Whether it’s because of personal problems, bad film choices, laziness or possibly an over-estimation of their talent level in the first place we all know actors who once had a brilliant career but seem to have squandered their potential. Here are ten of the ones I have found the most disappointing.
What’s the problem?: Norton blasted onto the scene with a couple of epic late 90’s performances but made some really mediocre choices in the early 2000’s which wasn’t helped by being notoriously difficult to work with.
Where it went right: American History X (1998), Fight Club (1999)
Where it went wrong: The Illusionist (2006), The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Chance of redemption: Recently he was great in Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) basically playing himself but he’s got nothing in production except a voice over for a children’s film about a sausage so I’m not holding my breath.
“People wrestle sometimes making movies, and I think that conflict is a very essential thing. I think a lot of very happy productions have produced a lot of very banal movies.”
What’s the problem: I’m not sure what happened half way through Cusack’s career but sometimes it seems like he will literally take any role that’s on offer.
Where it went right: Say Anything (1988), Being John Malkovich (1999), High Fidelity (2000)
Where it went wrong: 2012 (2009), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), The Raven (2012)
Chance of redemption: He was pretty good in Love & Mercy (2014) but nowhere near as good as Paul Dano and so far in the pipeline he has a Jackie Chan movie that doesn’t seem to have gotten a theatrical release outside of China, a Spike Lee movie with Wesley Snipes in it and two very average sounding thrillers so I don’t think anything has changed.
“I’ve made 10 good films. The ones that suck I tend to blank out. It’s like I never even made them. Well, there aren’t 40 that are great, put it that way. But that’s fine. Ten is a good batting average.”
What’s the problem?: Once there was a time when Johnny Depp used to choose really cool, unusual roles and his partnership with Tim Burton was gold but then the two of them became over reliant on each other and started phoning in a bunch of turds. He also hasn’t done himself any favours playing Captain Jack Sparrow in a different hat in his last five or six roles.
Where it went right: Edward Scissorhands (1990), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1992), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Where it went wrong: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005), Dark Shadows (2012), Transcendence (2014)
Chance of redemption: Well recently he’s made box office flop, Mortdecai and he’ll be reprising his roles as Captain Jack and the Mad Hatter so I think it’s all just going to be more of the same.
“[on director Tim Burton] He can ask me everything. If he wants me to have sex with an aardvark in one of his next movies, then I will do that.”
What’s the problem?: If anyone has a talent for picking stinkers, it’s this guy from bad sci fi to cheesy romance he just couldn’t resist until everyone had all but forgotten that he’d won two Oscars.
Where it went right?: Field of Dreams (1989), Dances With Wolves (1990)
Where it went wrong: Waterworld (1995), The Postman (1997)
Chance of redemption: Well lately he seems to be having a bit of a resurgence but I’m not convinced.
“I’m happy about the things I’ve done. Not always happy about the results, but happy about the decisions, because I made them myself. And I think that’s an important way to go through life.”
What’s the problem?: Liam Neeson had some amazing dramatic roles early on in his career but since Taken it’s all about the brainless action hero stuff.
Where it went right?: Schindler’s List (1993), Love Actually (2003), Kinsey (2004)
Where it went wrong: Wrath of the Titans (2012), Taken 3 (2014), Non-Stop (2014)
Chance of redemption: I think once Neeson gets bored with jumping off shit and making loads of money for it he’ll get right back onto doing interesting stuff. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.
“Just look at the success of Taken (2008), for example. I thought it was going to be a straight-to-video release. That is actually one of the reasons I did it, to be honest. I felt like spending three months in Paris, I’d get to do all this physical stuff that no one would think of me for, and that the film would go straight to video. Then it became this big success. I was a tiny bit embarrassed by it, a tiny bit, but then people started sending me action scripts.”
What’s the problem?: Don’t get me wrong, I think Morgan Freeman is a great actor but in recent years he’s been a lot less discerning about what he chooses and he was in two of the worst movies I saw last year.
Where it went right: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Se7en (1995), Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Where it went wrong: Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Transcendence (2014), Lucy (2014)
Chances of redemption: It’s mostly action movies and barmy comedies coming up so I’m guessing he’s not bothered.
“Is there a movie I think I should have won the Oscar for? Yeah. All of them.”
What’s the problem?: Was Cage ever great or did he just have a couple of total lucky flukes. I’m not sure but the luck has definitely run out.
Where it went right: Raising Arizona (1987), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Adaptation. (2002)
Where it went wrong: Bangkok Dangerous (2008), Knowing (2009), Drive Angry (2011)
Chances of redemption: Who knows what he could come out with no less than 10 projects on the go he’s definitely not stopping any time soon.
“I am not a demon. I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther. I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion.”
Robert De Niro
What’s the problem?: De Niro is without question one of the best actors of the last fifty years but in the last decade he’s stopped challenging himself taking on progressively worse comedies.
Where it went right: Taxi Driver (1979), Raging Bull (1980), Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Where it went wrong: Meet the Fockers (2004), Little Fockers (2010), The Family (2013)
Chances of redemption: I think De Niro could pull something amazing out of the bag anytime he fancies it. I just don’t think he can be bothered.
“Some people say that drama is easy, and comedy is hard. Not true. I’ve been making comedies the last couple of years, and it’s nice. When you make a drama, you spend all day beating a guy to death with a hammer, or what have you. Or you have to take a bite out of somebody’s face. On the other hand, with a comedy, you yell at Billy Crystal for an hour, and you go home.”
Like many others I got on the Gos train a couple of years ago and thought he was going to be the next big thing but I am starting to think it was all just hype.
Where it went right: Half Nelson (2006), Drive (2011), Crazy, Stupid Love (2011)
Where it went wrong: The Ides of March (2011), Gangster Squad (2013), Only God Forgives (2013)
Chances of redemption: Who knows. I guess only time will tell if he’s a flash in the pan or the real thing.
“You know how sometimes department stores have these things where, if you win, you get 10 minutes and go in and take anything you want from the store? That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m running in and just trying to grab as many characters as possible before they pull the plug on me.”
Things have gotten really weird with Will Smith, haven’t they? He started out doing some excellent dramatic and comedic roles and recently it’s all gone very, very wrong with bad decisions, nepotism and sequelitis.
Where it went right: Independence Day (1996), I, Robot (2004), I Am Legend (2007)
Where it went wrong: Men in Black 3 (2012), After Earth (2013), Winter’s Tale (2014)
Chances of redemption: Let’s see what he does with Suicide Squad
“People laugh, but if I set my mind to it, within the next 15 years I would be president!”