Weekend Roundtable: Actors Who Shouldn’t Act Anymore

The topic for this week’s Roundtable came pretty easily once I realized that irritating and wholly unfunny “comedian” Danny McBride has both a new movie in theaters and one from earlier this year debuting on video this week. Let’s talk about actors and actresses who just plain need to be stopped from torturing us with their terrible performances.

Josh Zyber

Having just ranted about Danny McBride, I also want to throw out a special dishonorable mention for January Jones. This dead-behind-the-eyes starlet deserves to have her SAG card revoked after ‘X-Men: First Class’, in which she spent the entire movie standing in the background of scenes, staring vapidly into space while real actors talked in front of her. Her performance in that movie is embarrassing. It’s certainly no wonder that her character disappears for about half the movie and isn’t seen again until the very end. No doubt, director Matthew Vaughn was forced to cut most of her scenes in editing. Too bad he couldn’t excise her completely from the film.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Dan Fogler is without fail the worst thing about every movie he’s in. Considering how terrible those flicks would’ve been anyway (‘Fanboys‘, ‘Take Me Home Tonight‘ and ‘Good Luck Chuck‘, to rattle off a few), that’s kinda saying a lot. When casting directors need a fat, hypothetically funny dude but don’t have the budget for Jack Black or Jonah Hill, they settle for Fogler. He’s one of those comedians who has deluded himself into thinking that the louder he is, the funnier he gets. He mugs at the camera at every possible opportunity and manically flails around, like six Dane Cooks stitched together, always confusing “Bigger! More! More!” with something resembling comedy. On one hand, I love reviewing his movies since it’s kinda fun to seethe with hatred and let myself tear off on a rant. But… ack. Seriously, I have no idea why people keep hiring the guy. Dan Fogler is toxic.

Wayne Rowe

When Josh first posed this question, the top two actors who came to mind were Russell Brand and Tom Cruise. But then I recalled a funny story that a pal told me. There’s this awesome local video rental store near me. How it’s still in business is beyond me. Regardless, the owner is a bit of a character. When my friend Jim saw the “Upcoming Movies” list about a month or so ago, it listed ‘Season of the Witch‘. When Jim asked about it, the owner said: “Ugh, don’t even bother. In fact, if he makes one more movie I’m going to put a warning label on all his flicks.” My friend: “What’s the warning label going to say?” Owner: “Warning: Contains Nicolas Cage.”

Nate Boss

As much as I want to say Ken Jeong and his shtick, I have to go with Brendan Fraser. ‘Furry Vengeance‘ may have clinched his pick. (The raccoon was cute. Everything else – including Jeong – was garbage.) But let’s not forget the forgettable ‘Extraordinary Measures‘. Let’s also remember ‘Inkheart‘, the third ‘Mummy‘ flick that served no purpose whatsoever, or the already-forgotten misery porn ‘The Air I Breathe‘. All are fine examples of how difficult it was to sit through Fraser’s “films.” He also embodies one of the low points of the shitsploitation/Academy Award winning ‘Crash‘, replete with the most monotone performance I’ve ever seen or heard. ‘Monkeybone’, ‘Dudley Do-Right’, ‘George of the Jungle’… those three don’t even need explanations. Fraser is a fun action adventure lead, but he’s a horrible actor – over the top in the worst of moments, unbelievable in any emotive scene. His career should end. And maybe he can take Jeong with him to whatever cinematic hell awaits.

Mike Attebery

There is nothing likable about Gwyneth Paltrow. While her mother, Blythe Danner, has genuine warmth and a certain spark, Paltrow has never been appealing. She just seems stuck up and, frankly, pretty lazy. I have no idea how she ever won her Oscar. I probably don’t wanna know what was required. All I know is that she has to go. Watch her scenes at the end of the first ‘Iron Man. Lifeless. Phoning it in (literally). She needs to return to London, maybe sink her claws into another rock star (Mr. Coldplay doesn’t seem to have worked out so great), or go back to that Goopy thing of hers. I don’t care what she does, just so long as she stays outta the movies!

M. Enois Duarte

With so many to choose from (Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kristen Stewart, to name a few), I have to say Channing Tatum is simply one of the worst actors working today. Whether he’s a member of the Roman legion or a captain in the new G.I. Joe team, he plays the exact same character in everything – a good ol’ Southern boy with street cred. Despite his name sounding like a dirty private part or some perverted sexual position, this guy continues to be handed roles which require more than he could ever give. He’s clearly incapable of creating a different persona appropriate to the material or delivering a line with genuine dramatic effect. Can we please stop treating him like an actor and just put him back to work inside a Walmart where he belongs?

[Ed.: Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes! Who “discovered” this monkey, anyway? –JZ]

Luke Hickman

This one is easy: Taylor Lautner. The kid is atrocious, embarrassing even. As a child actor in ‘The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl’, he was utterly bland. In ‘Valentine’s Day‘, he was almost as bad as Taylor Swift. His acting style is on the same level as the talentless teens who appear in made-for-Disney Channel movies. He is one hundred percent laughable in the ‘Twilight’ movies, and continues to look so in the previews for his new action thriller ‘Abduction’. The world would be a better place if Lautner would simply disappear.

We know that you must have some actors who you wish could be forcibly retired. Tell us about them in the Comments.


  1. Drew

    The January Jones selection is utterly inexcusable. She’s highly effective on Mad Men, and anybody who states otherwise is just plain wrong. The fact that she isn’t geat in every role she plays can be attributed to her lack of experience as much as anything else. She doesn’t belong anywhere near this list of garbage!

    • Josh Zyber

      I think that my friend Norm, who’s a film critic in Toronto, put it best when he said, “Honestly, I don’t know how Matthew Weiner makes her look like an actor on Mad Men, but it’s a secret he’s shared with no one else.”

      Jones’s character on Mad Men is supposed to be an emotionally-frigid and intellectually-vapid housewife who spends most of her time just standing there while other people talk at her. The role was tailor made for her. Unfortunately, that is the extent of her “talents.” It is literally the ONLY performance she can give.

      She was HORRIBLE in X-Men. HORRIBLE! If you want to attribute that to her “lack of experience,” you go right ahead. For someone who’s been working steadily for the past decade, it’s amazing how she’s avoided accumulating any acting experience whatsoever.

      Other than Mad Man, can you name anything else she’s been in where she wasn’t terrible?

      • Drew

        You state nothing that I didn’t already. You just take a more long winded approach to doing so, and take much longer to do it.

        As I stated initially, she’s highly effective in Mad Men. Anybody who states otherwise is plain and simply wrong. You didn’t state otherwise. You agree with me. However, you try to make up excuses for why she is effective on Mad Men.

        Frequenter’s of HDD already know that you hated X-Men: First Class. You’re wrong for hating it. It’s a very good film. Critics and general audiences alike, as well as HDD’s own film critics back up this fact. You are simply letting your negativity and hate for X-M:FC influence your opinion of Jones in that film. She was mediocre, possibly even bad, but not horrible. You’re wrong about a lot of things you have said about that film. This is no different.

        I don’t need to give other examples of roles where she is good. She has proven she can be highly effective in the right role for four years now with Mad Men. That says it all. Find the right role for her, and she can be effective. McBride, Lautner, and others, not so much.

        • Josh Zyber

          The movie was mediocre. She was horrible. I didn’t hate the movie, but I was disappointed with it. I did hate her performance, however.

          Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon were all good in the movie. I’m not letting my dislike of the film cloud my perception of which actors are capable of acting and which are not.

          Other than that, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • You know, I really liked the movie first time I saw it. Second time, not so much. I got a feeling that a third viewing will make me say its mediocre. On the plus side, it was way better than the previous two X-Men movies (I am including Wolverine as an X-Men movie, and that was garbage).

      • slade

        January Jones is also really, relly good in “the three burials of melquiedes estrada” it’s seems to be her type of part – dead look in the eyes as life piles on her… but it is a great performance none the less. Unfortunately it does appear to be her strength playing lifeless characters. Although i don’t find her that offensive in X-men: first class which i found a really good engaging film. Her role was supposed to be as such and there were always other characters that were larger than life that were holding your attention while she was there.

      • motorheadache

        I was actually a big fan of X-Men First Class (probably my favorite movie of the summer, actually).

        To be honest, I didn’t really notice January Jones’ performance issue, but now that you mention it, her take on Emma Frost does seem to be that same kind of “vapid” character, which doesn’t really capture the character very well.

        If they end up making a sequel, I wonder if Vaughn will recast the Emma Frost role. Didn’t Nolan replace Katie Holmes for the same reason?

    • all very valid picks but i’m am going to go with comic legend justin timberlake. every time i see him i think con artist. he just seems to be in the scene shouting look at me i’m acting. look at me i’m great. see i can be humble and he comes off looking like a douche.

      honorable mentions andy samberg , seth meyers ,( just saw him in a preview of a movie coming out i want him out of movies already) and adam sandler produced movies.

  2. Drew

    The Danny McBride, Taylor Lautner, and Channing Tatum selections are spot-on! 3 of the worst five actors working today!

    McBride would have been my first choice, followed closely behind by Lautner.

  3. Drew

    Paul Walker might be the worst actor that ever lived, but for some reason, I still like him quite a bit and enjoy him on screen.

    He might be an absolutely atrocious actor, but at least he takes the low-key, laid back approach when he’s on screen.

    The worst thing about actors like McBride, Lautner, and especially Nick Cage, is how they absolutely chew scenery whenever they are in front of the camera. With that said, I can still occassionally enjoy Cage in the right role. McBride, Lautner, and others are absolutely intolerable!

      • Running Scared kicked all kinds of ass, Fast Five as well, Walker knows what kind of roles work for him, to me he’s like the action version of Keanu Reeves, who is also terrible, but I also love in most of his roles, what can I say 🙂

      • Walker was never the reason to see ‘Fast Five’ though. He’s infinitely interchangeable. There isn’t a movie out there that he’s been in that you could say, “Take Walker out of that movie and you don’t have a movie.”

  4. Mack

    True, Fraser has been coasting for years but who wouldn’t doing the crap films he’s in? He does have chops and shows them in School Ties and Gods and Monsters.
    And Gwyneth is excellent on “glee”
    I think she just kicks it up when she wants to

  5. Beard

    I’ve been avoiding Nic Cage for years. His performances are cringe worthy and all too similar. I feel like I have a bad toothache while watching him.

  6. McBride is AMAZINGLY FUNNY as the “MFCEO” of K-Swiss commercials. Maybe he should just stick to 4-minute advertisements and stay outta movies.


    “Matt Cassel and me just f*cked you up, dog”

    January Jones…. wow….. I’ve still yet to see Mad Men (I know, I know), but between X-Men First Class and Unknown, I just can’t imagine how anyone can take her seriously.

  7. Keanu Reeves deserves a spot on this list…he’s horrible.

    I know it’s easy to make fun of Nic and Gwyneth…but they have Oscars. You have an Oscar, you don’t get to be on this list…sorry!

    And as much as I dislike Taylor Lautner, he’s 10 times the actor Robert Pattison is.

    • Alex

      Keanu Reeves is just fine when he picks the right role. Problem is, the only roles he’s suited for are confused (The Matrix, and only the first one) or numbskull (Bill & Ted).

  8. Alex

    I’m going go for any of the Disney-bred “Actor”/”Singer” combos. That includes, but is by no means limited to, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, 1-3 Jonas Brothers, a few golden oldies like Hilary Duff, and honestly, any one of a host of others who are making the short, excruciating, broken-glass-covered journey from The Disney Channel to the CW to the Direct-To-DVD bargain bin. They can’t sing, they can’t act, and while we may not keep supplies of hemlock around anymore, they are most certainly corrupting and destroying the youth.

  9. You missed the true king of bad acting, James Remar. Thank god he got dropped as Hicks in Aliens early on.

    They should reissue all of his movies in special editions with the label “Now contains 100% less Remar!”

    I cut him some slack after seeing the opening to Blade Runner until I realized that it was not him but someone who can actually act……..

  10. EM

    I disagree with Luke regarding Taylor Lautner’s acting in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl; I thought Master Lautner gave a very dynamic performance, one sorely needed in a generally odd and dull film. I’m not saying it was one of the great child-actor performances, but it was what the role and the movie called for. (Not having seen any of his other work, I’ve no opinion of his acting elsewhere.)

  11. the first time i saw keanu was in dangerous liaisons. i saw it the same week that bill and teds excellent adventure came out and saw it months later. i have never had a problem with his acting. i think people have a problem with keanu because they saw him in bill and ted first and that tone of voice he has still resonates with him being the dumb guy in bill and ted.

    • It has nothing to do with his being/appearing done…it has everything to do with the monotone/nonemotional way he delivers his dialogue. I actually thought he would have been perfect for “Spock” in the last Star Trek movie…that’s how little range he shows in his performances…why he continues to be hired for action flicks is beyond me.

      • Josh Zyber

        Ironically, Keanu was actually well cast as an emotionless alien who doesn’t understand human behavior in that Day the Earth Stood Still remake. The movie was godawful, of course, but it wasn’t Keanu’s fault this time.

        • Kevin

          I’m still disappointed by my experience seeing that remake.

          I’m not someone who’s necessarily against remakes of older films, but here was a movie, based on one of the all-time classic sci-fi movies… the previews looked good… it had a more or less solid cast… and… somehow they managed to screw it up.

  12. I agree with this list wholeheartedly!! You mentioned others but did not list them..I would. The entire cast of the awful Twilight movies,Kristen Stewart,Robert Patterson and Taylor Lautner have zero talent. Patterson made an ass of himself on the MTV Movie Awards that my ten year old daughter made me watch. Stewart mumbled just like she does in movies. I have a lot of people whom I am tired of seeing in movies. Among them-Katherine Heigl,Jennifer Aniston,Angelina Jolie,Russell Brand (just suffered through Arther and it was awful!!!!),Kevin James. I think I could go on and on. I have hardly seen any good movies at all this year. This is the first time in years where I haven’t bought at least one new release a month. The last movie I purchased was The Fighter and that was in April!!!

  13. Brandon

    Before seeing “The Fighter,” Mark Walburg was high up on my list of least favorite actors. Like a lot of other people on this list, his acting styles never change and he essentially plays the same character in every movie. While I enjoyed “The Fighter,” I still didn’t feel that it was much of a stretch. I agree with everyone else on the list-aside from maybe Paltrow.

  14. Ryan Clements

    Upon reading the title, my first thought was Robert DeNiro… as he has certainly fallen from grace. However, after reading the article, I would have to say January Jones!! Having not seen a single episode of Mad Men, but hearing nothing but praise about her, I was shocked to see this monotone robot of a blonde bombshell in The Adjustment Bureau! Certainly the worst performance I have seen this decade!

    Nic Cage and Brendan Fraser are also contenders, but I have to admit that once in a while they do churn out a half-decent movie! Just last night I caught most of the remake of Bedazzled and reasonably enjoyed it!

    • M. Enois Duarte

      ‘Adjustment Bureau’??

      Are you sure you’re not thinking of ‘Unknown’ because she was nowhere near Damon and Blunt in ‘Bureau.’ I haven’t seen ‘X-M:FC’ yet, but she was horrible in ‘Unknown.’

  15. Ryan Clements

    Correction… The January Jones “performance” I was referring to was in Unknown, not Adjustment Bureau!

  16. Jane Morgan

    Al Pacino has been painful to watch for 19 years. He should either do a Tarantino movie, or be euthanized.

    With Harry Potter done, Emma Watson’s services will no longer be required.

    Orlando Bloom is already gone, correct?

    Harrison Ford.
    Tom Hanks.
    Mike Myers.

    Jack Black is on the fence.

    I think the world is ready to live without Diane Keaton.

    Gemma Arterton just needs to stay out of blockbusters.

    Ben Stiller should be blacklisted until he directs a sequel to Tropic Thunder.

    Bruce Willis gets one last shot, with G.I. Joe 2. If he phones in another generic bald performance, it’s off to the wood chipper.

    And, for the love of cinema, Jeremy Renner needs to fuck off.

        • Evan Withrow

          Don’t agree at all with Jeremy Renner. Thought both The Hurt Locker and The Town were very good films and he put together two nice performances in both.

          • Jane Morgan

            I know he’s admired. I’ve seen five of his films. But Jeremy Renner disgusts me, on a chemical level. I’ve never had this kind of reaction with any other actor before. It’s inexplicable.

          • Evan Withrow

            Well I suppose it is justified if it is on a chemical level and not necessarily to do with his acting, haha.

          • Renner was terrific as Jeffrey Dahmer in an uncommonly good telemovie about, well, Jeffrey Dahmer.

            But I don’t expect seeing that performance will do much to evaporate your disgust, Jane. Or maybe you saw that one first?

          • Jane Morgan

            My grandmother lived three blocks away from Jeffrey Dahmer’s Milwaukee Apartment. I was fourteen years old, and staying with her, when we saw the news that he was arrested on TV. My sister and I took a walk to see the outside of his building.

            I haven’t seen the Dahmer TV movie, but I’m going to give Jeremy Renner three more shots. MI4, The Avengers, and The Bourne Legacy.

            If immersion therapy doesn’t work, I’ll have to avoid all his future movies.

  17. Kris Kristofferson – his performance in one of the Blade movies (I do not remember which) was unbelievable. I truly think that I (yes, myself) would do better.

    And Hugh Grant. I simply do not wath any movie of him anymore, regardless what the movie is. He is simply the same character in every movie he makes.

  18. Kevin

    Eva Mendes.

    Yes, she’s insanely beautiful, but her acting is terrible in every movie I’ve seen her in.

    At the very least, if we can’t get her out of movies altogether we should make her a modern-day Harpo Marx. That way we could view her beauty without having to hear her speak.

  19. bruce

    Katherine Heigl,Jennifer Aniston,Angelina Jolie! im so tired of seeing them! I always avoid movies there all in..

  20. I knew someone would pick Nic Cage here, but I’ll defend that guy until the day I’m laid in the ground. Truthfully, Cage is a phenomenal actor sometimes he just picks cheese-tastic movies to be in. Something you can never say about him is that he’s phoning in a role. Even if the movie sucks he goes 100% all the time. That’s something to be admired.

    Compare him to someone like Johnny Depp. If he isn’t playing someone weird or eccentric, then you get the mother of all phoned in performances: ‘The Tourist’.

    Cage rules. Am I right Nate?

    • motorheadache

      I agree– Nic Cage I find to be a real hit or miss actor. But when he hits, he REALLY hits– see Kick Ass, Leaving Las Vegas, and Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans for examples off the top of my head.

  21. Eric

    Seriously, Jane?
    You listed Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and Bruce Willis. I really hope that was sarcasm, because Hanks is easily one of the finest actors of our time. Go watch Apollo 13, Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, and the criminally underappreciated Road to Perdition. It is remarkable when someone can stand in a scene with Paul Newman and not disappear and in that film Hanks is every bit Newman’s equal. He is what dramatic actors aspire to be.

    • Jane Morgan

      Watching a good actor in a bad movie is more painful than watching a bad actor in a good movie.

      Wasn’t it better that Sean Connery retired? Rather than watch him spend another ten years in the meat grinder.

      I liked Tom Hanks in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War,’ but for the last decade Hollywood has been pissing him away.

  22. Right on with this entire article except for Dan Fogler. Not to say I’d like to see more of him, but he was hilarious in Balls of Fury. Great article overall though!

  23. Evan Withrow

    Anybody mention Anna Faris yet? Talk about over acting. Unfortunately she continues to be the centerpiece in movies. Like the upcoming What’s Your Number? It looks wince-inducing.

  24. Josh Zyber

    Ran across Employee of the Month of TV this weekend. I must immediately nominate Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Harland Williams, Andy Dick, and really pretty much everyone who was in the movie.

  25. Danny McBride gets a free pass forever for Eastbound and Down.

    I nominate that Draco Malfoy guy for his recent crime against acting in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A child actor originally cast in a big franchise purely because of his ability to sneer. Has not exhibited any other abilities since.