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February 6, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | February 6, 2009 |

You know what I’m talking about. There are a handful of actors who have, rightfully or not, built up so much box-office capitol over years or decades that they just don’t give a rat’s ass anymore. They will fucking take anything, as long as there are a lot of zeroes attached to it. Steve Martin, for instance, is this weekend’s big offender, signing up for a sequel to a paycheck role, Pink Panther 2 (add the Cheaper by the Dozen movies and Bringing Down the House to his list of offenses). But Martin is far from the worst offender. Indeed, here are the five actors who most egregiously abuse their leading men status in furtherance of lining their own wallets and gold-plating their toilet seats. They know the movies they take are bad, and that they are ripping off moviegoers. They just don’t care.

5. Billy Bob Thornton: Established Credibility With: Sling Blade, A Simple Plan, Pushing Tin, Bad Santa, Friday Night Lights. Worst Offenses: Eagle Eyes, Mr. Woodcock, Armageddon, The Astronaut Farmer, School for Scoundrels, Bad News Bears. Remaining Goodwill (Scale of 1 - 10): 4. Moviegoers will still see him in supporting roles, but his ability to carry a movie has been severely damaged.

4. Christopher Walken: Established Credibility with: Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, True Romance, The Milagro Beanfield War. Worst Offenses: Blast from the Past, Kangaroo Jack, Gigli, Click, Balls of Fury. Remaining Goodwill (Scale of 1 - 10): 7. Walken helps his cause by admitting he takes paycheck roles, and whatever: He’s fucking Walken. Even in bad movies, he’s awesome. You rarely go to see a movie for Walken, but no matter how bad it is, you’re usually happy to see him.

3. Robert DeNiro: Established Credibility with: Mean Streets, Taxi Drive, Godfather II, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino, Ronin. Worst Offenses: Analyze That, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Meet the Fockers, Hide and Seek, Righteous Kill, Men of Honor. Remaining Goodwill (Scale of 1 - 10): 2. One of the best actors of his generation (or any), DeNiro discovered in Analyze This that he could make a fortune caricaturing his own reputation. Now it’s all he does. He hasn’t carried a decent movie in nearly a decade, and now those paychecks are getting smaller and smaller. It’s gotten to the point that, if DeNiro is attached, it’s almost guaranteed to be a lousy movie.

2. Samuel Jackson: Established Credibility with: Pulp Fiction, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Jackie Brown, Eve’s Bayou, The Incredibles, Long Kiss Goodnight. Worst Offenses: Star Wars: Episodes I - III, The Spirit, Snakes on a Plane, Coach Carter, Soul Men, xXx, The Man. Remaining Goodwill (Scale of 1 - 10): 9. Sam Jackson is completely immune. He can make anything, good or bad, and never loses an ounce of goodwill. Even if you know it’s gonna suck, Sam Jackson, inexplicably, gets a free pass.

1. Nicholas Cage: Established Credibility with: Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Leaving Los Vegas, Bringing Out the Dead, Adaptation, Matchstick Men. Worst Offenses: 2004 - Present (including Next, Gone in 60 Seconds, National Treasure, Bangkok Dangerous, Ghost Rider, The Weather Man. Remaining Goodwill (Scale of 1 - 10): 1. Nicolas Cage’s box-office success is a complete enigma: People know he’s a paycheck actor. People know his movies are almost guaranteed to suck. And yet, they see them in droves, all the same. Take, for instance, Ghost Rider. Everyone knew it would blow; no one who saw it liked it. And yet: $115 million at the box office. Why? Simple. People are dumb.

A Seriously Random List LV / Dustin Rowles

Lists | February 6, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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