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Early Roles Transformers Actors Would Like You To Forget About

In the 1980s, there were few brands bigger in toys or TV than "Transformers," a line of toys brought to life on the small screen by a half-hour animated series that has since become a seminal '80s icon. Decades later, these robotic warriors made their way to the big screen in live-action, starting with the 2007 blockbuster film directed by Michael Bay. Though the films have been criticized for their writing, there's no denying the power of the series' over-the-top action. 

Surprisingly, the "Transformers" films have also become known for their star-studded ensemble casts. Drawing in all manner of thespians, the series has featured some major star power and turned several lesser-knowns into big names themselves. They all can look back and at least say they were a part of a billion-dollar franchise. However, that can't be said about every film they've been in. 

Each actor who's appeared in the "Transformers" saga has at least one movie that they'd probably prefer we all just forget about. Some of them might look like promising films, but they're really duds in disguise. Let's look at a few of them.

John Torturro in Exterminator 2

Despite their toy origins and frequently silly tone, the "Transformers" films have somehow always managed to bring in highly respected, award-winning actors. Starting in Michael Bay's very first "Transformers" movie, frequent Coen Brothers collaborator John Turturro features as Agent Simmons, an operative for a clandestine government agency that's been tracking the Transformers for decades. But "Transformers" isn't the only offbeat film Turturro has appeared in. The one he might look back on with the most cringe is "Exterminator 2," a low-budget B-movie from 1984.

A sequel to the 1980 indie revenge action movie "The Exterminator," the film centers on John Eastland (Robert Ginty), a Vietnam veteran who moonlights as a flame-thrower-wielding masked crime fighter. While battling evil in the streets, he comes up against a terrifying new foe — the ruthless madman known only as X (Mario Van Peebles). Incredibly cheap, "Exterminator 2" makes no bones about the kind of movie it is. It's slapped-together schlock custom-made for the video rental store bins.

In fairness to Turturro, his role in "Exterminator 2" is more or less that of a glorified extra, so it's not like he had any real meaningful contribution to the film's legendary awfulness. Still, it seems highly unlikely that he'd put this one on any demo reels or recommend it to fans of his work.

Tony Todd in Voodoo Dawn

The "Transformers" movies don't just get well-known stars to play the human characters, but to voice the Autobots and Decepticons as well. The likes of Leonard Nimoy, John Goodman, and Ken Watanabe have all voiced Cybertronians in the films, and Michael Bay enlisted the deep baritone voice of horror legend Tony Todd to play the eponymous Fallen in 2009's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." A legend of low-budget horror, there are likely quite a few roles that Todd might regret, but there's one that stands out for its sheer audacity.

In the 1990 movie "Voodoo Dawn," Todd plays a murderous maniac in a role that predates his iconic turn as the titular horror slasher in "Candyman." Here he plays Makoute, a Haitian priest who swings a mean machete and uses dark magic to resurrect the dead into mindless flesh-eaters. His sinister plans are disrupted, however, when a pair of unwitting college students come looking for a missing friend who's already been zombified.

With its silly title, "Voodoo Dawn" is just as bad as you'd expect, playing off a dozen awful stereotypes with blood-gushing violence that borders on camp and too many cliches to list. It's easy to forgive Todd for his part in the film, as it came before his breakout part as the mad, murderous Candyman. But now that he's known for his much more iconic part, he probably wishes we'd forget about this one.

Patrick Dempsey in Meatballs III: Summer Job

For the third entry in the "Transformers" film series, a new rival was needed to match Sam Witwicky on screen, and in came "Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey as Dylan Gould. The polar opposite of Sam in nearly every way, Dylan is rich, successful, and straight-up evil, though that isn't revealed at first. Years before Dempsey was a big name on screens both big and small, he had a long career in movies of all kinds, including plenty of regrettable roles he'd likely want us to overlook. Of those, none come close to the shameful sex comedy threequel "Meatballs III: Summer Job."

While the first film in the "Meatballs" series is something of a cult classic — coming from the "Ghostbusters" duo of Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray — its sequels devolve pretty quickly into trash. By the third film, the story has drifted so far from the original screwball camp movie as to be nearly unrecognizable, focusing instead on a dead adult film star (Sally Kellerman) who returns to Earth as a ghost to help Rudy Gerner (Dempsey) lose his virginity. 

While it's hard to make a low-budget teen sex comedy like "Meatballs" seem like high art, the mind-bogglingly bizarre "Meatballs III" does just that. And though it may have been a step up for a young Dempsey as a leading role in an established franchise, it can't be anything he's particularly proud of.

Santiago Cabrera in Meant to Be

Today, viewers might recognize Santiago Cabrera as Captain Rios from "Star Trek: Picard," or as Joseph Bachman from "Big Little Lies." But in 2017, he co-starred in "Transformers: The Last Knight" as Santos, a hardened military commander. With a filmography that stretches back to the early 2000s, Cabrera has made memorable appearances in several beloved series, including "Merlin," "Heroes," and "Dexter." But in 2010, he starred in a film that he probably wishes he could erase — the awkward fantasy rom-com "Meant To Be."

Starring Kelly Reilly before her standout turn as Beth Dutton on "Yellowstone," the movie follows Amanda, a young woman who repeatedly strikes out in matters of love. But her story takes a sharp left turn when we meet Will (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Amanda's immortal guardian angel, who's fallen in love with her. Now, despite his job being to protect her and ensure her happiness, Will can't help but want to intercede when Amanda meets Ben, a dashing suitor played by Cabrera.

There are few things more cringe-worthy than a bad comedy, but one of them is a bad romantic comedy, and "Meant To Be" checks all the boxes: A silly setup, an unfunny cast, and a script that isn't quite sure what it's trying to accomplish. You'd be best to skip this one, unless you really love Santiago Cabrera.

John Malkovich in Making Mr. Right

Among the parade of major Hollywood icons to be snagged for a role in the "Transformers" films is John Malkovich. The former star of such acclaimed hits as "In the Line of Fire," "Dangerous Liaisons," and the indie Spike Jonze darling "Being John Malkovich," the actor joined the cast of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" as Bruce Brazos, the CEO of a major telecommunications firm. The role gave Malkovich the chance to show his funny side in a tongue-in-cheek role, but silliness is nothing new for the actor.

In fact, back in his early days, Malcovich appeared in a comedy that he'd likely want us to wipe from our minds — the 1987 sci-fi romantic comedy "Making Mr. Right." Malkovich actually plays dual roles in the movie, doubling his embarrassment as scientist Jeff Peters, who builds an android in his own image (also played by Malkovich). When lonely and lovelorn PR consultant Frankie Stone (Ann Magnuson) meets Peters' robotic double, she and the android fall in love.

A wacky comedy with a strange mix of sci-fi and rom-com, the film arrived the same year as the somewhat similarly themed "Mannequin" but fails at being the same kind of quirky, endearing love story. Painfully awkward with embarrassingly unfunny attempts at slapstick comedy and bad boob jokes, "Making Mr. Right" is best left forgotten. But at least it's a chance for the audience to see Malkovich with a luscious head of flowing blonde hair.

Josh Duhamel in The Picture of Dorian Grey

As Captain Lennox, actor Josh Duhamel has starred in several "Transformers" films. Though the actor's career never quite took off the way some may have expected, he's had quite a respectable career, appearing in the underrated baseball movie "Spaceman" and the Hulu original "11.22.63," among other prominent roles. But one film he won't be looking back on with such pride is a movie from 2004 based on the classic Oscar Wilde novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

One of many screen adaptations of the book, the movie puts Duhamel in the title role of the eternally gorgeous man whose timeless beauty is tied to a magical painted portrait. While there has never been a definitive big-screen take on the literary classic, Duhamel's may be the worst. Going for a period piece with some modern vibes was a big mistake, and Duhamel himself is woefully miscast, incapable of delivering the haughty dialogue clearly meant for a different kind of actor. And why they went for a portrait of Dorian in a swimsuit on the beach, we'll never understand. The whole film is a silly affair that comes across like a cheap romance novel, rather than an adaptation of high literature.

Gemma Chan in Pimp

Today, Gemma Chan is probably known best for her parts in a pair of Marvel greats, most notably her leading role as Sersi in "Eternals." But she also has a key role in "Transformers: The Last Knight" as the voice of Quintessa, the all-powerful Cybertronian creator and one of the main antagonists of the film. Having grown up in London, much of Chan's early career occurred outside of Hollywood. She appeared in several British films early on, at least one of which she probably hopes is never mentioned again.

The 2010 street crime saga "Pimp," filmed as a mockumentary of sorts, may be the worst mark on Chan's resume. Written, directed by, and starring Robert Cavanah, it co-stars "Lord of the Rings" alum Billy Boyd and English star Danny Dyer. Living up to its title, the film chronicles the day-to-day life of a street-hustling pimp and the many violent scenarios he often finds himself in. Given its 0% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, you might not be surprised to learn that it's a mess of a movie, brimming with tired cliches and stereotypes that make it all too transparent that it was only made for shock value.

Sadly, Chan's incredible talent is entirely wasted in the film, and we're betting she groans whenever someone brings it up.

Bernie Mac in House Party 3

When Michael Bay wanted to inject the first "Transformers" film with a little comic relief, he went big, casting comedian Bernie Mac in the movie as affable car salesman Bobby Bolivia. Beyond this appearance, Mac appeared in the cast of the "Ocean's Eleven" trilogy, and in plenty of '90s films and TV shows. He also had a long and successful career as a top standup comic. But one '90s comedy he might lament is a sequel that few remember: "House Party 3."

Led by the trendy hip-hop duo Kid 'n Play, the "House Party" series never had aspirations to be any kind of award-winner. The first film was a hit, but the series declined in quality after. By the time the third installment landed in 1994, it was little more than a pale imitation of itself, and it was hard to escape that most of the jokes were played out. In this third film, the kids are getting married and moving on from their wild teenage lives, but trouble at a bachelor party continues their wacky antics one more time. Mac plays the overbearing Uncle Lester in the film, and while his comedic genius certainly shines through, it's probably not a movie he was especially proud of.

Shia LaBeouf in The Christmas Path

Chosen to lead the first trilogy of "Transformers" films was fresh-faced actor Shia LaBeouf, a former Disney Channel star who'd transitioned to films by playing sidekick to bigger movie stars in hits like "I, Robot" and "Constantine." Graduating to star in his own franchise, he plays the human friend to the Autobots, teenaged Sam Witwicky, which sent his star power through the stratosphere. Since then, LaBeouf has been featured in some critically acclaimed films, but looking back at his early days, he must wish he could bury a title or two. 

One such film he'd likely want us to avoid highlighting is the 1998 holiday movie "The Christmas Path." A typical low-budget, made-for-TV flick intended to come and go over Christmas break, it stars LaBeouf as Cal, a 12-year-old boy who doesn't believe in Santa. When his lack of belief causes problems, it prompts a beleaguered angel to come to Earth and help him rediscover his faith.

A cheap, cheesy, and sentimental slog, the film isn't just bad — it's plain boring, and the young LaBeouf adds little to it. One of those movies that are intended to be forgotten, it's a dud that the actor probably wishes was thrown into a crackling Christmas yule log fire instead of living forever in his filmography.

Megan Fox in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

In the first "Transformers" film, Megan Fox plays opposite star Shia LaBeouf as Mikaela Banes, the unlikely bombshell girlfriend to geeky Sam Witwicky. The film catapulted Fox to superstardom, but she may not be proud of every movie she's been a part of. That includes one early film in particular — the 2004 teen comedy "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen." 

In the film, Fox appears alongside Lindsey Lohan, who plays Lola — a teenager who dreams of becoming a Broadway star. When her family relocates from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey, she faces a major culture shock. Enrolling in a small town high school, Lola befriends the outcast Ella (Allison Pill) and becomes rivals with the petty and vindictive Carla Santini (Fox).

Despite its modest box office success, this is one film that we don't have to guess if the star wants us to forget it, as Fox has outright said that's the case. "That was one of the first things I did," she told Entertainment Tonight in a 2019 interview that looked back on her career. "It's a shame that these things survived long enough to see the dawn of the Internet...It would be nice if it had eclipsed, like the Internet was born but these things had sort of fallen away and no one could find them. But here we are."

Hugo Weaving in Reckless Kelly

The menacing voice of Megatron in the "Transformers" movies is provided by actor Hugo Weaving, who's best known on screen for his roles as Agent Smith in the cast of the "Matrix" trilogy and Elrond in "The Lord of the Rings." However, his career hasn't been all iconic roles. Think you know the most embarrassing movie Hugo Weaver has ever appeared in? Well, give yourself a pat on the back if you remember actor and director Yahoo Serious and his bizarre 1993 flop "Reckless Kelly."

The Australian comic star Serious, whose fame bordered on being a fad, gained notoriety in the late 1980s with his spoof film "Young Einstein." He didn't produce another feature film for five years, ultimately returning to the big screen with "Reckless Kelly" — a comedy clunker in which he stars as the descendent of 1940s gangster Ned Kelly. Hugo Weaving appears in the film as Sir John, a villainous bank owner, and the silly way he plays the part tells you he knows the movie isn't very good.

Not nearly as clever as "Young Einstein," "Reckless Kelly" all but killed Serious' promising career. Thankfully, Weaving would survive.

Stanley Tucci in Jury Duty

Stanley Tucci made his first "Transformers" appearance in "Age of Extinction" as Joshua Joyce, head of an advanced robotics company. But what's curious about Tucci is that he returned in the following film as an entirely different character, playing the wizard Merlin in a section of the film set in the middle ages. A well-respected Hollywood veteran, Tucci has never been afraid of starring in films across any genre, which has inevitably led him to his share of regrettable projects. 

Case in point: His major role in the 1995 Pauly Shore comedy "Jury Duty." With little humor to be had, the film is a bigger joke itself than any gag you'll find in its barely-90-minute runtime. It's a movie so shockingly awful that it still sits at a laughable 0% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, despite decades worth of time for someone — anyone — to come forth with something positive to say about it. Roger Ebert called the film an "entry in the national Dumbing It Down sweepstakes." Yikes.

While the movie is famously terrible, most people tie it solely to '90s oddity Pauly Shore and completely forget that Tucci is also a major part of the film. It could have stayed that way, but we have a job to do.

Nicola Peltz in The Last Airbender

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" reset the franchise with an all-new cast led by Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager. Yeager's teenage daughter is played by Nicola Peltz. While the movie was savaged by critics and remains one of the worst-reviewed "Transformers" films, it's not actually the worst movie that Peltz has starred in. To the contrary, as much as she might be irked by the poor critical response to "Age of Extinction," it can't compare to "The Last Airbender."

An adaptation of the wildly popular animated series "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the film altered its title to avoid confusion with James Cameron's sci-fi epic. With celebrated director M. Night Shyamalan behind the camera and an enormous budget, it seemed primed to be a big hit, but it turned out to be one of the worst movies of the decade. There isn't much to say about how legendarily awful the film is that isn't summed up by the review from The Independent, which called it "breathtakingly clueless, misconceived, stupid, humorless, unexciting, dim, [and] dumb," with a "derivative plot, feeble characters, clunking dialogue, [and] embarrassingly bad 3D special effects."

No matter how Peltz may feel about it, "The Last Airbender" is a movie everyone probably wishes could be erased from our collective consciousnesses.