Embarrassing past roles of the Oscar nominees

Posted by Jason Tabrys | Sunday, February 26th 2012

Before Batman felt the need to whisper-talk, he walked around with quarter-sized batnipples on his suit and an equally pokey chum of chums by his side. The Oscar nominated star of The Descendants, George Clooney, played the Batman in Joel Schumacher’s camptastic Batman and Robin and wore the iconic cowl that was attached to that infamous suit. The film also starred Alicia Silverstone and her dead eyes, but while it almost killed the Bat-franchise, it clearly did nothing to harm Clooney’s career.

Gary Oldman approached the rarefied air of near-mastery for his turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spybut 14 years ago he was Lost in Space with “Joey” and the girl that used to voice Meg on Family Guy. The film was a space wreck (see what I did there?) suffering from an awful script and the cinematic hemlock that is Matt LeBlanc, but to be honest, Oldman was the best part. His evil Dr. Smith may have been over the top, but at least he didn’t go with that preying-sex-offender vibe that Jonathan Harris had going on in the original show.

Speaking of terrible attempts at resurrecting old TV shows, Wild Wild West got made on the strength of Will Smith‘s perceived touch-o-Midas back in 1999, a misstep that sullied the reputation of Kevin Kline, Smith, and Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh. Oddly enough, Salma Hayek‘s reputation remained pretty much unchanged. To be fair, all I remember from this film is the 90 foot spider and a half man/half wheelchair Branagh with calligraphy facial hair, but isn’t that enough?

Jonah Hill has constructed a pretty solid career playing every imaginable variation on the stoner/slacker archetype, but for Moneyball, Hill put on his drama pants and stood in against Brad Pitt, earning a shot at Oscar gold. Hill’s transformation to dramatic actor is more than a bit inconceivable when you remember that he was once the “Ask me about my wiener” guy in Accepted and the disco boot kid in The 40 Year Old VirginAdd those hallmark roles to Hill’s turn in The Sitter (his own personal Norbit), and something tells me that Jonah should cherish every second of what is likely a freak occurrence.

You’ve got to be vacant in the chest cavity to not be thrilled by the rise of Octavia Spencer, a character actress who has slowly but surely climbed the ranks, and now finds herself in demand. Still, the star of The Help needed some when she took a part in the comedic flat-line that was Dinner for Schmucks. Spencer has a thankfully small role, playing Nora the Pet Psychic, but it is sadly memorable for the above scene. Spencer allows the spirit of a departed and delicious looking lobster in the throes of its own death to inhabit her body in an effort to communicate from the great beyond.

The point to all this? All actors make mistakes along the way, but in the end anyone, with the benefit of good material and a chance to show what they can really do, can turn in an award worthy performance – except Channing Tatum.

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