It’s not surprising that of the 120 columns I’ve posted on TheJay.com, “Keanu Reeves Does NOT Suck, And I Can Prove It” and “Just How Bland Is Orlando Bloom, Really?” have the most number of comments. The central figures of each post, the unintentionally awesome Keanu Reeves and the (hopefully for his sake) unintentionally bland Orlando Bloom, inspire fierce passion in their fans. On any given day I receive comments calling me all manor of awful things for my lambasting of the man who was Legolas, and an equal number of ego-boosting boot lickings for my loyal defense of the Wyld Stallyn himself, Ted “Theodore” Logan. What it comes down to, I think, is the disparity in how I view each of the actor’s respective talents, and my reader’s contrasting views on the subject.
In my mind, every actor has an innate “watchability” factor. They are either fun to watch, or they aren’t. For my money, Keanu Reeves very much is, while Orlando Bloom very much is not. This “watchability” factor comes from many elements, including but not limited to: looks, attitude, charisma, chemistry with other actors, ability to pick the right roles, behavior towards the press, representation in the press and general overall likeability. You can have a few of these elements, or all of them, but whatever the number, your presence on-screen equals a good time, all the time. Deep down, Orlando Bloom fans know that while he is as he calls himself on Ricky Gervais’s show Extras “objectively really good-looking”, he has zero chemistry, negative charisma, could cool down a horny Angelina Jolie, and is seen in the press as a sleazy, preening bohunk. This is why so many housewives send me 600 word opuses on the merits of Elizabethtown. If Orlando Bloom were so good in that movie I would have seen it. He wasn’t and I haven’t.
I always give second chances to actors I don’t like. Renée Zellweger won me back after several great talk show appearances and a subtle turn as Russell Crowe’s wife in Cinderella Man. Josh Lucas received a stay of execution for keeping me awake through Glory Road. Even Ashton Kutcher got a second look after I found myself guiltily charmed by A Lot Like Love. I’m always hoping that unwatchable actors will one day figure things out and make a movie I like. It’s always better to have more reasons to see a movie, than not to. Unfortunately, more often than not I find my first impression was the right one.
And that is why I will never enjoy watching Orlando Bloom. You can’t gain watchability, you can only lose it. It is far easier for watchable actors to become unwatchable (hello, John Travolta), than it is for unwatchable actors to become suddenly charismatic on the silver screen (the only recent example I can come up with is Ben Affleck, except I’ve always liked the Gigli. After all, he was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!).
I’ve already documented the actor’s I’ll always pay money to see, as well as the ones I refuse to pay for (in my piece “The $10 Buck List“), but I haven’t looked at unwatchable actors in a while (you can see my last pass on it HERE). So here now is another edition of “The 10 Most Unwatchable Actors In Hollywood”.
Whenever I make a list like this I usually have several criterion for making said list. Not here. The sole criterion is that at one time each actor was a guaranteed good time at the movies. And now, they are automatic visual insta-hurl.
The 10 Most Unwatchable Actors In Hollywood
10. Matthew Broderick - Broderick has been coasting off early returns longer than Josh Hartnett. I was in high school the last time I had a good time at a Broderick flick. And Ferris Bueller’s Day Off feels likes it came out before the last ice age (otherwise known as VHS). Here are Mr. Sarah Jessica Parker’s last four movies: Deck the Halls (execrable), The Producers (beyond ill-fated), The Last Shot (even a feisty Alec Baldwin couldn’t bring this one home), and The Stepford Wives (Broderick married to Nicole Kidman is the most improbable movie couple since Pauly Shore roofied Tia Carrere in Jury Duty). Total amounts of times I cracked a smile in those eight hours: .5 (after all, Christopher Walken did do a monologue in Stepford). I know it must be draining to be married to Carrie Bradshaw, what with having to put hay in her stable and keep her in platinum horseshoes and so forth; that doesn’t leave much energy for acting. Here’s to hoping someone slips the man a Red Bull and he starts doing more Election’s and less Inspector Gadget’s.
9. Samuel L. Jackson – A subtle trend has reared up over the past couple months: nobody likes Sam Jackson movies. Sure he’s the best in the business at droppin’ muthafuckin’ F-bombs, but at making watchable movies? Not so much. Just because he’s fun to watch, doesn’t mean his films are. Snakes on a Plane was supposed to be a sure-fire hit, and yet it bombed. Even the presence of Julianne Moore, a Top 5 actress in my book, couldn’t get me into the theater for Freedomland (nor did it bring in anyone else). The Man was an excuse to get Eugene Levy’s eyebrows into SAG. And he had the worst character arc of anyone in the Star Wars prequels (Lucas burned Sam so badly. Sam pimped his big fight scene for years, only to be given the lamest saber scene in the entire series. I’ve never been so bored watching two Jedi’s fight. Sam should lay some righteous Ezekiel 25:17 on King George as payback. Seriously.) When was the last time you enjoyed a Sam Jackson MOVIE (and don’t say The Incredibles, because voiceovers do not count)? Bottom line, Sam has bad taste in movies. He may enjoy slumming in camp, but I goddamn hate watching it.
Of course, if Black Snake Moan is anything close to what the trailers promise (graphic Christina Ricci nudity, Sam singing the blues, more graphic Christina Ricci nudity), you can pull Sam the Man off this list.
8. Nicole Kidman – Has made progressively worse movies since her nirvana period of Moulin Rouge, The Others and The Hours. I don’t know if the Oscar dulled her edge, or if the Keith Urban 2 a.m. drug wrangling has tired her out, or if the incessant Botox had a talent sucking side effect, but whatever the problem, she needs to fix it. And fast. Nicole has always had an eccentric taste in movies, choosing riskier pictures over safe studio clap trap (The Peacemaker notwithstanding). Unfortunately, her latest choices, while falling fairly in-line with her typical style, have failed to excite any feeling in me beyond nausea and indifference. The Interpreter was boring even with Sean Penn (“Is that my NATO ambassador in there!!!!”). Fur had Robert Downey Jr. playing the hairiest man on earth (a character I can relate to) and I still let it pass me by. Birth, while actually a fairly good movie in theory, failed to bring in the crowds. The Human Stain was the epitome of its title (i.e. a cinematic stain). And as for Cold Mountain, well, do you remember that movie? And if you do, was Nicole what you remember, or was it Renee being plucky? Or Natalie Portman trying desperately to bang Jude Law? Or The Jay snoring loudly in the corner? Later this year Nicole is releasing a big, splashy popcorn flick (The Invasion) with man of steel balls, Daniel Craig, about a global alien invasion, and I can’t even get a quarter stalk on my geek junk for it. And to think, I used to spend hours standing on a street corner in Northridge staring at her Far and Away billboard . The awesome wall of curly red hair was a long, long time ago.
7. Robin Williams – If I have to sit through one more goddamn movie of Robin doing stereotypical foreign voices and making bad rap jokes, I’m gonna punch a hole in my copy of Good Will Hunting. I have nothing more to add. Except this: RV, Man of the Year, Robots, Death to Smoochy, me barfing on my Aladdin Special Edition DVD.
6. Kevin Spacey – Shocking, I know, but still true. Spacey was once the King of Drama… back in 1995. But with the wazoo sucking that was Pay it Forward, The Life of David Gale, The Shipping News, Beyond the Sea, K-Pax and the straight-to-DVD Edison, I get woozy just trying to buy a movie ticket for one of his flicks. And don’t get me started on the supreme disappointment that was his Lex Luthor in Superman Returns. If Superman were wearing a kryptonite body suit, sipping on a Kryptotini, and futzing with his Kryptonite contact lenses, and all the energy he had left before dying was a half-hearted jab to the shoulder, he would still send Kevin Spacey hurtling into next Tuesday. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Maybe the greatest trick Kevin Spacey ever pulled was convincing the world he was a good actor.
5. Cameron Diaz – Talk about crazy, toothy grins. Her Joker-mouth scares the living bejeezus out of me to the point where I was afraid for Jude Law’s life in The Holiday. She almost ate Alfie whole in their love scene. But in all seriousness, I don’t like her movies. And I don’t like her in her movies. She may turn a profit for the studios, and a lot of guys may still pull it to her near topless shot in There’s Something About Mary, but she peaked in 1999 when she frumped down to great result in Being John Malkovich. Since then she went psycho in the too uneven Vanilla Sky, grossed me out in The Sweetest Thing, was a bigger liability than Leo’s accent in Gangs of New York and plumbed deeper depths of boring in In Her Shoes. I saw The Holiday for the Jack Black and Kate Winslet romance, but ended up nearly slitting my wrists with the edge of my Buncha Crunch box during the Cameron Diaz scenes. She was so vapid, so lifeless and so trashed-looking, I half expected Jude Law to call up his old friend Tom Ripley for a quick favor. I tell ya, that might have made her watchable again.
4. Tom Cruise – Personally, I still like watching him and don’t think he deserves to be here, but I can accept that the majority of Earth sees The Cruiser as a forever changed, lunatic starlet zombie-maker, whose jagged toothy grin is the central face of crazy. They’re angry that his psychotic stunts have altered the way they see his older movies. He retroactively made himself unwatchable. I don’t agree. A Few Good Men is just as steak sauce now as it was before he jumped the couch. For my money he still has the goods (M:I 3 was an underrated action movie), but for one slot on my list I’ll give way to the populace. I’m a generous cynic, if nothing else.
3. John Travolta – Who keeps giving this hair-plug wearing hippo chances? I haven’t seen name recognition float this far since Bush stole the White House in 2000 off his daddy’s bad name. Scientologists must really run Hollywood, or Travolta must be snapping down on someone really high up (is David Geffen still single? Did he and Keanu break up?). The list of his filmic atrocities runs higher than anyone else in the business. When I did this list in 2005 his crapsume looked like this: Battlefield Earth, Lucky Numbers, Basic, Domestic Disturbance, Swordfish, The Punisher. In just two years you can add on these beauties: Be Cool, A Love Song For Bobby Long (even Scarlett’s near-nudeness couldn’t make this film hold water) and the upcoming Wild Hogs (potentially his worst flick ever. Which reminds me… Tim Allen, this slot could easily have gone to you. Stop making Santa movies. I mean it.) That’s three more chances and three more bombs in two years. Seriously, he’s got to have nude pics of Spielberg getting reared by Rupert Murdoch. There’s NO other explanation for him still getting work.
2. Lindsay Lohan – Is she more unwatchable than Travolta, Diaz or Spacey? No, but she did fall the farthest and the quickest. La Lohan was poised to become the next big thing as recently as two and a half years ago. Since then this is what she has accomplished: Herbie Fully Loaded, anorexia, Just My Luck, a serious coke problem, a depressing SNL hosting gig, gave Brandon Davis four minutes of fame, a dissapointing guest stint on That 70′s Show, paid for Caribbean vacations for half the paparazzi in Hollywood with her high kick antics and firecrotch unveilings, and crushed the hearts of millions of underage boys who dreamed of whacking it to a primo squeaky clean redhead for the next decade. She may kill in her John Lennon biopic this year but I won’t see it because I don’t support fame whore. Or coke addicts. This girl needs to get slapped across the face with a copy of The Parent Trap on DVD, and fast.
1. Orlando Bloom – Would it be anyone else? I can distinctly remember walking out of Fellowship of the Rings nursing my sore butt, rubbing my eyes from the nap I took during the second act, nearly failing to keep my Elijah Wood-induced vomit down and thinking to myself “Damn, that elf was pretty kick ass!” I thought he was equally cool in The Two Towers and Return of the King. For all my harsh words, I do think he did some good work in the Rings movies. And I looked forward to seeing what else he could do beyond launching arrows at orcs and kidding around with Gimli. My enthusiasm was short-lived. If I saw an intriguing trailer starring anyone in slots 2-10 I would see it in the hopes I was wrong about them. But Bloom could star in Citizen Kane 2 and I would still avoid it. He could convert to Judiasm, start doing commercials for Jelly Beans and publicly bash Kirsten Dunst and I STILL would smack him down for being a wooden, charisma-less puddle of screen waste.
Of all the people on this list who once entertained me and now give me Johnny Drama-like rage issues, Orlando Bloom is the most unwatchable.
(Follow me on Twitter @jasonamatthews)