agree with, and some you’ll vehemently disagree with… but that’s the beauty of the subjectivity of the art. The question I have for you is…. Who else would you put on this list, and what was the one movie that made you think they could be a great actor?