Hollywood has no shortage of talented and successful actors. But, sometimes, talent and quality do not exactly go together, and, as a result, Hollywood also has a number of popular stars who (more often than not) consistently end up delivering bad projects. However, despite their subpar filmography, most people still agree that the talent of these actors cannot be disputed, and it is a shame when these performers fall in a strange pocket of forgotten and overlooked abilities. Whether it be because of bad choices, bad agents, or a literal lack of care, let’s take a look at 10 extremely talented actors who always find themselves in terrible movies:
1. Gerard Butler
Zack Sneider’s “300” is the movie that revealed Gerard Butler to the world in 2006. He played the main role of Leonidas, king and leader of the Spartans during their vicious war against the terrifying Xerxes. The movie became an instant classic, and Butler became a household name overnight. People were very excited to find out where he would go next, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like his seemingly bright future played out the way everyone had hoped.
People often say that Butler’s only good movie to date was “300”, and it is quite hard to argue with that. He is now known to settle for mediocre films and throwaway B-movies, mainly thanks to major flops like “Machine Gun Preacher”, “Geostorm” (which lost Warner Bros over $100 million), and the awfully dreaded “Gods Of Egypt” (which lost its studio over $90 million). He did manage to secure himself a critically panned trilogy in the sequels to “Olympus Has Fallen”, which earned him the title of “Hollywood’s weirdest action hero”. The last entry in the trilogy, 2019’s “Angel Has Fallen”, became his first #1 movie since “300” was released 13 years prior.
His one true acclaimed success since 2006 has been the animated “How To Train Your Dragon” franchise, in which he voiced the character of Stoick, but every single one of his other outings has been mocked and largely forgotten, resulting in most people forgetting that Butler is actually a very talented actor.
2. Milla Jovovich
Some people will argue that, despite a lengthy career, Milla Jovovich has only ever been in one good movie: Luc Besson’s 1997 “The Fifth Element”, in which she gave an incredible performance that was praised by audiences and critics alike. They wouldn’t be completely wrong. Aside from that movie, Jovovich is mostly known for playing the main character Alice in the fallen “Resident Evil” franchise, which is mostly made of highly disliked films. Milla is one of those actresses who always gives great performances to her roles, no matter how bad the movie is.
The major problem most people point to is the fact that Jovovich seems to only be interested in starring in movies directed by her husband, Paul W.S. Anderson, who happens to be one of the least respected directors in Hollywood. Anderson is behind duds such as “Mortal Kombat”, “Alien vs Predator”, the 2011 remake of “The Three Musketeers”, the widely forgotten “Pompeii” and, of course, the critically panned “Resident Evil” movies.
Milla Jovovich has starred in most of these, including the 2020 bomb “Monster Hunter”, and outside of her husbands movies, the last 10 years have seen her appear in a non-stop series of flops, including “Cymbelline”, “Zoolander 2”, Alice Waddington’s “Paradise Hills” and the notoriously awful “Hellboy” reboot released in 2019. Somehow, she cannot seem to find a good movie to be in, or doesn’t care to find one. Over the years, Jovovich’s popularity slowly faded, despite being an extremely talented actress.
3. Chris Hemsworth
Now, yes, Chris Hemsworth is Thor. As a result, he has appeared in a number of popular Marvel movies. And even then, the first two Thor movies are considered by many to be some of the weakest entries in the franchise. But, what else has he been in that was critically acclaimed or popular with the public? Most people will point out that he was in the modern horror cult classic “The Cabin In The Woods”, which came out a decade ago, but that’s about it. A shame, because Chris Hemsworth has proven himself to be an insanely talented actors capable of playing darker roles as well as funnier ones.
However, since taking on the role of Thor in 2011, Hemsworth has only been in subpar movies that performed terribly on every front. He attempted to star in a number of failed franchises, including the cancelled Huntsman trilogy, the horrible and the infamous 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones. He also took part in a number of action thrillers like “Blackhat”, “12 Strong” and “Extraction”, which all failed to interest critics and audiences. It seems that, despite his talent, Chris Hemsworth has simply not been able to score a genuinely successful film outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
4. Eva Green
Eva Green is a quite the interesting case. Compared to other actors of her time, she has not appeared in a lot of projects, even though she also appears in French films. She debuted in 2003’s “The Dreamers”, and appeared in 2 other films before making her way to the James Bond franchise and becoming a household name. But what makes her so fascinating is that, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the movies she has appeared in are known to be bad, most people agree that her talent is a true force to be reckoned with. In 17 years, she has simply never given a single bad performance.
Since her critically acclaimed role in 2006’s “Casino Royale”, Eva Green’s career has been an absolute rollercoaster of weird choices and promising projects that somehow couldn’t stick the landing. She became a Tim Burton muse, starring in his most recent duds “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”, “Dark Shadows” and the disappointing live action remake of “Dumbo”. She also appeared in widely despised sequels, with 2014’s “300: Rise Of An Empire” and “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For” under her belt. She did have some mildly successful projects, but, aside from one sleeper hit show, “Penny Dreadful”, Eva Green’s career has been a bit of a bumpy ride.
5. Michael Fassbender
Many people consider Michael Fassbender to be one of the greatest actors of our time. He is undeniably a powerful performer, one who disappears seamlessly in every single one of his roles. He is a highly popular figure in Hollywood and people generally get excited when he is announced to be in a new movie, be cause he is just that good. Which is ironic, because most of the films he is in are known for being very bad.
In the last few years, Fassbender has not been able to catch a break with the continuous failure his projects. The “X-Men” franchise ended on a series on flops, Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” sequels got cancelled after it crashed at the box office, the 2016 “Assassin’s Creed” movie adaptation was an absolute disaster that lost its studio millions of dollars and also saw its sequels axed, and his murder mystery flick “The Snowman” ended up being one of the biggest box office bombs of 2017.
He did manage to get a few wins that were few and far between, such as his Oscar-nominated role in the Oscar-winning “12 Years A Slave” in 2013, or his critically acclaimed performance as Steve Jobs in the 2015 biopic that won him a Golden Globe for best actor. But, despite those successes, most of Michael Fassbender’s entries have been notoriously bad films, even if he always delivers fantastic performances in them.
6. Lucy Hale
Lucy Hale is probably one of the most talented actresses of this new generation. The range she has been able to show in the last few years is on a level that most of her peers cannot match. Unfortunately, while being one of the most talented, she also appears to be one of the most unlucky. With her incredible talent, Lucy’s career as an actress has been plagued by terrible projects, from movies to television.
While she has appeared in a number of things in her early years in the industry, Lucy finally became a star in 2010 with the teen mystery series “Pretty Little Liars”, in which she played the role of Aria Montgomery, a young high school student trying to solve the disappearance of her best friend. “Pretty Little Liars” is widely regarded as being a bad show, but one that was insanely popular at the time, going on to deliver 7 seasons. At its close, people were extremely excited to see where Lucy Hale would go, as her award-winning performances in the show foretold what people expected to be a bright future in better, more mature projects.
Things did not go as planned. Since the end of “Pretty Little Liars”, Hale has been stuck in a cycle of mediocre movie flops and cancelled TV shows. She also found herself trapped by her former success, seeming to only find roles in teen projects — she starred in the failed horror movie “Truth Or Dare” in 2018, the critically panned “Dude” and the awful remake of “Fantasy Island”, which crashed and burned at the box office early in 2020. During that time, Lucy also got main TV roles in the CW’s “Life Sentence” and Riverdale spinoff “Katy Keene”, both of which were cancelled after one season.
Despite being a gifted performer, Lucy Hale’s name has very unfortunately become synonymous with bad cinema and mediocre television, and people now expect a movie to be awful as soon as they find out that her name is attached to it.
7. Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston is easily the biggest star to come out of “Friends”. The iconic sitcom ran for a whole decade, ending its run in 2004, and during its run, Aniston starred in the highly successful “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carrey, showing huge potential for the future of her career. She was one of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, and fans could not wait to see what was coming next for her. So… the disappointment was real when what came after (and during) “Friends” was a never-ending series of outdated romantic comedies no one remembers.
From “She’s The One”, “Picture Perfect”, “The Good Girl” and “Love Happens”, to “The Switch” and the oh-so-despised “Mother’s Day” (amongst a good dozen more), Jennifer Aniston got stuck in a tornado of forgettable flicks for well over a decade. She eventually got some hype back when she announced her return to television in “The Morning Show”, a highly anticipated drama on Apple TV+ that came out in 2019 and reunited her with Reese Witherspoon. However, the show turned out to be a massive disappointment for critics and audiences, and while Aniston’s performance was praised, it wasn’t enough to keep people interested.
Since then, Jennifer Aniston has appeared in the Adam Sandler comedy “Murder Mystery”, a Netflix flop that unfortunately solidified the deplorable state of her post-Friends catalog in the eyes of general pop culture. But, at the end of the day, Aniston is way too big of an actress, and there is no doubt that she is not going anywhere anytime soon.
8. Alden Ehrenreich
Alden Ehrenreich is an absolute nuclear plant of talent, but he isn’t a name that is universally known — at least, not amongst general audiences. Although, his face has become much more recognizable since he played the role of Han Solo in 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, which notoriously became the first Star Wars film to lose money. Nevertheless, his talent has been a true revelation in Hollywood, mainly because “Solo” wasn’t Alden’s first crack at popular franchises. But unfortunately, despite a number of promising projects with potential, things never quite worked out for him.
He played the role of Ethan Wate in the 2013 adaptation of “Beautiful Creatures”, which was total failure that saw its sequels cancelled. He also appeared in the failed Nicole Kidman mystery “Stoker”, the Warren Beatty period piece “Rules Don’t Apply”, and he even got a main role in the Coen Brothers’ 2016 flop “Hail, Caeser!”. All of these amazing opportunities have allowed Alden to prove his next level talent as an actor, and despite receiving great acclaim for his work on screen, all of his projects ended up being missteps. After the failure of “Solo” in 2018, Alden turned to television, starring in the 2020 sci-fi epic “Brave New World”… but it was cancelled after one season.
9. Nicolas Cage
Let’s be honest here: while most people on this list have made bad project choices, got stuck in a typecasting whirl or simply have terrible agents, none of those unfortunate short comings apply to Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage just gave up. Plain and simple. It’s crazy to remember that, at one point, Nicolas Cage was the biggest actor in Hollywood. He was the ultimate A-lister, a God amongst men. He was in “The Rock” and “Face/Off”, he was the original Ghost Rider, he almost played Superman… Nicolas Cage was a beloved actor and a defining facet of 90’s pop culture. But, somewhere along the line, he stopped caring, and became the king of movies that are “so bad they’re good”.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when Cage went bonkers with his career, but the mid-2000’s were definitely a turning point he never came back from. From weird movies like “The Wicker Man”, “Left Behind” and “Knowing” to blockbusters like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and 2020’s hilarious “Jiu Jitsu”, his movies all turned out to be absolute flops that made critics scratch their heads and ask “How did he get here?” It seemed like Cage was just saying yes to any scripts that came his way, and while his career’s 180 has become a meme, people still seem to love him just as much as before.
As a cherry on top, Netflix recently released a trailer for an original docu-series titled “History of Swear Words”, in which Nicolas Cage will be receiving a number of guests in each episodes to teach audiences the origin of various swear words. Well…at least he’s having fun!
10. Johnny Depp
It seems like something shifted for Johnny Depp as soon as he appeared as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates Of The Caribbean” in 2003. He was already considered to be a Hollywood legend, and was known for being a highly versatile actor, but it didn’t stop him for being typecast after the movie came out. For well over a decade, Depp only appeared in awkward comedies in which he would portray brainless characters that were essentially pale copies of Jack Sparrow. He seemed to be playing the same character in every film, and it became a bit too obnoxious for everybody with the release of 2015’s “Mortdecai”, which was blasted by critics as being the last straw.
After being kicked out of the Pirates franchise by Disney, following the financial failure of its fifth instalment “Dead Men Tell No Tales” in 2017, Depp attempted a franchise comeback to reshape his broken image and regain his status of legend. He then donned the role of evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts 2”, which was awful, performed poorly and created an absolute uproar amongst fans of the Harry Potter franchise. And while he was going to come back for a future instalment that shows potential, Warner Bros kicked him out of the franchise over his ongoing lawsuits with his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
Aside from major franchises, Depp’s recent resumé is mostly composed of ignored movies with terrible reviews and voice over work for failed animated movies, such as 2018’s “Sherlock Gnomes”. His only win in the last few years was his minor role in Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 adaptation of “Murder On The Orient Express”, which reminded people that he is indeed an extremely talented actor.