the passion of the christ image

Controversial mainstream films are always the most interesting type of movie to discuss. Yet something that is often overlooked is the performances that lie within them that add so much to whole ethos of why they are so boundary shifting. The press and movie paying public tend to pick up on the content more so than the actors/actresses who make these films so memorable for better or worse.

This article isn’t about shocking casting, nor is it about performances that are so bad they are good. It is about the performances by those who unleash the unexpected in their films, those who shock and destroy expectations or confront and question the unquestionable, whether the film is controversial itself or not.

Read on for the 20 most controversial performances of all time…


20. Kevin Bacon (The Woodsman)

the woodsman

As loveable as he may be in real life, Kevin Bacon has played some bad characters in his time. He may have become a bit ‘larger than life’ in his most recent villainous roles (X-Men First Class), but there was a time when him being a film was cause to make your skin crawl (Sleepers).

The likeability factor went out the window with The Woodsman, a tough-to-sell tale of a convicted pedophile trying to go straight after a stint inside. No matter which actor played this role, you are always going to struggle to get an audience to connect and sympathize with such a monster of a character. Luckily, this film never attempts sell you a sympathy vote, and with Bacon its driving force it is most definitely an interesting watch, just don’t expect an easy or comfortable one.

Write about Film and GET PAID. To find out more about the perks of being a Film contributor at, click here.

In this post:

This article was first posted on March 7, 2013