There are very few movies that can be described as completely perfect, as even a masterpiece like Apocalypse Now is filled with historical errors and inaccuracies. However, few things are more important within the production of a film than casting good actors in the lead parts. Even if a screenwriter has a beautiful story in mind with great dialogue, it won’t be worth their efforts if the performers do not live up to what is on the page.

While some bad movies have great lines of dialogue,it can be very hard for viewers to invest in a film if one of the performances doesn’t work. One actor can single-handedly torpedo the quality of a film, and make the rest of the cast look silly or unrealistic in comparison. Here are ten great movies that were ruined by one performance.

10 Marlon Brando, ‘Guys and Dolls’ (1955)

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Marlon Brando and Subby Kaye as Sky Masterson and Nicely-Nicely Johnson, standing with a group of men in Guys and Dolls
Image via MGM

Guys and Dolls is a terrific musical film that combines romance, gangster movie shenanigans, and a number of fun plot twists into a rip-roaring spectacle. While the acclaimed singer Frank Sinatra did a suitable job in the leading role, Marlon Brando nearly sank the film due to his terrible singing abilities. Brando may have been coming off of an Academy Award win for best Actor for his performance in On The Waterfront, but his musical skills were severely lacking.

To make matters worse, Brando and Sinatra feuded throughout the production of Guys and Dolls, as they both couldn’t stand working with one another. This made the film more challenging to appreciate, as they were supposed to be playing characters that were close friends and allies. Guys and Dolls is only worth watching for viewers who are able to fast forward through any scenes in which Brando attempts to sing.


Guys and Dolls

Release Date
December 23, 1955

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Marlon Brando , Jean Simmons , Frank Sinatra , Vivian Blaine , Robert Keith , Stubby Kaye


Main Genre

9 Kim Darby, ‘True Grit’ (1969)

Directed by Henry Hathaway

Robert Duvall standing in front of Kim Darby in the mountains in True Grit (1969)
Image via Paramount Pictures

True Grit was a terrific western adaptation of an acclaimed book, and gave John Wayne the opportunity to give a performance he considers to be his personal best. While Wayne finally earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film, the character of Mattie Ross, played by Kim Darby, is one of the most irritating protagonists in western history. Darby does little more than whine and complain throughout the film.

Darby feels completely unrealistic in the role of a traumatized child, making it harder to focus on the soulful performance that Wayne is giving. Thankfully, Joel and Ethan Coen chose to cast Haillee Steinfield in the same role when they remade the film in 2010 with Jeff Bridges in the role that Wayne had played. Steinfeld’s performance was actually terrific, and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

True Grit 1969 Film Poster

True Grit (1969)

Release Date
June 11, 1969

Henry Hathaway

128 minutes

Main Genre

Rent on Amazon

8 Kate Capshaw, ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ (1984)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Image via Paramount Pictures

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was a very different film compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark, as it was a prequel that took place a year before Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) got involved in the search for the Ark of the Covenant. Indy is teamed up with new love interest Willie Scott, and unfortunately Kate Capshaw had no chemistry with Ford. The film provided a much more compelling supporting character with Ke Huy Quan’s role as Indy’s sidekick, Short Round.

It’s really hard to appreciate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when considering how strong Karen Allen’s performance as Marion Ravenwood was in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although Capshaw ended up marrying director Steven Speilberg in real life, it doesn’t make her performance in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom any better.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Film Poster

7 Daryl Hannah, ‘Wall Street’ (1987)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Daryl Hannah in Wall Street (1)
Iamge via 20th Century Fox

Wall Street is the only film in history that has won both an Academy Award and a Razzie Award. Michael Douglas walked away with the Best Actor trophy for his incredible performance as the Wall Street business tycoon Gordon Gekko, who claimed that “greed is good” for a capitalistic society. Unfortunately, Daryl Hannah’s performance as the love interest of Charlie Sheen’s character felt completely superfluous and inessential to the satirical points that director Oliver Stone was trying to make about American business.

While Sheen is often a better actor than he is given credit for, Hannah does almost nothing to sell the romantic storyline in the film, which hasn’t aged well at all. Both Sheen and Douglas reprised their roles in the underrated sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but Hannah thankfully did not return to reprise her role in any capacity.

Wall Street

Release Date
December 10, 1987

Oliver Stone

Charlie Sheen , Tamara Tunie , Franklin Cover , Chuck Pfeiffer , John C. McGinley , Hal Holbrook


Main Genre

6 Sofia Coppola, ‘The Godfather: Part III’ (1990)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia) and Mary Corleone (Sofia Coppola) cooking together in The Godfather Part III
Image via Paramount Pictures

The Godfather: Part III faced incredible expectations, as the first two installments in Francis Ford Coppola’s trilogy were heralded as some of the greatest films ever made. Unfortunately, the Oscar-winning director made the mistake of casting his daughter Sofia Coppola in a lead role as the daughter of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone. While she may not have been the biggest issue in the film,Coppola’s terrible performance makes the third film easily the weakest in The Godfather franchise.

The decision to focus so heavily on Coppola’s character was confusing, especially when the film introduced a compelling new anti-hero played by Andy Garcia. While Coppola ended up becoming an acclaimed director behind films like Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, she essentially abandoned acting all together after the disastrous reaction to her strange performance in The Godfather: Part III.

The Godfather Part III Movie Poster

The Godfather Part III

Release Date
December 25, 1990

Francis Ford Coppola

Al Pacino , Diane Keaton , Andy Garcia , Talia Shire , Eli Wallach , Joe Mantegna , George Hamilton , Bridget Fonda

162 Minutes

Main Genre

Watch on Paramount+

5 Kevin Costner, ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ (1991)

Directed by Kevin Reynolds

Robin Hood 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' portrayed by Kevin Costner
Image by Warner Brothers

Robin Hood is one of the most famous heroes in all of fiction, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is about as good of a film about the hero of Nottingham that has ever been made. Unfortunately, Kevin Costner’s inability to deliver a compelling British accent made Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves laughable in scenes that should have felt epic. It became a performance that was heavily parodied, particularly by Cary Elwes’ humorous version of the character in the Mel Brooks comedy film Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

Costner is completely overshadowed by Alan Rickman’s performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham, a villain who ranks among the most evil in cinematic history. Rickman even improvised lines and made serious changes to the script because he was so dissatisfied with the creative direction that Costner seemed to be taking the film in.

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Poster

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Release Date
June 14, 1991

Kevin Reynolds


4 Keanu Reeves, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ (1992)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Gary Oldman as Dracula speaking to Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula
Image via Columbia Pictures 

Keanu Reeves is a great action star in films like The Matrix, Point Break, and Speed, but he often struggles in films that ask him to stretch his abilities. Unfortunately, Bram Stoker’s Dracularequired Reeves to have an English accent that he simply couldn’t pull off. While Gary Oldman’s performance as the titular vampire and his amazing makeup effects work were awarded with serious acclaim, Reeves was heavily lambasted for his disastrous performance.

Having an unbelievable accent is one thing, but Reeves also had no romantic chemistry with Winona Ryder, which made it significantly harder to invest in the characters on an emotional level. Considering that Bram Stoker’s Dracula goes further into the explicit sexuality of the original novel than any other depiction of the characters, it’s even more disappointing that Reeves simply isn’t able to add the needed sensuality to the role.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Release Date
November 13, 1992

Francis Ford Coppola


3 Katie Holmes, ‘Batman Begins’ (2005)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins
Image via Warner Bros.

Batman Begins was a terrific reboot of the Batman franchise that chose to revamp many of Bob Kane’s most iconic characters from a more realistic perspective. However, director Christopher Nolan ended up inserting the new character of Katie Holmes’ Rachel Dawes, who served as a childhood friend and love interest to Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Holmes is completely unbelievable in the role and has no chemistry with Bale. The romantic scenes are easily the worst aspect of a film that gets most aspects of the origin story right.

Thankfully, the trilogy did not entirely waste the character, as Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel in The Dark Knight. Gyllenhaal perfectly captured the determination and intelligence that made Rachel a compelling character; the only drawback is that she should have just been cast in Batman Begins in the first place.

2 Lee Pace, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)

Directed by James Gunn

Ronan the Accuser, sitting in his throne holding his hammer in Guardians of the Galaxy
Image via Marvel Studios

It’s become a cliche at this point to state that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has struggled to have interesting villains, even if their heroes tend to be very well cast. Although Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly one of the strongest installments in the MCU thus far, Lee Pace lacks any sense of menace with his performance as Ronan the Accuser. Ronan ultimately feels like nothing but a pawn within the plan by Thanos (Josh Brolin) to take over the universe.

Pace’s lack of emotion or personality stands out in sharp contrast to the Guardians, who all have very strong senses of humor. Pace ended up reprising his role in Captain Marvel, which unfortunately did not give him much of an opportunity to give any more depth to the character. Thankfully, the second and third installments in the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy ended up introducing more interesting antagonists.

Guardians of the Galaxy Film Poster

Guardians of the Galaxy

Release Date
August 1, 2014

121 minutes

1 Tom Hanks, ‘Elvis’ (2022)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Elvis Tom Hanks Austin Butler
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Elvis proved to be a breakout film role for Austin Butler, whose incredible performance as “The King of Rock’n’Roll” ended up earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. While all of Baz Luhrmann’s films are over-the-top, Tom Hanks’ performance as Colonel Tom Parker felt like a complete cartoon villainy. Hanks’ strange accent and over-the-mannerism robbed Elvis of any sense of dramatic realism or emotional sensitivity.

Hanks’ performance is so strange that it prevents the film from delving into the interesting true story of Parker, whose relationship with Elvis became a topic of debate among music scholars and historians. Elvis is about as perfect of a film about the most iconic musician of all-time as anyone could possibly hope for, but it would have been a much stronger project had anyone else been cast in the critical role of Parker.

Elvis Film Poster


Release Date
June 24, 2022

159 minutes

Main Genre

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