Step away from the dangerous biopic roles, actors. Check out five Hollywood stars and the career-threatening roles they should never have taken.
1. Naomi Watts as Princess Diana
Yes, Naomi Watts was born in Sussex and raised in Wales, making her kind of British. Yes, Naomi Watts has recently confided to the press that Princess Di has given her the thumbs up to play her in her biopic from beyond the grave. No, it's not ok that a Hollywood actress is playing Britain's most beloved royal figure - and possibly woman, ever - in a film. No matter how winsome her smile, or fizzy her screen reprisal of the world's most adored dead person, Brits are gonna hate.
2. Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor: screen icon and legend. Lindsay Lohan: troubled star of Freaky Friday and perennial Chateau Marmont squatter. Lohan's ideal starring role is a tired courtroom reality show, playing a strung-out unconvincing 'drama baby.' Who better to play the most beautiful and iconic star, ever? Anyone. Seriously, like...anyone.
3. Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace
Just because Amanda Seyfried's great in it, doesn't mean horny guys aren't watching this movie because it looks a whole lot like porn you can see on a first date.
4. Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter
After the passable English accent/ semblance of reality she brought to Bridget Jones, Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger's portrayal of Peter Rabbit's maker comes up hammier than a swimming pool full of gammon. As her hamster-cheeked face twists itself into unimaginable expressions, we're left in no doubt as to what Beatrix Potter's O-face looked like. What's that noise? It's the sound a career makes when it dies. Quick, nominate her for a Golden Globe to revive her. (Yes, that really happened.)
5. John Wayne as Genghis Khan
RKO Radio Pictures
Boy, give the Duke a break. The perennial cowboy tough guy must have twisted himself into knots trying to nail the nuances of playing infamous Mongol leader Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. Nope. He got a bowl cut and a weird wispy moustache and walked, talked and acted juuuust like he did in the Wild West. Bizarre, yes, but this film is so dangerously life-threatening it gets extra points. We're not talking figurative career suicide here. It killed him (probably). Production took place in Utah, downwind from a nuclear test site. 30 years later, almost half the 220-strong film crew had developed the big C. Just saying.
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The Insomniac's Guide: The Best TV Past 11
Welcome to Hollywood.com’s Insomniac’s Guide to television, where we bring you our guide to strange, dark underbelly of television that is after-11 programming. So if you’re a night owl, or just want to set your TiVo, check out our recommendations for the week. But there’s no guarantee that these shows will look as good by the light of day.
Note: TV is recorded by the night, rather than date that it airs. For instance, if a show is on at 2 AM Tuesday morning, it will be listed as a Monday night show. All times EST.
Monday Night 7/5
Buffy The Vampire Slayer- 3 AM on Logo
Buffy’s 7th season is mostly a disaster, but the final episode of the show does its best to serve as a fitting capstone to the highly influential series. If you haven’t seen the series before, this isn’t the place to start, but if the semi-annual Twilight barrage is getting on your nerves, you could do worse than going back to the “classics.”
Tuesday Night 7/6
Rocko's Modern Life- 2:30-5:30 AM on Nicktoons
Rocko’s Modern Life is up there with Ren And Stimpy as a show where it’s hard to understand how it got on the air. It’s sly, funny, and unfailingly absurd, in a way that makes it perfect for late night viewing. Not to mention, it has more “how the hell did the FCC not notice this?” moments than any cartoon since South Park.
Wednesday Night 7/7
Donnie Darko- 11:35 PM on Encore
I don’t know if I would be brave enough to watch this movie by myself late at night. To be fair, I am kind of a wuss, but Frank the rabbit always really gets to me. Lately Donnie Darko has become almost synonymous with midnight movie, so you probably should watch it at night. Especially since a tired mind is more receptive to the slow-building scares, and less likely to notice the fact that the film makes very little sense.
Thursday Night 7/8
In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale- 2:30 AM on Syfy
When watching bad movies, it’s best to pick a film that won’t just be run-of-the-mill incompetent or dull, but exceptionally awful. One certain way of making sure that your film will be up to your standards of failure, just check the credits for Uwe Boll’s name. Boll’s films are famously and consistently hilarious, so if you’re a Mystery Science Theater fan or bad film connoisseur, Boll’s the best thing since Ed Wood.
Friday Night 7/9
Abraham Lincoln- 12 AM on Turner Classic Movies
It was the 4th of July this weekend, but just because the holiday is over doesn’t mean you can’t still get your history on. Not that this film is all that historically accurate: it focuses heavily on Lincoln’s relationship with Ann Rutledge, which seems a bit like making a film about Gandhi and devoting most of it to his high school sweetheart. But the film is basically a historical relic in itself, since it was made by film pioneer D.W. Griffith.
Saturday Night 7/10
American Psycho- 11:30 PM on IFC
Christian Bale is one scary dude. He hasn’t played a normal, non-creepy guy since Newsies, and he was like 12 in that. Sure, he technically plays a superhero in Batman, but his real-life persona seems a lot closer to Patrick Bateman than Bruce Wayne (judging by his dislike of “fucking distracting” lighting people on his sets). Bateman makes that crazy work like, well, crazy in American Psycho, and as a result the film is utterly fascinating, as well as gory and fun.
Sunday Night 7/11
Galaxy Quest- 2:30 TBS
Galaxy Quest goes where no film has gone before, into the realms of mocking Star Trek, science fiction, and nerd culture in general. Actually, that’s a place that several films have gone before, but none have done it with the sympathy and skill of Galaxy Quest. It’s clearly a labor of love from people who enjoy being nerds, not just mocking them. Plus, it has Sam Rockwell and Tony Shalhoub in two of the funniest roles of their career, and Alan Rickman at his droll best.
Extra: If Galaxy Quest has got you in the mood for Star Trek, the BBC is showing The Next Generation episode “I, Borg” Friday night at 11.
Based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks the film begins with Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) an inseparable couple living in a nursing home. While Duke remembers their life together Allie who suffers from progressive dementia does not. Their only bond is a faded notebook from which Duke reads to Allie every day telling her the same story over and over. It's a sweeping tale of two South Carolina teens country boy Noah (Ryan Gosling) and city gal Allie (Rachel McAdams) who spend one glorious summer in the early 1940s falling madly in love. Unfortunately the couple is soon separated first by her disapproving parents and then by World War II but after seven years apart after taking different paths they are passionately reunited. There's a catch though; Allie is now faced to choose between the man she once loved and the successful businessman (James Marsden) she is engaged to. It's really no surprise who the young Allie chooses in the end--but for Duke the only thing that keeps him going is the fact that every day somehow through the power of this story the mentally impaired Allie miraculously remembers their love if only for a very brief moment before slipping back into oblivion. Tears being jerked from your eyes yet?
The talented cast certainly elevates The Notebook's romantic drudgery. McAdams takes a departure from all the Mean Girls she's played lately (including The Hot Chick) and easily wins you over as the spirited young Allie while the usually intense Gosling also tackles something lighter so to speak than his previous darker roles such as his Jewish-turned-American Nazi leader in The Believer. While infusing a certain sense of brooding and melancholy into Noah especially in the years he spends pining for Allie Gosling manages to exude Noah's genuine warmth and sensitivity as well. And between the two of them real sparks fly as the actors paint a fresh and inviting picture of young love that stands the test of time. Marsden is completely wasted however as Allie's fiancé Lon a upstanding Southern gentleman Allie's parents expect her to marry who offers little as to why Allie should stay with him. As the older contingency veterans Garner and Rowlands who take the sappiest material and turn it into something meaningful inspire some truly heart-ripping moments as the aging couple holding onto their love as tight as they can. In the supporting cast Joan Allen has some shining moments as Allie's uptight mother with a secret of her own.
In bringing the popular novel about enduring love to life director Nick Cassavetes (Unhook the Stars) may have used his own experiences having seen his parents--the late John Cassavetes and his lady love and muse Gena Rowlands--play out their own real-life love affair. Cassavettes gets to the heart of the material right away and permeates the screen with the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina where The Notebook was filmed. We glide through lush moss-filled swamps and sleepy Southern towns marvel at languid shots of the South Carolina coastline. It's very clear Cassavetes has a way with actors much like his father did gently coaxing realistic performances from his young somewhat untested leads while allowing old guards like Garner and Rowlands to simply work their magic (imagine telling your Oscar-nominated mother how to act. Right). The problem is the story itself which not only offers nothing new to the romance genre but also isn't very compelling. There are no great tragedies (save perhaps for the whole dementia thing) no real villainous presence to keep the lovers apart no peril at all. It's boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-wins-girl-back--ho-hum. Where's the sudsy soap opera when you need it?
A dead body with a smashed-in face and cut-off hands is uncovered at a Montreal construction site. The local authorities are all over it but police inspector Hugo Leclair (Tcheky Karyo) thinks it might be bigger than just a random murder and decides to bring in his good friend Special Agent Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) an FBI profiler who relies on her intuition rather than conventional crime-solving techniques. She proves it by immediately lying in the victim's grave to get a "sense" of what happened to him. (Wow we've never seen that before.) The Montreal detectives on the case Paquette (Olivier Martinez) and Duval (Jean-Hugues Anglade) are skeptical of her ways especially Paquette who thinks she's just plain nuts (we're with ya Paquette) and resents her involvement. The investigative team catches a lucky break when witness James Costa (Ethan Hawke) pops up claiming he stumbled upon the killer mid-murder (but not in time to save the victim) and can identify him. With Costa's help Illeana gets a clearer picture of her "profile " discovering he is a chameleon-like serial killer who "life-jacks" his victims assuming their lives and identities. At first she's hot on his tracks but the usually detached Illeana is thrown for a loop when an unexpected attraction develops between her and James. She suddenly feels like she is losing her touch; and surrounded by what could be a bevy of potential suspects things get chillingly personal.
Jolie has done this before sort of in the 1999 The Bone Collector in which she played a homicide detective who works with a quadriplegic partner to catch a serial killer so inhabiting Agent Scott is not new territory for her. Neither is acting in the steamy love scene she gets to share with Hawke which as we all know is something Jolie can do well. What is surprising for a movie of this type however is the fact the uptight emotionless FBI profiler actually gets to have sex which brings out Scott's more human qualities. The ultra-smooth Hawke whom we haven't seen since his Oscar-nominated turn in the 2001 Training Day also does some intriguing things with his character who may or may not be the bad guy (see below). The rest of the cast however falls into conventional psycho thriller compartments--the good cop (Anglade) the bad cop (Martinez) the concerned confidante (Karyo) and the person who provides key information about the serial killer's background (his mother played by Gena Rowlands)--without shedding anything new on the proceedings.
If you've seen one big-budget psychological serial killer movie you've seen them all. You know that the one guy they want you to think is the killer really isn't. You know that the other more unlikely guy probably is. You know somehow the hero--a smart cop FBI agent etc.--will eventually find his or her life in mortal danger. And finally you know the killer rarely dies on the first attempt; he always comes back. What you hope is that at some point the filmmaker will throw a wrench in the works. Something you couldn't predict even if given all the clues. Taking Lives director D.J. Caruso tries his best to do this. Through his camerawork he sets up Illeana's hyper-sensitive skills of observation as she notices everything around her only to see those skills fail on her later--and aided by composer Phillip Glass' haunting musical score the film reaches the predictable high points fulfilling its thriller quota. Montreal also provides a change of pace from the usual grimy Big Apple or other such gritty American locales prominently feature in such films. But what keeps Taking Lives in the running is its curveball at the end. If you don't mind wading through the rest of the movie's obviousness the wait is worth it.
Apparently movie audiences have grown tired of fantastical creatures and epic battles and are finally in the mood for a little screwball romantic comedy.
The wacky new release Just Married took over first place with a small but significant $18 million,* ending The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' three-week run as top dog. Coming in second, The Two Towers took in $14.9 million.
Third place Catch Me If You Can almost caught up to The Two Towers with $14.8, while Two Weeks Notice took a dive to fourth place with a measly $6.7 million.
Making it to the charts this weekend were two Oscar-touted films which had their first wide releases--the biopic Antwone Fisher which came in at No. 9 with $3.8 million and the dark comedy Adaptation which took the 10th spot with $2.9 million.
Overall, however, the box office has slowed down considerably since the December onslaught of films, with the grosses for key films (top 12 grossers) dropping 18 percent from last weekend to only $88.5 million.
THE TOP TEN
20th Century Fox's newest release the PG-13 rated Just Married captured the top spot with an ESTIMATED $18 million at 2,764 theaters ($6,512 per theater).
Generally panned by the critics, the light-hearted film about two mismatched newlyweds who go on an horrific honeymoon in Italy certainly appealed to a younger generation, with 65 percent of its audiences under 21, according to the Associated Press.
Just Married broke even this weekend. recouping the cost of its production. "I can't say too often I've actually grossed the budget on opening weekend," Bruce Snyder, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox told AP.
Directed by Shawn Levy, the film stars Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy.
Slipping into second place, New Line Cinema's PG-13 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers stepped off its throne with an ESTIMATED $14.9 million (-40%) at 3,477 theaters (-145 theaters; $4,300 per theater). Don't feel too sorry for Frodo and his crew, though. The film has still managed to take in approximately $283.6 million thus far. Nice pocket change.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Two Towers stars Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
Coming in just barely under The Two Towers, DreamWorks' PG-13 Catch Me If You Can was pushed down to the third spot with an ESTIMATED $14.8 million (-30%) at 3,225 theaters (+55 theaters; $4,589 per theater). The con-man story has made approximately $119.5 million, which makes Catch Me the 23rd film released last year to gross over $100 million. That makes 2002 a record year for films grossing over the $100 million mark.
Directed by Steven Spielberg Catch Me stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken.
With box office numbers dropping off dramatically, Warner Bros. PG-13 Two Weeks Notice took fourth place, eking out an ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-40%) at 2,755 theaters ($2,432 per theater). The romantic comedy about a lawyer, her demanding boss and their growing attraction to one another has earned approximately $78.8 million so far.
Directed by Marc D. Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
New Line's R-rated About Schmidt determinedly holds on to the No. 5 spot with an ESTIMATED $6.2 million (-27%) at 865 theaters (+49 theaters; $7,225 per theater). Continuing its expansion, the quirky comedy about a retiree making a life-altering cross-country journey has taken in approximately $21.4 million in total.
Directed and co-written by Alexander Payne, it stars Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney.
Miramax's PG-13 Chicago sang and danced its way up three spots to sixth place, taking in an ESTIMATED $5.6 million (+13%) at 362 theaters (+58 theaters; $15,470 per theater). The film's cume is approximately $17 million, but it's still awaiting its first wide release Jan. 24.
Directed by Rob Marshall, the film about sex and murder during the roaring 1920s in Chicago stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere.
While its competition remains high on the list, Sony Pictures' PG-13 romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan dropped from fourth to seventh place with an ESTIMATED $5 million (-42%) at 2,926 theaters (-124 theaters; $1,709 per theater). After five weeks in theaters, the film has taken in approximately $83.7 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, the film about a hotel maid and her Prince Charming stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Tying with Maid in Manhattan was Miramax's R-rated Gangs of New York, also with an ESTIMATED $5 million (-32%), at 2,340 theaters (+35 theaters; $2,137 per theater). Audiences don't seem to be flocking to a history lesson about the mean streets of 1860s New York, however. So far, Gangs has only reached around $55 million, though it may pick up if it wins any Golden Globes.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Making its first wide release, Fox Searchlight's PG-13 Antwone Fisher garnered a solid ninth place with an ESTIMATED $3.8 million (+161%) at 1,006 theaters (+814 theaters; $3,777 per theater). The biopic is about a Navy man whose childhood traumas cause him to rebel, but eventually, with the help of his friendly psychiatrist, he searches out his family to mend the wounds. Released in limited theaters Dec. 19, the film's has mad approximately $10.4 million so far.
Directed by Denzel Washington, it stars Washington and newcomer Derek Luke.
Along with Antwone Fisher, Sony Pictures finally gave a wide release to its R-rated dark comedy Adaptation, which entered the Top 10 on the bottom rung 10 with an ESTIMATED $2.9 million (+221%) at 560 theaters (+451 theaters; $5,179 per theater). Released originally on Dec. 6, this quirky look at Hollywood, following a screenwriter as he tries to adapt a novel about flowers into a movie, has made approximately $9.5 million so far.
Directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, it stars Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper.
OTHER WIDE RELEASES
A few other critically acclaimed films that opened in limited theaters in December ventured onto more screens this weekend, including 25th Hour and Narc.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour took in an ESTIMATED $2.7 million at 490 theaters (+485 theaters; $5,510 per theater). Since its opening Dec. 19, 25th Hour's cume is approximately $3.4 million.
The film about a man's last 24 hours in New York City before going to jail is directed by Spike Lee and stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson.
Paramount Pictures' R-rated Narc, a gritty look at undercover narcotics detectives in search of a cop-killer, churned up an ESTIMATED $2.7 million in 822 theaters (+816 theaters; $3,327 per theater). Since opening Dec. 20, its total box office take is approximately $3 million.
Directed by Joe Carnahan, the film stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric.
This weekend's top 12 films grossed $88.5 million, down less than 1 percent from the same weekend last year, which saw a total haul of $89.4 million.
The top three films this time last year were New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with $16.2 million, followed by Universal's A Beautiful Mind with $15.2 million and Paramount's Orange County with $15 million.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.