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10 Horrible Performances By Great Actors

23 April 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

horrible performances

Nobody’s perfect, so are movie actors. In most of great actors’ successful careers, you can always find at least one film that the actor regrets having made. Here are 10 horrible performances that even the actors’ loyalest fans will find it hard to defend, so you should avoid watching them too.


10. Sean Connery – The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Self-assured and cocky to the extreme, Connery delivers his worst screen performance in League Of Extraordinary Gentleman. He’s basically playing a mixture of Bond and Papa Jones, but in a stinker of a movie.


9. Jon Voight – Anaconda


Flourishing an absurd Cajun accent, Voight is obviously playing up the camp in a daft monster movie that sort of calls for it – but he tips right out into the other side of absurdity. He winds up being the movie’s most embarrassing component.


8. John Wayne – The Conqueror


Wayne plays Asian Genghis Khan with the same swaggering bravado he brought to so many classic Westerns. The result? Something awful of truly epic proportions. Worse, even, than Wayne’s turn in The Greatest Story Ever Told.


7. Marlon Brando – Candy


Brando plays a horny, fake Indian guru. Luckily, his screen time is limited. But along with a handful of other dreadful cameos – among them Richard Burton – he manages to sink this ‘60s travesty right to the bottom of the bog.


6. Laurence Olivier – The Betsy


A cartoonish travesty. Olivier goes ham mad with one of the goofiest accents ever committed to celluloid. He causes the entire film to cave in on itself. Even Olivier admitted he only took the gig for the money.


5. Robert De Niro – Frankenstein


De Niro plays Frankenstein’s monster, except he doesn’t. Instead, he resurrects moves from every gangster flick he’s ever appeared in and applies them to the monster – the result is a joke of a performance.


4. Robin Williams – Patch Adams


Williams just can’t resist going the whole hog on the film’s sickly-sweet script. He doesn’t even attempt to rein things in for a more measured and believable interpretation of the material. The result is so sugary it should come with a diabetes warning.


3. Paul Newman – The Silver Chalice


Newman was so ashamed of his performance that he took out an ad in a Hollywood trade paper apologising for it. He even went so far as to request that people didn’t bother to watch it. Which, naturally, had the opposite effect when it was broadcast on TV in 1966.


2. Harrison Ford – Random Hearts


Ford tries his hand at a full-on romantic drama, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. Though he has fun in the police corruption subplot, it’s all just too preposterous, and Ford looks as baffled as we do.


1. John Travolta – Battlefield Earth


Clearly only doing it because he fancied himself in dreads and platform boots, Travolta raids the dress-up box and delivers a performance with about as much subtlety as the script he’s playing with. Famously awful.


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  • grimjob

    Dennis Hopper in whichever shitty Crow sequel he was in. Wicked Game or something.

  • Paul Preibisius

    A few of these I’d say way more blame goes to the film then the actor. Connery did fine with what he was given and Voight camping it up was what allowed Anaconda to become fun cheese instead of a sci-fi channel original movie with a hollywood cast.

  • Mark Harding

    The title of the article refers to “great” actors. So how did Travolta end up here? Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy and even Pulp Fiction (which I love) performances didn’t do anything for me as far as he’s concerned.

  • Mark Harding

    Dustin Hoffman in Billy Bathgate. The movie wasn’t bad, but I just can’t see Hoffman as a mobster.

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