A character requires several factors to become a cinematic standout. Compelling writing, clever dialogue, clear and reasonable motivations and narrative impact are just some of the tools needed to turn these archetypes into compelling, fully-realised roles. However, all these factors can fall flat if the performance meant to bring them together lacks the skill to do so.
It is easier to see a brilliant actor elevate so-so or even terrible material than it is to see a mediocre performer's work being elevated by great directing and writing. Some performance-based nuances and choices cannot be written or directed, and without these tiny but crucial details, the performance will fall flat.
This can be frustrating for audiences as they can see a character with so much potential fall flat at the most crucial stage, and as a result, the entire film can be marred by this fumble.
Whatever the case, these actors missed the mark and then some, turning what should've been a homerun of a character into one to forget. Some of these actors are decent or even amazing in other roles, but for whatever reason, they missed the mark with these potentially terrific characters.
10. Niander Wallace - Jared Leto (Blade Runner 2049)
Blade Runner 2049 is one of the few legacy sequels that improves upon what came before. The 2017 Denis Villenueve-directed sci-fi thriller is an atmospheric and visually striking feature that honours and builds upon the original's themes of the value of non-human life and the role of techonology in an increasingly bleak future.
The performances match the film's imagery and thematic content, as the likes of Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and Ana de Armas (among others) are all brilliant and fit with the dystopian Los Angeles setting. Unfortunately, Jared Leto's villainous Niander Wallace threatens to drag down proceedings due to the actor's unusual performance choices.
Some would argue that Wallace's unnerving sense of self-importance and eccentricity would fit someone like Leto, but the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman comes across as dull and uninvested rather than cold and calculating.
The most egregious instance of his acting hurting the movie's impact is during the reveal that he had a duplicate Rachel (Sean Young) designed to win over Deckard's (Harrison Ford) trust. Here, the Wallace Corporation CEO should feel like he is on top of things but due to Leto's performance he feels woefully detached from the scene's narrative and emotional impact.