The Professionals reveal their favorite actors that never lived up to their potential, whether they be the lead or supporting type, these poor bastards deserved better.
Let us begin…
HAWAIIAN ORGAN DONOR
#1 – D.B. SWEENEY
For five years, this dude had a hell of a run. Eight Men Out, Memphis Belle, The Cutting Edge and Fire In The Sky, the last two of which he scored the lead role. Between his romantic charm in Edge and dramatic chops in Fire, I figured D.B. was poised to become one of the top leading men of the 90’s. And then a strange thing happened. He ended up in T.V. Land where for the past twenty years he’s had steady work mostly as a bit player. Steady work is steady work and I’m sure it more than pays the bills but he never achieved the marquee billing I figured he was destined for.
#2 – BILLY ZANE
Another Memphis Belle alum who I liked from the get-go. He was great as the sidekick with the murky past in Sniper and proved he was leading man, and hero material with The Phantom. Yes, that movie underperformed, but box office bombs haven’t killed Taylor Kitsch’s career. Billy’s career killer came in the form of an iceberg. Nobody expected Titanic to become the international phenomenon it did and being the villain in this much beloved film made Billy box office poison. Looking at his resume since is more heartbreaking than anyone else on this list.
#3 – CARY ELWES
Over two years, this dude scored two roles that every up and coming actor would kill for: a charming swashbuckling hero in a beloved fairy tale and a supporting actor in a war movie where he was able to showcase some impressive dramatic skills. Maybe it was back to back appearances in spoof movies Hot Shots and the very unfortunate Men In Tights that ruined his career. He’s had small roles in movies that made good bank (Twister, Liar Liar, Saw) but given his impressive beginning, he deserved better.
#4 – DAVID MORSE
Although he’s a hell of an actor as evidenced by The Crossing Guard, I’m the first to admit Morse was never destined to become a leading man. And it’s not like he doesn’t have what is probably the most impressive resume of anyone on my list (The Green Mile, Contact, The Negotiator, The Rock, The Long Kiss Goodnight, 12 Monkeys, 16 Blocks, The Hurt Locker), but he always seems to play either a cop or a soldier and generally an evil one with not much screen time. I expected him to become a reliable supporting actor or at least have a star making turn as a bad ass villain. I doubt very much the dude is complaining as it’s a career that half the waiters in L.A. would sign a deal with the devil to have, but it’s a far cry from what was glimpsed early on.
#5 – BILLY CAMPBELL
After The Rocketeer, I figured the sky was the limit for Billy. People forget there was a time when superhero movies were few and far between, and back then the only ones we’d gotten big budget treatments of were Supes and Batman. Granted, the Rockawho wasn’t a mainstream superhero but the magic and charm that Billy and director Joe Johnston put on screen was better than most of the comic book garbage being churned out today. And unlike the other actors on this list, Bill didn’t have that slow descent into near obscurity. After Rocketeer, he went straight into T.V. Mind you, he was the lead actor on Once and Again for 3 years and that was a critical hit and deservedly so because not only is he a damn fine dramatic actor but the chemistry Billy had with Sela Ward was nothing short of amazing. And yes, like so many others here, he continues to have steady work on various T.V. shows, but I’ll always wonder what could have been had he been given another turn in a Rocketeer sequel.
#1 – HENRY THOMAS
He was Elliott, the kid who befriended E.T. in 1982. After that, he wasn’t much at all. Thomas spent most of the 90s playing music in a band called The Blue Heelers. He was young Norman Bates in Psycho IV and appeared as Sam in Legends of the Fall in 1994 and had a bit part in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York in 2002. He apparently played Hank Williams, Sr. in a biopic of the country star last year—but who knew? You should have been so much more, Elliott. What happened?
#2 – C. THOMAS HOWELL
This guy was one of The Outsiders who never broke out like Swayze, Cruise, and Estevez. Most of us remember him as the gung-ho Wolverine in Red Dawn. Instead, “Ponyboy” appeared in blackface in Soul Man and had a memorable part in horror classic The Hitcher. At last check, C. Thomas was in the mock-buster The Day the Earth Stopped. Which also happened to be the day his career stopped. Fucking amateur.
#3 – RALPH MACCHIO
Another Outsider who became a superstar in the Karate Kid trilogy, and then—well, not much. How does a guy go from starring with Swayze and Shue to nothing? Ask Ralph. He did it. Okay, we’re being a little unfair. Macchio stretched his fifteen minutes with My Cousin Vinny—a comedy Joe Pesci pretty much dominated. In the 2000s he guested on Ugly Betty and played a gangster businessman in the indie comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead. What the fuck, Ralph?
#4 – RIVER PHOENIX
This kid could have been so much more and undoubtedly would have had he not fucking died. The Stand by Me child actor rose to prominence opposite Harrison Ford in Mosquito Coast, then as young Indiana Jones in the second Raiders of the Lost Ark sequel. By that point—circa 1988—River was probably into a bunch of shit nobody knew about until he collapsed outside the Johnny Depp-owned night club Viper Room before a gig with friend Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Indeed, River appeared with Flea in an instructional bass video twenty some years ago. My Private Idaho was River’s last hurrah…unless you want to count Sneakers. So instead of River we get Joaquin, who’s been hit-and-miss.
#5 – VAL KILMER
Sure, most of us are familiar with Val. The purse-lipped actor notched a few memorable comedies in the early 80s, like Top Secret and Real Genius, before a career-making role opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Then it was Willow with Warwick Davis. No offense, Warwick—but you ain’t Cruise. Willow underwhelmed and Val treaded water until Oliver Stone recruited him for a star turn as Jim Morrison in 1991’s The Doors. One would think donning the cowl for 1995’s Batman Forever would cement Kilmer in Hollywood—but Schumacher’s vision was more camp than cool, and Val’s star waned. His next “big” roles would actually be peripheral work behind guys like Robert Downey, Jr. (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) and Al Pacino (Heat). As of 2010 Kilmer was still doing the bit stuff, playing a villain in spy spoof MacGruber and a sympathetic cop in Kill the Irishman. Respectable enough—but Val’s early career made it look as if his trajectory would be much greater.
#1 – BRIAN DENNEHY
Mainly because you can never get enough fucking Brian Dennehy. Dude is always fucking solid, he just seemed to disappear in the mid 90s. I mean he’s never really had something huge attached to his name, his biggest thing is what…FX? He’s always seemed to float around the cop genre, which is cool. I hope him and Tom Selleck make some bad ass ‘two old cops’ show for TNT before they die, or some made for TV movies, that or just make him the villain in the next Jesse Stone ass kicker. You can’t NOT like Brian Dennehy, and you always want more of him. I mean John Goodman may have a monopoly on those husky guy roles, but there are enough of them to go around. Fuck…just thinking about the boycott I’m gonna launch on the Under The Dome miniseries if they don’t cast John Goodman as Big Jim, I’ll let it be known here and now…if Dennehy is cast instead, I’ll postpone my fucking war with THE KING.
BAHAHAHAH fucking QT that dick suck: Ratatouille – DJANGO (voice), motherfucker couldn’t find BD a role as some old timely slave owner for his dick sucking contest? Oh well continue to never achieve greatness.
#3 – VAL KILMER
I love Val Kilmer, yeah he was Batman? So what? What’s your fucking point? Yeah I get how Batman is the most important post Regan era character and how Val got to step into the cowl for one outing in maybe the best Batman outside of ’89, but he’s not some hugely known name. He’s always fascinating to watch. And I admire him. I don’t like seeing him piss away the later years of his career where arguably he’s only gotten more interesting with these DTV 50 Cent co-starring movies, though I bet they are probably pretty fun for him to make. Val gave a great performance in Felon, and because of the effort he put into that role he started to actually BECOME Dr. Moreau…poor guy. I wish these “arty” more pretentious directors would see the uniqueness Val would bring to their worthless films and give him something to do. I’d like to know if Val dicks around with these DTV action films because he loves action or just cause he needs to pay the bills. There is still an untapped resource of awesomeness left in him. He will get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar before you die, mark my words….granted it may be one of those “sorry we never acknowledged you in the past awards” but nonetheless.
#3 – ALESSANDRO NIVOLA
This guy…this guy. Whenever I see him I never realize it’s the same guy? He was awesome as Nic Cage’s brother in Face/Off. I remember seeing that and thinking how cool he was, then wondering why he never worked again. Then I enjoyed him in JPIII and when I saw Goal! I was like who the fuck is this cool guy? Then sadly, I never saw him again. He makes a fun character actor who can also carry a film. I hope we see more of him in the future even if they are smaller parts.
#4 – MICHAEL KEATON
What an interesting career he’s had….when it was around. After his stint with Burton he sort of floundered, then did nothing for what seemed like forever. Now he’s making a slight comeback but more for his comedy stylings. He directed and starred in a movie recently called The Merry Gentleman, no one saw it but it’s awesome. It’s that stoney cold killer falling in love movie that Drive and The American were trying to be but failed. This didn’t. That was really exciting for me, because I loved Keaton’s turn in thrillers like Desperate Measures and Pacific Heights. In Gentleman, he develops that into an even tighter performance and brings a lot of tension…also, HE DIRECTED IT! He’s an over-looked actor for sure, just please don’t let him anywhere near Beetlejuice 2.
#5 – CHRISTIAN BALE
Because it’ll never be enough. Also, I doubt he’s as recognizable worldwide as a Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson type, like you’d think he should be at this point. He’s sort of a nobody. He does all these dark man roles, but he needs to expand. He needs to coach a youth league, he needs to be in some Happy Madison joint, he needs to voice a fucking Dreamworks character, he needs to do some basic family or lawyer drama, he needs to do some ensemble dramedy…he just needs to fucking matter. If he really is the man that can do it all, he needs to fucking prove it.
#1 – CAMPBELL “I am a useless cunt” SCOTT
You figure being the Son of George C. Scott this guy would be a shoe-in to have an interesting career. But really, anything before or after Singles is fucking dreadful. Come to think of it, Singles is pretty hard to watch these days as well. Fuck him.
#2 – JOHN CORBETT
Man, I loved Northern Exposure. Mainly because me and my ex used to watch it in re-runs every night at midnight and then fuck ourselves to sleep after. I’m actually surprised this guy never went anywhere after this show ended. Well, he did that Big Fat Greasy Hole movie but the highlight for me was his role in Street Kings. He probably doesn’t remember it.
Shit, I knock the goof but he’s always been single with no kids and gets to fuck Bo Derek every night so the reality of the situation is………… shitty career or not his life is 100% better than mine.
“Goddaaaaaamn, I love HEROIN!!!”
#3 – WES BENTLEY
I’d write something smartass but I can’t stop laughing at that fucking picture. BWAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!!!!
“Get this fucking amateur away from me.”
#4 – NEVE CAMPBELL
Hey she’s Canadian, pretty good chance she’d end up in this list anyway you slice it. As an avid fan of the uplifting cheery saga that was Party Of Five(Seriously, did you ever make it through an episode without wanting to blow your fucking head off) I spent considerable amount of time with an erection as Neve gave someone that little hot-ass smirk every two minutes or so. Sure they drag her out for a Scream film every once in a while but she’s doomed to the bottom rung shitpile basically. Too bad. Listen Neve, when my divorce is final you can stay at my place. I have soup. I’ll just have to wash the sheets and stuff. My bathtub is great, I can lay completely flat while you piss on me.
“Dear Stuntcock…..prepare your face for the salmon wipe.”
#5 – BRIDGET FONDA
Another child of a famous parent but to be fair, you could blow winos for empty bottles and you’d be a better actor than Peter Fonda. Bridget is a fine actor but perhaps being cozy with that ginger Mask guy was slowly sapping the opportunities from her career. Her career seemed to just vaporize after taking Bobby De Niro’s loaf in her coal catcher during Jackie Brown. Too bad. Despite being fairly flat-chested, I dug ya girl.
BASEMENT CHEETOH EATER
“WHEN THE FUCK DID I TURN INTO PETER O’TOOLE?”
#1 – PAUL HOGAN
I loved Crocodile Dundee. Funny, romantic and good action….Hogan made a perfect “fish out of water” movie and gave the world a memorable persona. But then something happened. The world just stopped giving a fuck. He made a tepid sequel (which I enjoyed but it was clearly well below the quality of the first film). Then he made a couple more movies no one watched. And when I mean no one, I’m talking maybe a couple dozen people know these movies and Blockbuster never sold a single goddamn copy. One film (that was sweeter and smarter than people realized…but since no one saw it, it doesn’t matter) was about a guy who thinks he’s an angel who hasn’t gotten his wings yet (after being hit by a car). But none of these sentimental remembrances mean shit because Paul Hogan just couldn’t NOT be Mick Dundee. The world refused to accept him as anything but “G’dayMick”. So, in our minds, ol’ Dundee is permanently on walkabout – (but in reality, he’s a Fosters-soaked weathered old sod who sits crying nightly in a Perth bar that he’s still married to his Crocodile Dundee co-star … the poor bastard just can’t escape that movie).
#2 – MICHAEL BIEHN
Michael should’ve been the 1980’s version of Jason Statham. Biehn had the look, the voice and the gravitas to be a huge star. His career even started out with the right pedigree: he was Kyle Reese in the first Terminator movie (and his one night stand with Linda Hamilton paved the way for the rest of the franchise)…and he was Sgt. Hicks in Aliens (possibly the only cool character other than Bishop and the Alien Queen from that overrated entry). He played the mentally unstable but well-mustachio’d villain of The Abyss. And his Johnny Ringo gave the movie Tombstone all kinds of gritty sneering cool (and provided Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday with the perfect foil). And that’s how any action star’s career should begin – fast and hard. But then something happened. The world just stopped giving a fuck. He started making forgettable shit like “Navy Seals” (which even that cunt Charlie Sheen couldn’t save). He pissed off David Fincher so badly during contract negotiations for Alien3 that his role was cut from the script (and his character relegated to an unseemly off-camera death). And he just never recovered his cool. Sure, he played a bad guy in a couple of Wesley Snipes joints (or played the consummate FBI agent in a dozen or more DTV movies), but his career never got back on track. I see remarkable parallels between his career and the likely career path of Karl Urban. Maybe they’re secretly father and son.
#3 – CUBA GOODING JR.
This handsome, talented actor was in a “Best Picture” movie (Boyz n’ the Hood) and even won Best Supporting actor for Jerry Maguire. He had oodles of talent and charisma – and even picked some solid scripts with terrific co-stars (watch ‘Radio’ sometime to see how versatile he can be). By any measure, he should be the “go to guy” when a talented African American actor is needed for any role (and with his level of skill and looks, he should’ve been able to break through the “glass ceiling” and start taking roles intended for white actors). But then something happened. The world just stopped giv…well, you know the rest. He started doing DTV shit with guys like Val Kilmer. When I think of how his career’s gone, I wonder if his agent secretly hates him. Why? Because none of his choices since Pearl Harbor have made any goddamn sense. He’s not even trying…and all his talent seems to have given way to just repeating the same decent role over and over again (a phenomena I call “denzel-itis”). Cuba could turn it around, though. If there’s one person on this Zeus-forsaken list who could see his career fully rebound, it’s him. He’s a smart guy…but he needs a better agent (and maybe to go “full retard” again).
#4 – JIM CAVIEZEL
How in the hell did Jesus Christ fail so badly? Think about it – this guy was solid in The Count of Monte Cristo….and played the Messiah incredibly well in a Mel Gibson joint that made half a billion dollars and reignited theological interest in dead languages, culture and anti-semitism. But then, Jim just started doing shit. And the world stopped giving a fuck. One of the easiest ways to ruin your own career is following a masterful film with a whole bunch of forgettable ones. Just look at Reese Witherspoon – that razor-faced blond harpy’s been doing it for years now. And Jim is guilty of it too. But he only has himself to blame. Just watch Frequency – he and Dennis Quaid’s chemistry (even by shortwave radio) was simply incredible. The Cav could’ve been the real deal. And recently, he tried to re-embrace his cool by doing a sci-fi epic (set during the Viking era). But no one of circumstance bothered with it. He’s having a moderate return to form right now on the small screen (with a TV show that’s fairly well thought of) but none of it promises to make him a real A-lister. He’s got a lot more mea culpas ahead of him before his career rights itself.
#5 – CHRISTIAN SLATER
“He’s this generation’s Jack Nicholson!”. Yeah yeah, whatever. We all heard it. And during the mid and late 80’s (even a bit during the early 90’s), Slater was on top of the world and looked to be living up to all the hyperbole. His delivery and shit-eating grin made him a bankable name: Pump Up The Volume, Heathers, Mobsters, True Romance, The Name of The Rose, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Christian was fucking NAILING IT. The guy couldn’t miss. Until he did. And it was a sudden plummet. And the world just stopped giving a fuck. His career fell faster than a 1920’s stock broker jumping off the Chrysler building. And I can point to the movie where it happened: Hard Rain. He did a big budget (by the standards of the day) action movie with Randy Quaid as a corrupt sheriff trying to rob a bank in the wake of a forced evacuation due to a hurricane. The plot was a “guarantee of success”…but the execution was almost supernaturally awful. And no one could forgive him for it. Then, in the mid-2000’s, he did a movie with Tara Reid (that was directed by the infamous Uwe Bol) called Alone in the Dark. And, to this day, it’s still called “the 2nd worst movie ever made” by Rotten Tomatoes (only Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is considered worse). He’s tried to migrate to TV…but he’s like network kryptonite. The guy sucks the success out of everything he touches. It’s almost impressive. But still, given his early successes, his career may be the most amazing (and cautionary) tale of what hubris, shitty scripts and fucking Wynona Ryder can do to you.
#1 – CHARLES DANCE
This guy should’ve had it all. His work in the Holy Trinity (The Golden Child, Alien 3, and Last Action Hero) are some of my favorite performances by any actor…EVER. This redheaded devil possessed all the traits of a classic screen villain, simultaneously charming and seductively demented. He had an elegance and a presence that demands your full attention. He’s in Alien 3 for like 15 fucking minutes, yet his death hit harder than any in the series because of the humanity he was able to inject into the role in such a brief amount of screen-time. Though he still works pretty nonstop (in a lotta bullshit not worth your fucking time), he should’ve been the big budget go-to heavy for decades. Maybe he just got burned out by the critical and financial failure of his big studio efforts (he also turned down the role of Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer during this period). Whatever the fuck the reason, it saddens me that I never got to see him eat up the screen again. Though he had a weak role in that piece of shit For Your Eyes Only, I always thought he’d be righteous in the Craig films as the head of Quantum, and he’d totally have to bring back his greatest line: “IF GOD WAS A VILLAIN….HE’D BE ME.”
#2 – WILLIAM FORSYTHE
I have this theory that audiences don’t want believable gangsters in films. Even in serious pictures, they always seem to be used in a semi-comedic fashion. There’s this goofy sense of self-awareness, like the actors fully understand the absurdity of that type of individual and the audience should be in on the joke. Enter the Noel Gugliemis and the Danny Trejos of the world (and to a lesser degree that fucking pussy Kiwi in Training Day). I roll my eyes at this shit; the cunts they try to pass off as authentic hoods these days….FUCK. I can see most of these motherfuckers washing their mouths out with Pellegrino after sucking dick between takes. William Forsythe…he’s a whole different animal. He played one of the baddest cholos ever put on screen in American Me, and he should’ve shown up in every heavy ese role for the next 20 years. Maybe he was too scary….too real. His JD is a guy that would cut his mami for fucking up his creases, then stich her up and demand the culo. I’ve seen the film probably a dozen times and his performance just gets better with time. And though I love him as the criminal types (Flattop in Dick Tracy, Richie in Out For Justice), he’s by no means a one-stop shop. He can own characters on both sides of the law and handle virtually any genre (his great comedic turn in Deuce Bigelow still swells the balls). This guy was a fucking powerhouse, and I speak in past-tense as I do with most of these fucks because it seems precious few of them have done anything worth a fuck in the last decade. Goddamn shame, the times we live in.
#3 – GLENNE HEADLY
Another Dick Tracy alum (that thing did a lot of damage, the great Ed O’Ross was a cunt-hair away from being on my list as well)…Glenne’s Tess Truheart produced some of my first significant ‘movie girl boners’. So kind, so true…hearted. She deserved better than the mostly made-for-tv purgatory she ended up in. She had that soft voice, the perfect skin, and a timeless, all-American quality about her; but there was also a complexity there beneath the delicate facade, it’s the reason she works so well in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Elusive…and packing full strawberry blonde thigh bush, that’s how I like ’em. Poor girl deserved better than getting molested on stage by Ed Harris.
#4 – TREAT WILLIAMS
This fucking guy was the Hollywood star we deserved but never really wanted. He’s another one that never got pigeonholed into one type. This suave fuck can do it all. He’s like Harrison Ford’s more sensitive little brother, if Harrison Ford had a personality and wasn’t such a fucking asshole. Again, there’s something timeless about him. He feels like a classic star from the golden era of Hollywood. Maybe he was too old fashioned for modern sensibilities. Maybe his voice was too fucking high. Who knows? I enjoy the hell out of him. In an ideal world, The Phantom and Deep Rising should’ve catapulted him into superstardom, but then perhaps he would’ve never landed Everwood, which is probably his greatest contribution to the arts and the only time he was able to fully explore the great Capra-esque qualities he possesses. RIP Xander Drax.
#5 – ARNOLD VOSLOO
IMHOOOOOTEEEEEEEP. What a great face. So expressive. It’s like an example of BIG VILLAIN ACTING molded in clay. Now I’ll admit, maybe Arnold’s NOT as diverse as my other picks, I can’t really see his guy playing a father in a family drama. He’s too much of a prick. But he’s a memorable prick, and a superb villain. The Mummy films proved it’s not even necessary for him to speak. He’s just interesting to look at. There’s an evil hollowness in his eyes that spells bad business. He’s the only thing memorable in that miserable piece of trash Hard Target, and he fucking rocked ass in Darkman II and III, which I may enjoy more than the original because of him. After the Mummy films he should’ve been one of the biggest fucks on the planet, but like most talented people…he just faded out into nothingness. Thank god Sommers continues to throw this dog bones…there’s still such a thing as loyalty in Hollywood.
Final Thought: I want this douchebag in Jurassic Park IV.