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.