The art of acting, pretending to be someone you’re not and representing that person in a visual narrative, can’t be an easy job. Especially in a society where celebrity idolatry is an essential cornerstone of civilization. Especially in a world where the internet records every mistake you can possibly make for future generations to witness. Especially in a world where talent and booking agents occasionally make career-ruin decisions for their clients that end up shaming them later. Especially in an industry where shared cinematic universes have become the hottest craze and quality of work is overlooked in favor of world building.
Yes, it must be very difficult to be an actor these days. Perhaps nobody knows this more than the collective cast of the DC Extended Universe. After only three films, the series has produced only one verifiably good movie and, despite having a range of talent on screen, has only successfully used one or two of them. But as embarrassed as these actors probably are to be seen in the struggling franchise, the internet never forgets and many of them have secret shames in their past that they’d prefer would stay hidden. Too bad for them. Here are 15 embarrassing roles that DCEU actors want you to forget.
15. AMY ADAMS IN TENACIOUS D AND THE PICK OF DESTINY
Amy Adams is a respected and renowned actress who has garnered enough deserved awards that her legacy is more or less cemented, no matter how phoned in her performance as Lois Lane is. But five-seconds in the cult classic Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny might just do it. The stoner comedy from the titular band featured a dream sequence where the duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass acquired the mythical Pick of Destiny and played in a club.
There’s a brief shot of a woman in the crowd mouthing “I love you” at the band. That woman, fresh off her performances in Talladega Nights, The Office and The Wedding Date was Amy Adams. Granted, at this point in her career Adams wasn’t the box office darling she is today, but she still had enough credit to her name that this throwaway role was very much beneath her.
14. BEN AFFLECK IN GIGLI
When Ben Affleck was announced as the DCEU’s Batman, he immediately began to accrue animosity from fans. Though his character was poorly built, Affleck’s performance was consistently spot on, to be expected from an Oscar-winning actor and director. But his talent is derived from a long career and collected experience, something he didn’t have in 2003 when he starred in Gigli, a romantic comedy thriller, alongside his future wife Jennifer Lopez.
The film was completely buried by critics who lambasted the ridiculous and occasionally offensive plot as well as Affleck’s wooden, disinterested acting. The film’s only redeeming quality was a suitably ridiculous and entertaining Christopher Walken performance. But when even Christopher Walken can’t save your movie, you know you’ve made an utter dud. Considering Affleck has made himself out to be a serious actor, he would prefer you forget this massive failure in his past.
13. JEREMY IRONS IN DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Most viewers and critics agreed that Jeremy Irons as Alfred was one of the few things that kept Batman v. Superman above water, if for only a little bit. Which makes sense as Irons is a classically trained professional. He must have forgotten that in 2000 though when he starred as the villain in Dungeons & Dragons. To those who haven’t seen the film, it’s a hilarious wreck from start to finish and Irons is half the fun.
His constant mugging, over-acting, and hammy performance is the first hint that the movie is either going to take itself too seriously or not seriously enough, and by the time it’s over you’re still not sure which it is. While it looks like Irons is having fun, it’s also a blight on his near-perfect acting record and he probably wants this forgotten like a drunken college party.
12. HENRY CAVILL IN HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD
Clive Baker’s Hellraiser series was one of the premier gory horror films alongside slashers like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. And like those series, Hellraiser spawned so many sequels of exponentially decreasing quality that 2005’s Hellraiser: Hellworld was a direct-to-video release. It also had the distinction of featuring the future Superman, Henry Cavill, as Mike, one of the hapless victims of the Cenobites.
Nothing more than a pretty-boy gamer, Mike gets a weak romantic subplot before he sleeps around, is rude to his friends, and generally establishes himself as a horrible person so the audience doesn’t feel too bad when he gets a meat hook through the chest. It’s pretty standard horror fare but considering where he is now, Cavill probably doesn’t want you to remember he was once in one of the worst entries in a series past it’s prime.
11. JESSE EISENBERG IN THE VILLAGE
Inarguably, Jesse Eisenberg’s role of Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman deserves to be on this list. His ludicrous depiction of a hyperactive, unhinged executive with a nonsensical plan was one of the worst parts of the film. But before that, his worst role was in The Village, one of the most ridiculed entry in infamous director M. Night Shyamalan’s library of terrible movies.
The film about (spoilers for a movie from 2004 that were so obvious that the movie practically spoiled itself) a settlement of Amish-style fundamentalists who brainwash themselves into believing they don’t live in the modern world featured Eisenberg as Jamison, a very minor player. But even with such a small role, The Village is a blatant stain on any actor’s resume and Eisenberg is quite eager for people to forget some of his work before The Social Network.
10. GAL GADOT IN KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Already a familiar face due to her involvement in the Fast and the Furious franchise, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is still one of the few real finds of the DCEU and it’s almost expected of her that she’ll use the prestige and recognition she gets from this role to propel her career to the stratosphere. Her first attempt to do so? Keeping Up With The Joneses, a comedy spy thriller where Gadot starred as Natalie Jones, a government agent who moves into a suburban neighborhood with her husband, played by Jon Hamm.
Despite featuring the comedic chops of Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher, the film was absolutely forgettable. The worst parts were when Gadot, who had proven she could successfully play a sexually empowered woman without being exploitative, spent a scene in her underwear for no other reason than for exploitative reasons.
9. RUSSELL CROWE IN LES MISERABLES
There have been enough parodies and jokes about Russell Crowe’s offscreen persona that it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a good actor. Though he didn’t demonstrate this much as Jor-El in Man of Steel, mostly because he was supposed to be as robotic and artificial as possible, his other work makes it very clear the New Zealand native has talent to spare.
He’s even a pretty good singer with a rock-folk background and his own band. And yet, despite all these abilities, he showcased none of them in the iconic role of Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. Despite hitting all the right notes, his voice was so monotonous that none of the weight and hyper-humanity of the character was allowed to shine through. It didn’t help that song-and-dance man Hugh Jackson was nailing every song and story beat.
8. DANNY HUSTON IN X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
As one of the most underrated character actors in the world, Danny Huston brought much-needed levity to Wonder Woman as General Ludendorff, the main German villain. His stern accent and cartoonish villainy demystified a fairly obscure conflict. But this is not his first foray into superhero movies. That would be 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The worst part of that infamously terrible movie? Deadpool getting his mouth sewn shut.
But the second worst part was an utterly wasted Danny Huston. His acting was subdued and stiff, never allowing him to embrace his physical and immersive style he’s most comfortable with. Apart from being just a bad film to include on any IMDB page, Huston in particular probably regrets not being able to play the character with the enjoyable ham that he wanted to.
7. WILL SMITH IN AFTER EARTH
Just try to say that name with a straight face. Cypher Raige. If you can say that without cracking up, get yourself to the nearest mental hospital and explain the situation because they will commit you. Before he was the saving grace of Suicide Squad, Will Smith enjoyed a long and storied career that ranged from highlights such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to devastating disappointments like Wild Wild West. But he reached new depths of terribleness in his passion project and collaboration with notoriously bad auteur M. Night Shyamalan, After Earth.
Meant to carry his son Jaden’s rising star, the movie was doomed from the start by poor direction and downright lazy acting from both Smiths. Will in particular was as exasperatedly stoic and boring as a log. Despite his deep involvement in the project, Mr. Smith wants this movie wiped from his less-than-spotless record.
6. MICHAEL SHANNON IN KANGAROO JACK
Back in 2013, when Man of Steel left audiences confused as to whether or not the DCEU could stand on its own two feet, many agreed that Michael Shannon as General Zod was both a pro and a con for the film. His overacting and shouting was tonally at odds with the other actors, but he also seemed to be the only one having fun in his performance.
The same is unfortunately not true of his role in 2003’s Kangaroo Jack, a kid’s movie about criminals who send a pair of bumbling idiots to Australia to unwittingly pay for their own assassination. As a thug named Frankie, Shannon is suitably threatening, but also very disinterested and stiff. On top of that, the movie features a CGI marsupial in a red hoodie rapping like an Australian Sugarhill Gang. That’s something to disassociate oneself from.
5. DIANE LANE IN JUDGE DREDD
Audiences couldn’t really find anything to complain about with Diane Lane’s performance as Martha Kent, mostly because aside from the most ridiculous cinematic twist in film history, she hasn’t really done anything. Other, better movies have done well to showcase her swaths of talent and acting capabilities. Like 1995’s Judge Dredd, which apart from being one of the best-worst movies of all time also holds the distinction of being one of the least faithful comic book adaptations of all time.
Her role of Judge Hershey is small, but is memorable for a scene in which Sylvester Stallone screams that “I am the law!” almost directly in her face. She later noted in an interview that she refused to get naked for the movie because she was afraid her butt would be compared to Sly’s cinderblock glutes. Clearly the film wasn’t just a traumatic experience for the audience.
4. CHRIS PINE IN THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT
The product of subtle Hollywood nepotism, Chris Pine has established himself as a box office draw not by acting talent per se but rather by helming multiple franchises with his chiseled good looks and charming demeanor. It was this and virtually nothing else that he brought to The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Acting opposite a much younger Anne Hathaway, Pines played her love interest with whom she had virtually zero chemistry and didn’t even have a very romantic arc with.
Also, he had to share screen time with the great Julie Andrews during which she acted circles around him with ease. It was his first major role and the movie was panned by critics and audiences alike. How did he nab roles in Blind Dating, Bottle Shock and Star Trek just a few years later? Oh right, his grandpa was president of the Hollywood Bar Association.
3. KEVIN COSTNER IN THIRTEEN DAYS
Kevin Costner is an enigma of acting in that he is ostensibly a good actor despite only giving a good performance once every ten films. Every other time he drones on with the same flat tone of voice throughout each movie he’s been in.
It certainly didn’t help his ‘dramatic’ role of Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel or whatever he was in Batman v. Superman, but it got so much worse in 2000’s Thirteen Days, a fictionalized movie about the Cuban missile crisis where Costner plays White House secretary Kenny O’Donnell and helps JFK, Robert McNamara and Robert Kennedy circumnavigate the most critical political quagmire of the last century without the bland look of disinterest leaving his face the entire time. It was a forgettable film but Costner’s blatant monotone as he dealt with the possibility of nuclear war stands out as something he’d want you to forget.
2. LAURENCE FISHBURNE IN PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE
Laurence Fishburne will live on forever on the internet. Not because he’s a masterful actor who’s played various iconic roles in film and is currently killing it on ABC’s Black-ish, but because of the popular ‘what if I told you’ meme. But his place in history is also established by one of his earliest roles. Between 1986 and 1990, Fishburne played the part of Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, known as one of the zaniest, most nonsensical television shows of all times.
As Cowboy Curtis, Fishburne injected a playful, if lackadaisical, western edge into the colorful and psychedelic world of talking furniture and Cyndi Lauper tunes. Fishburne, who reportedly always wanted to play a cowboy, would gallop into the house on a toy horse with a pink shirt, purple cowhide chaps, and the fuzziest, frizziest mullet ever seen. Unforgivable.
1. MARGOT ROBBIE IN THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
With acclaimed films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot under her belt, Margot Robbie had some downside before she wore CGI short-shorts in Suicide Squad. To fill that time, she took on the role of Jane Clayton in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Tarzan. The artistic ethics of Disney’s penchant for revising their classics aside, the film was terrible.
Even the combined charisma machines of Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t make a single frame even remotely interesting. And Robbie, who had no chemistry with Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan, got caught up in the mix and completely forgotten. The film chewed her up and spat her out, an experience she dearly wants everyone to forget. Fortunately for her, the film was so forgettable and short-lived that her wish has more or less come true.
Which of these roles is the most embarrassing? Let us know in the comments!
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