A ridiculous performance can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending entirely on the context in which it is deployed. In a wildly over-the-top film, it can complement the wacky tone already established. In something a little more serious-minded, it can totally derail everything, ruining our suspension of disbelief and pulling us out of the narrative.
Though a ridiculous performance will often save a bad film from being outright awful (or at least lend it some perverse comic merit), it can also undo all of the good work that everyone else is aiming for.
These 10 films vary wildly in quality, from the genuinely quite good to the outright awful, but whatever progress they were at, their intentions were totally thrown off course by an actor who, either intentionally or by accident, decided to ham it up for the cheap seats, stealing the show either for better or for worse.
Of course, if there any classically absurd performances I missed, or you disagree about these actors derailing said movies, let me know in the comments!
10. Hayden Christensen (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones)
Hayden Christensen is not a terrible actor, despite what many believe. He is downright excellent in Shattered Glass, yet one has to imagine where all that talent has gone considering he’s best remembered for giving a brutally awful performance as Anakin Skywalker in Episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Though he distinctly improves in Episode 3, and having better material to work with certainly didn’t hurt, in Episode 2 Hayden smacks of an actor totally out of his depth, with no idea of what he’s doing. Of course, being saddled with some of George Lucas’ most infamously ropey dialogue did him no favours.
Still, his interpretation of the famous sand speech while speaking to Padme leaves a lot to be desired. One might forgive him if he clearly knew that the lines were godawful and just decided to have a laugh with it, but his solemn, self-serious line reading only makes the hokey romantic gulch seem that more idiotic. Nobody really gets out alive in this film, but watching Hayden’s performance in this film is like observing a car crash in slow motion.
This article was first posted on January 9, 2014