Ten serious actors – and their silliest roles
Batman Forever

Some two decades after he first appeared as a weird alien lizard monster, complete with snake themed sock puppets for arms, Bryan Cranston has revealed he will be playing Zordon in the upcoming reboot of the popular 90s show Power Rangers

The Breaking Bad star had previously played the villainous duo of reptilian Snizzard and robotic Twinman in the series during its initial run. You can relive some of that early magic here.

The Oscar-nominated Cranston’s involvement, however, would hardly be the first time that a respected actor has opted to ham it up in markedly sillier fare, often producing some rather bizarre results. Here are ten of the best instances of that.

Nigel Hawthorne – Demolition Man (1993)

Demolition Man

In this knowingly daft, sporadically enjoyable Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes actioner, the late, great Nigel Hawthorne portrays the outwardly benevolent patriarch of a future society in which citizens are fined for swearing and, terrifyingly, toilet paper has been replaced by something called “the three seashells”.

The reliably deadpan Hawthorne spends most of the film dressed like some sort of inflatable air bed, while sporting a (not unreasonably) confused expression throughout. Probably still trying to work out the three seashells.

Frank Langella – Masters of the Universe (1987)

For all his acclaimed stage and screen performances, a certain generation of movie goers will always remember Oscar nominated Frank Langella as Skeletor, the perma-sneering, skull-faced nemesis of Dolph Lundgren’s thoroughly embarrassed looking He-Man.

While this turkey-flavoured romp didn’t exactly set the box office alight in 1987, and was positively flayed alive by crtics, Masters of the Universe has become something of a cult gem in recent years.

This is undoubtedly largely thanks to Langella, over-acting through the roof as if to suggest he’s fully aware of the kind of rubbish he’s landed in, so may as well have fun while he’s there.

Tommy Lee Jones – Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever

Perhaps fearful of co-star Jim Carrey stealing the limelight, Tommy Lee Jones, the grizzled star of No Country for Old Men and Lincoln, responded by gurning for all he was worth as an irritating, purple-faced psycho in this derided (though still enormously successful) entry in the Batman canon.

Both Jones and Carrey, who apparently did not get on at all during filming, seem to be competing as to who can produce the most aggravating amount of shrieks and hollers for every second they’re onscreen.

For us, Jones just inches it.

Cate Blanchett – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Cate Blanchett

While there are many things wrong with this largely superfluous addition to the wildly popular Indian Jones series, the lack of a strong antagonist doesn’t exactly help matters.

The fact that Harrison Ford’s hero seems to spend the majority of the run time helping out Cate Blanchett’s “rotten Russkie” villainess further highlights the problem.

In fairness, Blanchett (a double Oscar winner, no less) isn’t exactly at fault here; the movie doesn’t appear to give her much besides a funny accent and, bizarrely, Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka haircut.

Jeremy Irons – Dungeons & Dragons (2000)

Here is one of those special movies which are universally accepted to be complete trainwrecks. With its laughable special effects which make you wonder how this came out seven years after Jurassic Park, and terrible acting, it’s not something you enjoy so much as witness.

However, it has one ace up its sleeve in the form of Jeremy Irons’ evil wizard/despot/whatever. Freely admitting that he only took the job as he needed to pay off his recently purchased castle (we’ve all been there), Irons has a blast hamming it up royally while his co-stars, including a lipstick smeared Bruce Payne and a seemingly lobotomised Thora Birch, struggle to keep a straight face.

Curiously, Irons would later go on to appear in Eragon, another dragon-themed calamity. Maybe just avoid the damned things in future, Mr. Irons.

Hugh Jackman – Movie 43 (2013)

Almost the entire star-studded cast of this sketch-based stinker (which managed to drag in Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts and many more) could have featured here.

However, the most baffling of all has to be Hugh Jackman, playing a would-be suitor with a, shall we say, interesting growth on his chin.

Shortly after the film’s disastrous reception, Jackman offered the following appraisal of his work: “Mate, I’ve got two things to say; I’m sorry. And… I’m sorry.”

Robert De Niro – The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000)

Now this just makes us sad. When people think of Robert De Niro’s screen performances, they probably picture classic moments like Jake La Motta breaking down in his cell in Raging Bull, or the diner scene in Heat, and so on.

However, we can’t imagine many would want to remember De Niro as an embarrassing baddie in a silly accent, tiredly riffing on his iconic “You talkin’ to me?” scene from Taxi Driver, while in pursuit of a cartoon moose and squirrel.

If this is what enters your head when thinking of Robert De Niro, however, then you have our apologies. And our sympathies.

Mark Wahlberg – The Happening (2008)


The man formally known as Marky Mark has established himself in the likes of Three Kings, The Departed and The Fighter to be an extremely watchable presence when given the right material.

Eco-horror/unintentional comic masterpiece The Happening, however, was not the right material.

Then again, we can’t imagine anyone making the infamous scene in which Wahlberg’s character attempts to negotiate with a plastic pot plant work.

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods (2014)

As officially the most Oscar nominated actress in history, Meryl Streep certainly raised a few eyebrows when she took on the role of an evil witch in Disney’s Into the Woods. An evil witch who raps.

Pulling it off without even the slightest hint of a smirk, and clearly enjoying herself immensely, Streep’s freestyling hag ultimately proves to be the highlight of this amiable yet largely forgettable fairytale mash up.

Al Pacino – Jack & Jill (2011)

Appearing (for some reason) as a skewed version of himself in this roundly panned “comedy”, acting legend Pacino attempts to seduce a dragged up Adam Sandler, who plays the eponymous Jill.

Gamely refusing to slum it when many would have easily forgiven him for doing so, there is nevertheless something faintly tragic about seeing Pacino mug for an in-movie Dunkin’ Donuts advert, titled “Dunkaccino”.


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