6. Brandon Lee – The Crow
If Brandon Lee was still alive today it would be very likely that he would be superstar material. Sadly though, the only son of the legendary Bruce Lee was only able to deliver us The Crow, which he died on set making.
It all happened when filming one of the scenes that happens early on in the film when Lee’s character, Eric, is murdered. Lee was supposed to be shot with a prop gun, but some intelligent moron improperly loaded the weapon, leaving a dummy bullet stuck in the barrel. When the other actor, Michael Masse, fired the gun at Lee, the dummy bullet struck Lee right in the chest. After six hours of surgery, Lee was declared dead, aged only 28. After Lee’s death, Masse never returned to Hollywood, never able to get over the tragic accident.
It is very possible that his death immortalized The Crow, giving it a cult following, much in the same way Heath Ledger’s death did for The Dark Knight. Another interesting thing to look into is the supposed curse on the Lee family. There are plenty who believe that father Bruce Lee, who died at the age of 32, was cursed. A curse that was passed onto Brandon when he died. There is even a biographical film about Bruce Lee called Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story that hints at it. The film was released only a few months after Brandon’s death and was dedicated to him.
7. Mila Kunis – The Black Swan
Shockingly Mila Kunis, who has spent most of her life in front of our TV and cinema screens only has one good film to her name. In a career that has spanned more than 20 years, Mila Kunis has only brought us The Black Swan.
Interestingly, The Black Swan is another film in this list directed by Darren Aronofsky. Is it possible that he just likes to put a spin on otherwise well-known actors as some kind of charitable kindness? Or, a bit more likely, he enjoys casting such actors because they have experience and listen to directors’ orders. Yeah, that makes more sense.
Kunis is an example of what happens to someone who just repeatedly gets the same kind of roles over and over again. You get numb by it all and stop thinking if the film is good or not and just think about getting on with it. Good film, bad film, it’s all the same.
The Black Swan did allow Kunis to reach another level in her acting career, but while the films she has been in have big budgets, they’re not particularly great. There’s still time though, she can still grab her ‘second’ break and maybe make better career choices after that.
8. Hayden Christensen – Shattered Glass
Hayden Christensen is most remembered for portraying Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of The Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. His image will forever be immortalized with those two films. If you close your eyes and think of him, you’ll probably imagine him dressed as Anakin.
It probably sounded like a dream come true when he was told he would be playing Anakin in the Star Wars franchise. Unfortunately, he should have tried a little harder because audiences not only disliked the films, they disliked his performance and it basically killed his career.
Since the Star Wars prequels, Christensen has been unable to find his feet, jumping from garbage film to garbage film. But amongst it all, Christensen has given us one solid performance in a truly great film; Shattered Glass. And in Shattered Glass, he really plays the protagonist Stephen Glass well with many praising his performance.
With Christensen, it might just be a question of motivation. If everyone keeps hating on your performance, it’s probably going to put you off trying any harder. Shattered Glass was filmed in between his two Star Wars outings, and he may have been more motivated when he took on Shattered Glass. After his last Star Wars film though, it might be possible that the critics’ harsh words knocked him down a bit. That said, it doesn’t explain his poor choice in films.
9. Jean-Claude Van Damme – JCVD
Do you want to know the funniest thing about Jean-Claude Van Damme? In his best film, he plays himself and has a fairly long monologue where he breaks the fourth wall about his life and his bad films. Quite meta right? Well, that film is JCVD (his initials, obviously).
The film is really entertaining and shows that Van Damme is actually quite reflexive on his life and achievements. Plus, it’s an interesting way to combine biographical filmmaking with action and a touch of documentary. It seems that even the worst actors can deliver a real performance when they can relate emotionally to the material.
In fact, there is a technique many actors use to create a more compelling performance, called emotion memory. This is where actors recall emotional events in their lives to deliver a more compelling performance. But in this case, Van Damme doesn’t need to recall any old memories because he is still living them.
Van Damme showed us that he is aware of his own status as an actor and is not deluded that he is some kind of megastar. Something you’re not likely to see with other martial arts stars like Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris. Sadly though, you can’t really repeat such a film, and it is quite unlikely that he will ever deliver another performance as touching again.
10. Jaden Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness
Son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith has only really shined in one performance. That is as Christopher in The Pursuit of Happyness, when he was five years old.
The question looming over Jaden is: does he really want to act though? He has so many projects on the go it seems like he is more interested in living the life of fame than anything else. He doesn’t appear to have the focus that his father does (though to be fair, would you really call a young Will Smith focused?).
Speaking of his father, it is quite possible that one of the reasons he is so good in The Pursuit of Happyness is that he is acting alongside him. That could help in two ways. Firstly, daddy Smith, 30 years his senior, has been acting since before Jaden was born and has amassed plenty of experience to mentor him with. Secondly, father and son acting alongside each other as father and son has the potential to tap into deep emotions, which can make the acting so much more believable.
Jaden is still quite young though and being the son of Will Smith basically makes him Hollywood royalty, so it’s very likely we’ll see a lot more of him. However, that doesn’t mean in necessarily good films.