12 Terrible Performances by Great Actors

12 Terrible Performances by Great Actors
Image credit: Legion-Media, globallookpress, SunRider Productions, Warner Bros.

Even the most seasoned stars can have their off days.

1. Johnny Depp in "Mortdecai" (2015)

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Let's begin with Johnny Depp, a chameleon of an actor known for his unconventional roles. Yet, his character in "Mortdecai," a flamboyant, mustache-loving British aristocrat, is largely seen as one of his worst. Critics lashed out at Depp for the movie's lackluster plot and his over-the-top acting. It's like Depp decided to turn the 'quirkiness' knob up to 11, and it backfired spectacularly.

It was a box office disaster, raking in just $47 million worldwide against a $60 million budget. Depp's wandering British accent and outrageous facial hair are comedic, but in a cringeworthy, rather than amusing, way.

2. Robert De Niro in "Dirty Grandpa" (2016)

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"Dirty Grandpa" is a black mark even on a resume as illustrious as Robert De Niro's. As the lewd, crude, and perpetually inappropriate titular grandpa, De Niro churns out a performance that feels like a desperate grab at edgy humor. Critics lambasted the movie for its tasteless humor and De Niro's character, a far cry from his "Godfather" days. The film grossed $105 million against a $25 million budget, but at what cost to De Niro's dignity?

3. Ben Affleck in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016)

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Remember when fans heard that Ben Affleck was going to be the new Batman and nearly caused a social media meltdown? The skepticism wasn't entirely unfounded. Affleck's portrayal of a brooding, excessively grim Dark Knight failed to impress audiences. His character was just a dull, one-note performance in an already overstuffed movie.

"Batman v Superman" grossed over $873 million worldwide but failed to reach the billion-dollar mark that Warner Bros. had hoped for. Critics and fans alike widely criticized Affleck's performance, marking it as one of his career lows.

4. Jared Leto in "Suicide Squad" (2016)

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Jared Leto is a method actor known for fully immersing himself in his characters. Yet, his portrayal of the Joker in "Suicide Squad" came across more as a Halloween impersonation than a fully-realized character. From the "damaged" forehead tattoo to his outlandish antics off-set, Leto's performance was more laughable than terrifying.

"Suicide Squad" had a dismal 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Leto's performance was one of the most heavily criticized aspects of the film. Despite grossing $746 million worldwide, it's hard to see Leto's Joker as anything but a glaring misstep.

5. Anne Hathaway in "The Hustle" (2019)

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In "The Hustle," Anne Hathaway, an Oscar-winning actress, attempts a British accent that fluctuates more than the stock market. Hathaway's performance as a high-stakes scam artist is as convincing as a three-dollar bill, with critics panning her uneven accent and hammy performance. Hathaway's performance is an example of a good actress lost in a sea of bad writing and poor direction.

6. Eddie Redmayne in "Jupiter Ascending" (2015)

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Eddie Redmayne has given some stunning performances, but "Jupiter Ascending" isn't one of them. Redmayne played Balem Abrasax, a shrieking, whispering space tyrant in a performance that can only be described as 'ludicrously overacted.' His hushed whispers and sudden bellowing shouts seemed less like a menacing villain and more like an alien with severe mood swings. The film was a critical and commercial disaster, with a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing $184 million against a $176 million budget.

7. Scarlett Johansson in "Ghost in the Shell" (2017)

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"Ghost in the Shell" is the poster child for Hollywood's whitewashing controversy, but that's not the only issue. Scarlett Johansson, usually a versatile and impressive actress, delivers a performance as robotic as her character. Playing Major, a cyber-enhanced super-soldier, Johansson seems to forget that, despite her cybernetics, her character is supposed to be human on the inside.

The film's box office was as underwhelming as its lead performance, grossing $169 million worldwide against a budget of $110 million. The critics' consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was as brutal as a cyborg punch: "Scarlett Johansson is lost in translation in this Ghost in the Shell."

8. John Travolta in "Gotti" (2018)

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Oh, John Travolta, how far you've fallen since your "Pulp Fiction" days. Travolta's performance as notorious mob boss John Gotti in "Gotti" is as subtle as a gunshot in a library. His portrayal is heavy-handed, overacted, and about as convincing as a toddler in a mob boss suit.

The movie holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a rare feat indeed, and its box office performance was equally dire, earning only $6 million against a $10 million budget. It's a testament to how a great actor can sometimes give an impressively terrible performance.

9. Natalie Portman in "Your Highness" (2011)

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The Oscar-winning Natalie Portman, fresh from her captivating performance in "Black Swan," decided to dive into a medieval stoner comedy, and the results were less than royal. Portman plays a warrior princess in a potty-mouthed, frat-bro style comedy, and her character feels as out of place as a vegan at a steakhouse. Critics largely panned the movie for its tasteless humor and juvenile antics, and it barely broke even at the box office, making $28 million against a $50 million budget.

10. Nicole Kidman in "The Stepford Wives" (2004)

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Nicole Kidman, an actress known for her gripping performances, seems to have had a short circuit in "The Stepford Wives." As Joanna Eberhart, a high-powered executive who moves to a suspiciously perfect suburb, Kidman gives a performance as lifeless as the robotic wives in the movie. Despite an all-star cast, the film garnered a disappointing 26% on Rotten Tomatoes and underperformed at the box office, earning $102 million against a $90 million budget.

11. Al Pacino in "Jack and Jill" (2011)

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Even the great Al Pacino has his off days, and "Jack and Jill" is undoubtedly one of them. Pacino plays himself, inexplicably smitten by Jill, Adam Sandler's female alter ego. The film is a litany of cringe-worthy moments, but Pacino's performance takes the cake for its sheer outlandishness. With a dismal 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and audience reviews as unkind as a slap in the face, this is one movie Pacino probably wishes he could erase from his filmography.

12. Sandra Bullock in "All About Steve" (2009)

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Sandra Bullock may have won an Oscar for "The Blind Side," but her performance in "All About Steve" is more likely to win a Razzie (which it did!). Bullock plays Mary, a quirky crossword puzzle constructor who stalks a man across the country. Despite Bullock's best efforts, Mary is less "endearingly quirky" and more "alarmingly creepy." The critics' 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes tells you all you need to know.