While nobody sets out to purposely make a bad movie, it invariably does happen. Even the great Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, with Oscars and a bevy of other accolades to their names, succumbed to the awfulness of a Righteous Kill. Certain actors are capable of posting consistent runs that illustrate why they’re at the top of the game, but everyone is going to have a stinker or two at some point in their career. That’s the law of averages for you.
Some are fortunate in that their bombs don’t completely send them off the track and into the depths of obscurity. Hell, even Ben Affleck was able to bounce back after Gigli turned him into a national punching bag and Matthew McConaughey turned around to win an Academy Award after years of mediocre rom-coms. But what about those who sign on for a film they think will do them a lot of good, only to see their careers come to a screeching halt soon after?
Here are Screen Rant’s 5 Movies That Killed Careers.
Attack of the Clones – Hayden Christensen
Due to the significant age difference between Anakin Skywalker in Episode I and Episode II, George Lucas had to recast the role for the prequel trilogy’s second installment. He settled on relative unknown Hayden Christensen, who was coming off an acclaimed turn in the drama Life as a House (for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination among other awards recognition). Christensen may have thought at the time that the widespread exposure he would receive from the final two prequels would have launched him into the stratosphere, but he instead became one of the most reviled figures in Star Wars lore (which is saying something).
Though there is some debate as to whether Christensen’s acting ability or the poor George Lucas-written dialogue was what dragged him down, the thespian was never able to overcome the great shadow the role cast over him. For what it’s worth, Christensen has been able to draw positive reviews for his work in smaller films such as Shattered Glass (for which he won Best Actor at the Las Palmas Film Festival), but he never really was trusted with a mainstream production (with the exception of Jumper) in the years following his complaining about sand. His career was full of promise, so one has to wonder what might have been if he followed Leonardo DiCaprio’s (you read that right) footsteps and turned down the Anakin part when he had the chance.
Showgirls – Elizabeth Berkley
Elizabeth Berkley was looking to shed her image as the brainy Jessie Spano from the teen comedy Saved By the Bell when she took on the lead role in Paul Verhoeven’s erotic drama. The film generated much mainstream attention due to the fact that it was the first (and so far only) NC-17 production to receive a wide release in American theaters. After Verhoeven had successfully helped Sharon Stone reach stardom with his other sexy thriller Basic Instinct, the hope was for this to be a similar hit and establish Berkley as a cinematic bad girl. Unfortunately, it was a massive disaster.
In retrospect, some view Showgirls favorably as satire, and the film has acquired a cult following, but at the time of it’s release, the film was considered one of the worst ever made. Winning a then record seven Razzies, the movie earned critical derision for being “tasteless” and a non-sexy flick despite its raunchy subject matter. Even if it spawned the phrase “so bad, it’s good,” the generic script and wooden acting couldn’t save in the eyes of many, as its sins were too great to overlook. On top of all that, Showgirls grossed just $20.3 million domestically, ending Berkley’s film career before it even really began, as she hasn’t done anything of note (save for a few TV guest spots) in the years since.
Boat Trip – Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Thanks to his portrayal of the boisterous and energetic wide receiver Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, Gooding, Jr. was on the top of the world following a Best Supporting Actor win. Viewers certainly remember his exuberant acceptance speech for illustrating why moviegoers adored him and that the best was seemingly yet to come. And for a while, Gooding, Jr. was able to string together a few hits, appearing in movies like As Good As It Gets after his Oscar glory. But then Boat Trip happened and things never were the same.
A “romantic comedy” about a man hoping to meet a mate on a singles cruise, the film sees Gooding’s Jerry Robinson be purposely booked on a gays cruise by a vengeful travel agent. Much of the “humor” came from Jerry and his friend Nick (Horatio Sanz) pretending to be gay men in order to get closer to the ship’s dance instructor, which led to accusations of homophobia and sequences that were cliché-ridden, embracing several stereotypes. Despite Jerry’s “arc” in the story, the project certainly wasn’t as progressive as one may have hoped. In the end, Boat Trip was seen as a juvenile disaster of a movie that was offensive in many ways – no matter what your orientation is.
I Know Who Killed Me – Lindsay Lohan
After starring in the hit Mean Girls, Lohan looked to be the hottest thing in Hollywood. Leading a horror/thriller in a dual role (a pair of twins) that potentially could have pushed her to her limits artistically seemed to be the next logical step in her rise. However, the project she picked was the maligned I Know Who Killed Me, which went on to break the record for number of Razzies “won,” including the real zinger: Worst Excuse for a Horror Film. She hasn’t fronted a major motion picture since.
Instead of being a piece of captivating and exciting drama, I Know Who Killed Me was criticized for having a ridiculous plot that was decidedly not suspenseful and struggled to keep the audiences’ interest. In addition to the weak screenplay and acting performances, director Chris Siverston’s filmmaking techniques drew the ire of many critics. Instead of playing it up as a trashy and campy B-movie thriller, he tried to inject the proceedings with some serious artistic flourishes that only made matters worse. Sleazy and incompetent, I Know Who Killed Me was a pretentious mess that ruined Lohan’s chance to be a “legitimate” actress.
The Love Guru – Mike Myers
A Saturday Night Live alum and star of many memorable comedies (most famously Austin Powers), Mike Myers has made viewers laugh for decades. But even he isn’t immune to choosing a poor script. In 2008, he headlined a little project called The Love Guru, which went on to become a critical and commercial bomb ($40.8 million worldwide on a $62 million budget) that sent the funnyman fading into obscurity. Save for a bit cameo in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and a return to the Shrek well in 2010, he hasn’t even appeared in a movie in the years since.
The biggest point of contention was undoubtedly the film’s portrayal of Hindu culture. Featuring Myers as a an American raised by Indian gurus, the movie was accused of being culturally insensitive, as much of its “humor” was generated by poking fun at Indian dialect and religious beliefs. Normally, that would be enough of a death sentence for a film, but The Love Guru was made even worse by a collection of sloppy and repetitive gross-out gags that led many to call the film a crass and unfunny experience that was too obscene to be considered a genuine comedy. Some even wondered if they’d ever laugh at a movie again. It was that awful.
Like we said at the top, every actor will make a bad movie every now and then, but the moviegoing public is the judge on whether they get whisked away to movie jail or if they make a recovery. Even though all the actors here have done things that earned them acclaim and fans, the offenses presented here were deemed too great to give them a second chance. Sometimes, a film really can be that bad.
As always, this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to share some of your “favorite” career-killing movies in the comments section below!