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10 Actors who Stood Out Like Sore Thumbs in Period Films
Bad Casting Decisions Etched In Movie History
By Tim Janson
March 18, 2010
Period films and costume epics have been a staple of Hollywood since the silent era when directors were cranking their cameras by hand. Through period films we can relive great moments in history or look to the future. But not every actor is capable of looking good in a toga or a powdered wig. There have been many missteps in casting over the years as directors try to fit square pegs into round holes with actors who have no business in being in a period film. Presented here is our list for 10 of the absolute worst cases of actors who stood out like sore thumbs in period films
10. Kate Capshaw - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
We hate to bag on Kate but the only good role she’s ever played is that of Mrs. Steven Spielberg. Even a director as talented as Spielberg could not make Capshaw the least bit believable as a nightclub singer in 1930s Shanghai. Kate vied with Ke Huy Quan (Shortround), as being the two worst things about the second Indiana Jones film. Not coincidentally, her acting career fizzled soon after this film.
9. Brad Pitt - Troy
This retelling of Homer’s “Iliad” concerning the Trojan War was a classic example of Hollywood overindulgence, dispensing with any remnant of being faithful to Greek mythology in order to allow actors to play dress up. There was no greater transgression than that of Brad Pitt as the hero Achilles. Rule #1: Don’t let pretty boys dress up as warriors…
8. Keanu Reeves - Much Ado About Nothing
This film adapts the Shakespeare comedy and was directed by notable Shakespearian actor Kenneth Branagh… all very good. Except that someone thought it would be a good idea to cast Keanu Reeves as Don John. Now I’m tempted to believe that Reeves stands out like a sore thumb in any film that doesn’t have “Matrix” in its title but seriously… Shakespeare? Who didn’t expect Reeves to say, “Hey Don Pedro, dude!”
7. Jeffrey Jones - Sleepy Hollow
Jones has become best known for roles in which be played sneaky characters such as the Principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In Tim Burton’s adaptation of Washington Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow,” Jones played Reverend Steenwyck. Complete with a ridiculous powdered wig, Jones looked like a drag queen who couldn’t afford to buy a more expensive outfit.
6. Matthew Broderick - Ladyhawke
After starring in War Games and before charming us in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Broderick starred in this fantasy film as a thief named Phillipe. Now the only thing more effeminate than the name of this film is the way Broderick is clinging to Rutger Hauer in the scene pictured below. Suffice to say that Broderick has stuck to more contemporary roles since then.
5. Edward G. Robinson - The Ten Commandments
Edward G. Robinson made a career out of playing tough gangster roles in films such as Little Caesar, Smart Money, and The Last Gangster. In Cecil B. DeMille’s grand biblical epic he played a Hebrew slave named Dathan, who betrayed his own people as an Egyptian informant. Now we can buy Yul Brynner as Rameses but hearing Robinson in his New York accent and lisp, say “Where’s your SHAVIOR NAW?” is one of the great lines in cinema.
4. Farrah Fawcett - Saturn 3
We love Farrah Fawcett, God rest her soul. For young males who grew up in the 1970s, she was our goddess. Fawcett was still a few years away from proving her acting ability in films like The Burning Bed when she co-starred in this film. Saturn 3 is one of the worst sci-fi films of the 1980s. The only thing sillier than Fawcett being in the film is that she played the love interest of Kirk Douglas, thirty years her senior. Of course, she did have a brief topless scene, the one redeeming quality to the film.
3. James Earl Jones - Conan the Barbarian
Jones played evil wizard Thulsa Doom in the 1982 adventure fantasy. Now not only was Thulsa Doom NOT a Conan villain (He was actually a Kull villain) but he was always depicted as having a skull for a head. Essentially, Jones was playing Conan foe Thoth-Amon, the snake-worshipping wizard but I guess the producers thought the name Thulsa Doom sounded better. Still, Jones, as leader of a hippie-like group of flower loving cultists looked positively ridiculous in his costumes and shoulder length hair.
2. Wilt Chamberlain - Conan the Destroyer
Not to be outdone by James Earl Jones, the Conan
films offered even a worst casting choice, that of former basketball star Wilt Chamberlain as the villainous warrior Bombaata. Sure he was tall and fairly muscular but there was just one problem…the guy couldn’t act. He made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like an Oscar winner. His performance was just one of the many reasons a third Conan movie was never made.
1. John Wayne - The Conqueror
John Wayne is one of the greatest American actors and the ultimate tough guy. Best known for his western and war films, Wayne made a huge mistake when took the role of Mongol warrior Genghis Khan in this 1956. It’s a toss-up to what was worse… Wayne made to look like a Mongol warrior or his trying to feign an Asian accent. Making matters worse, the film was shot only 130 miles away from the Nevada nuclear testing site. Several cast members, including Wayne, would pass away from cancer.
Oh, the bad casting choices. Hollywood. If Hollywood choices bother the crap out of you, check out 6 Annoying Things Hollywood Needs to Stop Doing John Wayne's passing was mentioned, you should also read 4 Actor's Deaths More Shocking Than a Movie
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