Five Spectacularly Off-the-Mark Biopic Performances

Yes, that is a picture of Robert Pattinson playing Salvador Dali.

by Kristin Hunt

Every actor knows that a biopic is a shot at awards and acclaim. Just glance at Best Actor and Actress nods and you’ll see real-life kings, queens, inventors, revolutionaries, and convicted criminals. Leonardo DiCaprio is clearly grasping for his long-elusive statuette with J. Edgar, and we’re sure the following performers had their sights on the gold, too. But when you Google their biopic turns, you’re not going to find acceptance speeches. Here are five hilariously bad biopic performances.

5. Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dali in Little Ashes

If you can look at this picture of Robert Pattinson in a Dali mustache without laughing, you have far more self-control than me. The casting here was already off-the-charts baffling: vacant British heartthrob Pattinson as bizarro Spanish painter Salvador Dali almost makes John Wayne as Genghis Khan seem plausible. But Pattinson also brought his best questionable acting to this indie tale of three young, creative friends (Dali, Luis Buñuel, Federico Garcia Lorca) in '20s and '30s Spain. Maybe it’s impossible to watch any Robert Pattinson performance without losing it, but his attempt at “tortured” comes off as stilted and incomprehensible.

4. Madonna as Eva Peron in Evita

In this case, it isn’t that Madonna made Eva Peron a laughable cartoon; it’s that she didn’t make her anything at all. The star of the infamous Swept Away smiles when she’s supposed to, sneers when she’s supposed to, and raises her arms on a balcony when she’s supposed to, but there just isn’t much life to her vivacious, scheming Eva. It’s kinda like watching a paper doll educate us all on Argentinian history, with musical accompaniment. In many homes in Argentina, you can find an image of Eva Peron on the wall next to that of the Virgin Mary; knowing that, Madonna's performance qualifies as blasphemy.


3. Kevin Costner as Kenneth O'Donnell in Thirteen Days

The life of presidential aide Kenneth O’Donnell may not be as widely known as his boss JFK’s, but one thing’s for sure: The Worcester native couldn’t possibly have talked like Kevin Costner, who jaws through the Cuban Missile Crisis with an accent that’s a thing of wonder. I’m still trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be. If he’s trying to do a Boston accent, he's failing spectacularly at something (specifically, Masshole enunciation) that even Jimmy Fallon managed to pull off.


2. Nicolas Cage as Ned Hanlan in The Boy in Blue

Any Nicolas Cage biopic is automatically on the roll call of terrible biopic performances because, well, it’s Nicolas Cage. Yet The Boy in Blue is something special. In the trailer alone, we get Cage comically shouting lines like, “This is making me sick, wearing these monkey suits!” and “I want to win fair and square or not at all!” And that’s only a glimpse into his characteristically hammy performance as sculler Ned Hanlan. Really, it’s nothing surprising. At this point, casting Nicolas Cage as a human is a bit of a stretch.

1. 50 Cent as 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin’

It’s a truly amazing feat when you can unconvincingly play yourself. Luckily, 50 Cent was up to the task in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Jim Sheridan’s response to 8 Mile. Dealing drugs, getting shot, going to jail, and then attaining musical fame are all kind of tumultuous events, but you wouldn’t know it based on 50’s expressionless reactions. Apparently, it’s muted faces and muttered sentiments about thug life all day, every day for this rapper. Granted, no one expected 50 to be the next Brando, but he could've at least been the next Bette Midler. 

Commentarium (20 Comments)

Nov 12 11 - 1:10am

Keanu Reeves as the Buddha in "Little Buddha."

Nov 12 11 - 2:38am

What an ignorant article, and obviously an attempt to troll for hits in the expense of Pattinson's name. Can you even claim to know anything about Dali before writing this piece? Obviously not, as i've never seen him described as tortured. Eccentric, yes, and with a penchant for exhibitionism and absurd public behavior, but definitely not tortured as you seem to be expecting from Pattinson's performance. Let's see now. Auteur David Cronenberg recently divulged during a film festival that he decided to go after Pattinson and cast him in his movie Cosmopolis after seeing his performance in Little Ashes. 'Nuff said.

Nov 12 11 - 2:56am

Hee. Someone touched a nerve.

All I take from this is even "auteurs" make stupid decisions once in a while.

Nov 12 11 - 4:59am

someone touch a "nerve" that's funny

Nov 12 11 - 11:47am

Someone is a BIG Twilight fan!

Nov 12 11 - 6:42pm
John Son

But... has anybody actually seen this movie? I got the feeling that even the reviewer hadn't.

Nov 12 11 - 10:02pm

@ Wtf -

That's a good point, but Edward Cullen still isn't real and he doesn't want to marry you.

Nov 14 11 - 12:02pm

@John Son-

Fair point, but sometimes you don't have to see a movie to know it's going to be terrible. If I saw a movie poster with Pauly Shore as Martin Luther King, Jr., I'd also feel fairly comfortable steering clear of that one.

Nov 14 11 - 2:52pm

I saw it because I was glad to see a cinematic treatment of Lorca. The actor who played him stole the show, everyone else was decent, Pattinson dragged down the whole film. He's this generation's Keanu, incapable of rising to any challenge. Perhaps a character as weak and grating as Eric Packer in Cosmopolis is more suited to Pattinson's severely limited range. Frankly, Cronenberg is better than that project but hopefully he can make something out of it.

Nov 12 11 - 5:23am

Pattinson = Hits.... Pretty obvious, and well it's working. By the way the Dali estate approved this film, which is a first, and said that Pattinson's portrayal was 'spot on'. Going by your commentary I highly doubt that you have even seen the film; you show an awful amount of ignorance regarding the subject matter.

Nov 12 11 - 3:49pm

A person's estate is hardly a reasonable measure of their memory. The Seuss estate was overjoyed with the live action "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and I think we can agree that was a giant mess.

Nov 12 11 - 10:13am

50 Cent couldn't even play himself well. Hahahaha. Too good.

Nov 12 11 - 12:29pm

Man, such harsh words for Nicolas Cage. The dude has done some great films, not to mention a "Best Actor" Oscar winner.

Nov 12 11 - 12:50pm
Hipster Hustle

The thing about Nicholas Cage though, is that he is never mediocre. He is either triumphantly, brilliant GREAT or so utterly terrible that it becomes farce, and brilliant. Madonna may have played it boring, but Nick oh Nick...makes me laugh every time. He's so outrageous. No one can pull the Cage save for the cage. :D

Nov 12 11 - 10:05pm

Dude, have you seen Trespass? It's awful, but worth watching because every other actor in the film (including Nicole Kidman) tries to step up to La Cage at some point and pull off a "losing their shit" moment. It's like his special brand of madness infected the entire cast.

Nov 13 11 - 1:07pm
nancy babiche

David Cronenberg casted Robert Pattinson after watching Little Ashes. Rob was only 21 years old but David found his attempt very brave. Even Dali himself couldn't have performed Dali 'cause his personality was too eccentric. In the same interview David admitted that a director would be just stupid when casting an actor without talent. He think Rob is a terrific actor. But of course, who's David Cronenberg compared with the 'expert' who's written this article? lol

Nov 13 11 - 1:14pm
nancy babiche

Oh and I forgot: Robert Pattinson didn't do audition for Dali but for Lorca Garçia. There had to be a mix of English and Spanish actors because of the co-producing. Problem was they didn't find a Spanish actor to perform Dali so Paul Morrison asked Rob and he accepted and did his best for it. Strangely enough I read a biographie of Dali after I saw the movie and was stunned that some mimics and behaviors of Rob's performance were spot on once I knew Dali's better. So before judging you have to do rechearch on Dali, it's like laughing with the stupid moustache, being well award that without stupid moustache you don't have Dali.

Nov 13 11 - 2:10pm

Something tells me nancy babiche, Lou, and Wtf are all the same person.

Nov 21 11 - 1:27am

Holy cocnise data batman. Lol!

Nov 21 11 - 2:19pm

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