Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Disastrous Acting From People Who Weren't Actors

How do you become a famous movie star? Well, one road to Hollywood stardom is to already be famous for something else. Professional wrestlers, athletes, models, and others have an easier time than the rest of us getting cast in movies. In a lot of cases, it works out for everyone. Mark Wahlberg appears in enough successful and acclaimed films that it can be easy to forget he started out Feelin' It! Feelin' It! as Marky Mark. Will Smith was rapping about misunderstandings with parents long before he was fighting aliens with Tommy Lee Jones, and 2018's A Star Is Born earned Lady Gaga an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

But... in a lot of other cases things don't work out so well. You might assume acting would be a natural fit for a rapper, a model, or a wrestler because those professions have strong elements of theater. You could argue Dave Bautista is inhabiting a character in the wrestling ring just as much as he is in a Marvel flick, and the same could be said of Eminem on stage or Kendall Jenner during a photo shoot. But as the examples that follow prove, acting and performing are not necessarily the same thing. For every A Star Is Born there's a Cool as Ice. For every Men in Black there's a Freejack. Rounding up just some of the regrettable movies made by those who should've stayed in their wheelhouse, we present the most disastrous acting from people who weren't actors.

Fighting crime and good taste

1997's Steel was based on a Superman spinoff character. Inspired by Superman's example, genius weapons engineer John Henry Irons designs a suit that lends him abilities like super strength and flight, along with a formidable sledgehammer as a weapon. In 2017, writer/director Kenneth Johnson told Vice he never wanted to cast basketball pro Shaquille O'Neal as the lead, but he didn't have much choice — the studio "wouldn't budge a dime to place an actual movie star in the role." As a result the superhero flick earned a gross of $1.7 million, which didn't come close to breaking even with Steel's $18 million budget.

When it comes to the review aggregate scores you find on sites like Rotten Tomatoes, you'll sometimes find that films that were utterly destroyed by critics upon release — particularly those that came out before review aggregate websites were a thing — get much kinder treatment now. Almost as if the internet has collectively agreed the stinkers have suffered enough decades of unanimous thumbs down. This is not the case with Steel. The inevitable bomb of a movie has been saddled with a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is arguably between 11% and 12% more than it deserves. While few critics praise Shaq's performance, there's plenty of blame to go around. Among the criticisms Steel faces, most reviewers seem to think it was slow, boring, and campy in all the wrong ways.

Maybe stick to home movies?

Browse reviews of 2005's House of Wax and you'll find a number of the critics — like USA Today's Mike Clark — prioritize letting readers know it's a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price horror film in name only. They want to educate you, but at the same time they're clearly worried you'll confuse this disaster with something that might actually be worth your time.

Even Bloody Disgusting's Trace Thurman — who defended the slasher film on the tenth anniversary of its release — wrote that Paris Hilton's casting "was definitely a publicity stunt." Still, this is one of the kindest things you'll read about the hotel heiress' performance in House of Wax. Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide calls her "profoundly untalented." Some of the reviews are worth reading just to find out how many critics — including the ones for USA Today and Sacramento News & Review – report the audience bursting into cheers when Hilton's character is speared through the head. Proving that being famous for being rich doesn't mean you'll be left out of awards season, Hilton's performance earned her a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (beating out tough competition like Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Simpson, and Carmen Electra). 

Well, the poster looked good

In the early '90s you could hardly turn on a TV without seeing supermodel Cindy Crawford. She was in tons of commercials and on just as many magazine covers. That kind of exposure apparently wasn't enough for the supermodel, because in 1995 she made the decision to star in an action movie with a Baldwin — and not Alec. 

In Fair Game, Crawford plays Miami lawyer Kate McQuean, who is being pursued by former members of the KGB. Detective Max Kirkpatrick (William Baldwin) is there to help protect her. The critical consensus seems to be that as far as Crawford and Baldwin's acting talents are concerned... they're both very physically attractive.

Washington Post's Hal Hinson called Fair Game "fast, slick and dumb as a post." In regards to Crawford's acting, Hinson didn't seem to think there was much to say. "Even if Crawford has real acting talent," Hinston writes, "[Fair Game] doesn't give her a chance to express it." According to Hinson, Crawford's there, like Baldwin, to be a "superb physical specimen" and little else. Malcolm Johnson of the Hartford Courant was less forgiving, writing that Crawford's acting "ranges from passable to pathetic" but agreeing that the film was no showcase for acting talent and instead was "more about jogging and sprinting than anything else, except for shooting." 

Apparently Fair Game's stars weren't enough to get audiences excited: Fair Game's domestic gross was $11.5 million against a $50 million budget.

As an actor, he's a great wrestler

You could argue that sometimes critics are too harsh with actors. After all, an actor might deliver a poor performance, but the critics delivering their negative reviews weren't on set to see the challenges those actors had to endure. Maybe the director chose a filming location besieged by horrible weather. Maybe the lead was contending with a difficult illness or a family tragedy during production. Or maybe the actor had to deal with the kind of insurmountable task Hulk Hogan found himself facing while making 1993's Mr. Nanny – having to perform without constantly ripping off his shirt.

Hogan's family comedy Mr. Nanny was a bomb, and the critics who sliced it to pieces may have been the only ones who saw it. Washington Post's Jane Horwitz called it "a dumbed-down variation on Kindergarten Cop" and other critics likewise compared it unfavorably to better movies like Home Alone and Mr. Mom

Perhaps the most memorable thing about Mr. Nanny had nothing to do with Hogan's predictably bad acting. In a now-infamous sequence that mostly just shows Hogan riding a motorcycle, the filmmakers failed to edit out something strange — and quite possibly criminal — taking place in the background. At one point as Hogan drives near water, you can see a man throwing a dog into the ocean. It isn't clear why the man's doing it, but he doesn't throw the dog gently

Everything Zen? We don't think so

If you were to make a list of the top films that disappointed comic book fans, 2005's Constantine would have a fair chance at being on the list. Starring Keanu Reeves as the occult detective John Constantine, the film is based on an enigmatic and morally ambiguous DC Comics character created by Alan Moore. Appearing in Constantine in the relatively minor role of the half-demon Balthazar is Gavin Rossdale, best known as the frontman for the rock band Bush. 

The critics who hated Constantine didn't mince words about it. Reviewers felt it had all the CGI and style that would enhance a better movie, but unfortunately was a confusing mess that strayed as far as it could from the comic book source material. Newsweek's David Ansen wrote that Constantine "peaks early, then descends into portentous nonsense." 

Rossdale's hardly mentioned in any writing on the movie, which is fitting. His lame, forgettable portrayal of Balthazar doesn't need to be recorded anywhere. And if it is mentioned, it should be as just another symptom of what made Constantine agonizing to watch.

Should've waited for Queen to do a movie first, too

Vanilla Ice made a movie.

Okay, maybe we should say more than that.

Known for proving to the world with his hit single "Ice Ice Baby" that he'd heard Queen's "Under Pressure," rapper Vanilla Ice starred in the romantic musical comedy Cool as Ice in 1991. Ice's character, the rapper/drifter Johnny Van Owen, comes to a small town where he meets Kathy (Kristin Minter). They fall for each other, she dumps her boyfriend for Johnny, and eventually we learn Kathy's father Gordon (Michael Gross) is in witness protection — meaning all kinds of trouble for everybody, and opportunity for Ice to prove to us he's as much of a hero as we all know he is.

With a modest budget of $6 million, Cool as Ice still bombed, grossing only $1.2 million, and its score at Rotten Tomatoes is a whopping 7%. The film is just as bad as you would imagine it would have to be. Washington Post's Richard Harrington put it best when he wrote, "Having established that he can't rap or dance, Vanilla Ice now adds acting to his resume — call it the tri-imperfecta of pop."

It's a hit in North Korea

Long before his retirement from professional basketball and before he started hanging out with North Korean despots, former pro basketball player Dennis Rodman achieved the dream most ball players aspire to when joining the NBA — he co-starred in an action comedy with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Released in 1997, Double Team features Rodman as the arms dealer Yaz, who teams up with counterterrorist agent Jack (Van Damme) to help save Jack's wife Kathryn (Natacha Lindinger) from the vengeful Stavros (Mickey Rourke). 

In spite of its star power and endless stream of basketball gags, Double Team bombed horribly, with a lifetime gross of $11.4 million. Critics ripped it to shreds, blaming its horrible acting (and not just from Rodman) and its ridiculous story. No one seemed particularly impressed with Rodman's acting chops. Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle wrote that no, Rodman couldn't act, but he wasn't there to act. His only job in Double Team, Savlov wrote, is to act cool. Savlov wrote that Rodman "acts, looks, and probably eats cool," but does little else. And he doesn't have complimentary things to say about the performances of Van Damme or Rourke either.

Roger Ebert looked at Rodman's performance a little bit differently. The late critic wrote that Rodman actually does a pretty decent job. Specifically, he wrote that Dennis Rodman "does a splendid job of playing a character who seems in every respect to be Dennis Rodman."

You're not GIVING satisfaction either

New Zealand director Geoff Murphy worked with Emilio Estevez on 1990's Young Guns II, which may be why he tapped the actor two years later for the lead in the dystopian sci-fi action bomb Freejack. Years later on the Late Show with David Letterman, the host asked guest Anthony Hopkins — who plays Freejack's chief antgonist – what kind of movie Freejack was, presumably meaning the genre. Hopkins answered simply, "It's a terrible film."

In the future, the rich use time travel to snatch people from the past moments before death and then transfer their consciousnesses into the younger, healthier bodies. If any of the people kidnapped from the past escape, they're called Freejacks and are pursued by bounty hunters like Vacendak (Mick Jagger). Emilio Estevez plays Jack Furlong, a race car driver yanked into the future to give more life to the powerful CEO Ian McCandless (Hopkins). 

Reviewers hated Freejack, and Rolling Stones' frontman Mick Jagger's performance was at least a small part of that disappointment. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Jagger's performance was lazy, bemoaning a trend of rock stars-turned-movie stars who refused to learn "that in front of the movie camera it's not enough to coast on aura. One must do as well as be." 

To be fair, Jagger's performance was hardly the worst thing about Freejack. Most critics point out its dystopian setting gives the potential for social commentary, but the movie instead devolves into mindless action.

Was the wrestling ring that bad?

Considering he seems to be legally required to appear in just about every other movie not to mention his HBO series Ballers, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's career might inspire a lot of other professional wrestlers to keep Hollywood in their sights. But before any of them leave the ring behind and pack their bags, they should take a gander at "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's lead role in 2007's The Condemned

In what the New York Post's V.A. Musetto calls a "bad ripoff" of "Battle Royale and the 1932 U.S. Classic The Most Dangerous Game," ten convicts are released on an island in Papua New Guinea and told to fight to the death for their freedom. The violence is broadcast live and the convicts are promised that the last man standing will be rich and free when it's all over.

Critics categorized it as a soulless, bloody action flick that traded minor things like story and character for as much wanton violence as possible. ReelFilm wrote that The Condemned's "complete lack of compelling characters" made it "extremely difficult to care who lives and who dies." Austin's performance is often singled out, and not in great ways. Musetto from the New York Post quipped that "compared to [Steve Austin], Wesley Snipes is Laurence Olivier."

Always be your baby... until Glitter

Mariah Carey's semi-autobiographical romantic musical drama Glitter was released on September 21, 2001 — ten days after the horrible terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. Portraying a young singer on her way to stardom, Carey flopped horribly with Glitter, which earned a gross of $5.3 million against its $22 million budget. 

Carey blamed the movie's failure on 9/11, and while the attacks and the aftermath doubtlessly had a hand in Glitter's failure to get butts in seats, reviewers were all but unanimous that the movie wasn't worth seeing regardless. Cinema Crazed's Felix Vasquez accused the musical of being a "horrific vanity piece" and labeled everything about the film, including Carey's acting, "amateur." Neil Smith from the BBC thought all the "corniness" and "cliche" of Glitter could have worked if some irony were injected into the story. "Unfortunately," he lamented, "Carey plays it straight, an approach that only draws attention to her lack of acting ability."

In November 2018, Carey appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and mentioned the #JusticeForGlitter movement of fans hoping for the movie's soundtrack to get the attention they feel it deserves. Carey said she never performs songs from the album because of the "tough time" she endured after the film's release.

Is he awake?

Johnny Depp claimed that the two main inspirations for his portrayal of Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow were the randy cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew and legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. The filmmakers paid tribute to the human half of that equation by casting the actual Keith Richards as Captain Teague in 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Richards' appearance in At World's End is relatively brief. He appears in the Brethren Court — a gathering of the pirate lords — for whom Teague serves as "Keeper of the Code." By the end of the scene we learn Teague is Sparrow's father and apparently keeps Jack's mother's shrunken skull hanging from his belt. He appears again in the film's final battle, and reprises the role in 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Richards' acting wasn't the worst you'll ever see and considering the flick grossed $963 million, it certainly didn't hurt ticket sales. But Keith Richards never seems like anything but Keith Richards. Cover him in makeup and throw as many costume pieces on him as you want, but Richards comes off as barely awake and never seems as threatening as he's supposed to be. Whenever the other pirates act like Richards is as intimidating as Darth Vader, you're left wondering who they're so scared of. If they just walked away from him a little bit faster than normal he'd probably fall asleep before he caught them.