Let’s face facts, when you really think about what professional actors do for a living it is a pretty silly job. After all, pretending to be someone else is the type of thing that most of us expect kids to do, not adults. Despite that, however, many movies and TV shows mean a great deal to their audiences so it can be really meaningful when an actor is good at their jobs since they play a key role in that.
Unfortunately, just because an actor proves themselves to be talented at their craft doesn’t mean they will always remain at the top of their game. In fact, there are far too many actors who currently seem to be pretty bad at their jobs despite once being respected movie stars. With that in mind, it is time to get to this list of 15 once great actors who’ve seemingly stopped caring at all.
15 Cuba Gooding Jr.
Seemingly poised to be the heir apparent to Hollywood’s crown at one point, Cuba Gooding Jr. was amazing in movies like Boyz n the Hood, A Few Good Men, and Jerry Maguire. Then he destroyed his credibility by starring in movies like Boat Trip and Snow Dogs which also marked the end of his commitment to his craft. Worse yet, he can still show flashes of brilliance, as he did in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, but then he goes right back to not caring.
14 Al Pacino
During the ‘70s, ‘80s, and 90’s Al Pacino starred in one classic film after another, including the Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Heat. However, after 1999’s Any Given Sunday, Pacino has consistently been mailing in his performances and yelling every line like it somehow makes him a good actor. In fact, Pacino even starred in Jack and Jill, one of the worst movies of all time.
13 Bill Murray
We know, we know, it seems like sacrilege to include Bill Murray in a list like this one. After all, he still makes us laugh during interviews all the time and he seems to be increasingly whimsical as he gets older. That said, when he shows up in a movie these days, it feels like someone is off-camera yelling his lines at him and Murray repeats them without putting any thought into what he is doing.
12 Robert De Niro
Just like Al Pacino who appeared earlier in this list, Robert De Niro was once considered to be Hollywood royalty. Then he starred in Meet the Parents, a movie we love by the way, and everything went downhill. Now aware that starring in comedies can pay really well, De Niro’s filmography is dominated by dumb and unfunny films these days. On top of that, when he occasionally is in a good movie, he seems to just be playing a version of himself.
11 Chevy Chase
Even at the height of Chevy Chase’s career, he seemed to burn bridges with his co-stars and bosses at every turn. However, at that point, Chase was insanely popular with viewers due to his ability to turn it on once the cameras started rolling. Now, however, reports of his awful behaviour still abound but based off his recent performances, Chase resents the characters he has to play so he doesn’t commit.
10 Liam Neeson
At one time a mainstay of critically acclaimed dramatic films, Liam Neeson became famous for his roles in movies like Schindler's List, Michael Collins, and Kinsey among others. Then he starred in Taken, a movie that proved he was surprisingly good as an action hero. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like Neeson feels challenged by the many action movie roles he has taken on since which is why he more often than not seems to be going through the motions.
9 Jennifer Lawrence
During the early 2010s, Jennifer Lawrence seemed like she was poised to be one of the most celebrated actors of her generation. After all, she received four Oscar nominations and one win during that period. Unfortunately, since then it seems like her passion for the business has disappeared. For proof of this, look no further than her performances in the late X-Men and Hunger Game movies, in which it feels like she appears against her will.
8 Kevin Costner
Celebrated for his roles in movies like The Untouchables, Bull Durham, Dances with Wolves, and JFK, at that time Kevin Costner was an acclaimed and beloved movie star. Unfortunately, after all of that success, Costner was given the keys to the castle and his two passion projects, Waterworld and The Postman, flopped hard. Seemingly heartbroken by those defeats, Costner has since appeared in many movies but he no longer appears to care about his craft.
7 Marlon Wayans
Here is the thing about Marlon Wayans, some people may contend that he has been consistently mediocre throughout his career but that is an idea we balk at. After all, there was a great deal of energy to his early roles that no longer seems to be there now that he seemingly has given up. On top of that, his performance in Requiem for a Dream was amazingly good and he has hasn’t even tried to live up to it since.
6 Johnny Depp
Long before Johnny Depp became a controversial figure, he was the kind of actor that most passionate movie fans loved. Always happy to take a risk, his choices almost always surprised. Unfortunately, ever since Depp first debuted as Captain Jack Sparrow, he has given one cartoonish performance after another. However, he was great in 2015’s Black Mass so it is clear he could be a good actor again if he cared enough.
5 Eddie Murphy
At the height of Eddie Murphy’s career, it could easily be argued that he was the biggest comedy star in the world. Beloved for his Saturday Night Live work and amazing in a long list of movies that are now considered classics, it seemed like he could do no wrong. On the other end of the spectrum, for more than a decade now Murphy has starred in one stinker after another and he is far too talented for that to be the case if he was actually trying.
4 Nicolas Cage
It may be hard to remember it now, but at one point Nicolas Cage was considered to be a Hollywood heavyweight. An Oscar winner for Leaving Las Vegas and acclaimed in movies like Raising Arizona, The Rock, Adaptation, and Kick-Ass, Cage clearly knew what he was doing. Sadly, it has since come out that the actor frittered away all of his money and now it seems like he will appear in any movie, no matter the quality, if the paycheque is right.
3 Adam Sandler
First able to attain fame during his SNL tenure, Adam Sandler then went on to star in beloved movies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy. Aside from that, he gave excellent performances in The Wedding Singer and Punch-Drunk Love. These days, however, the movies Sandler stars in seem to be excuses for him to go on vacation with his friends and as a result, most of them frankly suck.
2 Harrison Ford
When we sat down to put together this list, Harrison Ford was one of the first people that came to mind. Seemingly only involved in the movie industry for the money now, he appears to detest the trappings of fame, including acting and being interviewed. In fact, the only reason Ford didn’t take the number one spot on this list is he seemed to have some energy again when he starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
1 Bruce Willis
Once considered to be among the biggest action stars in the world, Bruce Willis’ role in Die Hard will go down in history. Also a stellar actor at one point, Willis was amazing in movies like Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, Unbreakable, Sin City, and Looper. All of that is over, however, as Willis notoriously no longer cares for acting, Sylvester Stallone once called him “greedy and lazy”, and even the always nice Kevin Smith said working with Willis was “soul-crushing”.