These 29 Movies Almost Broke Actors’ Careers

By Rosunnara R.Last Updated Jun 29, 2020 1:49:12 PM ET
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One bad movie can destroy almost anyone's career in Hollywood. While it's common for actors to star in awful films from time to time, some struggle to save their careers after working in movies that failed miserably. You can just ask Ben Affleck and Demi Moore, who accepted some bad roles, but eventually snagged A-list parts again. Unfortunately, some actors never find a way to rejuvenate their careers after starring in a box office failure.

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The following actors starred in some awful movies, leading to their career’s demise. In some cases, a few stars recovered and were able to rebound from these flops.     

Halle Berry - Catwoman

Berry's fame flourished in the 2000s with roles in many successful movies. Fans remember her in “Boomerang,” “The Flintstones,” and the “X-men” installments as Storm. Berry fell from grace when she starred in 2004's “Catwoman.” Critics and media sources called the movie one of the worst films ever made.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Shortly after, the shadow that “Catwoman” cast on Berry earned her the Worst Actress Razzie award. With a sense of humor, Berry accepted the Razzie award and responded, “I never in my life thought that I would be here, winning a Razzie. It’s not like I ever aspired to be here, but thank you.” In 2005, Berry’s high-profile status returned after starring in “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” for which she received a Primetime Emmy nomination. In 2019, the actress will star in “John Wick: Chapter 3” and “Bruised.”

Elizabeth Berkley - Showgirls

Elizabeth Berkley was widely known as Jessie Spano in the television series “Saved by the Bell,” which aired from 1989 to 1993. Berkley’s career took a drastic turn in 1995, when in trying to shed her image of a smart, driven high schooler, she starred in “Showgirls.” The film is about a dancer who moved to Las Vegas and climbed her way up from a stripper to the top showgirl.

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“Showgirls” flopped at the box office and the film garnered 13 Razzie Award nominations. When the movie was released on video, it became a cult classic, which didn’t help Berkley’s career. Berkley’s agent, Mike Menchel, dropped her and other agents refused to work with her. Berkley moved on to smaller roles in unsuccessful movies such as “Taxman” and “Detonator.” According to IMDb, Berkley last appeared in an episode of “New Girl” in 2016.

Jake Lloyd - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

If you think children’s acting careers can’t get crushed, you should see what happened to Jake Lloyd. In 1999’s “Star Wars: Episode I,” Lloyd portrayed young Anakin Skywalker. The movie was simultaneously his first big break and his last appearance on the big screen. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 54% rating. The movie greatly disappointed hardcore “Star Wars” fans.

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Although Lloyd’s acting played no factor in how bad the film turned out, his personal life was still affected. At school, other students bullied him non-stop. Lloyd told DailyMail, “My entire school life was really a living hell — and I had to do up to 60 interviews a day.” The young actor vowed to never return to the “Star Wars” movies. On June 17, 2015, police arrested Lloyd for resisting arrest and reckless driving. After serving 10 months in jail, Lloyd was diagnosed with schizophrenia and transferred to a psychiatric facility.

Brandon Routh - Superman Returns

Growing up, Brandon Routh often had people tell him that he looked like Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Superman in the 1970s. Routh’s resemblance to Reeve helped him land the role of Superman in 2006’s “Superman Returns.” The film performed well at the box office, but critics called the movie boring due to its lack of action scenes.

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Brandon Routh
Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

The movie’s sequel intended to feature Routh as Superman again, but the project took too long to get off the ground. As a result, the film series rebooted with Henry Cavill in the role of Superman. After that, Routh landed a few supporting roles in movies such as "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "The Informers." While his movie stardom may have waned, his presence has remained strong on TV. He currently stars in “Legends of Tomorrow” as Ray Palmer, who he has also played in several other series. 

Hayden Christensen - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Jake Lloyd wasn’t the only actor who came up short after a “Star Wars” movie. Hayden Christensen grew a large fanbase when he portrayed Sam in “Life as a House.” He then gained international attention as Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.”

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Hayden Christensen
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When the film was released, “Star Wars” fans criticized Christensen's acting skills. The awkward screen chemistry between Christensen and Natalie Portman also bothered the audience. Consequently, Christensen received the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Award for “Episode II.” Although he continued acting, appearing in movies such as “The Last Man” and “Little Italy” in 2018, Christensen’s career stardom hasn’t regained its vigor.

John Travolta - Battlefield Earth

John Travolta’s career has gone up and down like a rollercoaster. In 1977, he danced his way into audiences’ hearts in “Saturday Night Fever.” Shortly after, he became a Hollywood icon when he starred in 1978’s “Grease.” His career began to wane in the ’80s with the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever,” and the “Look Who’s Talking” series in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Then, in 1994, Travolta starred in “Pulp Fiction,” receiving an Academy Award nomination for his performance. He became an A-list celebrity again.

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Travolta returned to Hollywood as a high-profile actor, but his superstar status didn’t last for long. In 2000, he co-produced and starred in “Battlefield Earth,” which performed poorly at the box office and garnered a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For his performance in “Battlefield,” Travolta earned two Razzie awards. He continues to act, most recently starring in the TV series hit “American Crime Story: O.J. Simpson,” where he played Simpson’s lawyer Robert Shapiro. 

Ben Affleck - Gigli

Ben Affleck shined in many movies, including “Dazed and Confused,” “Chasing Amy” and “Armageddon.” After Affleck starred in “Gigli” with his then-girlfriend. Jennifer Lopez in 2003, his career went downhill. On Rotten Tomatoes, “Gigli” received a rating of 6%. The film bombed at the box office as well.

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Affleck’s career appeared dead after “Gigli.” In 2007, he transitioned into directing and worked hard to land a leading role again. His luck turned around after directing “Argo,” and snagging lead roles in “Gone Girl” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Currently, Affleck continues to act and direct movies. 

Chris O’Donnell - Batman & Robin

Chris O’Donnell ruined his career after starring in “Batman & Robin” with George Clooney in 1997. Although the film performed well at the box office, it received very little praise from critics. Not only is “Batman & Robin” widely considered to be the most unsuccessful Batman film ever made, it also became known as one of the worst films of all time.

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Chris O'Donnell
Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Warner Bros. canceled the sequel due to the movie’s negative reviews. O’Donnell earned Razzie Award nominations for Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Screen Couple. The film didn’t affect Clooney’s career, but O’Donnell struggled to land roles in movies. O’Donnell worked on a few TV series and TV movies after “Batman & Robin, but it wasn’t until 2009 that he scored a prime role on NCIS: Los Angeles after having played the same character in the original series. 

Mike Myers - The Love Guru

Following his success on Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers became widely known for his roles in “Wayne's World,” “Austin Powers” and “Shrek.” After starring in “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” in 2003, his career dipped. However, his career bounced back in 2004, because of “Shrek 2.” A few years later, Myers surprised everyone with what many consider the worst movie of his career: 2008’s “The Love Guru.”

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Mike Meyers
Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

The film received a 14% score on Rotten Tomatoes and had a negative reception. Critics blamed Myers for the film’s failure because he wrote and starred in it. Myers returned to the big screen with supporting roles in “Terminal” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but he hasn’t landed another prominent role. Most recently he served as a disguised guest host on a reboot of “The Gong Show,” but it too only lasted one season.

Tom Green - Freddy Got Fingered

In the early 2000s, Canadian Tom Green became a big deal. “The Tom Green Show,” which had first begun airing in 1994 in his native Ottowa, came to the U.S. in 1999. Airing on MTV, it helped the host/actor gather a giant fanbase. Eventually, Green wrote and starred in his own movie, “Freddy Got Fingered.” Hollywood expected Green’s fame to help him transition smoothly into big screen roles.

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Despite his popularity, the comedy star disappointed fans with this 2001 movie debut. The film received a rating of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the movie became a box office flop, it gained a cult following after its release on DVD. Green’s career never quite recovered, and he has since made the rounds on the celebrity reality show circuit.

Sean Connery - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

When a movie performs poorly, most actors try to recover their losses with a new project. However, Sean Connery had no intention of returning to the movie industry after “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (“LXG”) failed in 2002. Connery, who starred in the film, reportedly had an ongoing disagreement with director Stephen Norrington, and was unhappy with how the film turned out. Connery announced his retirement following the film’s release.

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“LXG” was intended to have a sequel, but the project never came to fruition. The film killed more than Connery’s career. The director of “LXG,” Norrington, stopped working in the movie industry altogether after having many disputes with Connery. 

Taylor Lautner - Abduction

Audiences saw a bright future for Taylor Lautner because of his starring role as Jacob in the “Twilight” saga. Lautner even gained a massive “Team Jacob” fanbase. His career suffered, however, after starring in 2011’s “Abduction.” “Abduction” scored a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As the movie’s lead, Lautner received a lot of criticism. Kyle Smith of the New York Post stated, "Actual abduction may be preferable to the movie of the same name, but only if your kidnappers don't torture you by forcing you to watch it."

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Taylor Lautner
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Lautner hasn’t yet received the same amount of post-trilogy stardom as his “Twilight” co-stars, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. He most recently starred in three seasons of the BBC/Netflix show “Cuckoo,” serving as the replacement lead after Andy Samberg left to begin shooting “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”  

Demi Moore - Striptease

Believe it or not, Demi Moore’s career took a massive hit in the ‘90s. The 1996 movie “Striptease” almost spelled the end of her career. Before disappointing fans, Moore starred in iconic movies such as “Ghost,” “A Few Good Men,” “Indecent Proposal” and “Disclosure.” Despite the film’s poor performance, Moore brought home $12.5 million for “Striptease,” becoming the highest-paid actress in film history at the time.

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Photo Courtesy: Castle Rock Entertainment/IMDb

Critics called the film a major blow to Moore. “Striptease” earned seven Golden Raspberry nominations and won six. Moore revived her career after starring in “Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle” in 2003. Recently, Moore has worked in movies as well as TV shows including “Empire” and “Corporate Animals.” 

Geena Davis - Cutthroat Island

Recovering from a box office bomb isn’t easy. Before Geena Davis’s career took a hit, she starred in memorable classics including “The Fly,” “Thema and Louise” and “A League of Their Own.” In 1995, Davis’s career suffered after starring in “Cutthroat Island.” Critics felt bothered by the unrealistic stunts, script and acting in the movie. Even her work in her following film “The Long Kiss Goodnight” couldn’t help Hollywood forget

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Geena Davis
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The film's production was plagued by multiple recasts and rewrites. The movie’s financial loss became considered one of the biggest disasters in film history. As a result, the film’s production company, Carolco Pictures, closed down. Davis recently starred in TV shows such as “Commander In Chief,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Exorcist." 

Topher Grace - Spider-Man 3

Remember when Topher Grace played Eric Forman from the hit TV show, “That 70’s Show?” After the series ended, Grace took the chance to make it big in Hollywood as Venom in Sony’s “Spider-Man 3.” The film already had Thomas Haden Church starring as the villain Sandman, but producers added Venom as another antagonist. Although the film was very successful at the box office, it received mixed reviews from critics.

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Topher Grace
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“Spider-Man 3” disappointed audiences, who felt the movie had too many villains and storylines. The producers’ mistakes almost cost Grace his career. He began to redeem himself by returning to TV as well as appearing on the big screen in movies including “Truth” alongside Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford,” and “Interstellar.”

Madonna - Swept Away

Many musicians like to test the waters of acting. Some realize they have real talent, while others fail and make a vow to never return to the movie industry. Madonna learned to leave her acting career behind after facing heat from critics. She attempted to act in ”Swept Away” while her then-husband, Guy Ritchie, became the director in 2002.

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madonna
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The movie was a commercial failure and a major critical disappointment. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie scored a 5% rating. Guess who earned a Razzie for Worst Actress that year? While Madonna won the Worst Actress Award, the film received five Razzies in total. These days, Madonna is only focused on producing music

Freddie Prinze Jr. - Scooby-Doo

The “Scooby-Doo” movie franchise couldn’t be saved even by Freddie Prinze Jr. He became Hollywood’s heartthrob in the ‘90s. Classic movies like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “She’s All That” gave him the star power needed to woo audiences. “Scooby-Doo” and its 2004 sequel performed terribly, according to theatergoers and Rotten Tomatoes.

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Freddie Prinze Jr.
Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

“Scooby-Doo” received a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while its sequel performed even worse at 22%. Shortly after, Prinze went on to smaller roles in “Happily N’Ever After,” “Jack and Jill vs. the World,” “Delgo” and some TV work. However, Prinze’s recent projects didn’t bring him as much success as his roles before “Scooby-Doo.” 

Brad Pitt - War Machine

“War Machine” was released on Netflix and in select theaters in 2017. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 49% rating. Critics pointed fingers at Brad Pitt for the movie’s failure because he produced and starred in it.

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brad pitt
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Scott Mendelson of Forbes stated, "Not only is it a bad movie, but it is a bad movie because it is a painfully uncinematic film. It is concerning how it is constructed and how much it cost, the kind of film that would be a financial disaster in cinemas.” After “War Machine,” Pitt continued to produce more movies rather than starring in them, including the Oscar nominated films “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” He recently produced “The King” and “Untitled Miranda July Project” in 2019.

Vin Diesel - The Pacifier

Fans and critics would prefer not to see Vin Diesel in a babysitting movie again. Although the film gained success at the box office in 2005, it also collected a lot of criticism. The movie scored a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The website's critical consensus reads, "Vin Diesel parodies his tough guy image for the family audience, but the result is only moderately amusing." Many theatergoers and critics complained that Diesel’s performance lacked humor and made the children’s movie boring.

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vin diesel
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That same year, Diesel starred in “The Chronicles of Riddick,” earning a Golden Rasberry Award nomination for Worst Actor. He then returned to the popular “Fast and Furious” franchise, helping resuscitate his career following his failures. 

Scarlett Johansson - Ghost in the Shell

In 2017, Scarlett Johansson’s reputation took a hit after portraying Major Motoko Kusanagi in “Ghost in the Shell.” The movie was highly controversial, garnering accusations of whitewashing due to the decision to cast white actors in lead roles. As a result, fans created a petition calling for Johansson’s role to be recast.

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scarlettjohansson
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Johansson addressed the controversy, saying, “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously. Hopefully, any question that comes up of my casting will be answered by audiences when they see the film.” The film was a box office bomb and a major critical disappointment. Currently, Johansson continues to act, but her reputation remains damaged. In 2019, the actress is starring in “Avengers: Endgame” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

Roberto Benigni - Pinocchio

After Roberto Benigni starred and won an Oscar for “Life is Beautiful” in 1998, his fans waited for him to return with another huge hit. A few years later in 2002, Benigni directed and starred in “Pinocchio.” Fans loved the film in Europe, but theatergoers in the U.S. loathed the English dub. On Rotten Tomatoes, “Pinocchio” scored a rare rating of 0%.

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The Golden Raspberry Awards nominated the film for six Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. As a result, Benigni only worked on a few films and stopped acting in 2012. According to Variety, Benigni is returning to the big screen to play in a live-action version of “Pinocchio” in 2019.

Bruce Willis - Precious Cargo

Bruce Willis proved himself to be a star in popular movies such as the “Die Hard” franchise, “The Fifth Element” and “The Sixth Sense.” However, his career almost died after starring in “Precious Cargo” in 2016. The film flopped at the box office and scored a rare rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics and fans tore the movie apart.

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Willis’s acting career took a dive. Since 2016, most of his movies have been critical and commercial failures. Then in 2019, he rejoined with director M. Night Shyamalan to star in “Glass,” which received mixed reviews. Willis also had a role in “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,” which earned an 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The Rock - Tooth Fairy

Before Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock) became a respected actor, he was a wrestler trying to break into the film industry. Johnson’s career hit rock bottom when he starred in “Tooth Fairy” in 2010.

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Fortunately, the film earned $112.5 million at the box office on a $48 million budget. The film’s commercial success didn’t stop critics from writing angry reviews. After starring in “Tooth Fairy,” Johnson worked hard work to land a serious role. His luck turned around after joining the cast of “Fast Five.” Many critics praised his performance, calling Johnson "the best thing, by far, in ‘Fast Five.’" As the series helped buoy his career, he’s gone on to star in successful movies including as the voice of the Maui in “Moana,” “Central Intelligence” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” 

Lindsay Lohan - I Know Who Killed Me

One bad decision can kill almost anyone’s career. Lindsay Lohan found incredible success with hits such as “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls.” With all her success, Lohan’s career seemed untouchable in 2003. However, her legal troubles and difficult attitude began to threaten her career. As a result, Lohan chose smaller roles to stay out of the spotlight.

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In 2007, film crews and fans saw her become more unprofessional and irresponsible. Lohan got arrested for a second DUI before her movie, “I Know Who Killed Me,” released. Lohan earned a Golden Rasberry award for Worst Actress for her role in the film. Shortly after, Lohan worked in other movies that received unfavorable reviews such as “The Canyons” and “Inappropriate Comedy.” Lohan’s recent projects haven’t brought her as much success and she most recently has been running her own resort in Greece and documenting that story on TV. 

Cuba Gooding Jr. - Boat Trip

Cuba Gooding Jr. is another actor whose career suffered due to a movie’s failure. In 2002, the Academy Award and Oscar winner agreed to star in “Boat Trip” and as a result, set sail to his high status in Hollywood. The movie received a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Critics described the film as homophobic, lame and desperate for laughs. Chris Rock made fun of Gooding for joining the movie when he already received notable awards for great films. “Boat Trip” earned a couple of Razzie Award nominations, including Worst Actor for Gooding and Worst Director for Mort Nathan. Gooding went on to star in more failed movies such as 2007’s “Norbit,” further damaging his career prospects. More recently, he received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his role as O.J. Simpson in the series “American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson.” However, some reviewers criticized his performance in the 2016 series.

Terrence Howard - Iron Man

Thanks to films like “Hustle & Flow” and “Crash,” Terrence Howard became a familiar face in Hollywood movies. He also appeared in “Iron Man.” The 2008 film featured Howard as Colonel Rhodes, Iron Man’s best friend. Howard was the highest paid actor in “Iron Man,” according to the Huffington Post. While Robert Downey Jr. only received $500,000, Howard took home $4.5 million.

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While the first "Iron Man" movie catapulted Downey back to superstar status, Howard didn’t receive the same level of recognition. Marvel Studios offered Howard significantly less for the “Iron Man” sequel. As a result, Howard turned down the role and struggled to find prominent roles. In 2015, Howard got his groove back after landing the role of Lucious Lyon in “Empire,” a critically acclaimed TV series on FOX.

Jennifer Love Hewitt - Jewtopia

In the 1990s Jennifer Love Hewitt became a teen idol after starring in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Throughout her career, Hewitt performed in popular TV shows including Party of Five” and the “Ghost Whisperer.” The actress shined in the spotlight for over 20 years.

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Hewitt’s last movie was 2012’s “Jewtopia,” in which she plays the role of Alison Marks. The film earned negative reviews and a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Following this brief stint back in movies, Hewitt returned to TV where she starred in “The Client List” and “Hot in Cleveland.” She most recently starred in the show 9-1-1. 

Chris Klein - Rollerball

Chris Klein starred in the wrong movie at the wrong time when his career tanked. After starring in both “American Pie” and “Election” in 1999, Klein gained popularity in Hollywood. Klein’s acting career looked promising when he landed a lead role in the 2002 remake of “Rollerball.”

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The movie bombed at the box office and earned a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states, "Removing the social critique of the original, this updated version of ‘Rollerball’ is violent, confusing, and choppy. Klein makes for a bland hero." After facing ridicule for his role in “Rollerball,” Klein moved on to a few teen movies such as “Just Friends” and “American Dreamz.” In 2018, Klein joined Season 5 of “The Flash” as supervillain Cicada.

Jamie Kennedy - Son of the Mask

In the 1990s and 2000s, Jamie Kennedy landed roles in popular movies such as the “Scream” franchise and “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.” He also had a successful show called “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” on the WB in 2002.

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Hollywood shunned Kennedy after he starred in “Son of the Mask” in 2005. He earned Golden Raspberry Award nominations for Worst Actor and Worst Couple. Besides becoming a box office flop, “Son of the Mask" is considered one of the worst movie sequels ever made. Critics called the visuals and script unforgivable. Now, Kennedy appears in TV movies and shows such as Lifetime’s “Surviving Compton” and FOX’s “Lucifer.”