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Old 05-21-2020, 07:54 AM
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Once promising actors who went off the rails later in their careers


Inspired by the "Great Movies Marred By One Bad Performance" thread in which I mentioned Nicholas Cage.

I think Nick Cage is a pretty good example of this, but his acting always had an eccentric quality to it, so when he started to enthusiastically chew the scenery in later movies it doesn't seem like it was all that surprising.

I think the real poster boy for this would be Al Pacino. His performance in "The Godfather" was perfectly restrained and low-key. But somewhere along the line, his acting style transformed into the over-the-top caricature of itself we all know so well: "HOO RAH!!". Makes me wonder when the transformation began to take place. Was it "Scent of a Woman"? Seems like it was already well established by then.

I'm sure there are many more, but after those two I'm having trouble thinking of more good examples. Maybe Marlon Brando? He was considered a great actor in his prime I believe, but later in his career he turned into a bloated, lazy mess, hard to work with and phoning his performances in.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:01 AM
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Ill add, in the same vein as Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Robert DeNiro. They are two of the finest actors ever. But later in their careers they began to play roles based on caricatures of themselves. Loud, overblown and kinda embarrassing.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:28 AM
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Randy Quaid? I don't know how more off the rails you can get and not be in custody.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:41 AM
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Ill add, in the same vein as Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Robert DeNiro. They are two of the finest actors ever. But later in their careers they began to play roles based on caricatures of themselves. Loud, overblown and kinda embarrassing.
Yeah, these are good ones. Though DeNiro, he's certainly done some bad movies, but his acting style I don't think ever went that off the rails. Debatable.

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Randy Quaid? I don't know how more off the rails you can get and not be in custody.
His personal life certainly went off the rails, but I'm looking more for once well-regarded actors whose acting style went off the rails. Plus, I don't think Randy Quaid was ever considered a great actor. Another example of an actor who doesn't fit the criteria would be Tom Cruise: his personal life has gone off the rails at times (couch jumping, Scientology cheerleading), but as an actor he's always been pretty much the same: not great, but a dependable A-lister who brings box office $$.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:42 AM
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Randy Quaid? I don't know how more off the rails you can get and not be in custody.
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:51 AM
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:41 AM
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John Travolta -twice. Once after Saturday Night Fever and then again after some successful movies starting with Pulp Fiction.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:55 AM
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Dennis Hopper. But he pulled himself back from the precipice and had an excellent later career.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:59 AM
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Yeah, these are good ones. Though DeNiro, he's certainly done some bad movies, but his acting style I don't think ever went that off the rails. Debatable.

Plus, I don't think Randy Quaid was ever considered a great actor.
Stop whatever you’re doing right now, and go watch The Last Detail.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:11 AM
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Stop whatever you’re doing right now, and go watch The Last Detail.
Can I wait until after 5pm? I'm supposed to be working right now

Is this offered as an example of Randy Quaid as a Promising Young Actor? Interesting, a movie I'm not familiar with, starring Randy Quaid and Jack Nicholson. Definitely sounds like one to watch if I can find it streaming somewhere.

Incidentally, got nothing against Randy Quaid as an actor-- loved him in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation".

Last edited by solost; 05-21-2020 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:14 AM
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Can I wait until after 5pm? I'm supposed to be working right now

Is this offered as an example of Randy Quaid as a Promising Young Actor? Interesting, a movie I'm not familiar with, starring Randy Quaid and Jack Nicholson. Definitely sounds like one to watch if I can find it streaming somewhere.

Incidentally, got nothing against Randy Quaid-- loved him in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation".
It's for Quaid. Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor and Quaid for Best supporting Actor.

Its on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, ITunes etc.

Last edited by madsircool; 05-21-2020 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:40 AM
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Dennis Hopper. But he pulled himself back from the precipice and had an excellent later career.
Yeah, his performance in "Blue Velvet" was Cage-worthy.

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It's for Quaid. Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor and Quaid for Best supporting Actor.

Its on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, ITunes etc.
Huh. Not that I'm that much of a movie buff, but odd that a movie that was so well regarded in its time is so off my radar. Definitely on my watch list.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:49 AM
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John Travolta -twice. Once after Saturday Night Fever and then again after some successful movies starting with Pulp Fiction.
Maybe. But in my opinion he's always been more just a bad actor, and he lucked out in "Saturday Night Fever" with a role that suited his limited acting range-- he was basically a darker, less silly Vinnie Barbarino. Then his role in "Pulp Fiction" was a bit of ironic stunt-casting by Tarantino that clicked.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:51 AM
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Huh. Not that I'm that much of a movie buff, but odd that a movie that was so well regarded in its time is so off my radar. Definitely on my watch list.
The brilliant Nicholson films from the 70s seem to have disappeared. I blame the studios for not promoting them. Carnal Knowledge, 5 Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest are all awesome films. Most are character driven rather than action flicks so maybe the studios think they wont be popular?
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:19 AM
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The brilliant Nicholson films from the 70s seem to have disappeared. I blame the studios for not promoting them. Carnal Knowledge, 5 Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest are all awesome films. Most are character driven rather than action flicks so maybe the studios think they wont be popular?
I don't know, I'm familiar with all those other movies, and especially Chinatown and OFOTCN I would say are considered iconic, classic movies, and rightly so. But for whatever reason The Last Detail has stayed off my radar all these years.
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:15 PM
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Around the time of The Pope of Greenwich Village, it looked as though both Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke were headed for stardom. Whatever happened with Roberts, the problem wasn't his work ethic. He now has 577 credits on IMDB.

When I saw Dead Calm in 1989, I though Billy Zane was headed for much bigger things. He's had a decent career and I suppose he never went completely off the rails, but I had him pegged for better, leading-man roles. It turns out I should have been paying closer attention to the 21 year-old Nicole Kidman.
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:24 PM
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When I saw Dead Calm...It turns out I should have been paying closer attention to the 21 year-old Nicole Kidman.
I was paying close attention to her
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:37 PM
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I'm sure there are many more, but after those two I'm having trouble thinking of more good examples. Maybe Marlon Brando? He was considered a great actor in his prime I believe, but later in his career he turned into a bloated, lazy mess, hard to work with and phoning his performances in.
I've read that part of the reason that Brando gained weight was an intentional choice on his part -- he felt that, due to his good looks, people didn't take him seriously for his acting skills, and so, he got fat in order to no longer be attractive.

And, his example reminds me of Val Kilmer, who, too, was known, as a younger actor for his looks as much as his acting skills (he was, in fact, a very good actor). But, from what I've gathered over the years, Kilmer grew increasingly difficult to work with and eccentric.
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:53 PM
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I've read that part of the reason that Brando gained weight was an intentional choice on his part -- he felt that, due to his good looks, people didn't take him seriously for his acting skills, and so, he got fat in order to no longer be attractive.
from The Onion archives, July 27, 1956:

President Orders Brando to Gain 250 pounds
Star's Raw Sexuality Too Dangerous At Present Weight, Ike Says
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:36 PM
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Hey! A thread about Johnny Depp!
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:13 PM
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I think you can chalk some of it up to poor choices in scripts and directors. Michael Caine, for example, was an A-List star for years, then started cashing in by taking roles in increasingly bad movies. Some actors just have a knack for finding the directors and roles that make them look good and who know how to work around their limitations.
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:25 PM
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Sir Lawrence Oliver took a lot of bad roles toward the end of his career just for the money.

John Gilbert couldn't adjust to the acting style of the sound era (his voice wasn't that bad, contrary to legend, but the dialog was terrible*,)

* Singin'in the Rain alludes to this.
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:40 PM
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I think you can chalk some of it up to poor choices in scripts and directors. Michael Caine, for example, was an A-List star for years, then started cashing in by taking roles in increasingly bad movies. Some actors just have a knack for finding the directors and roles that make them look good and who know how to work around their limitations.
Caine was reported to have said, about Jaws: The Revenge:

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I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:49 PM
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I've read that part of the reason that Brando gained weight was an intentional choice on his part -- he felt that, due to his good looks, people didn't take him seriously for his acting skills, and so, he got fat in order to no longer be attractive.
Maybe that explains Orson Welles, who in his younger days was said to be the next Tyrone Power.

Not that Welles' later acting was all that terrible. He was an amusing Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale".
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:54 PM
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John Travolta -twice. Once after Saturday Night Fever and then again after some successful movies starting with Pulp Fiction.
Travolta once said Hollywood likes kicking him out so they can welcome him back.
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:03 PM
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Maybe that explains Orson Welles, who in his younger days was said to be the next Tyrone Power.

Not that Welles' later acting was all that terrible. He was an amusing Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale".
He solely cashed in on bad roles in mediocre movies and advertisements to finance his own projects, which unfortunately almost never got finished the older he got.
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:14 PM
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Michael Caine, for example, was an A-List star for years, then started cashing in by taking roles in increasingly bad movies.
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Sir Lawrence Oliver took a lot of bad roles toward the end of his career just for the money.
Yes, but did their acting get worse (which is what the OP is talking about), or just their roles? They may have been dialing it in while still able to give a good performance if they chose.

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Old 05-25-2020, 07:16 PM
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I think you can chalk some of it up to poor choices in scripts and directors. Michael Caine, for example, was an A-List star for years, then started cashing in by taking roles in increasingly bad movies. Some actors just have a knack for finding the directors and roles that make them look good and who know how to work around their limitations.
Caine was reported to have said, about Jaws: The Revenge:

Quote:
I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.
Granted, but: Caine was in his mid-fifties then; and, with his best leading-man days behind him, he picked up yet another Oscar nomination (for Quiet American) and yet another win (for Cider House Rules) before he became Christopher Nolan’s good-luck charm in lucrative blockbuster after lucrative blockbuster and on and on without end. Since there was no way he could keep headlining the types of movies that made him a star in his thirties, what the hell else was the guy going to do with his sixties?
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:31 PM
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Linsey Lohan seemed to be a talented actress who’s had all the opportunities in the world to mature into a respected Hollywood regular but between her own actions and her parents turned herself into a joke of a talent that nobody takes seriously anymore.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:19 PM
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Shia Lebeouf seems to be struggling with some personal issues.
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:06 PM
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Yes, but did their acting get worse (which is what the OP is talking about), or just their roles? They may have been dialing it in while still able to give a good performance if they chose.
Olivier had his share of bad acting toward the end -- The Boys from Brazil or Inchon, for example. He still had the chops, but if he didn't care for a project, he overacted blatantly.
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:23 PM
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I happened to catch American Graffiti on cable yesterday. I've seen the movie enough that I start looking for little things. Cindy Williams had the most amazing range of facial expressions throughout the film, particularly her being simultaneously angry at, devoted to, and afraid of losing Ron Howard's character. She also got good reviews for her role in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. Unfortunately, her next career move was Laverne & Shirley, which did not call for a subtle, nuanced performance.
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:50 PM
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Shia Lebeouf seems to be struggling with some personal issues.
That may be true but he has generally been praised for his acting.
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Old 05-26-2020, 04:33 AM
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Nicolas Cage was great in Kick-Ass, but that may have been partly because he was playing off Chloe Grace Moretz, who was amazing in that movie. He might be one of those actors who really needs a good co-star to bounce off.

Speaking of Cage and Travolta, I recently watched Face/Off, because it was one of the few 90s action movies I hadn't got round to seeing at the time (because it sounded awful), and it has surprisingly good reviews. Most of it was awful because the storyline was ridiculous, but Travolta was not awful at all. You could really tell when he was the cop character and when he was the villain. Cage was meh (and miscast, which was one of the problems - other characters kept saying how amazingly hot he was), but Travolta really was good. The man can act.

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Granted, but: Caine was in his mid-fifties then; and, with his best leading-man days behind him, he picked up yet another Oscar nomination (for Quiet American) and yet another win (for Cider House Rules) before he became Christopher Nolan’s good-luck charm in lucrative blockbuster after lucrative blockbuster and on and on without end. Since there was no way he could keep headlining the types of movies that made him a star in his thirties, what the hell else was the guy going to do with his sixties?
Caine transitioned from an A-lister to a character actor, and became excellent as a character actor. The way he played the roles in Quills and The Dark Knight was very similar, but it still worked. If I see his name in a movie I'm likely to watch it and very unlikely to dislike him in it.
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:42 AM
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Inspired by the "Great Movies Marred By One Bad Performance" thread in which I mentioned Nicholas Cage.

I think Nick Cage is a pretty good example of this, but his acting always had an eccentric quality to it, so when he started to enthusiastically chew the scenery in later movies it doesn't seem like it was all that surprising.

I think the real poster boy for this would be Al Pacino. His performance in "The Godfather" was perfectly restrained and low-key. But somewhere along the line, his acting style transformed into the over-the-top caricature of itself we all know so well: "HOO RAH!!". Makes me wonder when the transformation began to take place. Was it "Scent of a Woman"? Seems like it was already well established by then.
"You're out of order!!! The whole system is out of order!!!"....is when Pacino turned.

You know for a two time Academy Award winner...wed don't hear much from Kevin Costner.

Someone already mentioned Mickey Rourke.
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:33 PM
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I wouldn't exactly consider Dwayne Johnson to be a great actor but the movies Jumanji and Journey to the Center of the Eartn were rather disappointing.
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Old 05-26-2020, 03:56 PM
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Mel Gibson.

The man could practically do no wrong for a solid two decades, then after winning the Oscars with Braveheart, he didn't go fully off the rails right away, but the train was definitely teetering, even before his racist, misogynistic rants were made public. He made another Lethal Weapon sequel, made the legit great Apocalypto, but then apparently felt a strong need to assert his American patriotism with a pair of flag-waving schmaltz movies (The Patriot and We Were Soldiers) that were both pathetically transparent (and terrible) attempts to get back into the Oscar conversation.

After pumping out a series of bad B-movies he took another whack at the Oscar tree with Hacksaw Ridge and while more successful than the other two attempts, I personally found it to be boring as shit; it takes almost 90 minutes of bullshit to even get to the actual war.
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Old 05-26-2020, 04:18 PM
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I wouldn't exactly consider Dwayne Johnson to be a great actor but the movies Jumanji and Journey to the Center of the Eartn were rather disappointing.
I don't know if anyone ever though of Dwayne Johnson as a "promising actor" but I think the guy knows exactly what kind of actor he is and is at the peak of his career right now. He's getting the lead role in campy action blockbusters one after another that are making the studios rich and making him rich.
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Old 05-26-2020, 05:06 PM
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Hey! A thread about Johnny Depp!
Depp hasn't, imo, gone off the rails. He started his career as a teen heart-throb and deliberately steered into some weirder roles to avoid that label. He will still turn in a solid performance when asked. He did The Tourist and Alice In Wonderland the same year.
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Old 05-26-2020, 05:28 PM
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Nic Cage is a good actor with a very poor financial sense that led to him taking any role to meet his debts.

Terrence Howard was flying high after Hustle & Flow and got a lot of money to star in Iron Man. Then he didn't make it to the sequel, and it depends on who you ask whether he got greedy or whether they fired him without attempting to negotiate. At any rate, he's in a pretty successful TV show but it completely nuts, last telling people about the new math he invented.
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Old 05-26-2020, 06:23 PM
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Caine said he is not retiring on his own. He said if he gets roles he will continue to work. If he doesn't get any more roles he's OK with that. He's 87 now.

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Old 05-26-2020, 07:06 PM
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You know for a two time Academy Award winner...wed don't hear much from Kevin Costner.
He's been working pretty steadily, but mostly in supporting roles. Good supporting roles, and he gets decent billing, but with one or two exceptions, he doesn't have the lead.

I wouldn't say that his career has gone off the rails, though--he does have the lead in a drama movie (Let Him Go), to be released later this summer.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:50 PM
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Depp hasn't, imo, gone off the rails.
Eh. I think everything he does is the same old crap. I find him more corny than the Nebraska State Fair.
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:46 PM
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I don't think Al Pacino and Robert De Niro really count. They've played plenty of scenery-chewing roles in their later years where they play exaggerated versions of themselves, but that's because they've most been in roles where that's what they're supposed to be doing.

I haven't seen The Irishman, but it's gotten very good reviews, as did the acting of De Niro and Pacino in it, and that was released in 2019. I have seen Hunters, the Amazon Prime series from earlier this year, and while I thought it was a problematic series, to put it mildly, I thought the acting was generally very good, and that included Al Pacino, in a surprisingly nuanced role in a pulpy action/dark comedy series where he very easily could have gone over the top, but didn't.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:30 PM
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Yeah, I think a lot of these examples don't really meet the OP's stated criteria of actors "going off the rails"? There's a difference between losing your acting ability and merely not having roles that actually require acting ability.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:36 PM
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He's been working pretty steadily, but mostly in supporting roles. Good supporting roles, and he gets decent billing, but with one or two exceptions, he doesn't have the lead.



I wouldn't say that his career has gone off the rails, though--he does have the lead in a drama movie (Let Him Go), to be released later this summer.
Some people dial back willingly. E.g. Rick Moranis' basically willingly retired to raise his family, not because he stopped getting good roles.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:44 PM
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I don't think Al Pacino and Robert De Niro really count. They've played plenty of scenery-chewing roles in their later years where they play exaggerated versions of themselves, but that's because they've most been in roles where that's what they're supposed to be doing.

I haven't seen The Irishman, but it's gotten very good reviews, as did the acting of De Niro and Pacino in it, and that was released in 2019. I have seen Hunters, the Amazon Prime series from earlier this year, and while I thought it was a problematic series, to put it mildly, I thought the acting was generally very good, and that included Al Pacino, in a surprisingly nuanced role in a pulpy action/dark comedy series where he very easily could have gone over the top, but didn't.
I agree about Hunters. He could have easily turned in a scenery chewing performance but it turned out to be one of his more nuanced roles in years.
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Old 05-26-2020, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
Mel Gibson.

The man could practically do no wrong for a solid two decades, then after winning the Oscars with Braveheart, he didn't go fully off the rails right away, but the train was definitely teetering, even before his racist, misogynistic rants were made public.
Disagree if we're talking about acting performance.

The last two movies I saw Gibson in, were not only terrible, but also breath-takingly racist; racist in a way I thought was not possible any more in the 21st century.
But I have no quibble with his acting; he plays the characters in an imposing but understated way which works well (to him I think he's making Birth of a Nation, so perhaps that's why he takes it seriously).
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Old 05-27-2020, 02:03 AM
BigDfromLA is offline
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Wesley Snipes was HUGE in the 90's, then disappeared.

Kevin Costner was on top of the world after J.F.K., Dances With Wolves and The Bodyguard. What happened?

Remember the show Alias? Bradley Cooper was just a guy, probably the fifth lead. I wonder what his castmates like Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan think when they see how huge his career has become?
  #50  
Old 05-27-2020, 02:14 AM
kitap is online now
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How about Michael Moriarty? He went off the deep end and then immigrated to Canada.
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