This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Learn more

When bad films happen to good actors

Just take the money and run

When bad films happen to good actors

We've all done some pretty awful things for money. There was that humiliating summer job at Wimpy and then that bet which involved £10 and the ingestion of an entire mug of bin juice.

But our money-grabbing exploits have been kept relatively secret, unlike those poor actors. Whether under the influence of some drug we could never afford or just desperate to add another pool to their estate, they've often taken on films which deserve nothing but ridicule.

Here are 40 of the most shameful:

(Main image: All Star)

Robert De Niro

Film:The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle

Year: 2000

Reason for shame: Playing the villain Fearless Leader against a moose and a squirrel, the Oscar-winning actor was reduced to doing a Travis Bickle impression in one, heart-crushing scene.

Al Pacino


Year: 2003

Reason for shame: Even though it was just a cameo, even being seen near a poster of the Razzie-sweeping Bennifer opus is a reason to be embarrassed. It's officially the 88th worst reviewed film on IMDb. Quite a feat.

Morgan Freeman


Year: 2003

Reason for shame: A film about aliens based on a book by Stephen King sounds like a safe option. Until you learn that the aliens are referred to as "s***-weasels" because of where they leave the human body. We no lie.

Christopher Walken


Year: 2004

Reason for shame: A comedy about a guy who invents a spray to remove dog feces. That's enough, right? At least he was in good/depressing company (Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Rachel Weisz).

Denzel Washington

Film:Heart Condition

Year: 1990

Reason for shame: A buddy comedy between a racist detective and a dead lawyer who both share the same hooker girlfriend. Are you laughing yet?

Samuel L Jackson


Year: 2004

Reason for shame: Boasting a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this incomprehensible thriller sees a slutty Ashley Judd find all of her conquests turning up dead. Samuel L Jackson is her mentor and the killer. Non-spoiler as we saved you from watching it.

George Clooney

Film:Batman & Robin

Year: 1997

Reason for shame: Do we even need to tell you? Chances are you might have repressed one of the worst ever superhero films but lines such as "Hey Freeze, the heat is on" will probably haunt you for almost as long as it will haunt Mr. Clooney.

Robert Duvall

Film:Four Christmases

Year: 2008

Reason for shame: Playing Vince Vaughn's redneck father, his role was mercifully brief but, like the rest of the film, painfully unfunny. This guy was in The Godfather for Christ's sake.

Johnny Depp

Film:The Astronaut's Wife

Year: 1999

Reason for shame: Playing the astronaut of the title, he goes into space and comes back with an alien inside of him. An alien who can't act.

Sigourney Weaver

Film:Crazy On The Outside

Year: 2010

Reason for shame: Starring in Tim Allen's directorial debut was never going to be a wise choice but this extended sitcom managed to give the star of Alien her lowest moment. They must be really really good friends.

Anthony Hopkins

Film:Bad Company

Year: 2002

Reason for shame: Teaming up with Chris Rock for this buddy comedy was never going to work. Especially when is character was called Gaylord Oakes. Oh, how we laughed...

Bruce Willis

Film:Perfect Stranger

Year: 2007

Reason for shame: Attempting to make cybersex seem at all sexy, this thriller failed from the outset. Just try and watch him and Halle Berry sexy-IM each other without laughing. We dare you.

Julianne Moore


Year: 2007

Reason for shame: It's a cheesy sci-fi thriller with a long-haired Nicolas Cage playing a magician who can see into the future. Made on the cheap, it still managed to be a complete flop.

Michael Caine

Film:Jaws: The Revenge

Year: 1987

Reason for shame: Did you know that sharks were capable of picking on particular people and following them around the world just to torment them? Yeah well neither did anyone else (including sharks) until this turkey came out.

Ben Kingsley

Film:The Love Guru

Year: 2008

Reason for shame: The Oscar-winning star of Gandhi played a character called Guru Tugginmypudha. No, we don't really get it either although in a film full of fart jokes, it doesn't really matter.

Susan Sarandon

Film:Mr. Woodcock

Year: 2007

Reason for shame: A film so bad that even the stars discussed what a mistake it was while they filmed it, this comedy sold itself on a childish title and an even worse poster. Proof to the left...

Kevin Spacey

Film:Fred Claus

Year: 2007

Reason for shame: Starring as an efficiency expert who has come to assess Santa's factory in the North Pole in a film where star Ludacris performs a song called Ludacrismas is never going to leave you content as a human being.

Bill Murray

Film:Larger Than Life

Year: 1996

Reason for shame: Teaming up a comic actor with an animal can work wonders (Turner & Hooch, Turner & Hooch, Turner & Hooch) but when the animal is an elephant, it's a proposition that proved far less appealing. Bad luck Bill.

Nicole Kidman

Film:Just Go With It

Year: 2011

Reason for shame: The Oscar-winner slummed it as Jennifer Aniston's college nemesis who is married to the gay inventor of the iPod in this Adam Sandler comedy which is already one of the year's worst-reviewed movies.

Will Smith

Film:Seven Pounds

Year: 2008

Reason for shame: A desperate bid for Oscar love, this strange drama saw Will Smith play a man who kills seven people in a traffic accident and makes amends by letting his jellyfish kill him in his bath so his organs can be used. Oh and it's not a comedy.

Judi Dench

Movie:The Chronicles Of Riddick

Year: 2004

Reason for shame: The usually picky actress made a bizarre foray into sci-fi in this poorly received sequel. She played an envoy of the Elementals. Yeah, it doesn't make much more sense if you're watching the movie either.

Jon Voight


Year: 1997

Reason for shame: Voight played a Spanish snake hunter who spends the movie leering at Jennifer Lopez and getting swallowed whole by an Anaconda. If you need proof of why he shouldn't ever play Spanish, click here.

Richard Burton

Film:Exorcist II: The Heretic

Year: 1977

Reason for shame: Despite being nominated for seven Oscars, Burton took the lead in a poorly received sequel that actually induced laughter during the premiere. Weirdly, he didn't receive any more nominations after the film was out...

Marlon Brando

Film:The Island Of Dr. Moreau

Year: 1996

Reason for shame: A notoriously plagued production, coupled with the duelling egos of Brando and Val Kilmer turned this cautionary tale about genetics into a cautionary tale about making films in general.

Willem Dafoe

Film:Body Of Evidence

Year: 1993

Reason for shame: After starring in Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, surely being covered in hot wax by Madonna and having her sit on your face has got to be a bit of a shock.

Robert Downey Jr

Film:The Shaggy Dog

Year: 2006

Reason for shame: Pre Iron Man comeback, Downey Jr woke up after one bender and found himself starring as an evil geneticist who winds up turning Tim Allen into a dog. Worst hangover ever.

Tommy Lee Jones

Film:Man of the House

Year: 2005

Reason for shame: In this alleged comedy, Jones plays an FBI Agent who goes undercover as a cheerleading coach. The film was such a mess that no-one involved in the film could think of an ending until months after when the director shot a new one.

Liam Neeson

Film:The Haunting

Year: 1999

Reason for shame: An astoundingly bad remake of the 60s classic, this replaced suspense and suggestion with CGI and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not a great career move for a guy that starred in Schindler's List.

Gary Oldman


Year: 2003

Reason for shame: Well, Gary Oldman plays Matthew McConaughey's dwarf brother, who teaches Kate Beckinsale about what being a dwarf is like as she may or may not be pregnant with one. The film tries to teach a message about dwarfs being just like us yet fails by hiring a normal-sized actor to play one.

Martin Sheen


Year: 1997

Reason for shame: Joining The Shadow, Catwoman and Daredevil in the ranks of superhero films that only managed one outing, this poorly received comic book adaptation actually has a proposed sequel from its deluded creator that believes it will be for an older audience, "like the film The Departed". Ermm, good luck with that.

William H Macy

Film:Wild Hogs

Year: 2007

Reason for shame: Now, we expect it from his co-stars (Tim Allen, John Travolta and Martin Lawrence) but the Oscar-nominated actor of Fargo should know better than starring in a film which managed a pitiful 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. A sequel was thankfully canned.

James Caan

Film:Mickey Blue Eyes

Year: 1999

Reason for shame: A gangster comedy starring Hugh Grant was never going to be a winner. This laboured rom-com spoofed Caan's persona from The Godfather and only served to remind us how we'd rather be re-watching that for the 15th time.

Faye Dunaway

Film:Dunston Checks In

Year: 1996

Reason for shame: Sharing the screen with an orangutan that's been trained as a jewel thief was never going to be a particularly gratifying experience. Especially for the star of Chinatown and Bonnie & Clyde.

Paul Giamatti

Film:Lady In The Water

Year: 2006

Reason for shame: One of the most intolerable nails in writer/director M Night Shyamalan's coffin, this pretentious misfire reached its low-point when Shayamalan himself cameoed as a writer whose writing would change the world. Well, we're still waiting...

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Film:My Boyfriend's Back

Year: 1993

Reason for shame: Pre-fame, Hoffman turned up in this bizarre comedy which followed a dead high schooler take his living girlfriend to the prom. The film also strangely starred Matthew Fox, Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey.

John Malkovich

Film:Jonah Hex

Year: 2010

Reason for shame: A violent graphic novel adaptation from the director of Horton Hears A Who! anyone? Apparently that was enough for Malkovich who signed up as the villain. Being John Malkovich can sometimes be pretty embarrassing.

Frances McDormand

Film:Aeon Flux

Year: 2005

Reason for shame: The Oscar-nominated star of Fargo slummed it in this failed TV series adaptation which also embarrassed Oscar-winner Charlize Theron. If you need proof of why McDormand should feel shamed, click here.

Gene Hackman

Film:Loose Cannons

Year: 1990

Reason for shame: Okay so it's a wacky buddy comedy but it revolves around a film that shows the last minutes of Hitler's life and how two cops have to track down a German officer who is killing anyone that's seen it. Oh and Hackman's partner is Dan Aykroyd who has multiple personality disorder and assumes characters like Popeye and Road Runner. Oh, brother...

Warren Beatty

Film:Town & Country

Year: 2001

Reason for shame: One of the most financially disastrous films ever, this failed romantic comedy had a $90m budget but only raked in $10m. Beatty hasn't made a film since. Can't blame him really.

Laura Linney


Year: 1995

Reason for shame: Well her main co-star was a talking gorilla called Amy, who wasn't a CGI or a real animal but a puppet. Yeah, best forgotten about this one.