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Monday, August 26, 2013

Worst Actors - An Introduction

Before I begin, I would like to thank readers for engaging and enjoying Godfrey Ho Appreciation Month this year. I was sick for about a week and a half, so I missed a lot writing and I know I'm not exactly... consistent. This is something I'm working to change as I would like to get more articles out there more consistently. I spent a couple weeks away from the series but by the time I felt like writing again, I just needed a change of scenery. Plus, I need to keep some movies available for Godfrey Ho Month next year, sure he has plenty, but not all of them are exactly easy to find. That said...

This new series is going to be… harsh.  The Hollywood A-list is a place of honor for any actor.  Most actors who work in film never achieve the level of influence, value and credibility one would think is required to attain this prestigious distinction among peers.  Now, if you were able to maintain a straight face while reading those last few sentences, then congratulations, you fell for it.

The “A-List”, is branding.  Much like a delicious Angus cow, a Hollywood actor is a product.  They are the pretty face on the poster that gets the viewing audience to fill empty theater seats.  The reason why opening weekend is so heavily scrutinized over the rest of a theatrical run is because the movie is being sold to us long before its release, and the one thing used to push a movie more than any other is the cast.

So, who decides who an A-List actor is?  It all comes down to value.  You will not, in 2013, see Christian Slater getting as much for a role as, say, Ryan Gosling, nor would he deserve that level of pay.  This is because the value of an actor (based on past contract negotiations and the overall budget of a film) being even considered for a role has more value to a film than its screenwriter, its director or (in some cases) its source material.  The general moviegoing audience does not develop a relationship with a filmmaker the way a more enthusiastic and engaged filmgoer does.  No, they focus on the actors.  The result of this is a number of notably awful performers getting a little too much credit for their success.

Now, that said, even the greatest actors have bad films under their belt.  And, as casual film fans are quick to elevate an actor for a good performance or good movie, they are just as quick to cast one aside for appearing in a hot mess.  Many of the most famous bad performances of all time (John Travolta in Battlefield Earth and John Wayne in the Conqueror, for instance) are also visible demarcation points in respected careers.  You can often easily trace the exact point where a notable performer’s status went from respected to laughing stock and it can usually be  narrowed down to a period of a few years.  

All of the actors to be featured in this series have fallen in their own way.  Some of these Hollywood  (mostly former) A-listers have won Oscars, a symbol that once meant something, but now is really about as “honorable” and meaningful to a film or performer’s credibility as a TV Guide interview.  The Academy Awards has become just another venue for Hollywood to sell their product, and it usually blows.  

So, who do I chose for this series, and how did I choose them?  It was not a scientific process by any means.  No, this list is purely emotional.  I am writing this in response to the rising consensus that film fans such as myself should lower our standards to meet those of everyone else.  Are my standards high?  I don’t know.  I like a lot of movies myself that I would not exactly consider to be “great movies” but are certainly entertaining.  I have found enjoyment in many films in many genres and I could not tell you where I draw a line.  I can give examples.  Holy crap can I give examples, but I could not quantify what I find to be “good” or “bad” in a purely general sense.  

I want to note that this started as a Top 10, but I found myself ordering a list with a resigned sigh.  It just did not seem possible or even reasonable for me to pick from the massive scrap heap of formerly famous people for just a few names to focus on, which is why I decided to make this an ongoing thing.  There are a couple of things that need to be said before this series begins.  First, I do not dislike all of these performers.  One of the things I take into strong consideration is how far their star fell.  I could have gone with a list of actors like many of the “worst actors” lists online, featuring names like Hayden Christensen or Miley Cyrus, and while they are bad… really, really bad…  I wanted to go with people that had a run that is or was prominent, impactful and successful outside of a niche.  Or, if I did go with an actor that was only known for a handful of movies or one role it had to be an epically bad one.  Yes, Anakin Skywalker and Hannah Montana are terrible characters and yes, they are badly acted, but I’m trying to weigh just how much impact these characters will have on the public consciousness at  large, and I don’t really see it.  

I’ll be posting entries in this series periodically, with the title “Worst Actor”.  I will do everything I can to justify my decision for them making this series.  I will not just feature a name and a picture to troll their fans (assuming they have any).  I will try to be calculating, and reasonable.  “Try” being the applicable word.  So without further ado, the next article will be my first entry in this series.  Stay posted for more updates in the days and weeks to come.

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