Hollywood is a big old place, and it’s bursting at the seams with actors possessing varying degrees of experience – and varying degrees of talent. Now, we’ve already taken a look at some of Tinseltown’s most underrated actors, so it only seems fair that we call out those on the opposite side of the spectrum: its overrated stars.
Some made the cut due to their ability to coast on a decades-old reputation, others have managed to luck into the consensus that they possess more talent than they really do, and still others simply aren’t as versatile as many believe.
Just to clarify, no-one is saying that these actors aren’t talented. This isn’t intended to be a mean-spirited list, and each and every entry here is a hard working star who deserves our utmost respect. That said, let’s start removing some pedestals.
8. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock has enjoyed her status as an A-list name since her breakthrough role in 1994 action thriller Speed. She also won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in 2009 biographical drama The Blind Side (and was nominated for another for 2013’s Gravity). That said, she’s not entirely consistent.
Yes, she’s given a handful of decent performances, but among those, how many could be considered truly great? There’s also the added consideration of her career as a whole – a number of years starring in underwhelming (or at best, passable) romantic comedies such as While You Were Sleeping (which we talk about in our list of casual predatory behaviours in film), Hope Floats, Two Weeks Notice, and The Proposal.
Honestly, while Bullock certainly has potential, it’s rarely fulfilled. Instead, her back catalogue is stuffed with far more underwhelming titles than respectable ones, yet somehow she’s managed to maintain the image of a world-class actress.
7. Julia Roberts
There’s a theory floating around that Julia Roberts’ range is limited to her many on-screen hair styles. While that might be a little harsh, it’s certainly indicative of the widely held opinion that the actress is overrated.
Somehow, though, Roberts has managed to remain a household name, despite barely having done anything of note in many years. In fact, other than her Oscar winning performance in 2000’s Erin Brockovich, Roberts has mostly starred in romantic comedies and dramas of varying degrees of quality, but honestly, most of her roles have been entirely forgettable, begging the question: is Julia Roberts really as good as people thinks she is?
6. Ben Affleck
Another actor who has enjoyed a long and storied career, Ben Affleck first found fame in the ’90s, with the success of Good Will Hunting catapulting him to stardom. After that, however, Affleck was cast in a number of parts that demanded just a little more than he could give, leaving a number of disappointing (and high-profile) credits in his filmography.
While Affleck has mostly turned his hand to directing of late – to far better results – he’s still remembered as something of a leading man. But you’ve only got to look at his most memorable films – Daredevil, Pearl Harbor, The Sum of All Fears, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – and it’s plain to see that Affleck just isn’t particularly talented (or likable) as an actor.
5. George Clooney
From one Batman to another (BatNips, anyone?), this one genuinely pains me, as Clooney is without a doubt one of the most charming presences in Hollywood history.
Think about it – and I mean really think about it – have you ever been blown away by any of Clooney’s performances? Is he ever anything more than just a charming guy?
Not really. He’s usually playing a variation on himself: smooth, witty, and charismatic. Every now and then we get flashes of a darker, brooding side, but that’s about as far as Clooney’s range seems to reach.
It’s not hard to see how Clooney secured his reputation as a superstar – he’s a genuine sweetheart, and he’s easy on the eyes – but let’s not confuse presence with talent, because there’s oceans between the two.
4. Chris Pratt
I love Parks and Recreation. I loved Pratt’s recurring role on teen drama The O.C., and thought his character was one of the best things about its ill-fated fourth season. His role in Moneyball was well received.
Now that Pratt has found himself a major player in two big-budget franchises, he’s something of a Hollywood sweetheart. It’s understandable: in a matter of years, he went from a chubby everyman to a muscular superhero, and his journey has certainly been inspirational. But is his success entirely indicative of his acting ability?
Pratt is able to successfully pull off comedy, but his new place in Hollywood as heroic eye candy isn’t particularly enthralling, and he rarely dips his toe into more dramatic territory.
He does seem like a genuinely nice, funny guy, though, so he gets a few points for that.
3. Jeremy Renner
From one MCU hero to another, Jeremy Renner is another actor whose reputation far exceeds his actual ability.
In recent years, Renner has proved himself a capable action star with his performances in multiple MCU offerings, The Bourne Legacy, and the Mission Impossible franchise. Before that, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in 2008 war thriller The Hurt Locker, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that Renner is relatively diverse as a performer.
In fact, Renner actually spends much of his time doing the same vaguely smug and somehow also vacant expression, and the vast majority of his roles have been pretty unimpressive. In fact, whenever Renner finds himself in a good movie, he’s almost always the most bland and uninteresting aspect, and instead, his reputation has been bolstered by great career choices and some incredibly talented co-stars.
2. Margot Robbie
We’ve talked heroes, now let’s talk villains.
Perhaps best known for her ongoing role as Harley Quinn in the DCEU, Margot Robbie also received attention for her supporting role in The Wolf of Wall Street, and starred as Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan (which we reviewed here).
Even more recently, Robbie starred in I, Tonya, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Bombshell, and it seems as though Robbie’s presence in Hollywood is becoming greater with each passing year.
While Robbie has delivered a few solid performances, she’s also guilty of being pretty one-tone and not particularly likable. Don’t believe us? Watch 2015’s Focus – it highlights just how lazy she can be with her acting.
1. Tom Cruise
When was the last time you thought Tom Cruise was actually talented? For most people, its probably 1996’s Jerry Maguire (although admittedly, he had a pretty decent turn in Edge of Tomorrow).
Honestly, Cruise has been phoning it in ever since, and somehow, he’s still basically allowed to do whatever he wants in Hollywood.
He’s by no means a bad actor, but he’s far less talented than many others who haven’t been offered anywhere near the amount of opportunities, and he more than deserves the top spot on this list.
What do you think of our picks? Feel like we’ve missed someone? Well hang in there, because we’ve actually already compiled a second list of even more overrated actors… Make sure to subscribe or follow us on social media and you won’t miss it!