HOLLYWOOD – Actors are only as good as the roles they inhabit. But some actors have their careers capsized by a role.
It might not be a bad role. It might even be a very good role. But it is a role from which their careers might take some time to recover.
1. Jack Nicholson – Jack Torrance: We already has mad Jack with McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but Nicholson’s collaboration with Kubrick, fixed the actor in the popular imagination as wild man Jack, a fusion of the popular perception of the actor and his increasingly stereotyped roles. The Witches of Eastwick, Wolf and the Joker were all to follow.
2. Naomi Watts – Princess Diana: Naomi Watts broke into films with her wonderful performance in Mulholland Drive. Ever since then, she has veered from art house fare, including Haneke’s remake of Funny Games to bone crushing stupidity such as King Kong. Her lead role in Diana will probably be seen (hopefully) as the nadir of her career, with the Kiwi actress having to utter lines such as ‘Can a heart really break?’ to her heart surgeon boyfriend.
3. Eddie Murphy – Donkey: The problem with Eddie Murphy’s voice talent performance in the Shrek franchise is the fact it set the bar too high for all his visible roles. The fact that a stupid/smart ass ass outshone every other performance for two decades painfully revealed that this once great stand up comic had become mired in tasteless children’s fare, or vaguely superior children’s fare.
4. Eric Bana – Chopper: The brilliant début of this undoubtedly talented actor was also a moment that both made and ruined his career. With expectations raised so high, Bana would go on to star in films by Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Joe Wright and Ridley Scott, but he would consistently prove to be underwhelming, not once creating a character as belligerently unforgettable as the true life crime antagonist of the Andrew Dominik film.
5. Cameron Diaz – Jenny Everdeane: prior to being cast in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York Cameron Diaz was a fine comic actress. Well, okay-ish. But her utter unsuitability as the Nineteenth Century former model turned actress turned prostitute in slum town New York, not only ruined that film but also jinxed her career and she went from adorable wit to annoying wart in the space of a slap.