The 5 Projects That Make It Impossible To Write These Hollywood Players Off As Complete Douchebags
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The 5 Projects That Make It Impossible To Write These Hollywood Players Off As Complete Douchebags

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | April 8, 2013 | Comments ()


We a rage-filled pit of spitting vipers here at Pajiba and not always with good reason. On the other hand, there are some actors that deserve, even court our hatred. And I'm convinced there are some Hollywood players who really, truly have not a single redeemable bone in their body. Yeah, Zack Snyder, you're still top of my list.

But listen, fame is a tricky thing, no doubt. I'll say it again and again, the more successful and famous an actor becomes, the more scrutiny they undergo and the more divorced they become from reality. When no one ever tells you, "no, don't do that," you end up in a world where it seems okay to go on Oprah, jump on her couch declare your love for a WB starlet. Actually, in some cases, I sour on an actor not because of how they conduct their personal life (what business is it of mine anyway?), but because of the projects they pick. If you constantly produce tripe, I'm going to resent your existence and the waste of your talent.

So, yeah, pure unadulterated hate can be fun. It can be cleansing. But when we take the body of work as a whole, it's often impossible to write even the douchiest seeming people off.

Tom Cruise -- Magnolia: After all the Scientology f*cknuttery and robot brides, it's pretty much impossible to take Cruise seriously. But he did this. And this never fails to make me cry. Maybe we can't let one (or a handful in Cruise's case) convincingly evocative performance dissuade us from thinking badly of someone. After all, sociopaths and douchebags can be incredible liars and there are those that think acting is exactly that: a convincing lie. If that's the case, I'd crown Cruise the king of liars for this heart-stomping tour de force.

Gwyneth Paltrow -- The Royal Tenenbaums: Once again, maybe it's naive to think that Paltrow has an unshallow, unsmug bone in her body. But the depth of her performance in this movie never fails to move me. Yeah she's had other "more emotional' roles. Bigger, showier, Oscar-bait-y projects. But in this role, in this film, she's magic. Maybe a deeply convincing performance is merely the mark of a sociopath, but I chose to believe she let a little bit of her humanity shine through. And it's gorgeous, no?

Matthew McConaughey -- Mud: The general shirtlessness, the associative Armstrong taint and the spate of gawdawful Rom-Coms but McConaughey in the "pop culture punchline" category for years. Those of us who were still fond of his work in A Time To Kill or Lone Star had to hide our McConaughey love light under a bushel. And even though he got accolades for Killer Joe and Magic Mike, he's playing in a completely different league here. Good luck making him the butt of your jokes once you've seen this film.

Dane Cook/Jay Leno -- "Louie": I liked Cook when he started out, sure but I never liked Leno. Not for a sec. Cook rose to the top of most people's Douche List with a potent combo of alleged joke-stealing and his general frat boy demeanor. Leno, well, there was no way he was coming out of that Conan debacle clean. But both men appeared on Louis CK's sitcom and displayed such a staggering degree of self-awareness that it's impossible to discount them entirely. Leno's appearance was particularly poignant and as much as I actively dislike the guy, that distaste is now laced with something approaching pity or sympathy. Ugh, and that ruins all the fun.

Matthew Lillard -- Fat Kid Rules The World: I don't know exactly how Lillard got such a bad reputation. Possibly because he plays the braying simpleton so convincingly? Or because he's chosen so many terrible projects? But those who've seen SLC Punk! know that Lillard has some depth to him. But I had no idea quite how much. His choice to make Fat Kid Rules The World his feature directorial debut, the effort he put into the Kickstarter and distribution and the absolute BANG UP job he did telling such a sweet story has to put all "Lillard is a joke" thoughts to rest. If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's streaming on Netflix Instant. It's a lovely littel film that is never in danger of being saccharine and I'm so glad Lillard was able to make it and, I can't believe I'm saying this, I hope Shaggy gets a chance to make many more films.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Even Stevens

    I know The Royal Tenenbaums is a favorite around here, but how about when Gwynnie got her head put in a box in Se7en? That's cinematic gold right there.

  • Teal Dior

    Oh yeah, Tom Cruise playing himself (again, but much more completely this time) in Magnolia definitely makes up for being the poster boy for a child enslaving, money vacuuming, blackmailing cult that forces abortions on women that they want to keep working and looking trim in their uniforms on the ocean liner Tom and co. frequently sail on.

    Respect the cock!

  • John G.
    Once again, maybe it’s naive to think that Paltrow has an unshallow, unsmug bone in her body

    Yes, that is naive. No movie role will make up for Goop.

  • manhattan

    And why not: Stallone? Cop Land? I don't care if his decision to play the role was strategic. It was moving, and nuanced.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I've disliked Paltrow since the first moment I saw her many many years ago. Her face just pisses me off, she's like a female Joffrey.

  • SottoVoce


  • F'mal DeHyde

    And I should probably add that I laugh at the ending of Se7en.

  • SottoVoce

    The autopsy of her character in Contagion was deeply satisfying.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Oh god, I forgot about that. hahaha

  • llp

    That's way harsh, Tai.

  • F'mal DeHyde


  • KaGe

    Fun Fact: They're making a SLC Punk sequel. I don't remember if that was covered here.

  • e jerry powell

    NO GOOP. EVER. EVEREVEREVER. Not even for Running With Scissors.

    In fact, especially anytime GOOP has anything to do with Ryan Murphy.

  • I just can't let Cruise off the hook. He's too controlling, too self-conscious and just trying too hard. Even in Magnolia, I couldn't get past the little hand above that was pointing down on him, "look at me act!" Plus, statute of limitations, people. How long ago was that? Given the swirl around his personal life (which isn't really personal, since it's been so cynically cultivated by, in part, his own employees), he clearly is a man not living the truth of his being. While I generally have empathy for that, the layers of 'too much' just overwhelm my capacity.

    If Gwyneth would just keep her mouth shut, I wouldn't have anything to say. Her acting is generally pretty solid. I'd prefer not to have to think about her beyond that.

  • dizzylucy

    A string of bad project choices can sour me on someone (I see Kate Hudson and instantly get a bad rom-com shudder) but also the personal life stuff too - if they insist on putting it out there and making it for public consumption. Tom and Gwenyth are both examples of people who have let their off screen lives overshadow their professional work, to the point where it does affect how I as an audience watch them. It's partially my fault too, for following that sort of gossipy news, but I much prefer performers who aren't so concerned with their public image, or at least do a better job of hiding it.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    Tom Cruise might be crazy on his free time, but he always works his ass off when it comes to his movies. He rarely just phones his performances in.

  • Matthew Lillard's biggest problem is that he is TOO good. He isn't Michael Sheen level, but he does tend to disappear into his roles. Unfortunately most of his initial roles were annoying characters. And considering his most well-known roles were cast next to bland Freddie Prinze Jr., he couldn't help but look more manic and annoying in comparison.

    I thought his turn on SVU was pretty damn impressive. And I'm glad he is getting into directing, sounds like another Ben Affleck in the making really.

  • Cruise? Ghost Protocol. He's crazy enough to hang off the side of the world's tallest building to make a movie.

    Gwinnie? Iron Man, IM2, and IM3. She has Tony's back.

  • Cabanachat

    Wow. Who the F edited this copy?

  • F'mal DeHyde

    You have littel patience.

  • Cabanachat


  • Wrong, Goop and Tommy Boy are most certainly douchebags with a capital "D"

  • I will say that she does seem to be stuck in a marriage with a douchey husband who can't even look in her direction without looking annoyed and like he regrets all his life decisions. So that sucks and makes me feel kind of bad for least until she makes another cookbook where a meal costs $300 to make and posts her "summer wardrobe" which costs no less than 500,000.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Cruise has always has a fantastic charisma. Its what made him an honest to god, old-fashioned movie star. What happened with the couch jumping and the Scientology is that all that turned sour and a little too intense (not to mention the church-abuse stuff that came out). But as a performer? He's always been magnetic, its just that now its framed that changed. I at least cannot even watch his old movies without a hint of disgust. Our perceptions frame the way we view things and I think Cruise's frame has changed in a larger sense. Looking back at Magnolia, maybe it works so well because it takes that disgust I already feel for the performer and integrates it into the character in a way that say, Top Gun never will.

  • Cruise is creepy to watch because he's always "ON" He's always acts way too intense and he has the worst case of crazy eyes I've ever seen on a man.

  • A. Smith

    But remember it's that intensity that made his performance in Tropic Thunder so amazing. So amazing that it was brought back for an award show.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Hey now. Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise crazy, but just be glad it's him not you.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Oh yeah. No argument from me on that count. He's a terror. AND it works in Magnolia. In my opinion. The crazy eyes have gotten worse though. I think its some combination of them not always being that bad and we as viewers getting way more attuned to it. Either way I can't even look in his direction without my lip curling.

  • Ugh....could you imagine having to stand next to him let alone working with him? Shudder

  • manhattan

    But that is not the point. The point is what he delivers in any given performance, and (in my opinion) he has delivered beyond the expectations set by, say, Top Gun. Val Kilmer, anyone? Cruise's off-screen roles have, recently, been embarrasing. But it is interesting to consider how a man, nearing 50, is having the same issues with aging onscreen as a woman does at 30. And you've gotta give the man credit where credit is due: no one runs as well as he does.

  • Rochelle

    The only movie in which I liked Tom Cruise was Risky Business. I loved him in that, and our relationship has been all downhill from there. I don't judge him as a person based on my dislike of his acting on screen.

    I do judge Mel Gibson as a person based on his directing choices. I started my hatred of him when Braveheart creeped me out.

  • I never said he was a bad actor but the fact that I know he's a disturbing human being and tied to a cult and slave labor just ensures that I don't like him and I also won't see any of his future films.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    The thought of it makes me ill. Its an actual physical reaction to a THOUGHT. The shudder is strong with the Cruise.

  • $27019454

    I don't get the Paltrow hate. Why is she so much worse than other self-absorbed stars? I think she actually has acting talent. So she's kinda smug -- She's inoffensive to me. I loved Emma. She was perfect.

    As for Lillard, how can you hate him? Really? I'd rather hate on Ashton Kutcher. If had the energy.

    As for Mcconaghy (fuck, that name is impossible), he won me over with the slimy magic Mike character.

  • Mrs. Julien

    People hate Goop because she's Anne Hathaway's smug older sister, i.e. Gwyneth is Marcia and Anne Hathaway is Jan.

  • Maguita NYC

    You've forgotten British.

    Lady Gwyneth is Anne Hathaway's BRITISH smug older sister. The one constantly reminding us on GOOP, her interviews, her cooking books, etc. how unworthy we are if we don't have at least a $300,000.00 wardrobe budget a year, or if we cannot make an omelette for our children with $70.00 eggs, the private fitness anorexic nut "specialist", etc. etc.

    All with that fake uppity British nasal slow enunciation of hers. How can I ever take her seriously in any other role than Goopy. She pushed too much of her "private" self and brand to be taken seriously as an Actor.

  • e jerry powell

    What was wrong with Blythe Danner's WASP-ish lilt? Is it somehow worse than poorly affected Received Pronunciation?

  • $27019454

    Harsh words. But to each her own, sez I.

  • "Gwennie-Gwennie-Gwennie!"

  • Rochelle

    Paltrow's GOOP is what moved me to actively hate her. She may not be more smug, but she shares her smugness more freely. Even so, I don't totally hate her. I respect her refusal to discuss her marriage (much) in the face of years of rumors about how horrible it is.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Goop, that's why.

  • $27019454

    I've never seen it. Maybe I'll steer clear.

  • e jerry powell

    A few words:

    Anthony Bourdain
    No Reservations
    Mario Batali

    A quote:
    "Why would you go to Spain with the one bitch who refuses to eat ham?"

  • MrsAtaxxia

    GOOP is where you go when you want recommendations of $400 cotton t-shirts. To say she lacks perspective might be putting it mildly. Which wouldn't be bothersome if she wasn't peddling those t-shirts to the hoards.

  • You mean peasants.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    I do. Apologies. The peasants. I should have specified that the horde is unwashed.

  • e jerry powell

    And they keep asking for bread.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    Ummm I don't know if you've read GOOP's new cookbook but BREAD? Yeah....not so much with the grains. Its mostly air, arugula, and maybe some almonds. But sadly no bread.

  • e jerry powell

    Ummm I don't know if you've read much French history, but I WAS MAKING A MARIE ANTOINETTE REFERENCE.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    No, no I got it. It's actually funnier cause GOOP's actual cookbook is in fact grain free, so you know - no bread OR cake. Maybe the joke didn't read. Apologies!

  • e jerry powell

    I am going to force pure gluten down her swan-like throat until her intestines gum up and she blows up like a privileged balloon.

    Cake, indeed.

    And don't ask me what I'm going to do with this Spanish ham...

  • MrsAtaxxia

    That is something I would pay good money to see.

  • melancholicmess

    One good role amongst the many many others does not even begin to salvage them. I don't even know why they're called actors since they pretty much play the same thing all the time - they're movie stars alright and they should stick to that name. Sure, they have a certain formula they like to stick to so do it but stop pretending you're something that you're not. Look at Bruce Willis - he doesn't try to be anything else he's not and people still love his movies and him. Just a shame he doesn't do more comedy.

    BTW, I think Matthew McConaughey shouldn't be in this list. 'A Time To Kill' and 'The Lincoln Lawyer' were really good stuff and he didn't even have to take his shirt off (that I can remember). Sure, he's had his hits and misses but I do think he tries to diversify. Having that thick Texan drawl might make it hard for him to pull off a cameo in 'Downton Abbey' but he can pretty much pull off anything else. Matthew Lilliard was good in the 'Scooby Doo' movies - he pulled a really uncanny Shaggy and one might argue to the 'significance' of the movie but he did good on that one.

  • Jill

    Agree on McConaughey. Other than it being an absolute bitch for me to spell his last name, I thought he was good in Dazed & Confused, Bernie, etc... Is he just playing himself over and over? I guess. But if he is, he seems like an okay guy to me. Sometimes it seems like most actors with a career over 15, 20 years end up "playing themselves" over and over. Again, you choose from what you're offered. I realize you could choose to turn down everything but that really isn't a feasible option for most people (even wealthy ones).

  • PhFunk

    I thought McConaughey was pretty good in Frailty. He mostly served as narrator, but held his own against Powers Boothe.

  • SottoVoce

    He's very good in Fraility. So's Bill Paxton.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I admit to having a man-crush on Lillard (do people still say man-crush?).

    The most unforgivable thing Cruise ever did was play Jack Reacher.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Re: Cruise-- God yes. I have massive amounts of shit for the man as far as his personal life/beliefs go, but I am generally a fan of his movies. He's made missteps recently, of course, but I was mostly with him (I fucking saw Knight & Day in theaters, and it didn't deserve that) until the Jack Reacher thing. I mean, just... The fuck? That's an obvious lack of respect for the source material, and I have major problems any time someone doesn't respect the source material. Does that mean adhere faithfully to it despite obvious issues, like fans demand with Harry Potter or Twilight? Fuck no, but Reacher's goddamn size and coloring are pretty integral aspects of the way the man conducts himself and how people react to him. Tom Cruise is exactly the opposite of Reacher in every way it is possible to be.

    Seriously, the guy is free to be a lunatic and fuck up his marriage with alien mythologies all he wants, as long as he gets his damn movies right. He's crazy, and I think mostly not a great guy to be around, but he's not some genuinely toxic fuck like Mel Gibson appears to have become. He keeps Xenu off the screen, and keeps doing fun movies, and he and I are good.

  • Leelee

    I was at a family dinner the other day and my father and I inevitably starting arguing about nothing. My mother, seeing the danger ahead, interrupts with: "So - Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? How did THAT happen?"

    The woman is a genius. We spent the rest of the meal united in our hatred of that decision and soundly denouncing every person involved in casting the tiniest man in Hollywood as the biggest man in fiction.

  • ,

    That wasn't a bad movie.

    Plus, the sniper at the beginning had more hits at PNC Park than the Pirates do this year.


  • lowercase_ryan

    I never saw it, but if you've read the books the differences are comical.

  • I like the Jack Reacher books, so him playing that character soured me on the movie, and I refuse to see it. Tom Cruise, ruiner of things!

  • lowercase_ryan

    Me too. TK actually got me on to the books. I'm sure he hates that he has brought me joy.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Seriously, skip it. I did see it, because I didn't have anything to do one weekend, and I regret it. It's a fine action movie, but it is not Jack Reacher. Even if you disregard all Cruise's physical shortcomings as far as playing the guy, he's just way too charismatic in the wrong ways.

  • $27019454


  • lowercase_ryan

    I keep trying to post a freaking question mark and it's not letting me so I'm trying it longform- ??????????

  • $27019454

    The Jack Reacher debacle. Aaaargh.

  • I'm sorry, but I seriously hated Magnolia. I wanted to walk out of the theatre, it was that bad. Perhaps now that I'm older I should give it another chance, but then I remember that it started raining frogs, and I shudder.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I love the *performances* in this movie without loving the movie so much.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    I have watched Magnolia no fewer than three times, each time actively trying to understand why I'm supposed to love it. It has never worked.

  • I feel less alone now, thank you. I was with a friend when I saw it, and she loved it and wouldn't leave, which is why I stayed. I am not the type of person that just stops watching a movie, or reading a book, because it's horrible. When I do so it has to be particularly bad. I even read the first two Twilight books, just to see what the fuss was all about!

  • TK

    I adore Magnolia, and have seen it several times, but I can also absolutely acknowledge that it is, at times, pretentious blather. It's just that for some reason it's a kind of pretentious blather that appeals to me. I feel like if I hadn't seen it and someone described it to me, I'd want to slap them.

  • I admit to loving pretentious blather, but for some reason this movie bored and exasperated me. Again, it could have been the age I was at the time. I've definitely matured since it premiered, but now my time is more precious, so I don't think I'll spend it to find out if I like it now.

  • umm

    do people actually hate matthew lillard

  • A. Smith

    I can't see why. I thought he did a great job in Descendants playing what would have been a very sleazy character and making him almost sympathetic and the fact that not only did he play as Shaggy in the movie versions (making them almost watchable) but he's also the voice on Mystery Incorporated (...also assorted Robot Chicken sketches and his cameo in Back in Action where he's berated by Shaggy and Scooby. He pretty much is the Casem successor and that's fine by me.)

  • lonolove

    True story, my co-worker (who is, admittedly, entirely irrational) absolutely loathes Matthew Lillard from the bottom of her heart. It is a dirty word we use around the store. Like, "Man, that guy was a real Lillard." (The term for a person who is wonderful is a "Sinise", also from her unaccountably strange preferences.)

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Do people even have any particular feelings about him either way? If I'm honest, the last time I remember thinking of him was whenever the fuck HBO last aired Wing Commander. And that was just, "Oh, hey, Matthew Lillard. Moving on....Jesus, Saffron Burrows can rock a flight suit."

  • Jill

    Yeah, I always kind of liked him. Wish he'd had some better projects. But, I suppose you take what you get.

  • simplysarah

    I wondered this. I've never heard anyone say anything against him.

  • Lauren Frank

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  • Bedewcrock

    go home, lauren. you're drunk.

  • e jerry powell

    And a slut. She uses the same line on all the guys.

  • Socrates_Johnson

    I move that Matthew McConaughey's name be changed to General Shirtless.

  • e jerry powell

    Only because Joe Manganiello hasn't had the same -- pardon the phrase -- exposure that McConaughey has over the long term..

  • kirbyjay

    All that bike riding could certainly sour a taint, couldn't he have found a more congenial one to associate with?

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