Sometimes, a movie can be so bad, so poorly received, and so universally despised by audiences that it has the power to destroy an actor's entire reputation. When it comes to terrible movies, no actors’ careers are safe, and that includes Hollywood A-listers. One minute, they can be delivering an Oscar speech, and then the next minute, they’re receiving a golden Razzie.
Hollywood heavyweights can completely disappear from the limelight, and all just because of a decision to star in one rotten movie. Once in a while, the movie itself isn’t even that terrible, but flops at the box office nonetheless, resulting with the once popular star being ignored by studios until you’re left scratching your head, wondering “what ever happened to that actor?”
For this list, we’re counting down the movies that have single-handedly tanked successful movie careers and reputations. The next few names on this list were never able to fully recover after their box office disasters.
Some struggled to cling onto their fame with their careers sliding further and further into the abyss, while others have completely stepped away from acting entirely. Any way you slice it, they all took a huge hit from the following films, and their reputations have forever been tarnished as a result.
Here are the 15 Movies That Completely Ruined Actors’ Reputations.
15 The Love Guru – Mike Myers
After a successful career on Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers decided to take a shot at comedy on the big-screen. He started by making Wayne’s World, the 1992 hit based on one of his reoccurring characters on SNL.
Afterwards, Myers became a pop culture icon as the cheeky British spy Austin Powers, making three films in the parody franchise. Riding high on his success, Myers lent his voice to Shrek, which was praised as one of the freshest animated comedies in years.
However, Myer’s success came to a grinding halt in 2008 with The Love Guru. Criticized for being racially insensitive and simply rehashing old jokes from previous movies, The Love Guru was torn apart by fans and critics alike, and the comedian has been suffering for it ever since.
Besides a brief stint in Inglourious Basterds, and a gig on The Gong Show, the comedian has been largely absent for the past nine years. Let’s hope if Myers ever comes back for Austin Power 4, he’ll make a movie that’s at least funny this time.
14 Showgirls – Elizabeth Berkley
Becoming one of the biggest sitcom stars with her role of Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley shot to the top of Hollywood’s A-listers in the early '90s. That level of recognition earned her the leading role in 1997’s Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven’s drama about the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas dancers.
Unfortunately, Showgirls was not the big-screen stepping stone that Berkley was hoping for. Verhoeven, who had been previously responsible for ultra-violent satires like Robocop and Total Recall, found himself out of his element when it came to telling a story about the seedy Vegas nightlife. The film was rated NC-17 due to its graphic nudity and sexual content, the kiss of death to any studio film looking to flip a profit.
Showgirls came under fire from various critics for its juvenile storytelling and lack of restraint, resulting in a Razzie award for Berkley, which halted any dreams of her becoming a major Hollywood star. Though she still takes jobs here and there, there’s no undoing the damage that was caused by Showgirls.
13 Waterworld – Kevin Costner
In the early 1990s, no actor/director was bigger than Kevin Costner. After landing the lead role in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, Costner set off to direct a movie himself, leading to the enormously successful Dances with Wolves, a film that won seven Academy Awards, including a Best Director Oscar for Costner.
Dances with Wolves marked the high point in Costner’s career, and while he was in a string of not-so-great movies afterward, Waterworld is the one that is really responsible for the nail in the coffin.
Set in a bizarre future where the world is entirely covered by ocean, Waterworld had a troubled production from the very beginning. The enormously inflated budget continually spun out of control, and even worse, the film was one of the biggest box office bombs of the 1990s.
Though he still manages to find work, nabbing the role of Pa Kent in DC’s Man of Steel series, Costner’s career was never quite able to bounce back after the legendary mess that is Waterworld.
12 Batman and Robin – Chris O’Donnell
Prior to stepping into the shoes of Batman’s famous sidekick, Chris O’Donnell was already a Golden Globe nominated actor, landing roles in critically acclaimed movies like Fried Green Tomatoes and Scent of a Woman. He was awarded in the role of Dick Grayson in 1995’s Batman Forever, and riding high on the movie’s success, returned for the sequel, Batman & Robin.
Unfortunately, Batman & Robin was not met with the financial success of its predecessor. The movie became a legendary bomb in Hollywood, with Joel Schumacher’s neon-drenched, campy version of Gotham’s Dark Knight upsetting fans and critics. It was a critical and box office disaster, and while stars George Clooney and Uma Thurman were able to shake it off, O’Donnell’s career simply couldn’t recover.
Today, the actor sometimes pops up in TV show cameos, but his potential to once lead mainstream Hollywood movies has become a thing of the past.
11 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Sean Connery
While he’s had quite a career, Sean Connery will always be remembered best as the first actor who played the debonair secret agent James Bond. Despite 007 eclipsing his career, Connery had quite the cinematic resume, including hits such as The Hunt for the Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rock, and The Untouchables-- the Brian De Palma’s gangster epic that won Connery his only Oscar.
It all came crashing down in 2003, though, when the Scottish actor signed on to star in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The movie, which was based on a graphic novel, flopped hard at the box office and was torn apart by critics.
The result: Connery, who was already considering retiring from acting, dropped off the face of the Earth as we know it. One might argue that he would have bowed out of the limelight had the movie gone on to be a success, but it’s hard to not find a correlation between the fact that League was terrible and we’ve never seen Connery in another film since.
10 The Adventures of Pluto Nash – Eddie Murphy
In the 1980s, there was no bigger comedy star than Eddie Murphy. After a hugely successful run on Saturday Night Live, the comedian put his talents to the big-screen, starring in hits like Beverley Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Coming to America, and Trading Places. His fame continued to grow in the 1990s with Doctor Dolittle and The Nutty Professor, but then it all came crashing down in 2002 with The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
Murphy’s career was on a slippery slope in the early 2000s, and the movie that sent him plummeting to the depths below was undoubtedly Pluto Nash. With an amazingly low 5% on Rotten Tomatoes, the messy space-adventure was a critical and financial nightmare, resulting in the biggest financial flop of any film to date.
Though Murphy was eventually able to bounce back, and even nabbing an Oscar nomination for 2006’s Dreamgirls, The Adventures of Pluto Nash was bad enough that the comedian was never again considered the box office draw he once was.
9 Corky Romano – Chris Kattan
While Chris Kattan had a somewhat successful career on Saturday Night Live, the comedian was never quite able to make it work on the silver screen. Kattan found minor success in 1998’s Night at the Roxbury, starring alongside Will Farrell as their two dimwitted club characters from SNL, but then Corky Romano happened in 2001. Any hopes of Kattan becoming a big-screen comedy star quickly evaporated soon after.
Panned by critics for being lazy, sophomoric, and just plain unfunny, Corky Romano is a perfect example of how not to make a successful comedy. Kattan’s timing and delivery are all off, resulting in an hour-and-a-half snooze fest that tanked at the box office.
Though Kattan still pops up in the occasional cameo, including bit parts in The Ridiculous Six, and showing up on SNL every now and again, Corky Romano effectively ended his movie career before it ever got started.
8 Striptease – Demi Moore
Nominated for two Golden Globes, Demi Moore has had her fair share of box office hits and disasters through the years. She rose to fame with 1990’s Ghost, a paranormal love story starring opposite Patrick Swayze that was a hit with audiences and critics.
She went on to star in the hits A Few Good Men and Indecent Proposal in the next few years, but things started going south when the actress took a role in the film Striptease in 1996.
Although the book by author Carl Hiassen was extremely funny and full of satire, Striptease, a movie about a single stripper mother caught up in a murder plot, plays it too straight to come off as satirical. Instead, the movie comes off laughably bad, with one gratuitous topless dance scene on top a stripper pole after another.
After Striptease, Moore was still able to get work in movies like G.I. Jane and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, but her career definitely took a hit that it never really recovered from.
7 Pinocchio – Roberto Benigni
In 1997, Italian actor/comedian Roberto Benigni was on top of the world. He had just won the Best Leading Actor Oscar for Life is Beautiful, a film which chronicles one Jewish father’s plight during the Holocaust, and one that the actor also co-wrote and directed. With a background in physical comedy, and acting chops to boot, it seemed like everything was on the horizon for Roberto Benigni.
Then, Pinocchio happened. One of the most expensive films in Italian cinema at that point, the movie based on the classic fairytale earned a staggering 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics tearing it apart for its crass jokes and lazy slapstick humor. Ironically, just a few years after winning the Best Actor Oscar, Benigni took home the gold for Worst Actor at the 23rd Razzie Awards.
Since then, Benigni has found some success in poetry and in his one-man show, but his movie career was never fully able to recover after Pinocchio.
6 Superman Returns – Brandon Routh
Much like how Christopher Reeve’s career sank with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, so did the career of his successor Brandon Routh with Superman Returns. However, unlike Reeve, Returns was Brandon Routh’s first movie stepping into the boots of the Man of Steel, and was also his last.
Superman Returns should have been the perfect vehicle for Routh to advance his career: a major comic book blockbuster starring one of the most beloved characters of all time. Instead, Bryan Singer’s reboot/sequel was eaten alive by fans and flopped at the box office, despite a decent critic reception. Many accused the movie of being too bland and boring to be memorable, and as a result, Routh’s career drifted off into the ether.
Since then, Routh has popped up in movies and TV in small roles, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but he was never quite able to overcome the audience distaste from Superman Returns.
5 Battlefield Earth – John Travolta
Despite being the biggest icon of the 1970s with Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta started to become more and more obscure during the '80s. Things took a turn for the better in 1994, however, when Quinten Tarantino made the brilliant decision to cast Travolta as a cheeseburger-eating gangster in Pulp Fiction. Just like that, Travolta was experiencing a second wind, and he was once again on top.
That is, until Battlefield Earth hit theaters in 2003. Just when it looked like Travolta’s career had been saved, this misguided sci-fi flick, based on the works of scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, destroyed what credibility the actor had left. The movie was universally despised by both critics and moviegoers, becoming one of the biggest flops in cinema history.
Sure, he’s been in Hairspray and American Crime Story, but Travolta was once one of the biggest stars on the planet, and playing second fiddle to Cuba Gooding Jr. just doesn’t cut it.
4 Snow Dogs/Boat Trip – Cuba Gooding Jr.
Today, moviegoers mostly recognize Cuba Gooding Jr. as that bumbling guy who pops up in second-tier comedies. A shame, considering the fact that in the late '90s he was considered one of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood. After winning an Oscar for his intense performance in Jerry Maguire, audiences couldn’t wait to see what was next for Gooding Jr.
Disappointingly, what was next turned out to be a string of awfully constructed comedy films, the worst of which being Snow Dogs and Boat Trip. A mere five years from being on the Academy Award stage, Gooding Jr. was chasing huskies across the tundra, and starring in a nautical comedy so homophobic, that it made Chandler Bing from Friends look good.
While he’s managed to find work in projects of substance like The Butler and American Crime Story, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career has never quite recovered from the one-two punch of Snow Dogs and Boat Trip, which are formulaic Hollywood comedies at their worst.
3 Cutthroat Island – Geena Davis
This list is filled with movies that killed actors’ careers, but not have done it so swiftly and devastatingly as box office bomb Cutthroat Island did to Geena Davis. Once known as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Davis became a household name in the late '80s and early '90s thanks to a string of hits, such as The Fly, Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, and A League of Their Own. What happened to make this spectacular actress completely disappear from Hollywood? Cutthroat Island happened.
With one of most disastrous box office receptions in cinema history, Cutthroat Island bankrupted the studio Carolco Pictures and did a serious number on Davis’ reputation. While not as bad as some make it out to be, the swashbuckling adventure suffers from a messy plot and overstuffed action scenes, which was enough to take down the studio that made it, as well as Geena Davis’ career.
Though she still pops up in the occasional movie, today, Davis focuses most of her time on her family and charity work, which is a much better use of her time than starring in over-budgeted studio tent-poles.
2 Catwoman – Halle Berry
When you talk about Hollywood icons, Halle Berry certainly comes into discussion. At one time or another, she’s been a part of the X-Men franchise, the James Bond series, and won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Monster’s Ball. In in the early 2000s, it seemed that the actress’ career could only go up.
Then Catwoman happened. DC’s infamous 2004 comic book disaster completely changed the comic book character’s origins and themes, and fans took notice. The film was lambasted for being over-the-top, nonsensical gibberish. The next thing you know, a mere three years after winning an Oscar, Berry is giving her Razzie award speech for Worst Actress. At least the actress was able to laugh about it.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of her career, which was never able to undo the damage that was caused so irrevocably by Catwoman.
1 Hayden Christiansen – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Before becoming the new face of Anakin Skywalker, Hayden Christiansen was a rising star in his native Canada. After making the move to the US, the actor earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Life as a House, and all of a sudden, filmmakers were taking notice of young Christiansen. One of those filmmakers was George Lucas.
Yes, Attack of the Clones didn’t help further advance Christiansen’s career, but Revenge of the Sith was the movie that was the final nail in the coffin. Although George Lucas’ writing and direction is mostly to blame for fans’ distaste of the prequels, Christiansen was often criticized for playing Anakin as a mopey, whiney teenager, as most believed that his turn to the dark side was far too underwhelming.
While Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson survived the prequel controversy, Christiansen was not so lucky. Although he starred in a couple of sci-fi flicks and heist movies, the actor has all but disappeared from movies entirely, never able to overcome the role of Skywalker, much like Anakin was never able to overcome the dark side.
Can you think of any other movies that ruined actors' careers? Tell us know in the comment section.
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