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12 Actors Who Completely Wasted Their Careers

August 14, 2017
9 min read

In a massive industry like Hollywood, an actor could have very different kinds of careers. One could look for exciting directors to work with and explore the true range of his/her acting abilities. One could also opt for more lucrative projects where there may not be solid scripts to back your performances but you can surely make huge amounts of money with this. So success here would seem like a relative concept. But it’s also sad when an actor with huge potential fails to make it big in the industry or just does not seem to care about his/her potential an actor. Let’s take a look at 12 actors who completely wasted their careers.

12. Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum has done very few memorable films. ‘Magic Mike’, which was hugely stolen by Matthew McConaughey, is one of them and also perhaps ’21 Jump Street’ in which he was really good alongside Jonah Hill. But his single best performance was in ‘Foxcatcher’. However, none of his other works have even been remotely good. The ‘G.I. Joe’ movies were downright bad and ‘The Hateful Hate’ has to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s weakest efforts. He has never really got a solid part and is yet to discover his true potential but he is already 37 and time is running out and there’s immense competition in the world’s most iconic film industry and so it’s time he creates a niche for himself in Hollywood.

11. Haley Joel Osment

Haley Joel Osment was probably the greatest child actor in the history of cinema. He was truly beyond brilliant in ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ and clearly stood out in the painfully preachy melodrama ‘Pay it Forward’ which he starred alongside Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. However, his career in films never really took off and his works in the past 10 years haven’t really been exceptional which is quite disappointing considering the special talent that he is. Most of his more recent endeavors including ‘Home of the Giants’, ‘Montana Amazon’, ‘Sex Ed’ haven’t been successful either on a commercial or critical level and this poor run seems to be destroying his career.

10. Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder used to be one of the biggest Hollywood stars back in the late 80s and 90s and appeared in some iconic films including ‘Beetlejuice’, ‘Heathers’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Mermaids’ for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. But then again she has made some bad choices and also her issues with depression, anxiety were widely known and there were various other controversial aspects of her life including her troubles with the law that wrecked her career. Her recent films haven’t been able to match the success of her 90s work as she has slipped down to become just another faded Hollywood star.

9. Halle Berry

Best known for her staggering performance in ‘Monster’s Ball’ and as the only Africa-American actress to have won an Oscar for Best Actress, Halle Berry was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 2000s and starred in several massive projects including the X-Men series, ‘Swordfish’ and ‘Die Another Day’. The problem was that she never really delivered another memorable performance like the one in ‘Monster’s Ball’ and while she did appear in highly successful projects, none of them could display her potential as an actress. But then the worst was yet to come as she was involved in the atrocious ‘Catwoman’ for which she was awarded a Worst Actress Razzie Award and also played the lead role in the laughably bad psychological thriller ‘Perfect Stranger’. Some of her more recent works including ‘Cloud Atlas’ and ‘Call’ have been better and we can only hope that she gets back in business.

8. Adam Sandler

Arguably one of the worst actors of all time or perhaps the worst actor to have ever graced the screen, Adam Sandler is undoubtedly a talent that has been wasted in the most terrible ways you could ever imagine. He did create a niche for himself in the industry with his stupid freaky comedies and the Adam Sandler comedy became somewhat of a genre in itself. It was Paul Thomas Anderson who made us realize that this man can act and act really well. His performance in ‘Punch Drunk Love’ would easily remain his best performance but the man simply wasn’t interested in doing quality stuff. Films like ‘Jack & Jill’ is what seems to excite him.

7. Nicolas Cage

One could easily argue that Nicolas Cage is probably one of the worst actors of all time. And it’s hard to disagree with that because just look at the movies he’s been in! Actors can only be as good as the movies they’ve been in and this has been the biggest issue with Nicolas Cage. His performance in the atrocious remake of the 1973 cult classic horror ‘The Wickerman’ is easily among the most terribly hilarious acting performances of all time. ‘The Ghost Rider’ was another laughable choice that he made. But he has been good in some movies. He was superb as Charlie/Donald Kaufman in ‘Adaptation’ and the best thing about his performance was that he completely portrayed them as two different human beings which is really difficult as there are no physical changes to the roles. He was fine in ‘Knowing’ but then again it was another bad film that could have been a lot better.

6. Samuel Jackson

We know that Samuel Jackson is a brilliant actor but very rarely has he set himself out to prove that. He was unforgettable as Jules Winfield in Quentin Tarantino’s iconic crime drama ‘Pulp Fiction’ and has essayed some truly great roles in other Tarantino films like ‘Jackie Brown’, ‘Django Unchained’ and more recently in ‘Hateful Eight’. But the problem with him is that he plays the same guy in every film and that makes him so boring and predictable at times despite commanding such powerful screen presence and dashing charisma. He has also starred in many mediocre superhero flicks including ‘Iron Man 2’, ‘The Avengers’ and even in the atrocious ‘Snakes on a Plane’. Jackson sure made a lot of money and is a massive box office star but he did not explore his acting abilities in a way we’d have loved him to have.

5. Lindsay Lohan

Apart from being one of the hottest women in Hollywood, Lindsay Lohan also happens to be a really fine actress. But she hasn’t really been able to manage her career well. She started out as a child fashion model and appeared in ‘The Parent Trap’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and would go on to attain a teen idol status with films like ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Herby: Fully Reloaded’. However she has frequently had issues with addiction and has often run into troubles which kind of blemished her image and had a negative impact on her career. She did a lot of Television work early this decade but nothing really brought her back on track. Lohan is still only 31 and we could just hope that she makes a massive comeback.

4. Val Kilmer

The first film I ever saw that had Val Kilmer was Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ and I was really stunned by his raw intensity and screen presence. To be memorable whilst starring alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino is really something and Kilmer is truly a talent that he wasted. The man had great looks and possessed exceptional acting abilities but he had such a terrible knack at choosing scripts. Honestly, what the hell was he doing in a film like ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’? He was excellent a blind man in ‘At First Sight’ but then again the film never really held up to his great performance. It’s just sad to see such an incredible talent getting wasted away so badly.

3. Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti is an amazing actor. Perhaps he hasn’t really wasted his career but he could have done a hell lot more with the kind of talent he had. The issue with Giamatti was that he never really seemed to push himself beyond his own comforts and ended up on many sidelined roles. His performance in ‘Cinderella Man’ and ‘Sideways’ remain his undisputed best. He was also brilliant in ‘The Illusionist’ which he starred alongside the ever amazing Edward Norton. None of the films he’s been in provided any real material for him to work on and prove his mettle which is the reason why he never really got to see the success he could really have achieved.

2. Mickey Rourkey

This may seem a bit unfair because Mickey Rourke also had a career in boxing but I honestly couldn’t help not adding him because he’s such a good actor. He started out acting in the 80s with films like ‘Diner’, ‘Rumble Fish’, ‘9 1/2 Weeks, ‘The Pope of Greenwich Village’ but would later quit acting and take up a career in professional boxing only to return in the mid 90s. He has missed out on quite a few amazing projects and his part in Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ sadly ended up on the cutting room floor. But even some of his choices have been really terrible including ‘Get Carter’ and some of the other films he’s been in post his return. However, his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ would remain one of the finest acting performances of all time.

1. Edward Norton

It pains me to add Edward Norton on the list but it pains me even more when I think of how grossly underutilized his true potential remains. One might argue that Norton had hit his peak back in the 90s with films like ‘Primal Fear’, ‘American History X’ and ‘Fight Club’. But quite honestly, the man could have gone on to achieve far greater heights had he realized the fact Hollywood does not revolve around him. The man’s infamous off-screen persona was the one big reason as to why he never really managed to attain the kind of success he could easily have. Directors including Brett Ratner complained about the difficulty in working with him. He appears frequently in indie gems but hasn’t been at his very best ever since his unforgettable turn as a Neo Nazi in ‘American History X. One hoped that after the success of ‘Birdman’ we would get to see him more movies, but alas that didn’t change anything.

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