Spend as much time as you like on character study and method acting, but if you can convince as an on-screen badass, you’ll be in a job for life. The likes of Charles Bronson and Takeshi Kitano have limited range, but convey enough menace that they never struggle for work. Other performers like Sigourney Weaver, Jodie Foster, and Daniel Day Lewis are more rounded, but similarly have that innate steel that makes them believable in tough, intense roles.
Then there are those actors who are lacking that inbuilt grit. Who take on roles as killers, fighters, and heroes, but have to try really, really hard to make it work. Being a badass - even a movie badass - isn’t something that can be conjured or taught. It’s something you have or you don’t.
Not all of these actors fell flat strictly due to their own qualities. Sometimes you’re cast in a role that just doesn’t work, that aims for cool and imposing but ends up pantomime and downright silly.
In the minds of the actors, writers, and producers, these characters were supposed to be the height of cool. On the screen, things didn’t work out quite as they planned.
10. Daniel Radcliffe - Imperium
There was no way a young Daniel Radcliffe could have turned down the lead role in the Harry Potter franchise. This was a part almost guaranteed to vault its actor to household name status, and the series duly became the most profitable in movie history. As the actor aged, he was never less than decent as the Boy Who Lived.
The problem with playing such a recognisable part, though, is you carry it for the rest of your days. Radcliffe has forged an estimable career since, but he’ll always be Potter, and while that’s fine for some of his lighter fare, when he’s playing an FBI agent investigating white supremacists, it’s more than a little jarring.
Imperium is by no means a great film, but one of its key drawbacks is the casting of Radcliffe. He does his level best but in no world can he convince as a tough, gritty fed going toe to toe with killer Nazis.
Ultimately the sight of Daniel Radcliffe with his furrowed brow and buzzcut looks less like an actor disappearing into a role and more like Harry Potter had gotten in with a bad crowd at university.