The DCEU has managed to gather a lot of big names for hits franchise and a lot of these actors have had active, successful careers before these films were even in production. Sometimes, they take part in a particularly controversial project that can leave even the most apathetic viewers shocked by what they have witnessed on screen. Controversy is a huge part of the film industry. Sometimes you have to rattle the cage of the Hollywood machine in order to make something a little different, perhaps even profound. On the other hand, such attempts can come off as offensive, disturbing or repulsive to a lot of viewers. What some see as high art can freak out a lot of people who just don’t get it.
Actors often take roles in these kinds of movies to shake up their career, to prove to audiences that they are very versatile performers that can take part in unsettling projects as well that push the boundaries and go where no film has gone before. Here are 15 DCEU actors who participated in really offensive movies. Be it for artistic purposes or just for a laugh, these actors didn’t shy away from really controversial roles.
15. JARED LETO – REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Drug addiction is a horrible thing to have to overcome, and it has never been made more clear and viscerally real as in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream. This film is not for the faint of heart. It follows four different people as they battle their drug addiction and depicts the inevitable consequences of their actions. Jared Leto, the DCEU’s Joker, plays Harry Goldfarb a junky with dreams of becoming a big time drug dealer so that he can fuel his own nagging habit and pay for girlfriend’s dream of making a business out of designing clothing.
The film is laser beam focused on its message, which creates an extremely uncomfortable experience for viewers. If you ever felt like taking harder drugs, watching this movie will certainly make you forget all about that.
14. MICHAEL SHANNON – NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Nocturnal Animals is a psychological thriller that tells the story of a wealthy art dealer named Susan Morrow who receives the finished copy of her ex-husband’s new book, which he dedicated to her. The film functions as a story within a story where we follow Morrow in the real world within the movie and the story within the novel that Morrow reads throughout the film.
Nocturnal Animals is incredibly intriguing and the audience, much like Morrow, wants to figure out why her ex-husband dedicated this incredibly violent, disturbing novel to his ex. Michael Shannon plays a detective within the novel and gives a great performance. In fact, he received an Oscar nomination for his performance. Interestingly enough, General Zod’s co-star in Man of Steel Amy Adams plays Morrow.
13. JEREMY IRONS – LOLITA
Batman’s loyal servant took a pretty controversial role in 1997 where he played Humbert Humbert in the film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s literary classic Lolita. The book is considered one of the greatest novels of all time, but the story is far from being a family-friendly adventure. The film had a lot of difficulty finding financiers due to its controversial subject matter.
The main character, Jeremy Irons’ Humbert plays an older man who is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores. Although it’s a disturbing premise, the story isn’t about the depravity of a sick man, but a character study of someone with arrested development. The film received mixed reviews and it was certainly a risky choice for Irons, who already had a long career in the film industry behind him.
12. DIANE LANE – UNFAITHFUL
Clark Kent’s wholesome mother wasn’t so wholesome in Unfaithful, where Diane Lane played Connie Sumner, a married mother of one who has an affair with a young, handsome book dealer named Paul. The film tells the story of the aftermath of her foolish behavior. Her husband Edward eventually finds out about the affairs and confronts Paul. In a fit of blind rage he murders Paul.
While Connie is initially repulsed by her husband’s actions they eventually band together and try to find a way out of this torrid situation. Diane Lane was nominated for a Golden Globe for her steamy role. What’s most frightening of all about the film is how the audience is able to connect with the characters, and understand their behavior, no matter how wrong or violent it is, throughout the film.
11. AMY ADAMS – DOUBT
Lois Lane actress Amy Adams plays the role of Sister James in the 2008 drama Doubt which chronicles the goings-on in a Catholic Church in the Bronx. Sister James has a slight suspicion that the church’s parishioner Father Flynn may have an inappropriate relationship with a black altar boy named Donald.
Although she dismisses these feelings and naively believes he is innocent for a while, the truth finally emerges. The film also stars another DCEU alumni, Viola Davis, who plays Donald’s mother. The story is cripplingly depressing, as the nuns can do nothing to stop Father Flynn’s horrendous, offensive behavior. Both Adams and Davis received Oscar nominations for their strong performances in this powerful film of faith and the corrupt system in the Catholic Church.
10. BEN AFFLECK – GONE GIRL
In David Fincher’s masterfully crafted Gone Girl, the DCEU’s Batman, Ben Affleck, plays Nick Dunne, the husband of Amy Elliott Dunne (expertly played by Rosamund Pike who received an Oscar nomination for her work), a woman who has inexplicably gone missing. Nick is immediately seen as the prime suspect in the case before the horrible truth is finally revealed. The film shines a spotlight on a couple who is seemingly perfect on the exterior, but is rotting from the inside out.
The resulting twist is something that a lot of people disapprove of due to the inherent misogyny present in the film and the depiction of Amy. Although it certainly has offended a lot of people, that didn’t prevent the movie from becoming a critical and commercial hit.
9. JAY HERNANDEZ – HOSTEL
Jay Hernandez, who played the pyromaniac El Diablo in Suicide Squad, has had a solid career in film and television to date but the most gruesome film he participated in was Hostel and its sequel Hostel II, written and directed by Eli Roth. The films are extremely gory and controversial.
The films tell the story of college students who take a trip to Slovakia in the hopes of partying it up and meeting some promiscuous women, but they end up being the victims of a sadistic kidnapping where they are tortured to death. Both films have their share of controversy. The first film offended Slovak and Czech people as the film depicted those countries as crime-ridden ghettos. The second film was banned in New Zealand, Germany, Singapore and Malaysia.
8. COMMON – MOVIE 43
Movie 43 is a disaster from start to finish that managed to cast a bunch of A-list actors. It wants to be a gross-out comedy but it is so unfunny that even though a lot of the scenes presented in the film are offensive and disgusting, anyone sitting through this mess of a film won’t even notice how shocking it is because they are so disgusted by how bad it is.
The movie consists of different skits cobbled together. Common, who played Joker’s henchman Monster T in Suicide Squad, was featured in the skit entitled “The Pitch” where he plays Greg Kinnear’s film manager. Kinnear threatens Common’s character with a gun to the head and tells him he must make his movie and perform lewd acts on a security guard (for reasons beyond our comprehension).
7. RUSSELL CROWE – NOAH
Russell Crowe played Jor-El, Superman’s birth father in Man of Steel. A year later, he played the titular role in Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah, which recounts the story of Noah’s Ark where Noah, under the direction of God, built an ark and collected two of each animal in order to survive the pending flood. The film was banned in many Muslim countries given that it depicts things that contradict Islam.
Many also thought the film was racially insensitive as the cast was entirely white and the Bible was anything but. Some Christians were also offended because God is never mentioned by name. He is only referred to as the Creator. Despite the fact that it alienated many different groups, the film did incredibly well at the box office.
6. J.K. SIMMONS – WHIPLASH
James Gordon may be a loveable character but J.K. Simmons’ character in Whiplash, Terence Fletcher, the music conservatory instructor whose methods are beyond questionable, is far from it. Fletcher can out-evil any DCEU villain by a long shot, and with ease. This brilliant performance by Simmons will send chills down your spine and his Oscar was well deserved.
But the fact remains that the character is such a horrendously manipulative person that he justifies all of his terrible behavior in the name of the greater good — the music. You feel offended by his ominous presence even when he isn’t on screen. And just when you think there is an ounce of humanity in this man, you realize you were dead wrong.
5. CIARAN HINDS – THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Ciaran Hinds who plays Steppenwolf in Justice League also starred in There Will Be Blood as Fletcher Hamilton. The film is a dark and disturbing look at the greed at the heart of American capitalism. The film follows Daniel Plainview, expertly played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who becomes an oil tycoon. He is obsessed with oil and wealth, so much so that he loses his humanity along the way. This isn’t a man after the American Dream.
This is a man with one objective in mind — destroy the competition for personal gain. There is a huge difference between watching to be prosperous and actively destroying others to pursue one’s wealth. It is gut-wrenchingly disturbing. When Plainview’s son is injured in an oil rig accident, his father is more concerned with the oil than his son, while his companion Hamilton is visibly shaken by the child’s accident.
4. CONNIE NIELSEN – NYMPHOMANIAC
Connie Nielsen plays Queen Hippolyta in the DCEU and she has played a part in a particularly offensive film that came out in 2013 called Nymphomaniac by the controversial director Lars von Trier. With a name like that, you know the movie is bound to be filled with controversial shenanigans, and that is exactly the case.
Nielsen plays the mother of Joe who is a nymphomaniac. The film features a lot of extremely explicit scenes. A lot of you might wonder why A-list actors would agree to be completely nude and taking part in explicit activities, but it turns out that their faces were CGIed on the bodies of adult entertainment performers, so it’s not actually the stars doing the deed on screen. In any case, the film is shocking to say the least.
3. EZRA MILLER – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
The DCEU’s Barry Allen/Flash is an extremely awkward, wide-eyed chipper member of the Justice League, so a lot of fans might be surprised to find out that Ezra Miller played an incredibly disturbing role in We Need To Talk About Kevin. The movie asks an important question: what makes a person? Is it nature or nurture? Did Ezra Miller’s Kevin turn out the way he did because he was born that way or because his mother led him down that path through her neglectful, and sometimes mean-spirited nature towards him?
The film doesn’t answer the question, but Miller gives an extremely haunting performance as a troubled and violent high school student. Is Kevin’s final act of defiance a giant F-you to his mom? Would he have been a well-adjusted person if she had raised him lovingly? We will never know, but the movie will certainly keep you up at night.
2. VIOLA DAVIS – PRISONERS
Prisoners, by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, tells the nightmarish story of two little girls that go missing, the investigation into their disappearance that ensues and their parents’ inability to cope with their loss. Hugh Jackman gives a powerful performance as a man that will do everything it takes to get his daughter back.
He is a man who will stop at nothing and that includes the kidnapping and torture of a grown man who has the IQ of a 10-year-old who he suspects took his daughter. Although Jackman might be the star of the show, it is Viola Davis’ understated performance as Nancy Birch that is particularly chilling. Amanda Waller might be scary in the DCEU, but Mrs. Birch is just as scary on screen.
1. MARGOT ROBBIE – THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
The film chronicles the real life of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a Wall Street stockbroker in the ’80s who lives a lifestyle of excess, where money, booze, drugs and women constantly occupy his mind. Margot Robbie, who portrayed Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, plays Naomi Lapaglia, Belfort’s wife.
The role required Robbie to take part in a few nude scenes, but that is not where the controversy lies. People were offended by the film’s depiction of Belfort’s wealth, as though it glamorizes the fact that he stole millions from honest, hard working people. People were also disturbed by its depiction of drug use, its adult content and its treatment of animals. But that didn’t stop people from going to see the movie as it made almost $400 million dollars in theaters.
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