Top 20 Worst Acting Performances of All Time



Top 20 Worst Acting Performances of All Time

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
We hope you have a strong ability to resist the cringe— these are some of the worst acting performances ever committed to film. These include great actors turning in the most cringeworthy performances of their careers, like Dennis Hopper in Super Mario Bros., Halle Berry in Catwoman, or John Travolta in Battlefield Earth. They also include actors who are known for, well, their lack of acting skills, like Tommy Wiseau in The Room, Taylor Lautner in Abduction, or Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. Watch with your face firmly planted in your palm as we count down the worst acting of all time.

Top 20 Worst Acting Performances of All Time

Sofia Coppola

The Godfather Part III (1990)

The third time isn’t always the charm, as the final “Godfather” film is universally seen as a step down from its predecessors. Although it has its share of flaws, one of the most glaring is the poor performance by Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone. The daughter of the film’s director, Coppola had no training as an actor and was a last-minute replacement when Winona Ryder dropped out. Her delivery jarred with the tone of the rest of the film and has been an example of the dangers of nepotism for decades, even if her performance does have a few defenders. Thankfully, she made a better director than she did an actress.

Dennis Hopper

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Although a seasoned actor, Dennis Hopper’s performance as the villainous Koopa in this video game adaptation is more over-the-top than the overgrown turtle his character is based on. Hopper plays Koopa with all the maniacal corporate evil of the worst snake, or in his case dinosaur, in a suit crossed with Dr. Evil. Granted, it would be hard for anyone to make the kind of lines Koopa says believable, but Hopper’s delivery is just so strange and goofy that it can’t be called good. He’s still entertaining, but not as intended.

Steven Seagal

Half Past Dead (2002)

Steven Seagal doesn’t exactly have a lot of range as an actor to begin with, and his usual stoic, whispery performance would actually be preferable to his lack of effort in this action flick. Seagal hurries through his lines and, despite the film nominally being a buddy movie, he has very little chemistry with co-star Ja Rule. Even Seagal’s signature fight scenes feel unenthusiastic and tepid. It’s a sad thing when a title like “Half Past Dead” can just as easily apply to the performance of the star of the movie.

Megan Fox

Transformers franchise (2007-)

The “Transformers” movies have gained a reputation for having shallow female characters who are only cast for their appearance and not their acting ability, which began with Megan Fox. The actress takes what is, on paper, a fairly interesting character and drains her of much personality. Even with the notorious director Michael Bay framing her onscreen like a sex object, Fox herself has copped to acting poorly in the movies and we can see how being new to film, and working under a director like Bay, would lead to a bad performance.

Kirk Cameron

Saving Christmas (2014)

Christian movies aren’t exactly known for their stellar acting. They’re more echo chambers for beliefs than actual entertainment. Such is the case with its outspoken star, Kirk Cameron. Cameron’s acting here makes the actors in local commercials or pornography look masterful by comparison. His stilted delivery earned him a well-deserved Golden Raspberry Award, and he proved in good company, since many other aspects of the critically derided film “won” some as well. He can put the blame on an “atheist conspiracy” all he wants – the fact is he just sucks here.

Johnny Depp

Mortdecai (2015)

For the last several decades, Johnny Depp has gradually turned from one of the most versatile actors in film to a complete caricature of himself. The peak, or valley, of this is arguably his role as the eponymous character of “Mortdecai.” Depp’s by-now usual, relentlessly quirky shtick is turned up to 11 in this movie, with his every action and expression exaggerated and served with a full course of ham. If anyone had actually seen this movie, besides us, unfortunately, this might have been a career ender for the actor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Batman & Robin (1997)

"Ice"-aw this coming, did you? Very few of the actors involved in this infamously campy superhero film come off well, but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terrible performance stands out, even among the dross of "Batman & Robin." Schwarzenegger hams it up to the extreme, delivering his terrible, ice-pun laden dialogue with the kind of manic glee you only see in an actor who knows his part is terrible, but is going to have as much fun as he can with what he has. And, while we wouldn’t recommend watching him if you hate puns, Schwarzenegger is still surprisingly entertaining in such an awful role.

Halle Berry

Catwoman (2004)

Halle Berry is a very talented actress, but talent will only get you so far in some cases. As the lead in another reviled superhero film, Berry helps set the tone of the movie at incomprehensible, with her interpretation of the title super heroine ranging from cartoonishly meek, to needlessly sexual, to the just plain bizarre (What even is that basketball scene?!). Granted, there’s plenty to criticize about “Catwoman,” but Berry is at the forefront of it all. At least she was a good sport and accepted her Razzie in person.


Swept Away (2002)

Madonna has proven herself to be a great actress, most notably in her Golden-Globe winning turn as Eva Peron in “Evita.” On the other hand, she has been nominated for 16 Golden Raspberry Awards, the gold standard for movie awfulness. For “Swept Away,” she received the Razzie for Worst Actress and shared Worst Screen Couple with Adriano Giannini. Madonna had a lot working against her: Swept Away was a remake of a critically acclaimed 1974 film, her spoiled-brat rich-girl character wasn’t easily likeable, and it was a high-profile collaboration with her then director-slash-hubby Guy Ritchie. But her performance, like the film, is arguably her worst.

Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan

Fifty Shades franchise (2015-18)

This entry isn’t going to just one actor, but two, because the leads of all 3 movies are Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Though each film has made hundreds of millions in box office receipts, each film has also received biting reviews, with many criticizing Johnson and Dornan’s lack of chemistry. While the actors admittedly had poor source material to work with, considering the screenplays were based on novels spun off of “Twilight” fan fiction, it’s not like Hollywood couldn’t have taken liberties to improve the dialogue. With Christian Grey coming off as a total creeper, and Anastasia Steele decidedly one-note, is it any wonder both Dornan and Johnson “won” Worst Actor and Worst Actress Razzies for their roles?

Jaden Smith

After Earth (2013)

Nepotism rears its head again! Jaden Smith plays Kitai, a boy who becomes stranded on a post-apocalyptic Earth with his father, played by his real-life dad, Will Smith, after their ship crashes. Jaden lacks his father’s formidable charisma, though, and following him as the film’s lead is rough, given his stilted, overacted, unnatural performance. Will Smith has worked with his son before in other films, but their chemistry here is nonexistent. And while that’s not entirely Jaden’s fault (the elder Smith’s uncharacteristically wooden performance creates a jarring contrast), we can’t say that his acting is very good.

Mike Myers

The Love Guru (2008)

Sometimes a performance is a career killer. Exhibit A: Mike Myers in “The Love Guru.” HIs portrayal of Pitka, the world’s #2 guru, received the exact opposite reaction of his universally loved Austin Powers character. Maybe it’s the stereotype-heavy portrayal of Hinduism. Maybe it’s the barrage of little person jokes heaped on Verne Troyer’s character that totally fall flat. Maybe it’s the distracting asides that don’t ever seem to produce laughs. It’s hard to gauge how badly audiences disliked Mike Myers’ performance, but one thing’s for certain: Studios haven’t been knocking each other out of the way to star Myers in a live-action film…

Kristen Stewart

Twilight (2008)

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan in Twilight is an anomaly: It’s a star-making turn in a relatively well-reviewed film, and the first of a franchise that raked in more than $3 billion. On top of that, she received MTV’s Best Female Performance Award. So why are there so many haters? We’re guessing it’s in part the cumulative effect of her pouty, sigh-filled, eye-fluttering, lip-biting, looking-around-for-inspiration portrayal of Swan over five films, for three of which she received Razzie nods. Since the Twilight series, Stewart has proven to be an excellent actress. For “Clouds of Sils Maria,” she became the first American actress to win a César, France’s highest acting honor.

Taylor Lautner

Abduction (2011)

In 2011, Lautner had reached heartthrob status playing Jacob in the Twilight films, when along came “Abduction,” a John Singleton-directed action-thriller. The film features Lautner’s star-turn as Nathan Harper, a young man who might not be who he thinks he is. So why didn’t this profitable film produce any big-budget, leading-man opportunities for Lautner? Perhaps because his performance could be described as one-note, and that one note is a vacant-eyed stare. And in a scene where Nathan’s parents are killed, watching Lautner struggle to wrangle up tears is painful. In his review of “Abduction,” New York Post critic Kyle Smith compared Lautner’s acting chops to Bert from Sesame Street. And it’s hard to disagree.

Jennifer Lopez

Gigli (2003)

We’re filing this performance’s inclusion under collateral damage. Sure, it wasn’t J-Lo’s finest hour, but “Gigli” was an all-time stinker, topping WatchMojo’s 2013 list of the Worst Movies of All Time. Of course, part of the reason it’s so bad is herperformance. Lopez seemingly sleepwalks through the film, showing very little acting range. In the end, J-Lo received the Razzie for Worst Actress, and she gave us a squirm-inducing seduction scene with a line so bad it may have ruined Thanksgiving: “It’s Turkey Time … gobble, gobble”. Ewww.

Hayden Christensen

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002)

When Star Wars fans envisioned a young Anakin Skywalker, they probably didn’t expect a spoiled, whiny, rat-tail-wearing brat with no skills in the in the art of seduction. Maybe the creators’ fundamentally flawed conception of Anakin explains why the Christensen is held in such contempt. However, part of the problem is Christensen’s clunky, flat, unconvincing performance. And when paired with pros like Ewan McGregor and future Oscar winner Natalie Portman, the disparity in acting skills is crystal clear. But is it the worst performance in “Attack of the Clones,” or is Jar Jar Binks just lucky to be a CGI creation?

John Travolta

Battlefield Earth (2000)

With WatchMojo’s 2016 list naming “Battlefield Earth” the Worst Movie of All Time, you knew someone in the cast was taking the bullet for bad acting. And that person is John Travolta. Based on Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard’s 1982 novel, Travolta plays Terl, a giant humanoid alien in the year 3000 who’s stuck on a wasteland called Earth. Travolta’s performance has been called hammy, weird, over-the-top, and just plain awful. The most scathing review may have come from Washington Post’s Rita Kempley, who calls Travolta’s acting “godawful” and describes him as “prancing around like a peacock at an egg roll.” Ouch.

Tommy Wiseau

The Room (2003)

Few performances can equal the unparalleled badness of Tommy Wiseau’s lead role as Johnny in “The Room.” The European(?) actor/writer/director of this Z-grade cult classic plays a man betrayed by his fiancée (sorry, “future wife”) and his best friend. Yet, despite their betrayal, Wiseau’s acting swings wildly between monotone disinterest and vague amusement. Every one of his choices as an actor is so strange, so inappropriate for the situation that people have theorized that Wiseau acting badly on purpose. Or that he’s an alien. But as wrong and inexplicable as his performance is, it remains incredibly watchable and has to be seen to be believed. It’ll “tear you apart.”

Nicolas Cage

The Wicker Man (2006)

In 2015, WatchMojo named Nicolas Cage the #1 Amazing Overacting Actor. Cage’s frenetic, eccentric, over-the-top style can be electric, like in his Oscar-winning turn as an alcoholic screenwriter in “Leaving Las Vegas.” We’re torn when it comes to his performance as Edward Maulus in “Wicker Man.” It was #2 on WatchMojo’s list of Oscar Winners Who Sucked in Other Movies, but it was #1 in Best Freakouts in Movies. So all that’s left to do is pay homage to one of Cage’s most memorable performances and ask: If a bunch of crazy women make you wear an enclosed bee helmet when you’re allergic to bees, wouldn’t your reaction sorta be like Cage’s? We think so.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable, or rather dishonorable, mentions:

Will Arnett

Show Dogs (2018)

Mariah Carey

Glitter (2001)

Britney Spears

Crossroads (2002)

Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly

“Holmes & Watson” (2018)

Matthew McConaughey

“The Dark Tower” (2017)

Adam Sandler

Jack and Jill (2011)

Stop us if you’d heard this one before: Adam Sandler gives a horrible performance in a misguided, crass, unfunny comedy. But what sets “Jack and Jill” apart from the canon of crappy Sandler roles? This film gives us not one, but two, awful Sandler performances. So bad, Sandler earned Razzies for Worst Actor andWorst Actress. Sandler’s Jack is nothing new: A somewhat goofy, uncomfortable man-child with percolating anger. Jill, however, is something else. Sandler’s screechy-voiced twin sister is whiny, needy, and totally annoying, and his portrayal of a woman is even less convincing than Tyler Perry’s Madea. Can Jack and Jill go up the hill and never come back?
But Kathleen should give Hayden another chance this time because I don't care what she thinks about the rest of Star Wars rather than the Originals.