Five Awful Actors Who Had One Great Performance

This is Paris Hilton, in case you can’t tell.

I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while now, but when an actor is terrible, they’re usually pretty terrible, and it can be hard to find a singularly good part they’ve played. Similarly, it’s hard to say that mediocre actor (*cough* Nic Cage) only has ONE good performance out there (he’s at least got a couple).

But I finally decided on these five as bad actors who had one really good part. Feel free to disagree, but more importantly, add your own. And if anyone says Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love, you yourself will be getting a punch. The man was brilliant in Happy Gilmore.

Paris Hilton – Repo! A Genetic Opera

Paris Hilton was a perfect fit for Repo! because the movie’s so batshit insane, it doesn’t even seem strange that she’s in it. And frankly, she was perfect as the surgery obsessed, singing rich girl, Amber Sweet.

I would actually complain that she wasn’t used in the movie enough, but when she does show up, she shines. The same cannot be said of her performance in House of Wax. Though if there is one another role worth considering, she was pretty convincing as “girl bored with sex” in One Night in Paris.


Hayden Christensen – Shattered Glass

I know, I couldn’t believe it either, but trust me, Hayden Christensen has it in him to be a good actor. Granted I’ve only see this happen once ever, but still, it was quite an impressive sight.

We all know how horrible he was in the Star Wars prequels, compounded by George Lucas’s idiotic script, but from Jumper to Awake to Life as a House, it’s clear it wasn’t  a fluke incident. But what WAS a fluke was his surprisingly great turn as a disgraced journalist in Shattered Glass, and it’s a must see for anyone at all interested in reporting or writing.


Marlon Wayans – Requiem for a Dream

Yes, this is the Marlon Wayans that graced us with his presence in White Chicks, Norbit and a few Scary Movie movies. He seems an unlikely pick for Darren Aronofsky in Requiem for a Dream, but the director got a great performance out of him that no one expected.

The third wheel of Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly’s drug trip parade, he was surprisingly fantastic as Tyrone, and managed to be the most stable one of the trio despite *ONLY* going to jail at the end. As it turns out, that was the preferred option compared to what happened with the other two.


  • Bert

    Don’t forget, Lohan also had excellent castmates like Lizzy Caplan and Rachel McAdams.

  • Sam

    As soon as I saw the title of this article I thought to myself “Keanu Reeves better not be on this list”. You disappoint me Paul. Keanu Reeves is a legitimately good actor. Stop laughing! He played Neo exactly the way he should have, he was the perfect out of his wits, office drone as Mr. Anderson then as Neo he played the unwilling messiah perfect. Could you imagine Will Smith as Neo like they wanted? Keanu Reeves was a better “every man” than Smith would have ever been. He was also great in Speed, The Replacements, and Hardball. Don’t even get me started on how amazeballs he was as Ted Logan. He’s also an incredibly nice guy to boot. Don’t diss the Reeves man.
    I’ll give you dracula though, he was fucking awful in that.

    • Aaron Washington

      I agree with you Sam, Reeves is a pretty damn good actor and no one could play neo better than him. Constantine was good. Point break was good. Speed was good. The replacements was good. This guys list is horrible. Marlon Wayans shouldnt be on here either. Just because hes a jokester doesnt make him a bad actor. He was good in above the rim, rfad, senseless, sixth man, and g i Joe.

  • Tim

    @Sam Agreed. Reeves has quite a few good performances. Yet I actually found The Devil’s Advocate one of his more dull performances. Overrated movie in general.

  • Langolyer

    Totally agree. Also Keanu was good in “A Walk in the Clouds” and “The Gift”. I know that a lot of people dont like “Johnny Mnemonic” and “Constantine”, but for me it was OK too.

  • Luke

    I think Hayden Christensen was good in Life as a House, but that may just be because Kevin Kline forced it out of him.

  • Cheryl

    As soon as I read the title I thought Lohan. She wasn’t my favorite in that movie at all…but it was a good role for her.
    Reece Witherspoon and Ring of Fire? Everything else I’ve seen her in…meh….

  • Kurt Steino

    Van Damme in JCVD

  • Poke

    I have no Problem with the list itself but happy Gilmore? What about Billy Midison?

  • EJ

    Shades of Glass is fantastic, but I’ll never know what Lucas saw in Hayden or Jake Lloyd.

    Devil’s Advocate is a great film but not because of Keanu. His Florida accent is atrocious, and to have him play a lawyer?!? Really? I thought he played Neo perfectly, but he’s not much of an actor.

  • zack

    dont forget jenifer lopez in u turn

  • Kevin Costner JFK

  • Sara C.

    @Cheryl, I think you mean Walk the Line. And I don’t know why, but mistaking the title for Ring of Fire is hilarious to me. I guess because it easily could have been called that.

    @Dimitrios, I’m no Kevin Costner fan, but he was also awesome in Dances With Wolves. And he directed it. He Bravehearted that shiznit before anti-semitic comments were even a twinkle in Mel Gibson’s dad’s eye. I think he’s in the same category as Nic Cage in this case.

  • Mr Jim

    How about Jessica Alba in Sin City?

  • Al Cappetta

    I think Hayden Christensen was good in Life As a House. If you have not seen it, check it out. Kevin Kline is great, as usual, in also. This movie will drag a tear out of your eye as well.

  • Carmen

    Agree, Hayden Christensen was much better in Life as a House. I would add Halle Berry to this list. I mean Monster’s Ball is it. Everything else she’s been she’s been terrible. I cannot explain her career.

  • Jordan M.

    Keanu Reeves was TERRIBLE in Advocate! I’m from the south and his southern accent made me cringe every time. The only good performance he had was in the matrix, and thats only because Reeves is very realistic as someone whose perpetually confused.

  • Ender88

    Yeah, I agree with all of the actors besides Keanu Reeves. He was creepy in the Watcher and decent in the first Matrix.

  • Guns of Brixon

    I actually thought Keanu was pretty good in The Gift as the abusive husband of Cate Blanchett. Surprised to not see Travolta on this list for Pulp Fiction, considering it’s really the only good performance he has ever put in.

  • Alaric

    Hey, I like Paris Hilton in House of Wax. Not because of her performance, but because her character died so horrifically. I don’t hate her as a person, but as an actress, she sucks.

  • noliah

    Hayden is capable of very good performances, but unfortunately, if he doesn’t have a really good director he will flounder every time. I’ve watched him and it almost appears to me that he tries too hard—that he’s thinking too much about what he’s doing. Sometimes, that’s where method acting is a handicap. Whenever a good director can get him to relax, he shines. I wish him the best. He’s a great guy and he has a lot of raw talent.

  • Levi

    i thought lohan was pretty good in machete.

  • Levi

    SHIT, i meant lohan

  • Levi

    wow i said lohan the first time. wtf. how do i delete.

  • Jim

    Keanu in The Devil’s Advocate?


    Have you ever watched that movie because his bad southern accent disappears and reappears throughout the movie.

  • Tim

    Lindsay Lohan is (was) a legitimately good actress. She played two distinctly different characters convincingly in The Parent Trap, and was really good in pretty much everything she was in.

    Then she got on drugs and lost her damn mind.

  • Penny Sautereau-Fife

    Keanu Reeves was always a good actor, he just got saddled with shit roles after Bill & Ted, typecast as the cheerful clueless wonder.

    If you can, find and watch “Permanent Record” and TRY not to cry when his character breaks down and tells his dead best friend’s father his death was a suicide, not an accident. And then tell me Keanu can’t act.

  • Korky

    Good idea for a list.

  • Dondon

    Eric Roberts is number one in my book.

  • Sean

    Marlon Wayans was actually quite good in Above The Rim (in a minor role, albeit).

  • Walter

    Keanu has been shit in everything he’s been in, EXCEPT Bill & Ted. Dracula was his worst, hands down.

  • junker23

    Chris Klein in “Election” should totally be on this list. Unless you’re a big “Street Fighter” fan.

  • Dylan

    Great list…

    but you’ve gotta consider Chris Klein in “Election.” It’s like he was made for that single role.

    He should have been incinerated after the wrap party.

  • Dylan

    Also, how could you not hate Paris Hilton as a person, Alaric? Are you kidding me?

  • col

    Sharon Stone in Casino
    Marky Mark in The Departed
    (Scorsese can make any bad actor/actress good)

    and you couldn’t be more wrong about The Devil’s Advocate “I’m a lawyer, I win, thats what I do!” – in awesome dumb guy Keanu voice

  • TS

    First actor that I thought of was Stephen Baldwin in “The Usual Suspects”.

  • Andrew

    For a more recent look at Keanu’s chops:

    Checkout ‘A Scanner Darkly’.

    He meshes with RDJ, Ryder, & Harrelson wonderfully. I wouldn’t even call that his best performance, just a personal favorite

  • Tom

    I’m glad John Cusack is not on the list. He is an awful actor & has had zero great performances.

  • Ben Camino

    I also disagree with the inclusion of Keanu Reeves but further disagree with the examples offered by posters as examples of his better performances.

    1. I Love You to Death
    2. Parenthood
    3. Let’s be real here, however stupid it was (as it was supposed to be), no one could’ve portrayed a better Ted Theodore Logan.

    It’s type-casting but it works. Keanu is dumber than dirt and his best roles have been dumber than dirt roles.

  • Keanu Reeves was good in The River’s Edge.

  • col

    well said ben camino, those are def keanus best roles

  • mike

    err….mark hammil

  • Shellly

    Marlon Wayans is an awesome actor! He can play comedy, drama, and action roles. He is a great actor and doesn’t deserve to be on your list.

    • Aaron Washington

      I agree with you shelly. Marlon Wayans is the best Wayans actor and I think he deserves more roles.

  • Jack

    Keanu’s best role is The Matrix, nothing I’ve seen in him since has been tolerable. To suggest that he “acted circles” around Pacino is ludicrous, Pacino was the most enjoyable part of The Devil’s Advocate.

  • cmj

    Chuck Norris in “SideKicks” wow who knew he could pull off comedy besides Top Dog

  • TheFan85

    I protest, as a long-standing fan of SW. Hayden did an excellent job in his roles in the prequels. No other actor could have fit that role and done even half as good.

    He was the best choice for that part hands down. As for Jumper… that movie was terrible in and of itself. Doesn’t matter who would have played in it. That movie was just not very well scripted or thought out period. I think he got the raw end of the deal on that particular movie.

    I won’t say anything on Awake to Life as a House ’cause I haven’t seen it yet.

  • Witezilla

    i like Marlon Wayans D:

  • ThatGuy WithTheFace

    Christensen was also good in Vanshing On 7th Street. The movie was ok, the ending was lame, but he was actually good in it.

  • Roy J

    I’ll just say that Keanu Reeves was actually pretty fantastic in Constantine. The biggest problem with his acting is that he always seems emotionless. But he MADE that film work. The film was already wacky as hell but his cerebral and peaceful posture made his character’s violent intentions all that more effective. Funny enough, he wasn’t even emotionless in the film to begin with, despite his character not showing much emotion in the first place. His acting was very understated and subtle. It’s very hard to catch because Keanu NEVER acts to any degree. But he did in Constantine. I wouldn’t say the performance had a lot of range but it was one of the more effective performances I’ve seen in a film of that nature.

    I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. And it’s the only film of his I’ve ever liked.

  • heath

    Another southerner chipping in to let ya’ll know that Keanu Reeves’ southern accent in the Devils Advocate was horrible to the point of distracting. I’ve come to realize over the years that the only people that are not from the south that can do southern accents seem to be the British. Not sure why, but they can. I did enjoy his performances in the Matrix and Constantine (same as Roy J). I love Constantine, mainly because of Keanu Reeves. He just nailed the cynical, world weary attitude of that character.