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The Romantic Comedy That Ruined Madonna's Acting Career

Madonna isn't known as the Queen of Pop for nothing. While her career in music has no real peer, at one time she also had a strong interest in acting, with roles in films like "Desperately Seeking Susan," "A League of Their Own," "Dick Tracy," and "Body of Evidence" showcasing her acting abilities to varying degrees. But for some reason, Madonna hasn't taken on too many acting jobs this century. Outside of some documentary appearances and a voice role in the 2006 animated film "Arthur and the Invisibles" (via IMDb), her acting career is a pale shade of what it once was during her heyday in the 80s and 90s.

Madonna hasn't said farewell to the silver screen completely. Fans of the "Agent Cody Banks" movies starring Frankie Muniz (who himself has stepped away from acting somewhat, as well) as a kid secret agent might be surprised to learn she served as executive producer on both films. Meanwhile, she is also slated to attempt the rare feat of directing the biopic about her own life herself in an upcoming untitled biopic project, explaining (per Entertainment Weekly), "Who better to tell it than me?" That film, not surprisingly, was said to have a brutal audition process for the title role.

However, Madonna's actual big screen acting roles have been scarce since a fateful project in the early 2000s that was ravaged by both critics and audiences.

Swept Away was a box office bomb that more or less killed her prospects as a movie star

The film in question is 2002's "Swept Away," starring Madonna and directed by her then husband Guy Ritchie. A remake of the critically acclaimed Italian satire of the same name by Lina Wertm├╝ller, the film deals with a privileged socialite (Madonna) who ends up stranded on a desert island with a luxury cruise deckhand (Adriano Giannini).

It should have been a home run, exactly the right combination of funny, unique, and exciting, with source material that matched Madonna's own taste for provocation. But instead, the film itself was something of a shipwreck, which led to devastating headlines like The Guardian's statement that the "Madonna and Ritchie film is swept away by tide of vitriol." Meanwhile, The Washington Post promised its readers that "Swept Away" was "as awful as you've heard, and as bad as you've imagined." Not the sort of reviews anyone hoped for, certainly.

Audiences were not much kinder, at least not with their wallets. Box Office Mojo has the film's pitiful worldwide gross barely cracking the $1 million margin, while its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a deep green 28 percent. While some notorious flops (think "Ishtar" or "Blade Runner") go on to achieve cult status, that doesn't appear to have happened with "Swept Away," and is unlikely to occur in the future. Later in 2002, Madonna sang the title song and appeared in a one-scene cameo in the James Bond adventure "Die Another Day," but apart from that she's mostly stayed away from acting. A look over the contemporary reviews of "Swept Away" is probably enough to explain why.