Whether a film is an action-filled extravaganza fueled by the latest digital special effects or a low-budget, independently-filmed labor of love, there is one thing that can sink it faster than anything else - a lack of chemistry between actors. No matter how skilled a director or how well-written a script it has, a movie can't succeed if its stars can't convince the audience that they are something more than actors reciting lines.
Shockingly this truth seems to have eluded some of the biggest minds in Hollywood. Some think it is merely enough to put great actors (or, failing that, popular actors) on the set together to bring people into the theaters. While this may help the movie take the #1 spot on its opening weekend, it is a poor practice for crafting great cinema.
Still, sometimes the demands of the executives or a high-power auteur can override the expert opinion of a qualified casting agent. Sometimes it's a simple conflict of acting techniques. And sometimes the actors just plain can't stand each other and are unable to hide that fact from the audience. Whatever the case, the movie and the audience both suffer for the decision to force these players together.
Here now are 17 Movie Couples With Absolutely Zero Chemistry.
17 Scarlett Johansson & Marc Ruffalo - Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Natasha Romanov (a.k.a. The Black Widow) had a fairly active romantic life in the original Marvel Comics that inspired the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At various points in her career, she dated Clint "Hawkeye" Barton, Tony "Iron Man" Stark, Steve "Captain America" Rogers, and Matt "Daredevil" Murdock.
Perhaps Joss Whedon decided to defy expectations when he arranged a romance between Black Widow and The Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Whatever his reasons, the effort fell flat, largely due to how sudden the revelation of a romance between Natasha and Bruce Banner seemed given their lack of interaction in the first Avengers.
It also didn't help that some fans didn't see any reason why the sole female Avenger needed a romantic subplot in the first place or that most of Scarlett Johansson's romantic scenes were with the CGI Hulk.
16 Matthew McConaughey & Kate Hudson - Fool's Gold
Given how well they played off of one another in the 2003 romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, pairing Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson together in another movie seemed like a sure fire bet for another hit. Hence the two being cast opposite each other in the 2008 film Fool's Gold, with McConaughey playing treasure-hunter Flinn and Hudson playing Tess, the ex-wife Flinn is trying to win back.
There was just one problem - neither actor could stand the other's work habits. The notoriously perfectionist McConaughey reportedly could not tolerate Hudson's continual tardiness and had words with her about her unprofessional behavior delaying the production. Hudson was apparently similarly vexed by McConaughey's refusal to use deodorant or cologne while filming their love scenes, due to his insistence that his healthy diet and regular showers eliminated all potential body odor.
15 Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp - The Tourist
The 2010 thriller The Tourist is proof that you can cast two great actors in a film, have them give two great performances, and still wind up with a truly terrible movie. Despite both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp earning Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical respectively, the two completely failed to sizzle together on-screen.
Why? The antipathy the two seemingly felt for one another in real life bled into their performances. Jolie was reportedly disappointed that Depp did not "clean up" for the role, complaining about his unkempt hair and his being "out-of-shape". Depp, for his part, apparently found Jolie to be stuck-up and incredibly full of herself. Indeed, Depp avoided interacting with Jolie as much as possible and retreated to his trailer whenever he wasn't needed on set.
14 Carrie-Anne Moss & Keanu Reeves - The Matrix Trilogy
The Matrix trilogy of movies were revolutionary in their day for their use of computer generated effects. They were also one of the first franchises to spread across multiple media, with video games, comic books, and anime being used to build upon the reality of the films.
As ground-breaking as The Matrix movies were in these regards, they still relied upon the usual tropes for action movies. While the concepts behind The Matrix were deep and philosophical, the characters were largely shallow and undeveloped. This was particularly true of the "romance" between Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) and Neo (Keanu Reeves). There is no hint of attraction between the two characters, let alone the true love that Trinity suddenly proclaims, which seems to bring Neo back from the dead in the first film.
13 Christian Bale & Katie Holmes - Batman Begins
As far as committed relationships go, Bruce Wayne is faring only slightly better than James Bond. This shouldn't be much of a surprise, given Batman's confirmed bachelor status in the comics. Still, with the exception of Ben Affleck's take on the Caped Crusader, screenwriters keep trying to set Batman up. As a result, there are few roles more thankless for a young actress than playing the romantic interest in a Batman movie.
This has never been more apparent than watching Katie Holmes playing Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins. Despite being only four years younger than Christian Bale, Holmes comes off as younger and less mature, despite her character being the wiser and more level-headed of the two. Holmes declined reprising her role in The Dark Knight and Maggie Gyllenhaal wasted her talents as Rachel instead.
12 Leonardo DiCaprio & Carey Mulligan - The Great Gatsby
Considered by many the greatest novel of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby is not a romance. Indeed, the story of Gatsby's doomed quest to win his dream girl, Daisy, is an anti-romance, with idealism failing to bring about a happy ending.
There have been several attempts to film The Great Gatsby and none of them have been considered wholly successful. The chief problem is that Daisy is as shallow as Gatsby, with none of the hidden depths he imagines her to have. Portraying this accurately makes it impossible for the actors to approach each other on equal footing and that kills any attempt at honest chemistry.
In Baz Luhrmann's 2013 adaptation, Carey Mulligan tries to play Daisy as an old soul who aspires to be "a beautiful little fool" and can't allow herself to dream of being more. Unfortunately, this conceit falls flat opposite Leonardo DiCaprio's by-the-book performance as Gatsby.
11 Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd - Fantastic Four
2005's Fantastic Four did many things which angered fans of the classic comics, but nothing irked them quite so much as the changes made to the villain, Doctor Doom. Portrayed by Julian McMahon as a conniving American CEO rather than a European monarch, this version of Doom was also engaged to scientist Susan Storm. This set up a love triangle, as Doom's rival Reed Richards struggles to win back the ex-girlfriend who dumped him years earlier.
Given that the script treated Susan Storm as a prize to be won rather than a character in her own right, it's hard to blame Jessica Alba for delivering a flat performance. Ioan Gruffudd seems similarly disengaged from the material, seemingly uncertain just how to play Reed Richards. Their individual awkwardness doubled when the two were required to hint at the rekindled love was meant to be growing between Susan and Reed.
10 Daniel Radcliffe & Bonnie Wright - Harry Potter
Certain fans of the Harry Potter novels were upset when the final book ended with Harry Potter marrying Ginny Weasley. J.K. Rowling herself admitted that Harry logically should have wound up with Hermione Granger, but the books and films undoubtedly built up to romances between Hermione and Ron, and Ron's younger sister Ginny and Harry.
In the film adaptations, many of the scenes from the books which established the attraction between Harry and Ginny were left out of the final cut, assuming they were filmed at all! This left Bonnie Wright - whose bland Ginny barely resembles the fiery character from the books - and Daniel Radcliffe little chance of convincing audiences of the validity of their relationship through an awkward shoe-tying scene and an even more awkward kiss.
9 Kelly Clarkson & Justin Guarini - From Justin to Kelly
A movie based around the stars of the hit television series American Idol seemed like a license to print money back in 2003, at the height of the show's popularity. With attractive, likable singers Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini cast in the lead roles and a script by Spice World writer Kim Fuller, From Justin to Kelly should have been a blockbuster hit.
There was just one problem - Justin and Kelly couldn't act at all! Whatever romance might have existed between the two performers in real life (rumors of the two dating ran hot and heavy as they were competing for the top spot on American Idol) didn't translate to the big screen. The film ultimately grossed less than $5 million on a $12 million budget and was awarded a special Razzie award in 2005 for being the worst musical of the past quarter-century.
8 Adam Sandler & Winona Ryder - Mr. Deeds
It's unsurprising that Adam Sandler rarely seems to exhibit any sense of chemistry opposite any of the female leads in his movies. Sandler is not known for his nuanced portrayals of women in his writing and his female protagonists often have little to do beyond looking attractive and slowly falling for the charms of whatever idiot man-child Sandler is portraying.
Of all the actresses to star opposite Sandler in one of his comedies, Winona Ryder stumbles the most in pretending to find Sandler's antics amusing. Ryder spends most of her time on-screen in Mr. Deeds hiding behind a plastic mask. While her mouth may be forced into a smile, her eyes seem to be scanning the world around her for an emergency exit, counting the seconds until she can call her agent and ask just how much breaking her contract will cost her.
7 Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan - Fifty Shades of Grey
The 2015 adaptation of E.L. James' novel Fifty Shades Of Grey ran into problems even before filming started. Ignoring that the novel is a work of BDSM erotica that fails to accurately portray BDSM, James was given unprecedented control over the project by Universal Studios. This brought her into frequent conflict with producer Michael De Luca and director Sam Taylor-Johnson - both of whom opted not to return for the sequels.
One major point of contention was James' insistence on making the film's many love scenes as hard-core as possible within the boundaries of an R-rating. Neither Dakota Johnson or Jamie Doran - the actors tasked with bringing Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey to life - were comfortable with James' demands and their discomfort was clearly visible on screen. This added another layer of awkwardness to what was already an uncomfortable shoot for both actors by most reports.
6 Mark Wahlberg & Zooey Deschanel - The Happening
Nearly ten years after its release, film fans still argue about the single worst aspect of M. Night Shyamalan's 2008 bomb The Happening. Admittedly, it is hard to narrow it down to a single factor. The nonsensical plot, based around the idea that trees are now trying to kill humanity in an effort to save the environment, is nearly as ridiculous as tough-guy actor Mark Wahlberg's woefully miscast performance as a nerdy high-school science teacher struggling to save the world.
Zoey Deschanel, who plays the teacher's wife, is on slightly better ground. Unfortunately, her usual quirky stock character seems like a stoned co-ed opposite Wahlberg's manic performance. The two seem as if they are in entirely different movies, never mind their convincingly coming off as a married couple.
5 Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson - Twilight
Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison have been open about enjoying very little about their time portraying Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in the films based on Stephenie Meyers's Twilight series. Pattison in particular has been candid about the difficulties he had in the role, pointing to Edward's status as an emotional cipher in the novels. He also complained of conflicting instructions from the producers (who wanted him to smile more) and the director, who backed Pattison's decision to play Edward as a brooding, Byronic figure.
It's a safe bet that Stewart received similar treatment, which may explain why the two appear to be so ill at ease together on-screen, despite dating in real life during filming. What are meant to be the awkward silences between two lovers who aren't sure what to say to one another comes off instead as the uncomfortable pauses before an actor confesses they've forgotten their line.
4 Sandra Bullock & Jason Patric - Speed 2
The original Speed was a surprise success. Given the film's blockbuster status, it seemed unlikely that the film's stars - Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves - would refuse to appear in a sequel and the script for Speed 2: Cruise Control was built around that assumption. Reeves decided, however, that he'd rather tour with his band, Dogstar, than rehash his old work.
This left the filmmakers with two problems - the script had to be hastily rewritten to account for the absence of Reeves' character and a new leading man had to be found. After Matthew McConaughey and Christian Slater passed on the part, Bullock suggested Jason Patric, having wanted to work with him since seeing him in After Dark, My Sweet. Unfortunately, the awkward script - which had Bullock's character suddenly dating another hero cop - killed any chance at recapturing the first film's magic.
3 Vince Vaughn & Malin Ackerman - Couples Retreat
Bringing a conflicted couple to life is tricky business for a duo of actors. It is not enough for the actors to be able to argue with one another convincingly. They also have to convey a sense of familiarity with one another. We have to believe that they love each other (or, at least, loved each other at some point) in order for the conflict between them to be convincing.
Unfortunately, Vince Vaughn and Malin Ackerman completely fail to establish that belief in their portrayal of Dave and Ronnie in the 2009 romantic comedy Couples Retreat. There is so much emotional distance between their performances that it is impossible to believe that the two characters have a relationship, much less that their relationship is in danger.
2 Anne Heche & Harrison Ford - Six Days Seven Nights
There are many reasons why the 1998 romantic comedy Six Days Seven Nights crashed and burned like the plane that leaves gruff alcoholic pilot Quinn (Harrison Ford) and ambitious magazine editor Robin (Anne Heche) stranded on a remote South Seas island. Flat characters and a cliche "opposites attract" plot were only the start of the movie's problems.
It didn't help matters that Ford was starting to show his age in the late 1990s and casting him as a romantic lead opposite an actress 27 years his junior proved problematic. The actor likely only took the role so he would have an excuse to use his pilot's license at work, and it really shows in his performance. Hey, at least the stunt flying is great!
1 Hayden Christensen & Natalie Portman - Star Wars
Sand may be "coarse and rough and irritating" but it has nothing on Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Even the most devoted of Star Wars fans can say little to defend Christensen's amateurish acting.
The worst aspect of Christensen's performance is easily his complete lack of chemistry with Natalie Portman, who played Padme Amidala. Granted, even Errol Flynn would have difficulty in convincingly delivering romantic dialogue such as "I'm haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me."
This does nothing to change the fact that Natalie Portman still looks like she is suffering through a bad blind date whenever Anakin is trying to be romantic and just waiting for an opportune moment to head to the ladies' room before sneaking out of the restaurant.
Is there an even more awkward film couple we missed? Let us know in the comments!