As Sir Patrick Stewart plays an actual poop emoji in The Emoji Movie, joined by reputable talents like T.J. Miller and James Corden, we take a look at some other excellent actors who have dabbled in some less than excellent films.
Eddie Redmayne – Savage Grace
Before there was The Theory of Everything, before The Danish Girl and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, before the Oscar and even before Jupiter Ascending, there was Savage Grace. Way back in 2007, a fresh-faced Redmayne was just beginning to break out into the cultural zeitgeist, lauded for his stage work but not quite the international star we know him as today. Savage Grace might have felt like a big break; a knotty, complex supporting role alongside Academy Award winner Julianne Moore, based on a (allegedly) true story. Sheer Oscar fodder.
Instead, Savage Grace is not only marked out for being bad. There are plenty of average films out there. Savage Grace is just plain weird. For the spoiler-averse of you, look away now; the film culminates with Tony (Redmayne) engaging with one of the most painfully uncomfortable sex scenes with his on-screen mother (Moore), before brutally murdering her and ordering take out. Bearing in mind that this film was released before Game of Thrones and Taboo made on-screen incest a little more run of the mill, and you have a film that is elevated from a melodramatic mess to a mind-bendingly discomfiting, awkward watch.
Tom Holland – Pilgrimage
Tom Holland was still auditioning for his new role as everyone’s favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man when he was filming Pilgrimage alongside Jon Bernthal and Richard Armitage. You might forgive him, then, if he was a little distracted and it undermined his performance. Sadly, Pilgrimage, is not at all weighed down by its stellar cast; instead, it fails their excellent performances entirely. In case you were dubious, here’s a break down of its outlandish plot: a several monks go on a quick road trip to deliver a religious relic in 13th Century Ireland. Along the way, the loyal mute who they take with them is revealed to be a killing machine (classic Jon Bernthal), they get in an argument with Richard Armitage and by the end of the movie, pretty much everyone is dead (bar Tom Holland).
As absurd as the film’s plot is, it should technically be exciting. Instead, the film’s snappy run-time drags endlessly and features messily-shot, poorly-executed fight scenes that even a screaming, blood-spattered Bernthal can’t save. The film’s director, Muldowney, decides to throw in approximately four separate languages (including Gaelic), increasing the film’s dragging tone with a mish-mash of unnecessary subtitles. At least that goes some of the way to explaining the tour of the British Isles Tom Holland’s accent undertakes throughout.
Diego Luna – Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Anyone remember this film? The straight-to-dvd follow-up to ’80s classic Dirty Dancing. You know, the one featuring a subplot revolving around the Cuban revolution? The one so awful that co-star Romola Garai swore off Hollywood studio films for ever afterwards (I’m not kidding)?
Everyone has to start somewhere, but the star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made his in Alfonso Cuaron’s incredible Y Tu Mama Tambien. And then, somehow, ended up on Havana Nights. Featuring a cameo from an incredibly creepy Patrick Swayze that literally no one asked for, Luna and co-star Garai can at least be commended in putting their best foot forward with this one. Considering the nicest thing that was said about it was that, if nothing else, it was “great to look at”, I wouldn’t feel bad if you gave this one a miss when working through Luna’s filmography.
Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia
Look, I’m not saying Mamma Mia isn’t an incredibly fun watch. Certainly more fun than any other movie on this list. But I also can’t, in good conscience, say that it’s any good. Again, another incredibly bad movie with an incredibly good cast (although the less said about Pierce Brosnan’s butchering of ABBA classic S.O.S., the better), the film gives both comedy greats (Julie Walters) and more serious dramatic actors (Colin Firth) the chance to exhibit their musical talent.
Unfortunately, with one surprising exception (Amanda Seyfried, who took classical voice training in her teens, sings circles around the rest of the cast), no one seems to have any musical talent. Not even the indomitable Streep. No doubt they had a great time filming – and the upcoming sequel promises to be a lot of fun – but it does feel like a bizarre choice from twenty-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep.
Elodie Yung – Gods of Egypt
Elodie Yung, hot off a star turn in Netflix’s second series of Daredevil – and set to appear again in the upcoming Defenders series – somehow crops up amongst the cast of one of the worst films I’ve seen in my entire life. Each of the previous films on this list have a saving grace, whether that be its performances, bizarre appeal-factor or Meryl Streep leaping off a dock into the sea. Gods of Egypt has none of that. An altogether excellent cast (Geoffrey Rush, Chadwick Boseman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also star) limp through over two hours of incomprehensible, convoluted plot. Yung gets a special shout-out for being an actress relatively new to the game, and being typically excellent even as her character is side-lined to the underworld (yes, you read that right. “The underworld”.) halfway through. Considering the film was mired in some (quite fair) controversy around white-washing before it even hit in cinemas, its subsequent critical and commercial failure might prove a little vindicating for some. But even that sense of vindication – or Elodie Yung’s performance – doesn’t make this movie worth sitting through.