9 actors who tried and failed to become action heroes

Cameron K McEwan

From Digital Spy

Being an actor isn't easy. Finding a genre you're successful in is tough enough without having to worry about changing lanes and trying to make your mark in someone else's genre.

Maybe it's because big action stars tend to make being a big action star look glamorous and easy that so many big names are seduced to the dark side of acting. But for every Liam Neeson there's at least nine who attempted to ride the brains-out box office train and derailed.

1. George Clooney

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

After setting hearts a-flutter as Dr Doug Ross in ER for five years, Clooney seemed an obvious big-screen hunk, jumping to the big screen in 1996 and 1997 with action flicks From Dusk Till Dawn, Batman & Robin and the first ever film from DreamWorks, The Peacemaker. An interesting trio, for sure, but a run which started well and quickly fell into unwatchable.

While 1999's Three Kings proved again that Clooney had actions chops, the world could clearly see George's acting talents lay elsewhere, and so that's where he's stayed.

2. Alicia Silverstone

Photo credit: Paramount

Speaking of Batman...

Batman & Robin had a lot to answer for. Aside from Clooney's Bat Nipples, we got the Bat Butt, courtesy of newcomer to the franchise, Alicia Silverstone.

The actress had made Lolita-esque The Crush when she was just 16 to great acclaim and followed it up with the 1995 smash Clueless. Indeed, Alicia was living the teenage dream when, in 1997, the Bat signal flashed her way.

However, after playing Batgirl, her action career was over, and it also took some time before her actual career got back into shape too, sadly.

3. Josh Hartnett

Photo credit: Sony

The Faculty and The Virgin Suicides were such a strong start to Hartnett's career we can overlook his terrible English accent in Blow Dry.

But Hartnett then made the decision to go "action" and 2001 was a big year for it. Audiences flocked to see two very different war movies with our Josh: Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down.

Despite these successes, with Big Josh and his big chin on the posters, he failed to establish himself in the genre and returned swiftly to comedy and drama.

4. Clive Owen

The man who will forever be touted as a future James Bond, Owen was a UK fave with TV show Chancer but his big-screen jump wasn't as smooth as expected.

His chiselled jaw and Hollywood leading-man looks seemed destined for explosions and shoot-outs yet the titular role in 2004's King Arthur and leading part in the following year's Sin City failed to ignite any such blockbusting path.

5. Pamela Anderson

Two words: Barb. Wire.

Never has the force-feeding of an action hero down an audience's collective throat been as blatant as when Baywatch lifeguard CJ was reimagined as nightclub-owning bounty hunter, Barbara Kopetski, aka 'Barb Wire', in 1996's movie of the same name.

Not only terrible, it failed to make even $4 million at the box office, less than half of its production budget. Anderson, however, has carved out a decent career; mainly playing herself.

6. Shia LaBeouf

Photo credit: Lucasfilm / Disney

By the time Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came along in 2008, LaBeouf had already embarked on the Transformers franchise which, despite how you feel about it, was box office gold.

Playing Mutt (we'll give you a star if you can remember his surname) alongside Harrison Ford, a proper actual action film star, it was as if LaBeouf was being prepped for mightier things. Of course, things didn't go to plan (for anyone on that flick).

The same year saw thriller Eagle Eye, with True Detective's Michelle Monaghan, but that was it in the action world for the actor, who would go on to grow a beard and wear a paper bag on his head.

7. Taylor Lautner

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

The Twilight saga's Jacob Black tried his very best to break out from his werewolf stereotype and pass himself off as an action hero

If you've seen 2011's Abduction or 2015's Tracers – both of which proudly boast a gun-toting, running Lautner on their posters – then you'll know why. The former made less than half its budget whilst the second took in less than $2 million.

Lautner moved to the small screen for comedies Cuckoo (from BBC Three) and Scream Queens (from Fox).

8. Jennifer Garner

Photo credit: REX Shutterstock / 20th Century Fox

You would have thought that five years as a CIA spy would have put Garner in pole position for the title of Action Star. However, her time as Sydney Bristow on JJ Abrams' TV show Alias didn't translate to the silver screen.

After her initial appearance in 2003's Daredevil, opposite future/ex-husband Ben Affleck, Garner got her own spin-off Elektra two years later. Though she herself was praised, the film was the worst box office Marvel superhero movie since 1986's Howard the Duck.

Another attempt at the action genre came in 2007 with Middle East thriller The Kingdom with Jamie Foxx, but that was the end for the more physical side of Garner's acting chops.

9. Seth Rogen

Photo credit: Seth Rogen / Instagram

Like him or loathe him, Seth Rogen exists.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express are all great examples of Seth being himself and getting paid for it. It's a role he was born to play.

But why anyone thought that Rogen would be a good fit for the lead role in an action movie is beyond comprehension. Having said that, The Green Hornet was directed by the bonkers-but-brilliant Michel Gondry, which probably explains the sudden interest in masked crime-fighting.

There was no sequel, the film failing to recoup its budget in the US, and Seth returned to more obvious and comedic fare.

Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit 'Like' on our Digital Spy Facebook page and 'Follow' on our @digitalspy Twitter account and you're all set.

You Might Also Like

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes