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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.