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10 Actors Hollywood Tried And Failed To Make Happen

by The Playlist Staff
July 31, 2013 1:21 PM
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Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner
Attempts At The Big Time: "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D," (2005) 'The Twilight Saga' (all 5 films, 2008-2012), "Valentine's Day" (2010), "Abduction" (2011), "Grown-Ups 2" (2013, uncredited cameo)

Where Did It All Go Wrong? One image always comes to mind when we think of Taylor Lautner’s career in relation to those of his two more successful “Twilight” co-stars: a little fat wheezy kid constantly playing catch-up yelling “Hey guys! Wait up!” between blasts on his inhaler. While human protein shake Lautner is himself anything but tubby, and as far as we know, untroubled by asthma, his short resume outside the “Twilight” films really does gasp for air, and this is despite the guy’s obvious ambition and work ethic. The terrible would-be actioner “Abduction” not only starred Lautner, but was the debut production of his very own shingle Tailor Made Entertainment. Which is clever and funny because his name is Taylor!!?!! LOL.

But Lautner’s transparency about what he wants is almost endearing—not for him the auteur-driven “serious actor” path to which Robert Pattinson aspires. Lautner wants to be an action star, and for a while there, Hollywood seemed to want that too. In fact, in the faraway land of 2009/2010, Lautner caused something of a bidding war for which based-on-a-toy action star he would take on. First signed as Mattel’s “Max Steel” for Paramount, when he was still in the thick of his role as moony werewolf Jacob Black, suddenly reports of Lautner being the Next Big Thing were everywhere, and Universal, itself with Hasbro’s “Stretch Armstrong” in the cards, also took the bait. At first, it seemed like The World’s Highest-Paid Teen Actor TM might do both, but the rivalries not just between movie studios, but between the two biggest toy manufacturers made that untenable, and Lautner quietly disengaged from “Max Steel." Sadly for him, Universal then saw the numbers on “Abduction” and cooled considerably on ‘Stretch,’ which has since found a new home at Relativitysans Lautner.

Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 Kristen Stewart Robert Pattinson Taylor Lautner Mackenzie Foy

So look, Lautner’s obviously not our cup of tea, and he literally has not got a single decent film to his name (depending on how you feel about “Sharkboy and Lavagirl”), but it does seem he’s something of a victim of the weird Hollywood buzz machine. Something bright and shiny like a Hasbro movie might have been just the ticket to find him a new audience, but testing his suitability for that with the deathly dull “Abduction” seems off. That was never a film that Lautner’s established female fanbase wanted to see, and why were teen boys (presumably the core potential audience) going to flock to watch the guy who played the permanently friendzoned werewolf who fell in love with a baby in "Twilight"?

With an icy silence surrounding his erstwhile Michael Bay team-up and his next mooted YA project “Incarceron” the only thing inked on Lautner’s dance card is the upcoming Tracers" (logline: a bike messenger fleeing danger gets drawn into the world of parkour by a beautiful stranger). However he did have a potential gig with Gus Van Sant and writer Dustin Lance Black, both of whom need a hit after their last films and have the chops to maybe give Lautner an indie career. It just remains to be seen if he can show us anything other than abs and his “Blue Steel” face in terms of acting range to warrant such a chance.

Any Thoughts? "Number one, nothing comes without hard work... And two, you have to be persistent. You've got to keep pushing, keep driving, because in this business, you're going to hear 'no' a lot more than you hear 'yes... You never know, in this business, when it's going to come to an end," he said in a 2010 interview with Michigan's MLive.

Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington
Attempts At The Big Time: "The Great Raid" (2005), "Terminator Salvation" (2009), "Avatar" (2009), "Clash Of The Titans" (2010), "The Debt" (2010), "Last Night" (2010), "Man On A Ledge" (2012), "Wrath Of The Titans" (2012), "Drift" (2013)

Where Did It All Go Wrong? It might seem a touch unfair for the star of the biggest-grossing movie of all time, James Cameron's "Avatar," to make this list. And indeed, for about six months in 2010, it looked like Sam Worthington might be on the way to being a legitimate box-office draw. But when you compare his career path to that of the male lead of Cameron's previous billion-dollar grosser "Titanic," it's clear that Worthington is not going to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio. The Australian actor started out with a few small roles in Southern Hemisphere-shot pictures like "Hart's War" and "Dirty Deeds" before legitimately impressing in the indie "Somersault." A small role in the WWII picture "The Great Raid" followed, along with the lead in a not-so-great contemporary version of "Macbeth," but then along came Cameron.

"Avatar" was in post for years, but Hollywood didn't wait to cast Worthington in some of their biggest tentpoles, with the actor wrapping both "Terminator: Salvation" and "Clash of the Titans" ahead of the release of "Avatar." The 'Terminator' picture was actually released six months ahead of it and while it didn't perform badly, few were particularly enthusiastic about the movie, or the actor's turn as secret robot Marcus Wright. He was better in "Avatar," if not immediately making a case for all the hype and only a few months later, 'Clash' surfed the 'Avatar' 3D wave to big box office numbers too. It was about as solid a start to an A-list career as you could ask for, but things have been tougher since.

Wrath Of The Titans Sam Worthington

To his credit, Worthington moved towards tougher fare but while "The Debt" was a modest hit (and features one of his better turns), "Texas Killing Fields" and "Last Night" both mostly disappeared on the festival circuit and Worthington never seemed at home in either. 2012 was worse, with the actor leading two studio pictures in the first few months of the year, "Man On A Ledge" that tanked and sequel "Wrath Of The Titans" which significantly undergrossed its predecessor and pretty much killed the franchise (if anything, Worthington had gotten worse in the second film). He flirted with various other big projects in the intervening years—a "Dan Dare" reboot, "Quatermain," "Dracula: Year Zero," comic book adaptation "The Last Days Of American Crime"—but few materialized (including a pair of more recent sci-fi actioners) and his only movie this year is this week's surfing movie "Drift."

Now, he looks to be returning to the kind of indie fare he got his start in, with civil war drama "The Keeping Room" and Philip Noyce's "For The Dogs" coming up, but it's a mark of how his star has fallen that his next studio flick is playing second fiddle to Arnold Schwarzenegger in David Ayer's "Sabotage." Worthington's competent enough, but he's never seemed entirely comfortable with the American accent, and can come across as bland. Still, there's always future "Avatar" movies, although any profile boost from those will be negligible.

Any Thoughts? Worthington expressed regrets over "Clash Of The Titans" in 2012 to the Daily Telegraph: "I was disappointed with my performance. I was a fucking bland action dude. I don’t think I created a character and I screwed up. When it comes to 3D, I’ve been in the movie that got revered the most [Avatar] and the movie that got slated the most.”

Alex Pettyfer

Alex Pettyfer
Attempts At The Big Time: "Stormbreaker" (2006), "Wild Child" (2008), "Tormented" (2009), "I Am Number Four" (2011), "Beastly" (2011), "In Time" (2011), "Magic Mike" (2012)

Where Did It All Go Wrong? After the success of 'Harry Potter,' and with a swathe of young adult adaptations brewing, the end of the last decade saw cheekboned English public schoolboys being shipped to the U.S. in volume. Some became instant pin-ups (see: R-Patz), some barely seemed to get off the starting blocks (spare a thought, and ideally some change, for "Eragon" lead Ed Speleers), but few appeared to have the world at their feet in the way that Alex Pettyfer did. The actor was just fifteen when he filmed junior-James-Bond British actioner "Stormbreaker," a modest hit at home, which was followed by Emma Roberts teen-com "Wild Child" and horror "Tormented," before he was snapped up by DreamWorks to star in hotly-tipped young-adult sci-fi "I Am Number Four."

With that film in the can, and supernatural romance "Beastly" also on the way, he suddenly became the toast of Hollywood: DreamWorks were developing a biopic of racing driver James Hunt (soon to be played by Chris Hemsworth in Ron Howard's "Rush"), and Pettyfer was offered the lead in YA adaptation "The Mortal Instruments," with Screen Gems allegedly so high on him that they wouldn't greenlight the film without him. Pettyfer soon bailed on the project (which got made anyway) in favor of the film that became "The Seventh Son," and was linked with a host of other high-profile gigs, including "Jack The Giant Slayer," "The Bourne Legacy," "The Hunger Games," and even the chance get peed on by Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy."

Alex Pettyfer, Channing Tatum, Magic Mike

But suddenly, whispers started, culminating in a hit piece in The Hollywood Reporter that, essentially, said Pettyfer was a bit of a dick. Bad behavior on the set of "I Am Number Four," and on the marketing trail for "Beastly" was reported, as well as Pettyfer allegedly asking for a $10 million payday for 'Mortal Instruments,' and most of the other gigs dried up, including "The Seventh Son." Steven Soderbergh came to the rescue, offering Pettyfer a co-lead in stripper picture "Magic Mike," alongside Channing Tatum. But Pettyfer seemed to blow it. He's fine in the movie, but rumor has it he alienated both Soderbergh and Tatum on set, to the extent that he was excluded from the later stages of the press tour. The story's not necessarily over: Pettyfer has a few gigs coming up, including a supporting turn in Lee Daniels' "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and the lead in the "Endless Love" remake, but they're not quite the world-beating offers he was getting a couple of years back. Lesson to prospective A-listers: don't let it go to your head too fast.

Any Thoughts? Pettyfer told VMan Magazine, around the time of the release of "Beastly": "L.A. is growing on me a little bit but it's still a shit hole. I think it's this insidious pool where nearly everyone lives in fear. Geographically it's fantastic, but socially it's disgusting. I wish they'd run all of the cunts out... Being an actor is like being in prison. You go, you serve your time, you try and replicate Johnny Depp's career and then you move to Paris."

Skeet Ulrich

Skeet Ulrich
Attempts At The Big Time: "The Craft" (1996), "Scream" (1996), "The Newton Boys" (1998), "Chill Factor" (1999), "Ride With The Devil" (1999)

Where Did It All Go Wrong? Something of a blast from the past, but Skeet Ulrich (now principally a TV face most recently seen on "Law & Order: Los Angeles," and featured in a pilot from "Homeland" creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa called "Anatomy Of Violence" that wasn't picked up) was in many ways the Taylor Kitsch of his day. He started off as an extra before studying at NYU and landing with the Atlantic Theater Company. After a CBS special, Ulrich had a clutch of roles in 1996 that got him noticed: as Winona Ryder's boyfriend in "Boys," Sharon Stone's brother in death row drama "Last Dance," a role in Kevin Spacey's directorial debut "Albino Alligator," and most memorably, he figured as sinister love interest in two big horror hits, "The Craft" and "Scream."

It was the latter in particular, where Ulrich played boyfriend/eventual killer Billy Loomis, that really got him heat, and after featuring on the famous Vanity Fair Hollywood cover of that year (albeit relegated behind the second fold with fellow never-quite Jonathan Schaech and some guy called Will Smith), landed a couple of roles the following year. First came Paul Schrader's undervalued "Touch," then a smaller role in the Oscar-winning "As Good As It Gets." These seemed to confirm Ulrich's rising star, and he was soon stacking up leads—joining Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater's Western "The Newton Boys," and reteaming with Cuba Gooding Jr. for "Chill Factor."

Skeet Ulrich Jericho

But neither film landed: Linklater's picture was a famous flop, and "Chill Factor" did about as well as you'd hope a movie best described as "'Speed' in an ice-cream van" would. There was one more big picture to come, alongside fellow rising star Tobey Maguire as the co-lead in Ang Lee's Civil War movie "Ride With The Devil." Again, Ulrich is decent in the film, which is undervalued, but it failed to connect with any kind of audience after lukewarm reviews (making only $635,000 on a $40 million budget).

Since then, Ulrich's movie roles have been scarce ("Armored" being the most notable), but he's carved out a fair niche for himself on TV thanks to cult show "Jericho" and his "Law & Order" stint. He was never lacking in talent, but perhaps never quite carved out his own identity (we still confuse him with Stephen Dorff, to be honest, while early on he looked almost distractingly Johnny Depp-like), and while his choices were often honorable, the films themselves never quite took hold. Still, he's only one Sofia Coppola-advocacy away from a return to the big screen...

Any Thoughts? Ulrich told Interview magazine back in 1996, as his movies were about to hit: "Whatever labels are being pinned on me have nothing to do with me. I think people could justify labeling me if they saw a pattern in what I do, but right now that's impossible. As for being a magazine pinup, that's the machine—it's not really me. They could say I was the next Max Perlich, but it'd still be me."

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  • EB | April 26, 2014 2:12 AMReply

    The word "tentpole" is used 8 times in this article.

  • Jakin | August 31, 2014 5:21 AM

    Shit man... Is there a law against it?? You can only use it 7 times?? Jerk..

  • B.B. | April 8, 2014 1:45 PMReply

    Some interesting points brought up but really, now. These actors you deem 'failed' are to me under-the-radar actors who have done cool but obscure movies. Your mention of Clive Owen is ridiculous - his performances in Sin City and Closer were great.

  • Troy | February 22, 2014 1:48 AMReply

    Some of these guys are still young enough "to make happen"

  • Jay | December 26, 2013 6:59 PMReply

    Add Shia Labeouf to that list, his career is non-existent nowadays after he left Transformers.

  • Cheistophet Orseth | December 25, 2013 9:11 PMReply

    I do not agree with at least some of these actors on this list.

  • carmeisha eans | December 15, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    I want to play a part

  • James | December 12, 2013 10:37 PMReply

    I am surprised you mentioned Taylor Lautner but not Kellan Lutz.

  • Alex | December 12, 2013 10:24 PMReply

    You missed Hayden Christensen and Armie Hammer, and I like several of the other actors here, and that includes Sam Worthington and Josh Hartnett. I like Lucky Number Slevin, very much as a matter of fact, and I hope he makes a comeback. I believe, and I was talking about it with a friend who is insane about action films and the lack of young action stars, that Taylor Lautner is perfect, tailor made for that position. He is a natural athlete, he is in amazing shape, and has no big acting skills, so, tailor made! Just give the kid a chance, he is still very young. As for Alex Pettyfer, he is being punished for speaking frankly. He is good looking, he is a good actor and has screen presence; he just needs a better publicist, that's all, and a manager who can take care of him; after all, isn't that what managers are for? I like Ryan Reynolds better when he is not doing comedies, like Safe House and Buried. Never thought a film like Buried would keep me intersted from beginning to end, and he's the only actor onscreen. And come on! John Carter is not a masterpiece, but there are SO many bad films, I really don't get why this one in particular was so cursed. I am sure Taylor Kitsch will be back as well.

  • chrissy | December 9, 2013 4:51 PMReply

    Erm...Speaking as an Actress who is currently working on a job that pays equity minimum, this article is a crock! For the most part these Actors are HUGE stars...Not everybody is going to have Brad Pitt's career and why should they, they are all different actors bringing different things to the industry. Just because an actor isnt on a path to "leading man" does not mean theyve failed to make it happen. Everyone has their own path and all of them are young enough/hot enough/popular enough to still make some extremely successful movies. In anycase they have all had successes, made a bucket load of money and are in the public eye.
    If you are calling these people failures then what the hell are the rest of us!!!!! Get real.

  • Werner Kyne | November 29, 2013 10:38 PMReply

    I feel it is justified to add Russell Crowe to the list.
    Started small in NZ/OZ got big quick in Hollywood quite early and then fizzled ever since.
    Everything after The Insider was just going through the payday motions and his Superman cameo did not impress - though the suit of armour was badass, just not on a not very tall, 50 year old greying guy with a paunch.
    He is not a man who is ageing well.
    I hear his Noah gig may go straight to DVD, as a few of his recent films have.
    If only Mel stayed in Australia - he'd still be at the top of his game, and Crowe irrelevant.

  • Sal | November 29, 2013 8:51 PMReply

    Sam Worthington, yes.
    How about another Aussie in Myles Pollard?
    Graduated from same class as Worthington and was instantly a success, where the other was not.
    Pollard now just doing small DSLR shot features and online shorts, plus some pokey TV here and there.
    But of course he is not yet listed here and Worthington is, so perhaps all is not lost for Pollard just yet.

  • Paul Muller | November 29, 2013 3:55 PMReply

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  • noname | November 29, 2013 3:10 AMReply

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  • Moniqu | November 28, 2013 2:59 AMReply

    I really like Colin Farrell but I think I'd like to see him as a bad guy. He looks and seems like he would make a very good QUIET and sexy villain. I definitely like him as an actor but he does need to expand his character types. Perhaps he would be good in a romantic comedy. ?? If he has done one then forgive me. lol

  • Daniel Mann | November 26, 2013 2:02 AMReply

    This great information , you need your imdb.

  • Stampece | November 9, 2013 1:25 AMReply

    Ever see a movie made before 1990?

  • ken lang | November 3, 2013 8:41 PMReply

    (underscore does not show up on my email even though I typed it in right after ken.)

    I just now read this column. Were there previous editions? Because I'd like to know if Travis Fimmel ever appeared here.

  • Allie | November 3, 2013 2:24 AMReply

    Sean Bean, Alec Baldwin, and Rutger Hauer.

  • jon | October 25, 2013 12:52 PMReply

    Where the hell is Pia Zadora?

  • you | October 1, 2013 6:07 PMReply


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  • fran | September 11, 2013 3:39 PMReply

    Umm.. I'm pretty sure they've made it they have all starred in big Hollywood movies movies and are probably filthy rich!

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  • John | August 14, 2013 8:05 AMReply

    Some of the actors on this list - namely Colin Farrell and Ryan Reynolds - don't really belong under the title 'tried and made it fail to happen'. Next to Farrell's name you've listed 11 movies in 10 years, with half of them being profitable. His problem - along with most box office flops - is that he has this ability to pick scripts which are destined to fail.

    I can usually immediately tell whether or not a film is going to make a significant return by reading a synopsis and looking at the title, and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people can. But it doesn't matter who you are, if you are offered a huge budget box office film you're not going to turn it down. What puzzles me is how the studios sign off on some of them.

  • verss | August 11, 2013 3:12 AMReply

    I saw Josh Hartnett in London at a play "Rain Man" (character Charlie Babbitt) and was amazing,also he's surprising in "Mozart and the Whale"(character with Asperger's syndrome ) and in movies as August and Lucky Number Slevin really excellent performances

  • Billy The Kid | August 8, 2013 11:50 PMReply

    GERARD BUTLER. enough said.

  • H.M Barnett | August 8, 2013 10:26 PMReply

    Very obscure one but Chris Klein? He opened with 2 biggies-"Election" & "American Pie" which were critical & box office successes with great buzz & are still fondly recalled. I know sadly that his drinking was definitely involved in his downturn. I wish him well and hope he is able to move on from his troubled past. Saw that he's listed on some episodes of "Wilfred" currently...the show with Elijah Wood (who may be another guy good for this list?).

  • Zac | August 7, 2013 4:35 AMReply

    Alex Pettyfer shouldn't feel too flattered about the Lee Daniels gig as Daniels only hires attractive white young guys so he can have them flopping around in wet see-thru underwear. Pettyfer's role will most likely be a similarly fetishized, sexualized role consisting of him skinny-dipping frequently and/or dancing in a towel.

  • Chris | August 6, 2013 7:42 AMReply

    Mediocre or outright poor scripts haven't helped these performers but the main problem is that alot of the guys(and gal) on the list aren't or weren't really charismatic or talented enough to rise above the material which is exactly what makes a movie star.

    Back in the 90s before he became the consistent box office draw of today alot of Denzel Washington's attempted star vehicles were in pictures that aside from flopping or underperforming also weren't worthy of his talent (HEART CONDITION, RICOCHET etc) and yet from movie to movie he always remained a watchable presence. You never harboured doubts that Denzel would get to the level ppl were pegging for him despite the failures.

  • Emerson | August 5, 2013 10:12 PMReply

    I agree with a lot of this list, but I also agree with most of the names in the comments as being eligible for the list. Is it possible that the real issue is that "movie star" in the classic Hollywood sense is gone? That they existed in an era where the studios built them and marketed them through a very limited number of essentially captive marketing outlets. Once the star/studio system broke down, the public was still inclined to follow the world of the stars that had been created, and met new stars in their films, so the cycle continued. With the explosion of other avenues for media and marketing, controlling the image and attention is much more difficult. I think exploring whether or not there has been a single new "bankable" star in the last 20 years shows that it's not inherently these actors faults. We, the audience, have changed. We haven't really allowed any new star to join the "we'll show up just because they are in it" firmament - because we don't think that way anymore. It doesn't matter who they are. Even historically "bankable" stars have to be careful not to step too far out of what we want from them if the money is going to roll in. When even Will Smith can flop massively, it seems the greater point is there may never again be true movie stars and they should stop trying to make them and focus on the quality of the project, the script and the talent - and quit trying to ensure the fame of an actor is enough to cover any and all other failings in the process.

  • Jeff | August 5, 2013 6:01 PMReply

    Nicholas Hoult should be added to this one day.

  • Bash | August 4, 2013 11:48 PMReply

    Paul Bettany?

  • MishuPishu | August 3, 2013 8:04 PMReply

    My wife and I were just talking about how this happened to Alec Baldwin back in the early 90's. He seemed poised for this leap into leading man territory as a steely-eyed tough guy but it just never took off. It's nice to see him reinvent himself as a comedic actor all these years later.

  • eddie | August 3, 2013 4:03 PMReply

    This article is so ridiculous. Who told you being considered A-list is everything? That doesn't mean being talented or genuine or having a good personality. It just means being a box office hit and we know even lousy actors can do that. Sylverster Stallone is one, morons. Adam Sandler, the Twilight kids, Schwartzenegger are examples too. The Playlist wants lousy controversy, not real journalism. PATHETIC. Shame on you.

  • daisy | August 3, 2013 3:49 PMReply

    Robert Pattinson deserve to be in this list. Outside that crappy franchise he hasn't had one hit. It's flop after flop, even pushing him as the lead to attract women. It's not working. Now he is just a supporting actor in obscure B-films.

  • BPositive | August 9, 2013 11:36 PM

    Remember Me and Water for Elephants earned more than three times their budgets!

    Cronenberg's Cosmopolis starring Robert Pattinson was warmly applauded at Cannes.
    It appeared on 25 Top 5 BEST FILM 2012 lists and on 69 Top 10 lists.

  • Dalovely | August 5, 2013 9:59 PM

    Agree. He has only received attention because he and ex, Kristen Stewart are forever Robsten. His acting is very bland because he has no range. I suspect we will here about a reunion with his ex because that brand Robsten is all he can ever really sell.

  • BRUBANK | August 3, 2013 4:04 PM

    He was godawful in the godawful Cosmopolis, one of the worst films I've ever seen. Go away! Nobody wants you anymore.

  • kobain | August 3, 2013 3:55 PM

    Yeah Pattinson's 15 minuts is over. He was proven unsuccessful as lead actor and is a C-list name now. Good riddance by the way. He is godawful. And fugly.

  • Amanda | August 3, 2013 2:49 PMReply

    Gerald Butler should be on this list. Consider every movie he's made after 300. Even Michael Fassbender who had a tiny role in 300 has surpassed him by miles...

  • Sal | November 29, 2013 10:27 PM

    Jesus, enough already!!!

  • Amanda | August 3, 2013 2:48 PMReply

    Gerald Butler should be on this list. Consider every movie he's made after 300. Even Michael Fassbender who had a tiny role in 300 has surpassed him by miles...

  • Amanda | August 3, 2013 2:48 PMReply

    Gerald Butler should be on this list. Consider every movie he's made after 300. Even Michael Fassbender who had a tiny role in 300 has surpassed him by miles...

  • Amanda | August 3, 2013 2:47 PMReply

    Gerald Butler should be on this list. Consider every movie he's made after 300. Even Michael Fassbender who had a tiny role in 300 has surpassed him by miles...

  • pots | August 16, 2013 5:08 AM

    Obviously a GB one-nighter/throw away

  • pots | August 16, 2013 5:08 AM

    Obviously a GB one-nighter/throw away

  • trey | August 15, 2013 12:18 AM

    We fucking got it the first time.

  • FILMBUFF | August 3, 2013 2:26 PMReply

    Of course I realize the injustice of this list being predominately white male, but I was also struck by the fact that half the actors on this list are not Americans. Meanwhile three of the five American actors listed got their big breaks back in the 1990s. The trend too hire foreign actors to play Americans in big film roles is not an accident. Its all part of the economic war on Americans also known as globalization. Hollywood union busts by outsourcing TV & film production to other countries such as Canada, or Right to Work Southern American states. They hire non-American talent to prevent donations to the Democratic Party.

  • steve | April 7, 2014 10:58 PM


  • Julian | August 3, 2013 3:16 AMReply

    urgh.....and now I need to add my edits..."jawline"....and "good" in the final sentence.

  • Julian | August 3, 2013 3:14 AMReply

    Here's something ACTORS view. Had it occurred to you that lack of talent has nothing to do with the "bankability" of these guys, and that they just had the bad luck, or bad agent, to have picked DUD movies. I do not go to a movie to gush over the "lead", I want to be told a story and believe that he is part of it. Reynolds has GREAT comic talent and an engaging personality in non-comic roles maybe he just picked movies that were not going to do much for him. The main problem in the whole industry now is just what you have been talking about, movies being touted on WHO is there rather than about the actor, watch the actor, and try to ignore the fact that most of the film is rehashed, plot-less, bilge. There was a time when a movie about IDEAS sold, now it has to have whizzbangs every 10 seconds or the audience falls asleep. That says nothing about the quality of the acting, just the quality of the audience.....when the jawling outweighs the talent......give up on the about now would be a food time.

  • LuLo3280 | August 3, 2013 2:43 AMReply

    Umm what about Jaleel White? Hello???

  • Alex | August 3, 2013 2:22 AMReply

    For some reason. Gretchen Mol is the only one of these people I find attractive.

    Anyway, I swear the Avatar guy always looks like he's been computer-rendered to me, no matter what thing of his I'm watching. Skeet Ulrich got a bad rap because he played a Johnny Depp-esque role in Scream. I don't think you can call any of these actors failures, we certainly know who most of them are and a few of them probably made some decent cash.

  • This is Mean | August 2, 2013 7:53 PMReply

    Not only is this mean, it isn't how acting careers work. Way to go, IndieWire. I'm going to write an article about articles you tried and failed to make happen. Dicks.

  • Jerry Hoffman | August 2, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    This is an interesting and obvious list. One has to come across from it and think - some of these actors are non-American and Caucasian. It is difficult to be the leading man type and sale a big budget film. I wonder if the opportunity is giving to minorities a 1/3 of the time as the Caucasian received and what will the results be. I just wonder if America is tire of watching a certain leading man type - read, boring. Because, in the past, the leads were very interesting on film. Maybe is time to diversify, not for the sake of diversifying to satisfy a particular quote in a racial harmony sense, but, to branch out in style of film making. I'm interested to see what will happen in the upcoming years in the film industry, where, the mentioned actors, even Johnny Depp in Lone Ranger is not a guarantee in big returns. Will they prop up more of the same kind of actors in the pool or take risk of interesting choices.

  • MandiLikesFilms | August 4, 2013 11:46 AM

    Will studios continue pushing the same thing that's not working OR try to reflect societal demographics on screen and give us a wider range of movie stars?
    If only they'd spend as much time looking for the Michael B Jordans of the world instead of the square-jawed white guy who wise-cracks and is on a solo mission to save the world...

  • Xas | August 2, 2013 11:47 AMReply

    Colin Farrell is a good character actor, don't get me wrong, but all his big Hollywood productions failed in expectations, the same thing happens with Ryan Reynolds -His performance in Buried is imo underrated-. Reynolds and Farrell are two steps up of the list. They have chance to reinvent their career.

    About the other names of the list:
    Taylor Kitsch: He's mostly a bland actor -And yes, I saw all his "good" performances-. I still remember the lousy People's article called him: "The next Brad Pitt" lol
    Sam Worthington: I give him chops for Somersault, The Debt and Last Night, but anyone else, ugh. But aside Farrell and Reynolds, he's the only one with a big chance of comeback.
    Alex Pettyfer: Personally i'm glad. Maybe his destiny will be starring low budget erotic films like Martin Hewitt did after "Endless Love"
    Taylor Lautner: While I think he's a lousy actor, maybe we should wait how Tracks will perform.

    And maybe we should add other names:

    Hayden Christensen: The perfect example of this phenomenon.
    Orlando Bloom: Even his "succesful films" weren't exactly HIS films
    Jessica Biel: The female Hayden Christensen. At this stage, her career is being "Mrs. Justin Timberlake"
    Kate Bosworth: She's mostly known for her relationships than her work
    Julia Ormond: At least Mol and her are succesful character actresses.
    Katie Holmes: Right now, Michelle Williams is the most respected actress from Dawson's Creek.
    Jessica Alba: Albeit her performance in "The Killer Inside Me" is great, her career is lackluster at best.

    And I have doubts to put Rachel McAdams on the list: She's "Mean Girls", "Red Eye" and "The Vow", but her career felt on expectations, especially after "Morning Glory". But maybe "A Most Wanted Man" is her comeback role

    The best part of this is that nothing is written in stone yet for some names and they can have a second opportunity or have the opportunity to be character actors:

    Channing Tatum: Before 2012, he was on roll of this phenomenon, but then five consecutive box office hits and even critical acclaim took him on stardom.
    Jake Gyllenhaal: With "End of Watch" and his theater work in 2012 he's having a second wind.
    Garrett Hendlund: Excellent choice going to the indie route first like Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did
    Julia Ormond: Like Gretchen Mol, she's better as character actress.

  • lifeisaboxof | August 3, 2013 4:11 PM

    Agree about Hedlund. He was spectacular in ON THE ROAD, a very difficult role he nailed completely. He owned that film and people who saw him only in Tron Legacy is completely wrong and bad informed about this actor. He is working with The Coen Brothers in the next film also. One of the most talented actors of his generation for me.

  • Xas | August 2, 2013 11:49 AM

    Oh, I forgot Kirsten Dunst in the career rennaisance after 2010.

  • sne | August 2, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    So no matter your acting chops, you only get a push if you are white. Well Danzel and Will are truly special for what they've done.

  • Ignacio Balbuena | August 2, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    I just wanna mention that 'Blade'', was directed by Stephen Norrington, Blade 2 was directed by Del Toro. Both are great, though.

  • Sadie | August 2, 2013 5:51 AMReply

    Jason Statham has earned his place on this list!

  • Ams | October 12, 2013 3:11 PM

    Jason's great at what he does. It's his domain. When asked if he would ever try a romantic comedy, he said he'd leave that to Hugh Grant. He said you have to play to your strengths. Love him.

  • Erica | August 3, 2013 9:53 AM

    I think that Jason is profitable for Hollywood because of the type of movies he makes but despite the profit it does not necessarily mean he is GOOD actor. In fact, you don' t have to be to make a movie that somehow appeals to the population. I do not think Will Smith is a great actor but he has shown that he can bring in the bucks this is why he is more present in movies than other actors like Colin Farrell whom I think has not done well for Hollywood but has the stuff as an actor---FAR more than Will Smith but this is my opinion, of course.

  • Lisa | August 1, 2013 11:22 PMReply

    Jason Ritter is a gem and relatively unknown as an actor. I've seen him in so so to not so good projects and he still manages to stand out and do his thing (Joan of Arcadia, The Event, Peter and Vandy). He was fantastic in the movie Good Dick (2008).

  • Indie Wire jumps the shark | August 1, 2013 10:53 PMReply

    Thoughts? A once-promising blog has descended into utter shite. Maybe you should take a hard look at your own careers.

  • Steve | August 1, 2013 6:16 PMReply

    Adam Brody?

  • John | August 1, 2013 10:17 AMReply

    WHY ARE THERE NO WOMEN ON THIS LIST? Gretchen Mol is the only female actor you could think of, really?

    It's tremendously frustrating when the writers at Indiewire, who damn well know better, compile lists like this and only, or predominantly, choose male actors. Why do you do that, writers? Why?!

  • Erica | August 3, 2013 9:55 AM

    You are SO right!! I think Vera Farmiga is just amazing and Maggie Gyllenhaal--she was BRILLIANT in Sherry Baby.

  • Indie Wire jumps the shark | August 1, 2013 10:55 PM

    Because women don't rile up their knee-jerk feelings of inadequacy the way other young men do.

  • James | August 1, 2013 12:06 PM

    Yes, why are there no women on this list focusing on failure?! Women can fail as well as men. I demand to have an equal number of women added to the list to show how easily actresses can fail to connect with an audience. That will definitely represent a step forward for women.

  • M | August 1, 2013 9:12 AMReply

    Where's the terrible terrible ASHTON KUTCHER?! Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, A Lot Like Love, The Guardian, What Happens in Vegas, Valentine's Day, Killers, No Strings Attached and New Year's Eve! And Kathryn Heigl for suuuuuuuure! Milla Jovovich, Jessica Biel, Russell Brand (love him but his films are never a hit), Katie Holmes, Megan Fox, Jessica Alba, Sienna Miller and Kate Bosworth!

  • Daniel Delago | August 1, 2013 7:38 AMReply

    Whatever happened to Gretchen Mol? She was good in a quirky rom-com titled, 'The Shape of Things' also starring Rachel Weisz. Interesting how Weisz's acting career skyrocketed and hers never took off. I think Brad Pitt said it best, "Fame is a bitch, man."

  • Alan B | August 1, 2013 9:14 AM

    You two are aware of a little channel called HBO and a series called 'Boardwalk Empire', right? Scorsese ring any bells?

  • bob hawk | August 1, 2013 7:58 AM

    I think the first time I was really aware of Mol was in the Off Broadway production of Neil LaBute's THE SHAPE OF THINGS, holding her own with the rest of the excellent actors (Weisz, Paul Rudd and Fred Weller) who also did the film version. The last time I saw Mol (within the past year) was again Off B'way -- managing to maintain her dignity and cred in a woefully underdeveloped play.

  • Ella | August 1, 2013 7:00 AMReply

    The fact that they are acting at all means they are successful. Not everyone has to be Johnny Depp. Colin Farrell is v successful and Taylor Lautner hasn't had time to prove himself yet/ He's 21..

  • Xas | August 2, 2013 11:26 AM

    Not everyone has to be Johnny Depp. Oh please Ella. The object of this article is exactly what you saying. Which actors were promoted as big star and failed. Even if you ask many of them, they would want the same.

  • bob hawk | August 1, 2013 6:02 AMReply

    This is a stupefyingly stupid article -- rambling all over the place, from constantly employed actors with large bodies of works to some who have barely entered puberty (metaphorically, of course) in their careers. And who can say which of them even WANT to be "stars" in the conventional industry/studio sense? How can you even put Colin Farrell and Taylor Lautner under the same umbrella? And what's with the token female, Gretchen Mol? Absurd. Skeet Ulrich, whose career has been rich and diverse, if erratic, put it best: "Whatever labels are being pinned on me have nothing to do with me." I think in some cases these actors' careers have suffered because of bad management, but, as stated above, how can any of us presume to know what the motivations and goals are of these individuals?

  • Indie Wire jumps the shark | August 1, 2013 10:59 PM

    Your writing and critical thinking skills far exceed the author's.

  • CrombyMouse | August 1, 2013 2:49 AMReply

    You can not count Hedlund for example because he had only one shot for stardom (which is Tron) which was not good but it was not so bad and there's a potential. Since he picks up interesting projects - On the Road (in which he was good), Llewyn Davis and upcoming Mojave and film with Amy Adams. I put my money for him.

    Farrell and Owen are also no good choice. The played various roles films of various quality to be honest but still they are both good actors.

    I would also add Gerald Butler to this list.

    As for Worthington, Kitsch, Walker, Lautner - they are all just terrible actors. The paradox with Worthington that he turned out to be B-class actor who has a contract to star in most profitable project ever. So he'll receive he's next chance soon.

    But my main objection to this artcle is that I don't see the point. Maybe some actors are just don't want to be "stars". Ryan Gosling, for instance, had all the cards to do it after "The Notebook" but prefered to go indie.

  • brycedavid | July 31, 2013 11:34 PMReply

    Where's Eric Bana? Seriously he has had more high profile projects with big directors which flatlined than anyone on the list.

    The lack of actresses on the list is also suspect.

  • Danh | August 1, 2013 12:12 AM

    Are you serious. Did you see Munich? The guy was f'ing incredible in it. And he actually made a believable Hector in "Troy". He was criminally underused in Star Trek.

  • Daniel | July 31, 2013 11:30 PMReply

    Great list.

  • Pretty White Actor #6439 | July 31, 2013 10:46 PMReply

    What a diverse array of actors who really stand out from the crowd. I'm shocked that Hollywood is treating them like they're all bland and interchangeable 18-34 year old pretty white actors.

  • Helluva | August 2, 2013 9:49 AM


  • JD | July 31, 2013 9:57 PMReply

    How was Oliver Stone's ALEXANDER in any way shape or form a "tentpole"? It was an Oliver Stone movie.

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