When an actor starts out he or she initially strives simply to prove that they belong. If they grab their one in a million chance and forge beyond the ‘look you’re just not good looking enough to be an extra‘ phase then they hope for more.
As Ricky Gervais’ brilliant Extras showed the challenges thereafter are small but significant. First you hope for a line, then an entire scene where you have your own dialogue. Then and only then can most aspire to a recurring role with the prospect of other significant minds in the industry spotting you and earmarking you for more…
Of course there are some beautiful exceptions to the rule – Zack Efron springs to mind… Regularly. But the Pete Postlethwaite’s (RIP), Bob Hoskins’ (RIP) and Steve Buscemi’s of the world aren’t gifted access to the industry with a golden key, a personalised Bentley, the Victoria’s Secret model of their choice. Furthermore, as recent history shows, they are a dying breed.
However once you’re in – and I mean really in – only a few things can kick you out;
1/ You have a series of meltdowns over a prolonged period and the industry can no longer afford to take a risk on you. See ‘Lohan, Lindsay’ and ‘Boof, Shia La’
2/ You have one monumentally major meltdown and diss the wrong people. (Though even Charlie Sheen has proven you can bounce back from this one.)
3/ Your entire career was based upon physical gifts that no longer exist; martial arts, dancing, looks, or Baywatch babes hitting 30 – those implants don’t last forever.
With a few successes on your résumé, some fancy footwork and a couple years of not fucking up, Hollywood becomes your oyster. The normal acting rules don’t apply.
This is even more evident should you join the coveted group of actors who themselves become descriptors, as in “I’m going to see the new Jennifer Aniston film” with no further elaboration.
Once that happens you can probably take a dump on Jimmy Fallon’s desk and still get invited back… As these guys can attest.
The law of diminishing box-office returns though, never sleeps.
“I’m just a regular chick. I don’t understand why the paparazzi hound me so. Why can’t everyone just leave me alone with my various temporary boyfriends and for once appreciate me for my work? You know, things like… ummm… and… I mean…”
Look I don’t mean to be a hater. I agree she should be left alone if she wants to. I just don’t think she reeeeeealllllly wants to be left alone. (Maybe quit with the nearly nude shots then?) But when your cinematic highlights are appearing in a film about a dog and as the fifth banana in a cult comedy that you contribute precious little to, is it fair that your publicity hating self is granted ‘superstar’ status?
And as for the ‘over-acting’ part. Perhaps I have misjudged, after all I can’t recall a single role in which Ms Aniston plays anything other than Ms Aniston… I’d actually bet if you asked women over thirty to list Aniston’s movies, and then describe or list her memorable magazine covers, that the mags would win hands down.
There’s zero chance that a list like this could omit the one and only Nicolas Cage, the man with a thousand Youtube clips devoted exclusively to moments of him hamming, screaming and otherwise embarrassing his family for ninety odd minutes at a time.
It seems now that every movie in which Cage appears he is expected to summon the demons with his bewildering babble and bulging eyes. It also seems that thanks to this exact modus operandi the once revered Mr Cage has been relegated to straight to DVD fare.
If I might venture a prediction though, the next film in with Mister Cage plays it straight and low key, he’ll be nominated for another Oscar…
I actually will stop well short of stating that Jim Carrey can’t act. It’s just that when he mugs, screams and grins inanely his box office results seem a lot healthier.
So what do you think we get more of?
In other news; Dumb and Dumber To is now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
That said Carrey’s straight roles aren’t all peaches and cream. The Number 23 was weird – and not very coherent – shit, and The Majestic drowned under the weight of its own warm sugary feelings. But I’d rather risk more Majestic 23’s if it occasionally gifted us another Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
I understand Tim Curry rose to fame with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I haven’t seen that film since… well let’s just leave it at I can’t remember a single thing about it and have no intention of remedying this. So I’m basing this solely on his role as a mad European treasure hunter in Congo, one of the hammiest and most memorable over-acting roles in history. Curry’s every line is an over-pronounced delight. His every expression over the top.
I wish there was a Congo 2 to further develop his insane character further. Though given his character dies and it would need to be an evil twin or similar. Actually that’s even more perfect! Someone develop a sequel to the under-appreciated talking monkey and hidden treasure 90s flick STAT.
See Aniston, Jennifer. Only with hundreds more teeth.
It’s funny but telling that a simple google/images search for photos to accompany this bagging brings thousands of ‘Diaz: the model’ photos and only a few ‘Diaz: the actor’.
But we’ll always have Knight and Day.
For a dozen film stretch in the late 80s and early 90s, the crowd went gung-ho over the Hop, having rediscovered him after a bleary stoned out decade or two.
True Romance showed he still had it. Speed showed he was still a compelling figure. Then a bunch of other forgettable efforts showed he often misplaced it and sometimes even forgot what ‘it’ was.
Waterworld would have been awful even before the over the top (yet somehow underwhelming) Mad Max style bad guy. Boiling Point would be similarly mediocre without his scene stealing. Countless other lacklustre efforts could have been turned into roles for young actors who actually gave a shit.
Look there’s no bigger Sam fan than I. Over the years Sam has proven that as a working actor he lacks the ability or willingness to say “No” to roles regardless of the artistic or commercial prospects, and for the most part I have been similarly unable to say “No” to watching them.
Sam might resent his place on this list. He is after all the biggest grossing box office actor of all time and a fine actor. The bits you remember though? they consist of bug-eyed intensity and over-enunciated words – usually delivered at Volume 11.
Do you really think anyone is quoting his low key moments and citing dignified performances? Not really. Not when there’s the tyranny of evil speech or the ridding of MF snakes from MF planes to discuss…
Jovovich is yet to play anything but a vacant babbling ex clothes-horse, which is exactly why her vacant babbling blue Elastoplast wearing alien in The Fifth Element will always be atop her CV, regardless of what ludicrous number the Resident Evil profits its way to.
I blame society. Because if we collectively banded together and watched one of these increasingly awful (alleged) zombie flicks, we’d realise what a puerile mess they are and ban the team of Paul W.S Anderson and Lil Ms Alice forthwith.
That would also have saved us from the pile of offal that The Three Musketeers proved (and in fairness was always destined) to be.
Because; no, no, no, no, no, no. No. No. No. No. No. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
This pretentious git appals onscreen and thieves the work of others offscreen. Maybe we can find an airtight bag next time? Too far? Well how about a soundproof one.
OK so a family flick like Harry and the Hendersons requires a certain level of embellishment and broad strokes, but have you seen Ricochet and Cliffhanger? In these two pics Mr Lithgow does everything short of hold up a sign with ‘APPLAUSE’ written on it in big black marker.
In the last couple years he has redeemed himself somewhat with low key turns in This is 40 and Interstellar, but them’s the facts.
Jack never stopped playing The Joker. He never stopped with the eye twinkle and the wide mouthed leering grin. It’s just that without the makeup the shtick is far less interesting.
In The Shining shut-in Jack famously went batshit crazy and tried to off his entire family (lucky it wasn’t holiday season). It just seems that since then Nicholson often seems to think that even his non-insane characters must be as intense.
Sure The Departed was a good flick and one of the rare remakes to be worth its salt, but was Nicholson’s all-spitting, all-screaming turn as a gangster boss that brilliant? And in a movie where everyone seems to be trying to one-up themselves for ‘Best Boston Accent’, ol’ Jack doesn’t even give it a shot.
The responses to it might be split down the middle, but I for one thought that toning things down fifteen notches might have been a good idea.
Once the pre-eminent actor of his generation. Now a guy who looks perpetually confused and personally aggrieved that he is standing alongside none other than Adam Sandler. In a supporting role…
I always like the fact that Pacino was just non-specific enough that he was capable of claiming he was from anywhere; need a Cuban guy? Hey that’s me. A Puerto Rican? No problemo. Italian? Mama Mia that’s right up my alley!
Funnily enough it was one line in Heat that sticks with me. A bizarre and totally inappropriate 125 decibel ‘SHE GOT A BIG ASS!’ that somehow made it into what is an otherwise very credible film.
For the record I could just as easily justify one Robert De Niro here, and probably would have at least tacked him in alongside Pacino if it weren’t for his reprieve thanks to Limitless from a couple years ago.
Haven’t seen Grudge Match though.
What is it with guys playing hunters from other lands? First Tim Curry in Congo, then Ange’s Dad in Anaconda. Somehow in a movie with the acting ‘talents’ of Ice Cube, J-Lo and a young Owen Wilson, it is Mr Voight that stands out as over-the top.
His snarling contemptuous delivery of every threatening and ominous line is nigh as hilarious as the giant snake CGI, but it is his sly wink after being regurgitated by a snake post battle that demands a spot on this list.
Talking trees aside, the weakest point about the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy was Hugo Weaving’s over-enunciating git of an elf… “And you will be called… the fell-ow-sshiPPPP! of the… Ringgggg”.
But that isn’t Weaving’s only crime. No this is definitely a career achievement award.
In V for Vendetta he was an over-acting, over-enunciating ponce fond of anarchy and unearned self-righteousness. And he was the world’s most annoying human enslaving computer virus on record not once. Not twice. But thrice, in the Matrix trilogy.
Those wanting Proof – Weaving’s last low key performance by the way – that this is a guy with an annoying voice, should look no forward to the decision to grant him the role of voicing one of the many half robot, half vehicle, all obnoxious Transformers.
Talk about ‘right place, right time’. Worthington lucked out in a role as the most lifeless character in James Cameron’s CGI world, and since then has decided that this non-acting game is piss easy. This may well be a case of non-acting.
Funnily enough the only time Sam even attempted to ‘act’ was as a hardened cop in Texas Killing Fields. With middling results.
Sam is now Famous with a big ‘F’ and as such will get regular work for a while, but at his current trajectory he’ll need to hope that James Cameron gets the Avatar sequels cracking soon.
Will Ferrell / Adam Sandler / Vince Vaughn / Dane Cook / Ryan Reynolds / Melissa McCarthy
Easy kills. Time to move on…
While many of the names on this list are (aside from Sam Jax – mostly ‘were’) Big Stars. Even Mega-Stars at some point. Almost all of them get regular work and the press make a big fuss when their latest release arrives.
The tell-tale sign of whether the over-acting is harming their career is by looking at two things; their position on the movie poster and the box-office in films where they play a prominent role. It’s easy then to see who the public has largely grown tired of. I can only hope that the names listed just above all progress quickly downhill so I can cease wondering who keeps financing their careers…
Ironically, since Samuel L Jackson started gaining attention for his yelling and proclivity for using the M-F prefix, his career has only gone in one direction. It seems that with every Dave Chappelle-type send up, with every fat white news guy mistaking him for another actor, with every steely eyed staredown of an insensitive entertainment reporter, Jackson’s star power and box-office tally only continue to rise.
Way to break the mother-fucking curse Sam.