Many people debate about what exactly makes a great movie. Some people feel the director deserves all the praise. Some say it’s the writer who came up with the story to begin with, and others (such as me) believe that the actors are the ones who bring the film to life.
A great movie consists of all the above but I still miss the old days before franchises took over and a film stood on the shoulders of a great actor. Needless to say I have the utmost respect for thespians (I just wanted to say the word THESPIANS, immature I know).
Sometimes you have an otherwise great actor and get him to agree to a ridiculous role and they just go crazy with it. I wrote a recent article about the wealthiest superheroes of all time which eventually led me to think about that cringeworthy scene in Batman & Robin when George Clooney pulls out that Batman Credit Card and proclaims “Never leave the cave without it”.
Thinking about that movie and the almost equally horrible Batman Forever was my motivation for this article. Don’t worry, I didn’t include the entire cast (which I easily could have) and this isn’t JUST about those terrible Bat films. We’re going to cover plenty of otherwise great (or at least good) actors who just went too far with their roles. For better or worse I present 6 Hilariously Over-The-Top-Acting Performances:
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Batman & Robin
LET THE BATMAN BASHING BEGIN! Arnold Schwarzenegger was never really a great actor but that never stopped from appearing in some of the greatest films of all time. After his huge success in the late ‘80s early ‘90s with films like Terminator 2 and Total Recall Arnie must have really been sure of himself when he took the role of Mr. Freeze in the disastrous Batman & Robin.
When you look at his face as he delivers the worst one-liners in history you see nothing but the upmost confidence. Truth be told, even though I complain about how terrible this movie was I actually can’t help but to watch it whenever it comes on late night on cable. I’m a glutton for punishment I guess.
John Malkovich – Con Air
Now John Malkovich is actually a very good actor and it’s always strange to watch him being outrageously evil as Cyrus the Virus. Putting guns to a teddy bears head and making his co-star Nicolas Cage seem like the most reserved actor on the planet.
By the way, special honorable mention to Nicolas Cage. He has way too many over-the-top performances to count. If the Oscars gave honoree Oscars for the technique he would no doubt get the award.
Jim Carrey – Batman Forever
It’s easy to look back at Jim Carrey’s turn as The Riddler in Batman Forever with an audible “what were they thinking”; though you should keep it all in context. In the early ‘90s Mr. Carrey could do no wrong, after Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber and others he was basically a comedy god (at least when I was 10 years old).
At the time who else could have played The Riddler? The answer: maybe he shouldn’t have been a big-screen Batman villain to begin with. The Riddler is the least menacing on-screen superhero villain of all time, but Carrey loved every minute of it.
Gary Oldman – Leon: The Professional
This is the first entry on the list that went over-the-top in a good way. The Professional is a cult classic of sorts, introducing the world to a young Natalie Portman.
I won’t get into the entire story but Oldman plays an outrageously corrupt cop named Norman Stansfield. Snorting coke, breaking amendments and laws every chance he gets. Norman is easily one of the most interesting and entertaining movie villains of all time.
Al Pacino – The Devil’s Advocate
Al Pacino is without question one of the greatest actors of all time. From the Godfather to Scarface and Heat, the man is a legend. One hard truth is the fact that the man seemed to fall off a little in the late ‘90s. He just turned into a old cranky man who gets loud…like really loud!
His roles in his later years are mostly as such and no role exemplifies this more than his turn as the Devil lawyer in The Devil’s Advocate. If you need more proof check out this video of Al Pacino yelling at things; it’s hilarious I promise.
Jack Nicholson – The Shining
This is another example of an actor being over-the-top in a good way. Scratch that, a GREAT way. In Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining, Jack plays Jack Torrance- a writer who takes a job as an off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel and eventually goes batshit crazy.
The role really showed Nicholson pushing his acting abilities to the limits. No actor had ever really demonstrated this amount of dedication to his craft. This movie was surely horrifying upon its initial release but after all these decades and endless parodies (The Simpsons) it’s just become hilarious to watch all work and no play making Jack a dull boy.
Is there another performance you think should be included on this list? Let us know!
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Jesse Gumbarge is a fan of comic books and old-school horror flicks. You can read more of his ramblings’ at JarvisCity.com.