When otherwise normal actors step into action movies it’s difficult to gauge whether or not it will work. Many will be taking that heroic leap as they check out Alex Cross this weekend as Tyler Perry makes the transition from an onscreen cross dresser to bona fide action star. Will his status change to that of an action star? It’s up to audiences to decide, but we can at least run through the best and worst that odd choices for action leads that movies have dished out for us in years past.
The Worst Surprises
#5: Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl has turned into the rom-com equivalent of Meg Ryan for this generation. But when you slap Katherine Heigl in an action-like setting, like The Killers and One for the Money, it doesn’t work out well at all. Those films are tough to watch. Why? Because she’s not fit for that environment and doesn’t act like she belongs either. Her holding a gun is the equivalent of seeing a Welsh Corgi dog with an uzi in its paws. It just doesn’t fit.
#4: Kylie Minogue
There’s just a wonderful brew of awful when it came to Kylie Minogue pretending to be an action star in the critically panned Street Fighter film. Yeah, it was never going to work, and there are a lot of things that don’t work in Street Fighter but Kylie Minogue is the coup de grace. She’s just so bland and just thinking about this film makes you want to drink heavily. We actually recommend trying to form a drinking game while you’re watching Street Fighter. That and after you get drunk enough you should start talking like Jean Claude Van Damme for the remainder of the night.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the late hip-hop/R&B singer Aaliyah. She was hip, she was smoking hot and one of the better female artists out there. So when she was at the peak of her popularity, people up in Hollywood thought she could work in the movies. Not really. Actually, she appears like she’s sleepwalking through the groan-worthy Romeo Must Die. Oh, and let’s not even get started on her last film Queen of the Damned and what a waste of time that was to sit through. Aaliyah, we love your music but you never really fit in movies, especially as an action chick.
#2: Josh Hartnett
Every once in awhile you see an actor onscreen whose the human equivalent of a block of wood. Yeah, that was Josh Hartnett when he tried to be mister macho in the painful Pearl Harbor and Hollywood Homicide. And let us not forget Black Hawk Down. Okay, we really love Black Hawk Down but Mr. Hartnett was the one actor who felt the most out of place. He’s been trying to make a decent living out of action roles for awhile now but he should probably stick to the more dramatic parts.
#1: Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman was once a famous basketball star who decided to make the move into film. With Double Team. Yeah… that move into film didn’t work out the way he wanted it to. Rodman is one heck of a basketball player but even his outfits were more impressive than his acting. We’re glad he got the hint shortly after the late nineties as he slowly puttered out of film.
The Best Surprises
#5: Seth Rogen
When comedy stars are mixed into the action genre, that usually is the perfect combination of awful that we see in cheesy nineties movies. Some of those action sidekicks for the most part faded over the test of time due to their annoying personas, thank goodness. Now we’re in the midst of a new wave of comedians who do fairly well when they make the giant leap into the dramatic, or this time the more action-oriented roles. One such comedian who took the leap was Seth Rogen in the unloved movie The Green Hornet. While that movie failed to catch audiences’ attention, it was pretty cool seeing Seth Rogen running around as an action hero.
#4: Ice Cube/RZA/Ice-T
It’s always a particularly rough transition for musicians to leap from music to film because, frankly, most of the time they’re just really bad. But where musicians aren’t usually the greatest actors in the world, they still manage to entertain us with their own personality flares that seep out through their performances, and Ices T and Cube have managed to be very entertaining in their action films, like New Jack City and XXX: State of the Union. That and we love the way they deliver one-liners, particularly a couple of Ice-T’s lines in New Jack City. Also, we can’t wait to see RZA in The Man with the Iron Fists, so were including him as a placeholder
#3: Adrien Brody
Every once in awhile you’ll get an actor whose previous work, or better yet his physical stature, may convince people that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a monstrous action star. In enters Adrien Brody, an Oscar-winning actor who decided to flip everyone the bird on that theory when he starred in Predators. He packed on some muscle, some crazy weaponry and fought onscreen for a couple of hours against one of the most badass extraterrestrial villains ever created in the past thirty years. Yeah, it’s safe to say he proved his worth.
#2: Keanu Reeves
Before Keanu Reeves was better known for his roles in The Matrix trilogy, he was known as that one guy in the Bill & Ted films. Then Kathryn Bigelow came along, scooping up Mr. Reeves for a little action movie called Point Break. After that point nobody questioned whether or not Reeves couldn’t hold his own in an action flick. Did we mention we love his California surfer-like voice in that movie too? It makes the line “I am an F.B.I. Agent” that much sweeter to utter out to random pedestrians.
#1: Bruce Willis
When Bruce Willis first came on the acting scene, he was the everyman who lucked out and got the defining role of a lifetime when Die Hard landed on his lap. At the time everyone thought it was terrible casting as he was that guy from Moonlighting. Really, people thought the film was going to be bad and soft. How wrong they were. There are many things about this classic action movie that we all adore, but Bruce Willis was the shiny star on top. Not only did this carve him out as a true blue action star from this point forward, but we just loved him cause he looked like any other guy who happened to be in the same building as terrorists. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Who surprised you most when they decided to action?