5 Famous Actors Who Made the Worst First Films

source: 20th Century Fox

Source: 20th Century Fox

Not all actors dive straight into stardom with no awkward transition. For many, starting their careers is rather like transition from childhood to adulthood — it’s a massively awkward stage with a lot of false starts and wincing. Another appropriate comparison would be that of a dog on a tile floor — they sort of flail about, looking for purchase on a slippery surface. Or maybe a police officer on the side of the highway, where they flash extra bright to be seen, but are literally giving away tickets. Getting into the acting industry is tough, and it’s entirely understandable that new actors have to start out with whatever work they can get, regardless of quality; a lot of times the film or television show’s poor outcome isn’t the result of the actor in the part.

1. Tom Cruise in Endless Love

Endless Love is a tragic love story about a young man who pursues his high school lover to the point of burning down her parent’s home, being sent to jail, and accidentally leading her father to be hit by an automobile and die. It still ends with her visiting him in prison because no on will ever lover her as much as he does, so this somewhat creepy tale at least has a happy (?) ending — if you’re into unhealthy and obsessive relationships.

Tom Cruise did not play the lead role, instead filling in the role of the protagonist’s friend, whose personal anecdote leads the main character to burn down his girlfriend’s house. The film received a score of 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was thoroughly sliced apart by critics. “Anyone unfamiliar with the story of Scott Spencer’s novel is bound to be mystified by Franco Zeffirelli’s latest film, which reduces Endless Love to a whimperingly latter-day Romeo and Juliet with a little pyromania thrown in,” wrote the New York Times’ Janet Maslin, for example.

2. Nicole Kidman in Bush Christmas

Some might argue that, being a family friendly sort of film, it’s not fair to critique Nicole Kidman’s first cinematic performance. After all, most children’s movies aren’t praised for their depth and uniqueness, they’re generally fairly simple and the plots are straightforward; no one is looking for genius, just something that’s age appropriate and will entertain the kids. But that’s where Bush Christmas falls a little short.

As Brian Costello of Common Sense Media writes, “Parents need to know that Bush Christmas is a 1947 movie that may be a hard sell for kids.” So failure on the first bare-minimum-quality we look for in a children’s movie. It will not keep them from destroying the house. He continues, “The biggest concern for parents is the casual racism that runs through the film,” knocking out any hope of fulfilling the second demand. In point of fact, the film is probably better used as a teaching tool to explain past and current racism, than as a movie that’s safe to leave your kids alone with.

3. Tom Hanks in He Knows You’re Alone

Tom Hanks played a side role in his first film appearance as Elliot in, He Knows You’re Alone. The film, which came out in 1980, was a low budget horror movie about a soon-to-be-married woman being threatened by a serial killer. Thrillingly original, right? The title itself is fairly representative of the kind of out-of-box thinking that went into the making of He Knows You’re Alone, and its efforts to creatively differentiate itself from the film version of one of those fake retractable knifes you can buy at Halloween stores. The film received a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. Julia Roberts in Blood Red

Julia Roberts got her first speaking role in her brother’s film, Blood Red, a western about the power struggles of a winery in California. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes haven’t bothered to review the film, but only 25% of audience members liked it. The failure to succeed can’t, in good conscience, be blamed on Roberts though, given that she only had a single line of two words, and was included to play her older brother’s character’s younger sister.

5. Harrison Ford in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round

Harrison Ford played a bellhop in the 1966 film, Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, a film that Variety described as having a decent core concept that, in execution just “doesn’t jell.” The title, “a deliberate attempt to be cute, is meaningless,” states the review. On Rotten Tomatoes the film received an audience approval of only 35% and Ford’s own part in the film is lackluster and unexciting, certainly not worth watching the entire film to see. Or worth watching at all, realistically.

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