Hollywood is a cutthroat industry, to say the very least. You can star in numerous blockbusters, but land one bad-enough role and it might just cost your career. Here are some movies that have either nearly or completely destroyed actors’ careers.
Natalie Portman – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Natalie Portman had already established herself as one of Hollywood’s biggest talents with roles in movies such as Leon and Heat. So it seemed like a foregone conclusion when she was cast as Padme Amidala in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Unfortunately, her onscreen relationship with Hayden Christensen was lambasted by the fans. Although her reputation was briefly tarnished, Portman bounced back with aplomb and even won Best Actress for her role in Black Swan.
Elizabeth Berkley – Showgirls
For those who remember Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley was unforgettable as Jesse Spano. Her career took a turn for the worst though when she landed what many considered to be a risky role in 1995’s Showgirls. Portraying a young, exotic dancer was just the right kind of role to send Berkley into Hollywood purgatory. While Saved by the Bell co-stars Tiffani Thiessen and Mario Lopez went onto find work elsewhere, Showgirls truly kicked Berkley to the curb.
Lindsey Lohan – I Know Who Killed Me
With hit flicks such as Parent Trap and Mean Girls under her belt, it seemed like Lindsey Lohan was on her way to becoming Hollywood royalty. Like many other actors/actresses though, Lohan became consumed by the partying lifestyle and got into all sorts of trouble. Her fate as a Hollywood actress was on the brink of coming to an end when she starred in a series of terrible movies, and it was I Know Who Killed Me that sealed her fate.
Chris O’Donnell – Batman & Robin
Comic book character Batman has had many incarnations over the years, but his sidekick Robin in has only had a handful, in comparison. However, when Chris O’Donnell was cast as Dick Grayson (Robin’s real name) in the movies Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, it was considered by fans to be one of the weakest periods in the history of the DC franchise. O’Donnell was doing so well beforehand, having been nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Scent of a Woman.
Alicia Silverstone – Excess Baggage
After hitting the jackpot with her role in the popular comedy Clueless, Alicia Silverstone was the name on everyone’s lips. Shortly after, the actress starred alongside Benicio del Toro in the action movie Excess Baggage. Seeing that the movie was disliked for both its poor dialogue and terrible plot, the producers were relying heavily on Silverstone’s looks to help the movie make some money. Needless to say, it didn’t, and Silverstone fell into the Hollywood abyss, with a couple of Razzie nominations to her name.
Shaquille O’Neal – Kazaam
Better known for his basketball endeavors, former LA Laker Shaquille O’Neal tried his hand in acting. He ended up falling flat on his face after his role as a genie in the flop Kazaam. He had already been criticized for his poor performance in 1994’s Blue Chips, but it was Kazaam that truly put the nail in the coffin for O’Neal’s acting career. However, the “Shaq Attack” did take home a cool $7 million for his work on the movie.
Neve Campbell – Wild Things
Although she has managed to revitalize her career in recent times, Neve Campbell nearly lost everything when she starred alongside Denise Richards in the thriller Wild Things. The star of the Scream franchise struggled to recover from that particular career move. Nowadays, things are not so bad for Campbell. The actress has recently been part of the Netflix political drama House of Cards, but it is still unclearly whether her character actually died or not in the series finale…
Jada Pinkett Smith – Woo
Although Jada Pinkett Smith’s career as an actress is still fairly intact, there is no doubt that things may have turned out a lot better had she avoided terrible movies such as Woo. She was doing so well, with roles in classics such as Menace II Society and The Nutty Professor, but the 1998 rom-com was a recipe for disaster, with an awful script and a poor character for her to portray. Her marriage to Will Smith has certainly kept her in the limelight.
Lori Petty – Tank Girl
After starring in movies such as Point Break, A League of Their Own, and Free Willy, things were looking on the up for Lori Petty. However, all of that promise came tumbling down when she starred in the post-apocalyptic comedy Tank Girl. With a big budget, the movie literally tanked at the box office, despite becoming a cult classic. The following years would prove to be extremely difficult for Petty, but she did end up on Orange is the New Black.
Mariah Carey – Glitter
There is no denying that Mariah Carey is one of the most successful pop stars in recent memory. Like many musicians, she eventually tried her hand in the world of acting, but her role in 2001’s Glitter was an absolute bomb, both at the box office and according to critics. The soundtrack ended up making more money than the movie, which makes sense seeing that Carey had a big part to play. However, the movie Precious showed that she actually can act.
Mark Hamill – Return of the Jedi
Mark Hamill was never the greatest of actors, and that can mainly be put down to the fact that he didn’t get much work since his time as Luke Skywalker. He made a ton of money from his roles in the original Star Wars trilogy, but after Return of the Jedi was complete, Hamill struggled to find work. He has developed a reputation as a respectable voice actor, portraying the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, but that’s about it.
Ben Affleck – Gigli
To say that Ben Affleck’s career has been hit-and-miss is an absolute understatement. On the one hand, he starred in classics such as Good Will Hunting and Armageddon. While on the other, he had flops such as Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. Then Gigli came along, which he starred in alongside his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lopez. Even though the movie was universally panned, Affleck eventually bounced back when he directed Argo, which went on to win Best Picture.
Vin Diesel – The Pacifier
Vin Diesel is a fine example of a Hollywood star who has managed to maintain his superstar status despite starring in some potentially career-shattering movies. One of the worst on his resume was The Pacifier. Fans and critics didn’t take to the deliberate irony of a macho man taking care of five babies. Despite the terrible reviews, Diesel is still a blockbuster regular, appearing in flicks such as Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Brad Pitt – War Machine
Let’s face it – it’s going to take a lot to ruin Brad Pitt’s career at this stage. One of the greatest actors to never win an Oscar, Pitt’s resume speaks for itself. The former husband of Angelina Jolie has starred in numerous classics such as Se7en, Fight Club, and Ocean’s Eleven. But even Hollywood’s elite can suffer setbacks, and it seems like that’s what happened to Pitt in 2017’s War Machine. Fans just couldn’t get over that horrendous voice he put on!
Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell
Without a doubt, Scarlett Johansson has nothing to worry about as far as finding work is concerned. She’s just another classic example of a Hollywood superstar who could get away with a couple of flops, here and there. One of those came in the form of Ghost in the Shell, a remake of the popular animated movie. However, the decision to cast Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi was met with much disdain, especially from the Asian community.
Rebecca Gayheart – Jawbreaker
Things were looking pretty good for Rebecca Gayheart back in the 90s. With roles in movies such as Scream 2 and Urban Legends, as well as shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, the sky was the limit for the actress. When she was cast in the dark comedy Jawbreaker, Gayheart probably didn’t anticipate how devastating the box office failure would be on her career. Since then, she has been plagued by legal issues and has never fully recovered from the 1999 flop.
Demi Moore – Striptease
The star of movies such as Ghost and The Juror landed what was, at the time, the most lucrative role in Hollywood history – $12.5 million for the comedy, Striptease. However, fans and critics hated it and Demi Moore’s career would never be the same.
Topher Grace – Spider-Man 3
With a little help from That 70s Show, Topher Grace was pretty much a household name. When he was cast as Venom in Spider-Man 3, fans expected positive results, especially since this was pretty much the scariest villain in the Spider-Man comics. So when the public finally witnessed Grace’s portrayal of the character, they were left with a sour taste in their mouths and a sense of disappointment. In the blink of an eye, both the franchise and Grace’s career were obliterated.
Fran Drescher – The Beautician and the Beast
Fran Drescher is a classic example of an actress who reached dizzy heights with her TV role and should never have made a transition to the world of movies. After a successful role in the show The Nanny, she landed a role alongside former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton in the movie The Beautician and the Beast. It was both a critical and commercial flop and earned Drescher a Razzie nomination. Just like that: career, terminated.
Chris Klein – Rollerball
At the turn of the Millenium, things were looking really good for Chris Klein. Best known for his role as Oz in American Pie, he soon landed the main role in 2002’s Rollerball. The remake of the 70s cult classic was universally panned and brought Klein’s career to a standstill. Although he has starred in sequels to American Pie such as American Reunion and even appeared on the show Wilfred, Rollerball seemed to cause irreversible damage to Klein’s career.
Madonna – Swept Away
While there are movies that have ruined actors’ careers, this movie surely had a negative impact on a director’s. Guy Ritchie was at the helm for the movie Swept Away, which starred his ex-wife Madonna. The iconic singer had already established herself as a pretty good actress, starring in movies such as Evita and A League of Their Own. The movie was a critical and commercial flop and kicked Madonna’s acting career to the curb. She’s still huge though in the world of music.
Colin Farrell – Alexander
Let’s face it – Colin Farrell is doing just fine for himself. In the last decade alone, he has starred in numerous blockbusters and critical successes such as In Bruges, Horrible Bosses and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, Farrell’s career was under serious threat when he starred in Oliver Stone’s Alexander. Not only was it panned by critics, but historians deemed the movie extremely inaccurate. Also, it just about made back its huge $155 million budget.
Sofia Coppola – The Godfather Part III
It should have been the perfect end to an epic trilogy, but Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III failed to meet expectations. When the director cast his daughter Sofia as the child of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone, he wasn’t prepared for the backlash that she would receive for her lackluster performance. You can’t blame Sofia for this though, seeing that she had virtually zero acting experience. Nevertheless, she went on to direct movies such as Lost in Translation.
Hayden Christensen – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Hayden Christensen was on top of the world when he received a Golden Globe for his performance in Life as a House. Then, George Lucas came knocking on the young actor’s door and asked him if he would like to play Luke Skywalker’s daddy, Anakin Skywalker in the second installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy – Attack of the Clones. However, many fans hated the character due to his whiny nature.
Halle Berry – Catwoman
It’s safe to say that Halle Berry is one of the finest actresses of the last few decades. Her epic performance in 2001’s Monster’s Ball earned her an Academy Award and she also landed roles as Storm in X-Men and even became a Bond Girl in Die Another Day. Then, she got the role in the DC superhero movie Catwoman. However, it was one blockbuster franchise too many for Berry. The movie was atrocious and she ended up getting a Razzie for Worst Actress.
Freddie Prinze Jr. – Scooby Doo
If there was ever someone who pretty much encapsulated 90s movies, it has to be Freddie Prinze Jr. The actor burst onto the scene with movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and She’s All That. Despite the fact that the Scooby Doo live action movie did commercially well (with Prinze Jr. starring as Fred), he quit the acting industry shortly after. Nowadays, the husband of Sarah Michelle Gellar enjoys demonstrating his cooking abilities, recently releasing a series of cookbooks.
Geena Davis – Cutthroat Island
After starring in numerous hits such as The Fly, Beetlejuice, and Thelma and Louise, Geena Davis landed a role in Cutthroat Island, which was directed by her husband, Renny Harlin. However, the movie was a flop at the box office. Not only did the production company file bankruptcy, but Davis and Harlin divorced shortly after. No one wanted to work with Davis after the catastrophe, and despite roles on shows such as Commander in Chief, she has struggled to make a real comeback.
Christopher Reeve – Superman IV: The Quest For Peace
Things could have been a lot different for Christopher Reeve, who was most famous for his role as Clark Kent aka Superman. He turned down roles for American Gigolo, Lethal Weapon, Fatal Attraction, and Body Heat so he could wear the red cape one more time in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. However, the movie was an absolute failure, both at the box office and in the eyes of movie critics.
Sean Connery – The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
With his role as James Bond alone, Sean Connery firmly established himself as one of the most iconic actors of the 20th Century. He even won an Academy Award for his role in 1987’s The Untouchables. However, it seemed like he kicked himself out of Hollywood after starring in the painfully bad The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Not only was it Connery’s final film, but it was also Stephen Norrington’s last job as a director.
Al Pacino – Misconduct
Regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time, Al Pacino is another performer who hasn’t had a critically acclaimed role in a while. The man behind classics such as The Godfather trilogy and Scarface shot himself in the foot (figuratively speaking) when he landed the role of Charles Abrams in 2016’s Misconduct. Many believed that both he and Anthony Hopkins simply did the project for the money and weren’t prepared to give their all. The Hollywood Reporter called it a “forgettable thriller.”
Kevin Costner – The Postman
Kevin Costner’s descent into Hollywood’s abyss actually started before his role in the commercial and critical flop The Postman. The ambitious action film Waterworld was a risk that didn’t pay off and prompted Costner to step his game up. However, The Postman was even worse and cemented his status as a fallen hero of action cinema. Since then, Costner has tried his hand his music. His wife Christine advised him to form a country band, who he has released albums under.
Bruce Willis – Precious Cargo
Unfortunately, Bruce Willis has developed a reputation for “phoning it in” in many of his recent roles. Whether that is actually the case or not, his role in the movie Precious Cargo did him no favors. The star of classics such as Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, and Looper was labeled as “forgettable” by Robert Ebert’s website and the crew were accused of being as apathetic to the project as the actor. Only time will tell if Willis can come back from this one.
Nicolas Cage – Bangkok Dangerous
It is amazing how radical Nicolas Cage’s career has shifted in the last two decades. At one point, the actor was completely untouchable after his holy trinity of blockbusters: Face/Off, The Rock, and Con Air. It was a truly monumental time for the star. However, Cage has outweighed the high-quality movies he has been in with a series of absolute stinkers. Although flicks such as The Wicker Man and Ghost Rider were bad enough, it was the disastrous Bangkok Dangerous that sealed his fate.
Cuba Gooding Jr. – Boat Trip
There is no denying that Cuba Gooding Jr. has been a class act over the years. From his breakout role in Boyz n the Hood to his Academy Award-winning role in the Tom Cruise-led Jerry Maguire, Cuba was on an absolute roll. However, 2002’s Boat Trip threw a spanner in the works. Gooding Jr.’s reputation was shattered in an instant and it would take a while before he bounced back. He eventually landed the excellent role as O.J. Simpson in American Crime Story.
John Travolta – Battlefield Earth
One of the most up-and-down careers in the world of movies has to be John Travolta’s. Originally achieving fame through roles in Grease and Saturday Night Fever, the actor had a fruitless 80s before making a resurgence in the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction. Not too long after that followed the woefully bad Battlefield Earth, based on the novel of the same name. Although Travolta was interested in the movie due to its Scientology elements, it proved to nearly kill his career.