Embarrassing Movie Roles Actors Wish We Would Forget About

Even the best actors take roles they regret. These celebrities won't include these embarrassing movie roles on their highlight reel.

1. Ben Affleck as Vic Van Allen in Deep Water (2022)

Deep Water Ben Affleck
Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video.

In the past, Affleck has shown up on lists like this for his participation in 2003's Daredevil. His turn in the thriller Deep Water is, impressively, even worse. The role is supposed to find the bland evil at the heart of normal dudes, a la Patrick Bateman. But Affleck comes across as bored and occasionally petulant. 

2. Leonard Nimoy as Professor Cole in The Brain Eaters (1958)

The Brain Eaters Leonard Nimoy
Image Credit: American International Pictures.

Before he was Spock, Leonard Nimoy appeared in this super-low-budget sci-fi/horror D-movie. The actor plays Professor Cole, a scientist mind-controlled by invaders not from outer space but from underground. The movie has a certain so-bad-it's-good charm, but Nimoy probably didn't enjoy that while he chatters about the conquest of humanity, he's shrouded in mist. The mist covers the chintzy sets, and the fact that they misspelled his name in the credits as “Nemoy” gives him deniability.

3. Mickey Rooney as I.Y. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffany's Mickey Rooney
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Rooney, who is white, plays Audrey Hepburn's upstairs neighbor as a bucktoothed, near-sighted Japanese caricature in one of the most offensive examples of anti-Asian racism in Hollywood history. The performance is virtually unwatchable today—a low point of Rooney's extensive, illustrious career in American film in general.

4. Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars: A New Hope Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill
Image Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

Fans and critics have praised the gravitas Alec Guinness brought to the role of aging space samurai Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness himself, though, was less impressed. He called the dialogue “lamentable.” 

5. Michelle Pfeiffer as Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2 (1982)

Grease 2 Michelle Pfeiffer, Maxwell Caulfield
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Pfeiffer's early roles mostly called for her to mouth bland lines while looking beautiful. The wretched Grease 2 was a particularly depressing example. “I hated that film with a vengeance and could not believe how bad it was. At the time, I was young and didn't know any better.” Pfeiffer says. The following year, she landed the much more substantial role of cocaine-addicted gun moll Elvira Hancock in Scarface and tried to forget that Stephanie Zinone had ever happened.

6. George Clooney as Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman & Robin
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Clooney brought a cheerful camp to this role, Batsuit and all, and the once-universally-hated film now has its proponents (they worry us). Clooney isn't one of them, though. He called it a “pretty horrendous film” and said it was “an hour too long and just doesn't work.” He didn't regret doing it—the pay was great, raising his profile. But afterward, he took an entire year off to find a script he could take pride in so he wouldn't have to hedge similarly on the publicity tour.

7. Sean Connery as Ramírez in Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991)

Highlander II The Quickening Sean Connery
Image Credit: InterStar.

Sean Connery would appear in just about any piece of dreck, but Highlander 2 is a humiliation, even by his standards. His character, an ancient Egyptian swordfighter who ends up in Spain with a perplexing Scottish accent, dies in the first film but is incomprehensibly resurrected in this train wreck sequel that ignores logic and continuity.

8. Al Pacino as Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)

Scent of a Woman Al Pacino
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Pacino won the Best Actor Oscar for this film. In retrospect, though, calling attention to this role did him no favors; it's one of the low points of his career. The performance is all bluster and ham down to every “Hoo-Haa.” The portrayal of blindness as alternately a punishment, a superpower, and an inspiration manages to hit on just about every crass Hollywood disability stereotype. 

9. Jennifer Aniston as Tory Reding in Leprechaun (1993)

Leprechaun Jennifer Aniston
Image Credit: Trimark Pictures.

Aniston debuted in this schlocky horror film about an evil leprechaun who thinks she's stolen his pot of gold. If that sounds awful, Aniston very much agrees with you. Remembering the film in an interview for InStyle, she admitted, “There are loads of movies where you're thinking: ‘Oh god, this is just… how am I going to survive this in my future?' And then it's a cult… ‘something' because it's so embarrassing.”

10. Halle Berry as Catwoman/Patience Phillips in Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman Halle Berry
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Catwoman is widely considered one of the worst superhero films of all time, for a good reason. The plot makes no sense, the characters are neither true to the comics nor interesting in themselves, and even the Catwoman costume looks uncomfortable rather than alluring. Berry has shown good-humor about it all, though. She personally accepted the Razzie for worst performance of the year before setting the award on fire and, more recently, has embraced the film's cult fandom. “Forget the haters; whoever you are, who cares?” she says.

11. Sally Field as Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spiderman Sally Field, Martin Sheen
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

The much-admired Field agreed to take on the role of Aunt May as a favor to producer Laura Ziskin, but she regretted it. Aunt May in the comics and the Andrew Garfield franchise is primarily good, pure, and helpless, which isn't much fun to play. “It's really hard to find a three-dimensional character in it,” Field told Howard Stern on his radio show.

12. Scarlett Johannson as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Ghost in the Shell is an iconic manga and anime; Johansson's decision as a white woman to take the lead role of Japanese Motoko Kusanagi provoked an enormous backlash. Asian actors like Ming-Na Wen and Constance Wu accused the film of whitewashing Asian characters. They noted that the refusal to cast Asian actors for Asian roles negatively affected Asian actors. The film tries to finesse the problem with a plot that has the cyborg Kusanagi transferred into a different Caucasian body in a clumsy effort to justify the appropriation in the narrative. The movie tanked, and Johannson has never really apologized for the debacle, which is even more embarrassing for her.

13. Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Last Blood Sylvester Stallone
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

In the initial First Blood film from 1982, Stallone imbued the role of John Rambo with quiet sadness and hurt; his violence came out of vulnerability. That had all evaporated by the time the franchise staggered to what will hopefully be its conclusion 37 years later in Last Blood. The openly racist fantasy in which an enraged, bloodthirsty Rambo murders his way through a phalanx of Mexican criminals boggles the mind.. Calling it a self-parody would be an insult to all parodies.