10 Performances In Film Biopics That Got It Horribly Wrong

From Oscar glory to Razzie notoriety.

I Saw The Light Hiddelston
Bron. Studios

Taking on the leading role in a biopic is a road fraught with peril.

By their very nature, biopics revolve around some of the most memorable, compelling and influential human beings ever to walk this earth. No one wants to watch a film about an individual who holds the World Record for most number of candles extinguished by farting (apologies to Gerard Jessie of the Philippines - five is a very respectable figure).

There's an awful lot that can go wrong with bringing a character based in reality to life onscreen. While a degree of poetic license is unavoidable in the construction of a biopic, take too many liberties with actual events and producers may find themselves confronted with audiences enraged at what they perceive as an inappropriate depiction.

There is also the question of the look. While no movie buff expects the actor playing their biographical charge to be an exact physical replica of the person themselves, there is very little leeway given when the performer is simply not visually credible as the individual in question. Of course, it is also worth noting that nailing either of these factors counts for very little when the actor in question turns in a stinker of a performance.

10. Hilary Swank As Amelia Earhart - Amelia

I Saw The Light Hiddelston
Fox Searchlight Pictures

An international trailblazer during her lifetime and a feminist icon long after her disappearance, Amelia Earhart is arguably the most famous and celebrated aviator of all time. A ferociously ambitious pilot who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic before disappearing in the most mysterious of circumstances, Earhart's life appeared to be a prime candidate for a cinematic adaptation.

Unfortunately for the legacy of one of most celebrated women in modern history, Hilary Swank's depiction of Earhart in 2009's Amelia is just a straight up debacle. Swank certainly looks the part but somehow fails to imbue her famously charismatic charge with any real soul across 111 tedious minutes that feel more like 11 years.

Amelia Earhart wasn't just a celebrity for her feats in an aircraft, she had a distinct personality that captured the attention of millions - a captivating disposition that often belied the glint of steel in her eyes. As such, Swank's performance is ultimately as dull as it is frustrating, a dreary case study in how to execute zero character development within a film, agonizingly compounded by poor direction.


Law graduate with a newly rediscovered passion for writing, mad about film, television, gaming and MMA. Can usually be found having some delightful manner of violence being inflicted upon him or playing with his golden retriever.