badasses like John Wayne attempting to play Asian emperors, these performances are so bad that they’ve actually bankrupted studios while also incurring the scorn of fanboys everywhere.
John Wayne as Genghis Kahn in “The Conqueror” An early example of one of the all-time worst performances by good actors in movies, legendary American cowboy John Wayne was actually cast to play Mongolian emperor Genghis Kahn in a film that could only be produced by bat shit crazy recluse and lunatic director extraordinaire, Howard Hughes. Complete with unbelievably fake props and sets, as well as some of the worst dialogue and melodramatic acting ever captured on film, “The Conqueror” was a disaster in every possible sense of the word. Howard Hughes was so ashamed of the movie that he kept it from being seen for almost two decades, the film being one of the movies he watched over and over again in his final years, no doubt driving him deeper and deeper into the bowels of insanity. To give you a clearer picture of just how awful the film and Wayne’s portrayal truly were, “The Conqueror” also bankrupted its production company, RKO Radio Pictures.
Anthony Hopkins as Coleman Silk in “The Human Stain” Phillip Roth’s novel of the same name might well have read like a Dickensian masterpiece. Unfortunately, someone had the idea of poorly adapting it into a film and casting Anthony Hopkins in the lead as a light-skinned black man who attempts to forget his tumultuous past and make something of himself by passing as a Jewish white man in 1990s New England. In case you’re wondering, no, you didn’t just misread that last line. British actor Anthony Hopkins plays a light-skinned American black man passing as a Jewish white man. Perhaps realizing the absurdity of the role, Hopkins doesn’t even attempt to lose his native British accent. To add insult to injury, the flat, emotionless performance Hopkins delivers is coupled with the equally impossible to believe, melodramatic portrayal of a school janitor by the beautiful and equally talented Nichole Kidman.
DeNiro as The Creature in “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” In a casting choice that could only have been made after awaking from a severe head injury, actor-director Kenneth Branagh chose none other than New York's finest Robert DeNiro to play the tortured British creation to his Dr. Frankenstein in his adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel. Each ridiculous line delivered by DeNiro skips between a British accent and the muddled tongue of a Bronx prizefighter, proof that you can take the actor out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the Bronx out of the actor. While the movie is a faithful adaptation, both in the horrific makeup, dark settings, and amazing special effects, DeNiro’s over-the-top portrayal of a vengeful monster in what is clearly meant to be a dramatic film is nothing short of comic gold.
helmed “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” While any actor from these films could make this list, including Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face or Jim Carrey as the Riddler, George Clooney delivered hands down one of the worst performances by good actors in movies. Ever. From his nippled bat suit to the charming, folksy Caped Crusader takes the cake when it comes to impossibly bad acting. Ironically, Clooney is the only actor to come out of the experience with his career intact and otherwise unscathed, while the campy shitbag of a film proved to be the last straw for comic book fans and nerds alike, all of whom swiftly moved hackneyed “filmmaker” Joel Schumacher to the top of their hit lists.