It’s one thing getting to the top. It’s another thing staying there. Just one wrong move and an actor’s once promising Hollywood career can come crumbling down quicker than you can say “Razzie Award.” From unintentionally hilarious erotic thrillers and spectacularly misjudged gross-out comedies to deranged comic book adaptations and creepy vanity projects, these twelve movies all derailed their stars’ careers so dramatically that some have never been seen on the big screen since.
Of course, for some unlucky thespians, the film that sunk their career may have bombed due to a ham-fisted script, clunky direction or simply a terrible premise rather than the quality of their own performance. For others, though, particularly those who worked both in front of and behind the camera, the blame lies squarely at their own feet. Whatever the reason, these actors all learned the hard way that you’re only ever as good as your last movie.
Here are 12 Movies That Ended Actors’ Careers.
12. Tom Green in Freddy Got Fingered
Renowned for his juvenile shock tactics on his eponymous MTV show, Tom Green was already a pretty divisive figure by the time he made his big screen debut as a Computer Gimp in the forgotten Canadian comedy Clutch. But fairly inoffensive supporting roles in box-office smashes Road Trip and Charlie’s Angels briefly suggested that even an acquired taste such as Green could still carve out a career if he was willing to play the sideman.
Of course, an attention-seeker like Green was never going to be content playing second fiddle, and so in 2001, he fronted his first star vehicle, Freddy Got Fingered. Given its name, few were expecting anything particularly tasteful, but it still came as a shock as to just how much the ‘funnyman’ scraped the barrel in search of what would prove to be a non-existent laugh. Indeed, from an ill-conceived birth scene, to a groan-worthy set-up involving elephant semen, to its inherent belief that child molestation equals pure hilarity, Freddy Got Fingered was a gross-out comedy which certainly brought plenty of the gross-out, but absolutely none of the comedy.
Widely hailed as one of the worst films of all time, the film won five Golden Raspberries and ultimately planted Green firmly in direct-to-DVD territory forever in titles like Bob the Butler and Freezer Burn.
11. Mike Myers in The Love Guru
Having delighted audiences of all ages with the Wayne’s World, Austin Powers and Shrek film series, expectations were high for Mike Myers’ first new comic creation in nearly a decade. But sadly, after watching 2008’s The Love Guru, even his most ardent fans had to admit that the Canadian appeared to have well and truly lost his mojo for good.
Sure, Myers’ previous ventures also contained their fair share of gross-out humor, but unlike The Love Guru, they more importantly had charm, consistently quotable dialogue, and a likable lead, something which the obnoxious one-joke character that is Guru Maurice Pitka could never be described as. Throw in a cynical use of product placement and celebrity cameos, as well as an offensive cultural appropriation, and it’s little wonder that The Love Guru bellyflopped at the box office. Apart from a minor role in Inglorious Basterds, Myers hasn’t acted since.
10. Jamie Kennedy in Son of the Mask
From Enemy of the State and Bowfinger to Boiler Room and Three Kings, Jamie Kennedy had made some pretty interesting career choices following his breakthrough in the Scream franchise, but his judgement in the mid-00s seemed to go wildly off-kilter. First, there was the ill-advised move into annoying TV pranks with his self-titled show, then there was the unremarkable self-penned satire Malibu’s Most Wanted, and the final nail in the coffin was his thankless attempt to fill the shoes of Jim Carrey in an entirely unnecessary sequel to The Mask.
Hampered by terrible CGI, an over-reliance on bodily function jokes and various scenes which simply served as lazy retreads of the original, Son of the Mask’s notorious failure wasn’t solely down to Kennedy. But his surprisingly joyless performance in the lead role certainly played its part, and following its dismal box-office figures, Kennedy was banished to appearing in lowest common denominator fare like the execrable parody The Hungover Games and the trashy Syfy monster movie Bermuda Tentacles.
9. Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls
You could argue that Elizabeth Berkley was simply ahead of her time. 20 years after Paul Verhoeven’s deliberately provocative campfest Showgirls hit screens, Miley Cyrus has managed to make it perfectly acceptable for a former star of children’s TV to cavort around in a virtual state of undress. In fact, compared to the former Hannah Montana’s antics, the star’s first post-Saved by the Bell venture looks positively demure.
Of course, it wasn’t just the rather transparent attempt to shed her Jessie Spano persona that made Berkley a laughing stock back in 1995. Indeed, her ridiculously overblown performance as exotic dancer Nomi Malone, particularly during that pool-thrashing sex scene, was far more shocking than any of the nudity on display. And although Berkley has since proved that she isn’t the world’s worst actress with several acclaimed performances in the theater world, her film career has never recovered from its catastrophic start.
8. Madonna in Swept Away
Madonna’s attempts to cut it in the film world have been met with derision ever since she failed to even play a club singer convincingly in Vision Quest. There were the occasional glimmers of talent – her magnetic turn in Desperately Seeking Susan, her tour-de-force performance in Evita – but for the most part, her Hollywood career had been dominated by terrible performances in terrible films. But as with her far more celebrated music career, the Queen of Pop is never one to give up, and with each box-office flop, she seemed even more determined to make it on the big screen.
The fact that she hasn’t acted on screen since 2002’s Swept Away tells you all you need to know about the ill-advised remake of the Italian romantic comedy drama. Of course, husband-and-wife affairs very rarely work out on the big screen – just ask Brangelina in By the Sea – but with its hateful characters, dead-eyed performances, and lifeless direction, Guy Ritchie and Madonna’s disastrous collaboration took things to a whole new level.
7. Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me
It’s difficult to believe now, but there was a time when Lindsay Lohan appeared to have escaped the dreaded child star curse. There was the big box-office hit Freaky Friday, the ‘00s ultimate teen movie, Mean Girls, and even a well-received performance in the late great Robert Altman’s final film, A Prairie Home Companion. But by 2007, the star had become more renowned for stumbling out of nightclubs, racking up DUIs, and multiple spells in rehab than her once-promising acting career.
Learning nothing from Elizabeth Berkley, Lohan then attempted to get things back on track by playing a stripper, as well as her wealthy college student twin sister, in an adult thriller. As you’d expect from a film as ludicrously titled as I Know Who Killed Me, Lohan’s plan backfired and she ended up winning Worst Screen Couple and, thanks to her dual roles, two awards for Worst Actress at the Razzies. Nowadays, Lohan has been reduced to cameos in pitiful sketch movies (Scary Movie 5, Inappropriate Comedy) and sharing the bill with a real-life porn star (The Canyons).
6. Roberto Benigni in Pinocchio
The first of two Oscar winners on our list, Italian director/actor Roberto Benigni charmed audiences everywhere with both his daring 1997 Holocaust tale, Life is Beautiful, and his highly animated, chair-hopping acceptance speech at the following year’s Academy Awards. Unfortunately, his attempt to adapt classic fairytale Pinocchio into a live-action fantasy didn’t quite elicit the same response.
Benigni can perhaps consider himself a little unlucky for the way in which he was consigned to Hollywood oblivion. Much of the ire directed towards the 2002 release came as a result of the poorly-dubbed English-language version in which Breckin Meyer, 20 years Benigni’s junior, was hopelessly miscast as the lead. However, Benigni’s creepy screenplay and heavy-handed direction didn’t escape the wrath of critics either, and although 2005’s The Tiger and the Snow clawed back a little bit of respectability, the madcap star has barely appeared in front of or behind the camera since.
5. Lori Petty in Tank Girl
After stealing the show from the likes of Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell in the baseball flick A League of Their Own as a relative unknown, Lori Petty appeared poised to make the leap into the big leagues with her first lead role in Tank Girl. Despite her best efforts, the troubled adaptation of the post-apocalyptic comic book series instead relegated her to the C-list almost immediately after its 1995 release.
Indeed, as the wisecracking, wacky-haired heroine, Petty was by far and away the best thing about the movie, a notorious commercial flop which only recouped a quarter of its $25 million budget. But while co-star Naomi Watts escaped relatively unscathed, enabling her to forge a two-time Oscar-nominated career in the process, Petty bore the brunt of the blame and failed to land a major big-screen role again. However, a recent impressive stint on Orange is the New Black suggests she may be primed for an unexpected comeback.
4. Chris Kattan in Corky Romano
Whereas co-star Will Ferrell managed to recover from the much-maligned A Night at the Roxbury to become one of Hollywood’s most bankable funnymen, fellow Saturday Night Live graduate Chris Kattan ended up careening towards the bargain basement. First there was the pointless horror remake House on the Haunted Hill, then the bizarre live-action/animation hybrid Monkeybone, and then, most damningly of all, the tiresome 2001 mobster comedy, Corky Romano.
Also starring a pre-fame Zack Galifianakis, Chris Penn and Columbo himself, Peter Falk, Corky Romano sees Kattan play a veterinarian forced by his Mafia family to infiltrate the FBI. The names of a vet clinic in the film (Poodles and Pussies) and his bogus agent (Pissant) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the level of humor involved, and apart from occasional bit-parts in The Middle, and How I Met Your Mother, Kattan has since been reduced to starring in lame punningly-titled movies such as Santa’s Slay and Adam and Steve.
3. Dana Carvey in The Master of Disguise
Of course, Kattan isn’t the only Saturday Night Live star to have ended his film career in astonishingly unfunny style. In fact, Corky Romano looks like a comic masterpiece when compared to Dana Carvey’s 2002 disaster, The Master of Disguise, which despite grossing a creditable $43 million at the box-office, is widely regarded as the nadir of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison’s factory – no mean feat when you consider the studio is also responsible for Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star and Joe Dirt 2.
Indeed, completely destroying all the goodwill he’d built up as loveable slacker Garth in Wayne’s World, Carvey succumbs to the Eddie Murphy rule of filmmaking – the more characters, the fewer laughs you’ll elicit – during an 81-minute running time which feels more like 81 hours. Nine years passed before Carvey showed up on the big screen again, although his role as a crazy puppeteer in the execrable Jack and Jill suggests he should haven’t bothered.
2. Warren Beatty in Town and Country
Of all the names on this list, Warren Beatty should have known better. The Hollywood legend had received 14 Oscar nominations and picked up six Golden Globes during a glittering 40+ year career by the time he took the role of architect Porter Stoddard in the sex comedy Town and Country. But despite all his experience, the star apparently still couldn’t see the train wreck that lay ahead.
It’s hard to determine what the biggest mystery about the 2000 release is – why the likes of Beatty, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton would sign up to such a boorish and woefully disjointed film, or how on earth a project entirely free of any special effects or lavish production design managed to cost $100 million. Either way, Town and Country – one of the biggest box-office disasters of all time – was met with such a resounding no that it deterred Beatty from gracing the big screen for 15 years.
1. Brendan Fraser in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
It’s unusual for the final part of a successful trilogy to be responsible for sinking an actor’s career, but that’s the case with Brendan Fraser and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Indeed, while his previous outings as Rick O’Connell in 1999 and 2001 had been met with open arms critically and commercially, the 2008 third installment proved to be the lowest-grossing by over $50 million and also received a dismal 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Of course, having bounced from arthouse dramas (Gods and Monsters) and fantasy comedies (Bedazzled) to Oscar-winning ensemble pieces (Crash) and madcap family films (Looney Tunes: Back in Action), Fraser’s filmography has always been wildly inconsistent in both tone and commercial appeal. But a series of poor choices (Extraordinary Measures, Furry Vengeance, Pawn Shop Chronicles) has ensured that the Canadian actor’s career has remained in the doldrums for the best part of a decade. Now that his franchise is being rebooted without him, things aren’t exactly looking up for the 47 year old.
Which career-killing flicks did we forget? Let us know in the comments section.
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