It seems like there are some actors who are so good at what they do that they just can't make a bad movie. They elevate even mediocre projects just by being a part of it. However, that's simply not the case. Sometimes movies are so bad that even great performers look terrible in them. And sometimes, even the best actors just don't bring their A-game.
Whether great actors got offered bad material before they were famous or established stars just didn't realize what they were getting into, nobody is safe from a bad movie. Here are some of the worst movies made by some of the world's best living actors.
Amy Adams - Cruel Intentions 2
There's a pretty decent chance that you didn't even realize that Cruel Intentions 2 is a movie that actually exists. If you did know it exists, there's a good chance it's because of the bizarre piece of trivia that Amy Adams, the star of amazing movies like Arrival and The Fighter, is in it. The movie is a direct-to-video prequel that sees Adams take on the role played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the original teen remake of Dangerous Liaisons. It's as bad as the words "direct-to-video prequel" imply. It was one of Adams' earliest films, years before anybody would realize she was above such material.
Jennifer Lawrence - House At The End of the Street
While Amy Adams may have had the excuse of being new when she made her worst film, Jennifer Lawrence doesn't get to use that excuse. By the time House at the End of the Street was released in 2012, Lawrence had already been nominated for an Oscar for Winter's Bone and been part of two major franchises with The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class. As such Lawrence was quite possibly the biggest movie star to ever appear in such a dull, paint by numbers, horror movie. This movie is everything bad about bad horror. The movie wasn't screened for critics when it was released, and has a gloriously bad 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Tom Hanks - The Ladykillers
On paper, The Ladykillers must have seemed like one of the most brilliant ideas in movie history. A film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring Tom Hanks. Just send it all the Oscars on release weekend, right? Unfortunately, this film is far less than the sum of its parts. Tom Hanks himself isn't terrible here, but the movie itself can't even be saved by such a great actor. Maybe it's due to the fact that while the Coen Brothers wrote the script, the film is actually a remake, and thus not their original idea. Whatever the reason, this movie just doesn't work.
Robert De Niro - Dirty Grandpa
Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors to ever live. Period. While he's responsible for some of the all-time great performances in movies like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, with a career as extensive as his, you don't expect them all to be winners. Still, beyond a forgettable but harmless film like The Intern, there's Dirty Grandpa a film that seems to exist because somebody thought, "Robert De Niro is disgusting" would be a concept people would pay to see. As it turns out, not so much. There's nothing wrong with trying different roles, but this idea was a terrible one from the beginning.
Tom Cruise - Rock of Ages
Tom Cruise has been a big screen action hero for decades and it doesn't appear he's slowing down. Add to that a number of solid dramatic roles, including three Oscar nominations, and you have one of the most successful careers in modern Hollywood history. Perhaps doing a rock opera was a bridge too far. Rock of Ages was a Broadway excuse to combine everybody's favorite 80's rock songs in one production, and while it might have made sense on stage, there was never a need to make it a feature film. The translation doesn't work, and even an over-the-top Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx isn't enough to make this slog "so bad it's good." It's just bad.
Meryl Streep - She-Devil
Remember that time Meryl Streep made a movie with Roseanne Barr? No, that's not a set-up for a joke, that actually happened in 2001. While Meryl Streep is certainly best known for her dramatic roles, she never had an issue with comedy, and movies like Death Becomes Her have become cult favorites. She-Devil was not a movie like that. It starred Streep as the "other woman" in a love triangle with Roseanne and Ed Beagly Jr. How exactly such a project snared Meryl Streep, who had already been nominated for enough Oscars to fill a small swimming pool by that point, is anybody's guess.
The Rock - Tooth Fairy
When Dwayne Johnson first arrived on the big screen, his focus was action movies, as is to be expected for a guy who looks like The Rock. However, just like Vin Diesel made The Pacifier before him, Johnson was destined to make a kid-friendly family comedy that set him against type. That move for him was called Tooth Fairy. The thing is, The Rock can do comedy, he can do it well, but Tooth Fairy doesn't play to any of his strengths, and just seeing a guy that looks like Johnson dressed as the Tooth Fairy isn't actually enough of a joke by itself to carry a film. Which isn't to say they didn't try.
Denzel Washington - Virtuosity
Virtuosity might qualify as so bad it's good, but don't let that fool you, it's still very bad. From the mid-1990s, an era where the internet existed, but nobody was quite sure how it worked, comes a movie that sees Denzel Washington as an ex-cop in the future who chases after a fairly unknown actor named Russell Crowe, who plays a digital amalgamation of multiple serial killers who is able to escape into the real world. The rest of the movie is as odd as that premise. This was Denzel's first real try at being an action hero, and it didn't really take. Luckily, because he's great, he'd have other chances, and those worked out much better.
Sandra Bullock - All About Steve
Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for The Blind Side in 2010, but 24 hours before she accepted that award, she accepted a Golden Rasberry for All About Steve. In the end, perhaps the concept of a "stalker comedy" was where this one fell apart. Because following a socially awkward woman who has difficulty understanding social cues, and therefore becomes a stalker of a guy she went on one date with, doesn't just make for a bad movie, it's insulting to pretty much everybody who has difficulty in social situations and doesn't become an obsessive stalker. Also, we can call this one Bradley Cooper's worst movie, too. His character's name is in the title, after all.
John Travolta - Battlefield Earth
A lot has been said about the dumpster fire that is Battlefield Earth and I'm not likely to add anything of particularly deep understanding to it. Needless to say, John Travolta made some wildly entertaining movies in the 1970s, and his resurgence in the 1990s brought us Pulp Fiction among other things. However, that rise to superstardom also allowed Travolta to make what was certainly his passion project, L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth. I'm not saying the book is unfilmable, I'm just saying nobody has done it successfully yet.
Nicolas Cage - The Wicker Man
Today, Nicolas Cage is known for making a series of bonkers films that slip by mostly unnoticed while you're scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch. However, that doesn't mean Cage isn't a great actor. His performance in Leaving Las Vegas is still an emotional journey for the audience and as much as he spends nearly all of Face/Off chewing scenery, it's still an entertaining film with some great action. However, Cage's road to crazy town more or less started with The Wicker Man, a remake of a legitimately terrifying 1973 British film, that somehow lost everything in translation. It's so comically bad that one wonders if it isn't supposed to be a comedy instead.
Julia Roberts - I Love Trouble
Quite often when a star makes enough good movies, the bad ones can be fairly easily forgotten. Such is probably the case with Julia Roberts' I Love Trouble. The mid-90s drama/action/comedy/whatever saw Roberts as a novice newspaper reporter (ask your parents what a newspaper was) paired with Nick Nolte as the old veteran. It's not the sort of film that you think of, even when you try to think of bad Julia Roberts movies, which is a good thing for her. Part of that is because she hasn't made too many movies that are truly that terrible. Although, this one pretty much is.
Angelina Jolie - The Tourist
Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp co-star in a movie that sees them globetrotting around Europe while they try to avoid being caught by the police in a story of intrigue and mistaken identity. That sentence makes the movie sound amazing. If only the final product hadn't turned out so utterly dull. For reasons passing understanding, The Tourist was nominated for Golden Globe awards, but one has to assume that came from people who hadn't actually seen it and just assumed it must have been good from the poster. For a movie with such massive stars, chemistry and charisma alone should have carried this one, but there was none of either thing on display here.
Meg Ryan - Against the Ropes
Meg Ryan may be one of the most likable actresses to ever be on screen. If for that reason alone, the vast majority of her movies are enjoyable fluff, at the absolute worst. However, Against the Ropes, which sees her become a boxing promoter, can't be saved by her charm. The film is every sports cliche you've ever seen in another movie, only not done as well as any of them. While technically based on a true story, the version we get on the screen isn't anything anybody would want to relive.
George Clooney - Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin has received a great deal of grief over the years, and for good reason, it's terrible. It's not the worst movie ever made, or the movie that almost killed comic book movies. But it is bad. It's also the worst movie that George Clooney has ever made. There's nothing wrong with making a Batman movie with a camp level on par with the 1960s TV series, but this movie goes so far beyond that as to be unbelievable. Clooney isn't the worst thing about the film by a long shot, but it is somewhat surprising that there's a future Academy Award winner under that cowl.
Reese Witherspoon - Hot Pursuit
A "buddy cop" movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara should have been hilarious. Unfortunately, there are almost no laughs at all to be had in Hot Pursuit, which saw Witherspoon playing a cop trying to protect a witness against a major drug dealer. Witherspoon has had trouble with comedies before, but nothing comes close to the trainwreck that is Hot Pursuit. It thinks a couple of funny accents make a movie funny and even in the trailers, it doesn't work. No wonder nobody actually saw this one.
Johnny Depp - Mortdecai
There was a time when Johnny Depp was one of the biggest stars in the world. There was a time he did big epic movies. However, then there was the time he made a movie so bad it made The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows look downright classic by comparison. Mortdecai. It's completely understandable why somebody thought "Johnny Depp being ridiculous" was a movie worth making. The guy can certainly be funny. Unfortunately, what seems like Depp's attempt to make an Austin Powers movie feels much more like the third entry in that franchise than the first. Depp is only one of the talents utterly wasted in Mortdecai, but as the title character, he's the one who has had to recover from it the most.
Robert Downey Jr. - Air America
Robert Downey Jr. wasn't always the massive star that he is today, so his early career is made up a variety of projects of varying quality. However, Air America was probably his biggest movie at the time, since he starred alongside Mel Gibson who was smack in the middle of the Lethal Weapon franchise that made him a star. Unfortunately, Air America, about a pair of pilots flying contraband around Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, is never as compelling as such a premise could be. Downey's role as the member of the pair dealing with the morality of what they're doing could have had the potential to get him noticed much earlier in his career, if only the movie itself was better.
Harrison Ford - Firewall
Harrison Ford has made some of the most successful and most popular films of all time, but around the major franchises, he's appeared in a wide variety of films making him one of the most versatile actors around. However, not every film the actor has made has been great. Firewall sees Ford as the man responsible for the technological security of a large bank, who is forced to break into his own system when criminals kidnap his family. The movie feels like an attempt to do Taken, two years before that film came out, with an older Harrison Ford showing that he still has the ability to play the action hero. There's a reason that Firewall didn't get two sequels.
Emma Stone - Aloha
Emma Stone was already well on her way to becoming a star before she won an Academy Award in La La Land. However, on the verge of that stardom, she found herself in a very unusual place, a bad Cameron Crowe movie. Crowe's movies have never apologized for being overly sentimental. In fact, Crowe's ability to take such material and make it work is his hallmark, but here it just doesn't. The fact that Stone is playing a half-Asian character in an all-white cast in a movie set in Hawaii isn't even the issue here. While that is some pretty tone-deaf casting, it could have been overcome by a great performance in a great movie, but Aloha provides neither.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.