I am not a famous actor, and I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that I will never become one. I took two acting classes in college and immediately knew I didn't have what it takes. Working as a professional actor requires an incredible amount of effort and vulnerability. The audience may not always respond positively, nor should they, but regardless of opinion a lot of work that went into it.
There are, however, some incredibly famous actors whose notoriety seems either overinflated or inexplicable; a handful of people with limited talents who continue to amass incredible amounts of fame and fortune. The purpose of this list is not to bash your favorite actor; it takes a lot charisma and hard work to be a famous movie star. It is instead only meant to point out those whose fame is no longer a reflection of their talent.
In addition to listing some of Hollywood's most overrated stars, we'll also be highlighting several lesser known performers who, for whatever reason, have yet to gain the notoriety they deserve.
Without further ado, here are 10 A-List Actors Who Are Overrated And 10 B-Listers Who Should Be Stars.
20 A-List: Will Smith
This hurts us as much as it hurts you. Will Smith was great in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Men in Black. We’ve had some good times together, but it’s time for some brutal honesty. Will Smith is no longer a good actor.
We’ll give him this, unlike many of the A-listers on this list, Will Smith has been making choices in recent years. The problem is they’re bad choices. Let's not belabour the point. Instead, we’ll just give you a rundown of his most recent projects, Seven Pounds, Men in Black 3, After Earth, Winter’s Tale, Focus, Concussion, Suicide Squad, and Collateral Beauty.
There was a time in his career where Will Smith chose any role he wanted and for years it has made him incredibly successful, but now he’s bordering on a type of self parody more akin to Nicolas Cage.
19 B-List: Ansel Elgort
In certain circles, Ansel Elgort is already a star. To the demographics that saw movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent, he became famous long ago. To the rest of us, he was relatively unknown. Sure, he was terrific in The Fault in Our Stars, but most assumed he would fade away like any number of teen heartthrobs.
Baby Driver slammed the car door shut on any misconceived notions that Ansel Elgort was anything but a star in the making. As the titular Baby Driver, Ansel Elgort embodies the kind of effortless cool that we've seen in the likes of Steve McQueen and Harrison Ford.
It's a mostly silent performance, but, with relatively few words, Ansel Elgort was able to captivate audiences nationwide.
18 A-List: Dwayne Johnson
Contrary to popular belief, Hollywood knows what it’s doing. They’re not paying Dwayne Johnson $65 million a year for nothing. More often than not, casting The Rock in your movie leads to massive box office success.
We're about to say something that may make you angry, so let me preface this next sentence. Dwayne Johnson is a likeable guy. As a wrestler and a personality, there are very few people that are more likeable than him. That being said, despite an undeniable charm and some comedic chops, The Rock certainly doesn’t deserve to be the best paid actor in the world.
He’s made a successful career on hitting his mark, saying his lines, and smiling at the camera. He’s a piece of very good looking (and expensive) set dressing.
17 B-List: Elizabeth Olsen
The younger sister to significantly more famous Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Elizabeth Olsen improves every project she signs on to. She is best known for her scene stealing performance as Scarlet Witch in The Avengers franchise. She also had supporting roles in the more forgettable Godzilla and Old Boy remakes.
Despite a couple duds, there are more than one stunning performances on her resume. She was wonderful in her breakout role as a cult escapee in 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene and had an incredibly convincing turn as an internet celebrity in this year’s Ingrid Goes West.
She hasn’t been able to recreate the critical success since her breakout in 2011, but she hasn’t had much opportunity. With her inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe she is raising the eyebrows of casting directors and is poised to dominate award season in the next decade.
16 A-List: Kevin Spacey
For much of his career Kevin Spacey was thought of as one of Hollywood’s most talented actors. Over three decades, Spacey starred in some of the greatest movies ever made. He’s also played some of the most iconic slime balls in cinema history.
Whether as Se7en’s John Doe, House of Cards' Frank Underwood, or Baby Driver’s Doc, nobody can do skin crawling menace quite like Spacey. He has mastered the art of subtly signaling his true intentions to the audience.
Perspective on these performances rapidly switched last year when multiple accusations of sexual harassment came to light. Suddenly these performances have shifted in the minds of many. No longer could they simply be considered acting. They now appear to be an extension of the man himself.
15 B-List: Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan is something of an indie darling. Toiling away in movies that the general public will never see, she has built a substantial body of work. She was nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for her role in An Education, and is probably best known for her role in the cult hit Drive. She’s worked with well respected directors such as Steve McQueen, Thomas Vinterberg and the Coen Brothers.
While she is often cast in supporting roles, her impact cannot be ignored. She improves everything she stars in.
Her largest foray into big budget filmmaking was opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2009 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Sadly, this movie underperformed at the box office and Carey Mulligan hasn’t stared in a big budget film since. We think she deserves another shot.
14 A-List: Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler is approaching a cultural tipping point. He’s a few bad movies away from falling into the same chasm that the likes of Nickelback and Crocs fell into long ago.
His man-child brand of humor faded from relevancy long ago, but he continues to churn out half baked movies. Perhaps it would be simpler to just list the number of terrible movies he’s starred in over the years. His filmography is a constant stream of incredibly unfunny films.
What makes Adam Sandler’s failures so infuriating is the height of his success. He’s fully capable of great performances. He went toe to toe with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in Punch Drunk Love, he brought great moments to movies like Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, and was fantastic in the recently released The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). He’s fully capable of greatness, but has taken the easy way out over and over again.
13 B-List: John Gallagher Jr.
10 Cloverfield Lane was a surprise to most people last year. No body expected a spinoff of the moderately successful Cloverfield to be any good or make any money. It ended up grossing $70 million and launched relative newcomer John Gallagher Jr. into the spotlight.
This wasn't the first role Gallagher caught attention for. He had a major role on HBO's The Newsroom and featured in the criminally under seen Short Term 12 (a movie that will come up again later). He also starred in the critically acclaimed horror film Hush.
It looks like Gallagher is going to be able to build on his success in the coming year. He is set to star in several movies next year along established stars like Kristen Stewart, Sam Rockwell, and Chloë Grace Moretz.
12 A-List: Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper has some chops. He’s had more than one fantastic performance in his day, but he can’t carry a film and, recently, he’s had far more miss than hits.
Think back to some of Bradley Cooper’s best performances, Silver Linings Playbook, Wet Hot American Summer, American Hustle, or Guardians of the Galaxy. All of these movies feature talented ensemble casts that, together, carry the film. Now think back to his worst performances, Burnt, Serena, or American Sniper. In these performances, he’s front and center. There’s no one for him to lean on and, ultimately, the movies collapse as a result.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are tons of respectable character actors whose most valuable talent is playing off other people. However, Bradley Cooper is billed as, and expected to be, a star.
11 B-List: Dulé Hill
To know Dulé Hill is to love Dulé Hill. Unlike many of the actors on this list, Dulé is not an up and coming star. He’s 42 years old and has already starred in two moderately popular TV shows with cult followings. Despite being more established than some of his younger peers, he is every bit as deserving.
Whether as Charlie Young, President Bartlett’s personal aide in The West Wing, Burton Guster in Psych, or Sam the onion man in Holes, Dulé Hill has a quiet charm that makes him instantly likeable.
He is the master of the playful jab and can often deliver a laugh with the nod of his head. It’s like sitting in the back of a class with the quiet kid you didn’t know was so funny. We just hope more people get to experience it.
10 A-List: Zac Efron
If you’re Zac Efron’s mom or you still have a High School Musical poster hanging on your wall, please look away now. Zac Efron has proven to be nothing, but a pretty face and a good haircut. Even more than his Baywatch co-star, the aforementioned Dwayne Johnson, he’s a fancy piece of set dressing.
There’s no hint of emotion or personality in his performances. Even worse, he’s just not that likeable. He shows up, takes of his shirt, says a line far more sarcastically than it was intended, and collects his paycheck. He’s an aging Nickelodeon star who has yet to realize his own cultural irrelevancy.
Some may say that’s too harsh, but I’m probably just jealous that his poster hung on my girlfriend’s bedroom wall in junior high.
9 B-List: Tessa Thompson
It's hardly a fluke that Tessa Thompson was cast as one of the coolest characters in Thor: Ragnorak. It is the latest building block on a relatively young career that seems to have been built on upstaging the boys around her.
Prior to 2014, Thompson had received a decent amount of work that included a recurring role on Veronica Mars. After that she stared in the critically acclaimed Dear White People and the universally acclaimed Selma before following that up with a supporting role in Creed the following year.
She has a wide variety of work on her resume and is slated to star in some interesting projects in the near future, including a new project from director Alex Garland. Hopefully her recent inclusion in the Marvel Universe will open the door to new possibilities.
8 A-List: Jeremy Renner
This pick may come as a shock. You may be saying to youself, “Jeremy Renner? But he’s Hawkeye! He’s so inoffensive and well respectable. This must be a mistake.”
We want you to think for a moment of every movie you’ve ever seen Jeremy Renner in. He’s been in some good ones, The Hurt Locker, Arrival, and The Avengers just to name a few. In every single one of these roles he has brought the bare minimum to the performance. Like many boring actors, he hits his mark, says his line, and goes home, but he doesn’t have the charisma or charm to back it up. Jeremy Renner is as bland of an actor as you can get and he’s the most forgettable part of a lot of unforgettable movies.
7 B-List: John Cho
At 45 years old, John Cho is the oldest actor on this list and, while he's definitely not an A-list star, there's a good chance you recognize him from something. Whether it's from his role as Sulu in the most resent Star Trek films or in one of many Harold and Kumar movies; John Cho has gotten his face out there.
Recently he's had a recurring role in the Hulu original Difficult People as well as Fox's The Exorcist, but it was a relatively small role that caught our attention. It was a relatively small and quiet movie, Columbus, which slipped in and out of theaters making just over $1 million.
Despite its relatively humble release, it took the critical world by storm and has remained one of the highest rated movies of 2017, in no small part due to the sure handed performance of John Cho.
6 A-List: Josh Gad
There are many who would argue that Josh Gad is not an A-list celebrity, and they may have a point. Chances are the average person on the street won’t recognize his name or his face, but they’ll recognize his voice.
The voice of Olaf the snowman from Disney’s Frozen has had a very successful run over the last few years. He played LeFou in Beauty and The Beast, had a leading role in Pixels and joined a star studded cast for Murder on the Orient Express. This is a string of success that has somewhat overinflated his fame.
Let’s be honest about who Josh Gad is, a poor man’s Jonah Hill. He’s a placeholder, a backup. He has none of the charm of his more talented doppelganger. It would be absurd to think Jonah Hill is the only actor in Hollywood who deserves success, but could they at least find someone a little less annoying?
5 B-List: Keith Stanfield
Short Term 12 was a truly great film that launched the careers of several of its actors. It propelled Brie Larson into stardom and created new opportunities for the likes of John Gallagher Jr., Keith Stanfield, and more.
Since emerging onto the scene, Keith Stanfield has had a number of outstanding performances. He played Snoop Dogg in 2015's Straight Outta Compton, had a standout role in Get Out earlier this year, and is one of the star's of FX's show Atlanta.
The jury is still out on whether or not Stanfield will be a household name, but he does have upcoming roles with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Terry Crews, Armie Hammer, and the previously mentioned Tessa Thompson.
4 A-List: Sandra Bullock
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have made a lot of mistakes. They gave Roman Polanski a standing ovation and let Seth MacFarlane sing a song called “We Saw Your B****.” Over the years they’ve made few mistakes greater than giving Sandra Bullock an Oscar for The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock was actually given the world’s most prestigious acting award for a mediocre, one toned performance with a bad accent.
It’s easy to hate on Sandra Bullock. She’s only starred in a handful of good movies while cranking out the kind of forgettable romantic comedies that leave you banging your head against your chair.
Despite numerous stone faced performances and awkward line readings, Sandra Bullock deserves some credit. She tried branching out. Unfortunately, for every Gravity, there’s a Demolition Man.
3 B-List: Haley Lu Richardson
At 22 years old, Haley Lu Richardson is one of the youngest actresses on this list, and, coincidentally, co-starred with John Cho in Columbus. Her performance is much more frantic than his, as she takes risks while Cho keeps everything grounded. The result is a fantastic chemistry that drives the movie forward.
Haley Lu Richardson had a handful of credits to her name prior to 2016, but first caught people's attention in her breakout role as Krista in The Edge of Seventeen. She followed up her first major role with another in M. Night Shyamalan's Split.
Haley's career is still in its earliest stages but she has building blocks for the future. She'll be starring in a movie called Support the Girls next year from legendary indie director Andrew Bujalski.
2 A-List: Katherine Heigl
It's hard to find a convincing performance from Katherine Heigl. Even if you've seen her better known films, and been cajoled into watching more episodes of Grey’s Anatomy than you would have like, you'd be hard pressed to find the appeal. She’s known for the same kind of mind number schlock as Sandra Bullock, but somehow manages to do it worse.
It's kind of surprising to see the level of fame Katherine Heigl has managed to attain. Her most famous role is Dr. Lizzie Stevens in Grey’s Anatomy, the best friend to the show’s main character. Sure the role earned her two Golden Globe nominations, but she's become far more famous than most of her former co-stars. Sometimes it's hard to understand Hollywood.
1 B-List: Kaitlyn Dever
Kaitlyn Dever has been acting professionally since she was 13 years old. She had guest appearances on shows ranging from Party Down to The Mentalist, but didn't really break out until her role in (you guessed it) Short Term 12. Despite being only 17 years old, Dever showed an emotional vulnerability in Short Term 12 that is incredibly difficult to portray on film.
Kaitlyn Dever followed up on that movie with a substantial amount of TV work before taking on major role in the Kathryn Bigelow film, Detroit. While the movie debuted to mixed reaction, it's undeniable that Dever gives an excellent performance.
Her latest movie, Outside In, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. She will also be starring in upcoming films with Steve Carell, Hugh Jackman, and J.K. Simmons.
What do you think, which underrated B-Listers should get more fame? Let us know in the comments!