Actors who have negative charisma

Actors with charisma generally light up a scene. You know that when they take a role, they’ll bring something extra to it that will make every scene they are in more interesting. They can carry a weak plot and shallow characterization on the strength of their ability to energize even tired plotlines and to make even badly written characters interesting. They are not necessarily great actors in terms of tradecraft, but they are mostly at least competent, but whatever it is they are doing, they have a way of making it interesting. Robert DeNiro is a charismatic actor. Angelina Jolie is a charismatic actor. The reason their names draw eyes to screens is that they are always interesting somehow, even when the characters they play aren’t.

Then there are actors with negative charisma. They suck the life out of every scene and indeed every movie and TV show they are in. They are not necessarily bad actors – mostly, they are mediocre – but they’re just dull to watch. If they’re in a movie or a TV show and you spot them, your instinct is to turn it off because you know it will be dull. The actor I most associate with that is Don Wilson. I’ve seen him in a lot of TV series, and they’ve all been dull. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, it’s just that he isn’t an interesting actor. I’m not sure why.

On the distaff side, I’d say Jennifer Love Hewitt fills the bill. Yeah, I know, she’s got enormous hooters and all, but she’s just dull. Prolly she’s a competent actress, but she just isn’t very interesting. Her characters are sinkholes that drain all the excitement out of every scene they’re in, and that’s even with her huge bosoms. Frankly, I’d rather watch Mary Carey, a much less talented porn actress who’s nevertheless very interesting in many respects, do anything than Jennifer Love Hewitt, and I mean, do anything while fully clothed.

So, any other nominees for Most Negative Charisma?

For me it’s Ryan Phillipe, a.k.a. Mr. Reese Witherspoon. He’s not a terrible actor, but he just so bland that he’s hard to watch.

Owen Wilson. I don’t know why, I just can’t stand the guy. He’s boring at some fundamental level.

Diane Keaton. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about her face wants me to do something really unpleasant to her.

Kris Kristofferson.

Mark Wahlberg is like a blank spot in any movie he’s in. It’s a quality that served the part in Boogie Nights, but as a straight Hollywood star… unless he’s reflecting back George Clooney’s charisma, it’s like he isn’t even there.

Jason Alexander. He can make even the best material boring.

Man, I’ve got an ex-girlfriend who would smite you for that one!

I will nominate the man who I think holds the title of longest working weak actor and actually does hold the title of the Patron Saint of Shark Jumping:
Ted McGinley. At best, a B actor with a surprisingly long resumes. He just sucks; he is suppose to be funny and charismatic but is neither. I will admit to being the right age and mentality to love Revenge of the Nerds and he was not good in that. {If by some chance, you have not seen this movie look for John Goodman’s first standout role.}
Married with Children was almost never funny once he joined the show. {Not that it was great before he did}. Why was Happy Days even in production by the time he got there, I will never know, and yet he made it dumber.
Yes, I vote for Ted McGinley.

For actresses, I will say Sandy Duncan who appears to have retired. I never understood her appeal, she always came across as Sandy Duncan, and as Sandy Duncan she always came across as Bland and boring.


For the old-timers, I will vote for “leading men” Robert Montgomery, Clive Brook and Herbert Marshall. They never fail to suck all the air out of a scene and send me to sleep, even with such leading ladies as Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Norma Shearer.

C Thomas Howell.

I sometimes warn people “This contains gratuitous C Thomas Howell.” They ask if what non-gratuitous would be. I tell them there is no such thing as non-gratuitous C Thomas Howell.

Nicolas Cage. Every time I see him, I just cringe. The only movie of his I ever liked was Leaving Las Vegas, where his character was supposed to be totally unsympathetic.


Sorry, I’m just a little crazy about this. This guy puts me into a coma. He sucks the life and energy out of my HOUSE, let alone the frame. And it’s creepy how he should be attractive but just isn’t, but it’s probably because he’s a HOLOGRAM. With narcolepsy-inducing powers.

I disagree about Mark Wahlberg; I think he’s understated, but warm and definitely charismatic. There’s something refreshing to me about his lack of affectation, personally. And Jason Alexander? Duckman was great! If you’re me!

**William Hurt **and Jeff Bridges. I know they’re considered good actors, but they both seem so lifeless. Hurt seems like even the effort of breathing to stay alive is torturous, much less speaking, moving around and being present in the scene. He never, ever seems immersed in his character or his fellow actors - he just seems to occupy space and always feels to me like he’s consulting his script between lines because he’s not been arsed to really learn anything about his part.

Bridges is just so damn vanilla he gives the bean a bad name.

I’ll have to disrespectfully disagree. McGinley was born to play only one role - Jefferson D’Arcy. True, he has sucked in everything else he has done, but he nailed JD. That, and Married with Children was sitcom gold, both with and without McGinley (who actually had several guest appearances before getting the role of Jefferson).

Speaking of lifeless, how about Bill Pullman?

William Hurt, to me, is at his best playing characters that are just so saturated with sadness/futility/banality they can barely move. I get the sense that if he were to gesture too broadly or change his facial expression, his skin would crack and a river of tears would drown us all.

Bill Pullman was great in Zero Effect, which would be an SDMB favorite if anyone else had actually seen it. And come on, the guy played Lone Star!

Ding! Ding! We have the winner. Talk about a freakin’ black hole of personality.

Josh Hartnett.

Also, Ethan Hawke has a little of that effect on me, although that’s hard to reconcile with my opinion that Before Sunset is one of the best 5 movies of the decade and I’m a big fan Training Day and many of his other movies.

Sarah Jessica Parker. Not funny, not sexy, can’t act.

Kirstie Alley. Whiney, bitchy, not sexy.