5 Great Actors We've Forgiven For Terrible Pasts

Hollywood is a force to be reckoned with in the modern world, a multi-billion dollar industry with lobbyists and special interests and all for the purpose of putting people like Gary Busey on a screen while you and a room full of strangers watch him pretend to be someone else.  It’s fascinating.

More fascinating is that our obsession with film and stars is nearly boundless.  So much so that we’re willing to forgive a Hollywood star nearly anything – racism, sexism, violence, drug abuse and even a history of terrible movies, just look at Adam Sandler.  But don’t look at Mel Gibson.  He really messed the whole formula up.

Anyway, our old friend Tom Hanks has a new movie coming out called Bridge of Spies and people are already talking Oscar, which they always do with hanks movies, and that got me thinking…

Tom Hanks

Today we all know Tom Hanks as the greatest actor who has ever lived.  Every time he makes a movie it changes your life and probably adds a new band of color to a rainbow somewhere.  But long before he was saving Private Ryan in Philadelphia at a bus stop with a box of chocolates, Tom Hanks was simmering a warm plate of turds at a cinema near year on a fairly regular basis.

That was some straight up crap right there.  But Mazes and Monsters was just the beginning of Tom Hanks apparently needing to make money to support himself and his family, so he went on to make other gems like this;

That’s the Man With One Red Shoe and anyone who says they liked that movie probably does drugs.  I’m just throwing that out there.  Maybe bath salts.  Then there’s this;

Words can’t express how underwhelming Joe Versus the Volcano was.  It’s supposed to be satire, but done in that way that when you don’t laugh at all in the entire movie, someone has to say “oh, it’s satire” like you didn’t get it and like satire means comedy that isn’t funny.  Dude, that ain’t true.  This is Tom Hanks in a mullet doing the same awkward comedy shtick he did for about 15 years before he hit his stride in drama.  This movie is asinine and why the hell can’t he work with a chick who isn’t Meg Ryan?  Have you seen Meg Ryan lately?  No, you haven’t, and neither has anyone else.

Lucky for Hanks he got cast as a dude with AIDS after we all tolerated Big and now he’s cinema’s most precious resource.

Liam Neeson

When you need a serious performance with gravitas and depth, you go to Liam Neeson.  Dude is solid.  He will strap glass to his knuckles and punch out a goddamn wolf and then defy the entire Nazi regime before kicking Batman’s ass.  That’s all very intense.  But oh, Liam Neeson, we know where you came from.  Look back at your shame!

That was 7 second of Liam Neeson in Krull, because your mind couldn’t handle much more.  However, it’s worth watching this 3 minutes of Darkman which are probably 3 of the greatest minutes of any film ever.

Holy balls, did you watch that?  It was like a Kids in the Hall skit that went off the rails.  In fact, I don’t even think I need to include another clip from Neeson, that  was gold.  Next entry.

Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx used to be a regular on In Living Color.  If you don’t recall, here’s one of his more memorable contributions;

Of course he went on to play Ray Charles and then turn in a handful of other brilliant performances so we pretend Wanda never existed.  But even if Wanda hadn’t shown up, this would still be around;

Yes, the classic film Booty Call.  Was it as good as Pootie Tang?  Maybe not, but it had its moments.  Lucky for Foxx he sort of leaped on that Ray role due to the fact he’d been playing piano all his life and studied music at school and everything, so now he can pull off the lead in Tarantino movies and whatnot.  Good for him.

Robert Downey Jr.

This one’s bound to be a little more controversial as Robert Downey Jr. had some arguably decent movies at the beginning of his career as well.  But never forget that he clearly took a few roles simply to fuel his coke habit.  Case in point, his turn on Ally McBeal.

Ally McBeal was a show about a puppet with a Joker mouth that people found endearing for some reason.  It boils down to people watch it because they think everyone else watches it because it’s on TV.  Now, funny thing here, Robert Downey Jr. got a lot of critical praise for his role and even won a Golden Globe (I think, what am I, a researcher?), but he was blitzed the whole time.  He’s even said this was his low point in life and he did not give two craps about his work while this was happening.  This critical success, duet with Sting for an underfed toddler woman, was his rock bottom.

Still flying low on blow, Downey showed up in one of film’s greatest tributes to exploding Jeeps and slow motion falls, Danger Zone, in which he shared screen time with Billy Zane and Ron Silver, Hollywood’s answers to the question “who can we get for $10?”

Now that’s action.  Incidentally, did he have a ponytail in that?

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp can almost do no wrong.  Almost.  Dark Shadows was very wrong and I still have unresolved issues with his Willy Wonka, which sounds dirtier than it is.  And then there’s Mortdecai.  But before he was everyone’s quirky hero, he actually had to sit through getting life lessons from a Deluise on 21 Jump Street

It’s worth noting that Depp’s first role was as a kid who gets exploded by Freddy Krueger so badly that about 30 gallons of blood shoot out of his bed and settle on his ceiling.  Then he made a sex comedy.  Atta boy.