Some actors are so good in their roles, that the viewing public forgets they’re watching a fictional movie. The performance draws them into the character and film until they think it’s real. This creates awkward situations for the actor who can be, at best, typecast into a particular role. At worst, they become universally despised and are blackballed out of the industry.
10. Harvey Keitel: Bad Lieutenant
Critically praised and massively condemned, Bad Lieutenant has run the gamut of both loved and hated. Critics largely enjoyed the film and, although acknowledging its darkness, refused to shut up regarding Keitel’s amazing performance. The flip side of the coin was that average suburban American viewers were largely disgusted by the film and blamed the lead actor, Keitel, for these bad feelings. It’s tough not feeling somewhat repelled after watching him force two underage girls to simulate oral sex as he masturbates, simply because they have their parents’ car out without permission. Not exactly a “family” movie.
9. Jane March Horwood: The Lover
Working under the name Jane March, she starred in The Lover alongside Tony Leung. It is the story of a 15-year-old French girl, who is seduced by a wealthy Chinese man in Saigon. Jane was cast in the role due to her youth (18 at the time), and her “virgin-like” aura. However, after the movie was released, she became widely despised. Her character in the film repeatedly has sex with a much older man, and public opinion devolved into the belief that Jane March was actually doing just that, and enjoying some rumpy-bumpy with co-star Tony Leung. The masses even came up with a clever nickname for her: “The Sinner from Pinner”, after her local train station. She went on to be cast in another heavily sexual role in The Color Of Night alongside Bruce Willis, and then, shortly thereafter, faded from view.
8. Ben Affleck: Gigli
Few people in Hollywood history, except perhaps Mickey Rourke or Christian Slater, have done a nose dive out of superstardom as brutally as Ben Affleck, and the vehicle that made this dive possible was the 2003 abortion Gigli. Brief plot break down for the blessed who ran from their TVs clawing out their eyes and cursing the gods as opposed to actually sitting and watching this: Ben Affleck is a low-level mob guy named Gigli who has to kidnap a mentally handicapped guy, with the aid of Jennifer Lopez. Lopez is a “lesbian,” but it’s clear from page one that the two of them will get it on, and they do. This so enraged the GLBT community that the initial ending was changed, and Affleck, who had done the same thing in “Chasing Amy” was given the title “Benny The Lesbian Changer.” Both Affleck and Lopez fail horribly in this “film,” but at least J-Lo was already a snotty Latina booty sensation before Gigli, so public opinion of her changed little. Affleck however, was a respected and well-liked talent, qualities that were immediately stripped away and that took him literally nine years to even begin to re-establish.
7. Kevin Dillon: Platoon
In 1986, Oliver Stone’s masterpiece Platoon was released to critical fanfare across the board. Kevin Dillon was cast in the film as “Bunny,” a complete sociopath within the platoon. In the directors commentary on the DVD, Stone actually admits to having cast Dillon because he had “a coldness about him” that frightened the director and reminded him of certain people he had encountered during his own time in Vietnam. Dillon was highly believable in the movie, so much so that, after Platoon won an Oscar, very few doors opened for him. Unlike his co-stars Willem Dafoe and Johnny Depp, who consider Platoon their break out movie, Dillon largely wallowed in relative obscurity. He only recently found some notoriety playing “Johnny Drama” on HBO’s Entourage.
6. Kevin Costner: Waterworld
Everyone has heard of Waterworld, and how it was the most expensive movie ever made, with a budget surpassing $200 million. The thing is, it isn’t actually such a bad movie, despite what critics say. But when you star in and produce a 200 MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, it better be pretty incredible, or it’s going to sink you. That’s what happened to Kevin Costner after this bloated collection of sci-fi clichés went pretty much belly-up in 1995.
5. Joaquin Phoenix: I’m Still Here
I’m Still Here, chronicling Joaquin Phoenix’s mental breakdown and his attempts to re-invent himself as a rapper, was a hoax. Everything about it was purest fiction and all an act. So who cares, right? Well, apparently Hollywood cared, and they did not enjoy Phoenix and his accomplice, Casey Affleck, pulling the proverbial wool over their collective eyes. Since it has been released, both Phoenix and Affleck have come forward and have been forced to apologize numerous times and defend what they initially claimed was a documentary, but now claim is a performance piece that many have called a mock-u-mentary. Burnt bridges are tough to rebuild, even for a former powerhouse like Phoenix.
4. Omar Sharif: The 13th Warrior
This 1999 Antonio Banderas vehicle bombed. It deserved to as well, because it was awful. Just a bloated, silly, slaughter-fest of a film, devoid of anything redeeming whatsoever. Apparently, this was too much for Omar Sharif, who had a brief cameo in the film as an advisor to Banderas. This small scene alone was ridiculous enough for him to say later that he had retired from acting, simply because of this movie. Having his friends and loved ones see it was too embarrassing, and he felt degraded, acknowledging that he has taken the part simply to get paid. He didn’t work again until 2003.
3. Kris Kristofferson: Heaven’s Gate
In 1980, Michael Cimino, the genius behind The Deer Hunter, directed Heavens Gate, and single-handedly put United Artist Studios out of business. The movie bombed in every conceivable way. Despised by critics, and pulling in a measly $3 million at the box office, it also did one other remarkable thing: it put the brakes on Kristofferson’s career. He plays the lead role and, after Cimino, he took a large portion of the blame despite performing well. After Heavens Gate, he didn’t have another serious movie role until 1984, and toiled in relative obscurity until the late 1990’s, surviving on B-level country music releases and TV movies. Only in the last 15 years has he finally managed a bit of a comeback, both on the screen and in music.
2. Michael Massee: The Crow
Everyone knows that “The Crow” tragically ended Brandon Lee’s life. What many people do not know, is that Michael Massee was the young actor who pulled the trigger. While playing the character “Funboy” in a scene, Masse was supposed to fire several shots at The Crow, killing him. Unfortunately, the gun being used had a projectile of some sort in the barrel, which was thrown out by the explosive charge of the blank going off, and this killed Lee. Masse was the first to notice that something was obviously wrong, and went into a panic. The incident, and the death of his fellow actor, affected Massee so much, he went back to New York and, according to him, “did nothing. No work. Nothing,” for over a year. The memory of the event still haunts him to this day.
1. Ted Levine: Silence of the Lambs
Ted Levine should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. He didn’t get one because he was TOO good. His character was so incredibly polarizing that, besides copious amounts of hate mail from across the spectrum, the movie role offers largely dried up. In addition, the preparation he did for the role, bizarre things he adopted based on habits he gleaned while studying serial killers, such as the habit of watching copious amounts of hardcore pornography, began taking a psychological toll on the man whose friends and co-workers describe as “the nicest guy you will ever meet”. Levine was forced to go back into television until popping up in Heat in 1995. What is most interesting, however, is that, according to both Levine and director Jonathan Demme, his initial audition was far more terrifying than what we have seen on the screen.