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10 Movies that Oscar Nominees Would Rather Forget

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Daniel Day-Lewis has one. Robert De Niro, too. So do Anne Hathaway and Bradley Cooper.

Every actor—yes, even those nominated for Hollywood’s highest honor—has a turkey in his or her (custom-designed) closet. Whether said thespian wants to admit it is another story: Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley has kept mum on his reasons for playing the flatulence-prone sex guru Tugginmypudha in the rightfully maligned The Love Guru, while 14-time nominee Warren Beatty has repeatedly gone on the record to defend his legendary 1987 bomb, Ishtar. In 1991, Beatty told Entertainment Weekly that “Ishtar is a very good, not very big, comedy, made by a brilliant woman. And I think it's funny.”

But like recreational drug use, badmouthing one’s own not-so-stellar oeuvre has become a popular pastime in Hollywood. Here’s a list of 10 Oscar-nominated actors who weren’t afraid to spray a little venom (we've edited some of it to make it safe for work!) at the films they’d like to erase from their resumes.

1. Brad Pitt, The Devil’s Own (1997)

In February of 1997, eight weeks before its premiere, Brad Pitt shared his disappointment about Alan Pakula’s IRA thriller with Newsweek. “We had no script,” declared the now four-time (then one-time) Oscar nominee. “Well, we had a great script but it got tossed for various reasons. To have to make something up as you go along—Jesus, what pressure! It was ridiculous. It was the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking—if you can even call it that—that I've ever seen.” Wait, has he not seen Cool World?

2. George Clooney, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988)

George Clooney’s likability factor seems to improve with age. And his occasional jabs at his own movies—most notably Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin—only add to his Everyman persona. But the eight-time Oscar nominee’s turn as the Caped Crusader has got nothing on his role in this late-’80s camp-fest! At Newsweek’s 2012 Oscar roundtable, Clooney talked about the dangers of acting for money: “As an actor all bets are off if you need money,” he declared. “I've done really [crappy] movies or [crappy] jobs when I was broke, and people go, ‘Why did you do Return of the Killer Tomatoes?’ Because I got the job!”

3. Michael Caine, Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Maybe it’s the English accent, but few people pan their own films as entertainingly as Michael Caine. And while the six-time Oscar nominee has seen his career resurrected in recent years, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan, the decades haven’t always been so kind to Sir Michael. The 1980s were a particularly odd time, as they saw Caine regularly transitioning from fantastic roles to atrocious ones. Case in point: in 1986 Caine was too busy shooting the fourth film in the Jaws franchise to accept his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. In his 1992 autobiography, What’s It All About, Caine wrote of Jaws: The Revenge: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

4. Halle Berry, Catwoman (2004)

Three years after winning an Oscar for the indie hit Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry donned the famous catsuit to star in this well-known bomb. And she played the role of good sport months later when she actually showed up to collect her Razzie Award for Worst Actress for the film, wherein she told the crowd: “You know, I’ve got so many people to thank, because you don’t win a Razzie without a lot of help from a lot of people... First of all, I want to thank Warner Bros. Thank you for putting me in a piece of [crap], god-awful movie. You know, it was just what my career needed, you know? I was at the top, and then Catwoman just plummeted me to the bottom.” No one involved—not Berry’s manager, agent, lawyers and acting coach, nor the film’s writers, cast and director—escaped her wrath.

5. Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music (1965)

The film that made Christopher Plummer a household name is the one he’d like to pretend doesn’t exist. At different times he’s referred to it as “The Sound of Mucus,” “S&M” or simply “that movie.” In 2010, he told The Boston Globe , “I was a bit bored with the character. Although we worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter is not mine. I mean it can’t appeal to every person in the world. It’s not my cup of tea.’’

6. Julia Roberts, I Love Trouble (1994)

Julia Roberts did not earn her “America’s Sweetheart” moniker by being difficult. But Nick Nolte wouldn’t know that. The two actors—each three-time Oscar nominees—fell way short of Hepburn/Tracy expectations when they teamed up for this fast-talking rom-com. It wasn’t long before the press got wind of the dueling actors’ on-set antics. While her PR team tried to do damage control, Roberts couldn’t keep herself from making some thinly masked digs at her co-star. In a 1993 interview, she told The New York Times, “From the moment I met him we sort of gave each other a hard time and naturally we get on each other's nerves. [While he can be] completely charming and very nice, he's also completely disgusting. He's going to hate me for saying this, but he seems go out of his way to repel people. He's a kick.” The film, unsurprisingly, repelled audiences and critics alike.

7. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Bros. (1993)

For anyone who doesn’t understand the cultural differences between Hollywood actors and British ones, behold Bob Hoskins. When the topic turns to Super Mario Bros., the recently retired Oscar nominee makes no attempt to hide his ire. In 2007, The Guardian quoted him as saying, “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a [freaking] nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set!”

One year later, Hoskins’ Super Mario Bros. co-star—two-time Oscar nominee Dennis Hopper—got in on the bashing action. When asked about his biggest disappointment, on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Hopper said that “I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my 6-year-old son at the time—he's now 18—said, ‘Dad I think you're probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ And I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes.' And he said, 'Dad, I don't need shoes that badly.’”

8. Gwyneth Paltrow, View From the Top (2003)

She may get a lot of flak for her lifestyle blog, "Goop," but when it comes to picking the right roles, Gwyneth Paltrow has made very few missteps. The two exceptions, according to the actress, are Shallow Hal and this high-flying stewardess comedy. Calling it “shite” in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Paltrow refers to the film as "this terrible movie called View From the Top that Harvey Weinstein talked me into doing.”

9. Gary Oldman, Tiptoes (2003)

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Tiptoes? The 2003 straight-to-DVD flick in which Gary Oldman and Matthew McConaughey star as brothers, one of them normal-sized (McConaughey) and one of them a little person (Oldman)? The one where Oldman played the role on his knees in order to achieve the height disparity? Perhaps that’s because few of the actors have ever spoken publicly about it. Including Oldman. And with good reason. But in March 2012, the New York Times managed to get a few words from Tiptoes co-star Peter Dinklage. “Oh, that movie,” he said, shaking his head. “That was something… It was sort of an amazing idea for a movie, but the result was what we were fighting against—the cutesiness of little people.”

10. Mickey Rourke, Passion Play (2010)

Truth be told, it’s probably more surprising that Mickey Rourke touts the “Oscar-nominated” title before his name than that he has done his fair share of badmouthing his own movies. After all, this is the man who gave up his career as a Hollywood hunk to get his face beaten in for a living. But in 2011, Rourke opened up to New York Magazine about his many failed cinematic efforts. When asked about Passion Play, the movie he had recently wrapped with Megan Fox and Bill Murray, Rourke noted that it was “Terrible. Another terrible movie. But, you know, in your career and all the movies you make, you’re going to make dozens of terrible ones.” Fair enough!

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© 2017 USPS
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Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

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Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
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15 Surprising Facts About Steve Buscemi
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

With his meme-worthy eyes, tireless work schedule, and penchant for playing lovable losers, Steve Buscemi is arguably the king of character actors. Moving seamlessly between big-budget films and shoestring independent projects, he’s appeared in well over 100 movies in the past 30 years. But if you think he’s anything like the oddballs and villains he regularly plays—well, you don’t know Buscemi. In celebration of the Brooklyn native's 60th birthday, here are 15 things you might not have known about the Golden Globe-winning actor.

1. HE WAS BORN ON A FRIDAY THE 13TH.

It only seems appropriate that Buscemi, who dies on screen so frequently, would be born on such a foreboding date. Growing up in Brooklyn and Valley Stream, New York, Buscemi also experienced plenty of real-life misfortune. As a kid, he was hit by a bus and by a car (in separate incidents). On the plus side, he used the money from the legal settlement following the bus accident to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

2. HE WAS A NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER.

As a teenager, Buscemi worked a series of odd jobs: ice cream truck driver, mover, gas station attendant. He even sold newspapers in the toll lane of the Triborough Bridge. When Buscemi turned 18, his father, a sanitation worker, encouraged his son to take the civil service exam and become a New York City firefighter. Four years later, in 1980, the future star became a member of Engine Co. 55, located in New York City's Little Italy district. While he answered emergency calls during the day, at night Buscemi played improv clubs and auditioned for acting roles.

After four years working for the FDNY, Buscemi landed one of the lead roles in Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances (1986), a drama set during the early days of AIDS in New York. Buscemi took a three-month leave of absence during filming, and afterwards decided not to return.

3. HE FORMED A COMEDY DUO WITH SONS OF ANARCHY’S MARK BOONE, JR.

For a brief while, Buscemi tried his hand at stand-up comedy (he bombed). In 1984, he met fellow aspiring actor Mark Boone, Jr., and the two began performing together. Part improv, part scripted comedy, the two would often carry out power struggles that pitted thin-man Buscemi against the larger Boone. The New York Times called their act “theater in the absurdist vein.”

4. HE DID NOT AUDITION FOR THE ROLE OF GEORGE COSTANZA.

Like any hard-working actor, Buscemi has had his share of failed auditions. His tryout for Alan Parker’s Fame lasted less than 30 seconds. In the late ‘80s, Martin Scorsese brought him in four different times to read for The Last Temptation of Christ. (Buscemi ended up reading every apostle’s part before being turned away.) He also auditioned for the part of Seinfeld’s George Costanza—at least according to numerous sources, including Jason Alexander himself. But it turns out this tidbit—fueled, no doubt, by the thought of a very twitchy, bug-eyed Costanza—isn’t true. On a recent episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Buscemi addressed the rumor in his typical good-natured way: “I never did [the audition] and I don’t know how to correct it because I don’t know how the Internet works.”

5. TREES LOUNGE WAS BASICALLY HIS LIFE AT 19.

After gaining momentum with roles in Mystery Train, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, and other films, Buscemi took a turn behind the camera with 1996’s Trees Lounge. The movie, which he also wrote, follows a bumbling layabout named Tommy who spends most of his time at the title bar in the town where he grew up. It’s a classic flick for Buscemi fans and, according to the actor, it was pretty much his life as a teenager living on Long Island. “I was truly directionless, living with my parents,” Buscemi said in an interview. “I was driving an ice-cream truck and working at a gas station… The drinking age was 18 then, so I spent every night hanging out with my friends in bars, drinking.”

6. HE IS FULLY AWARE THAT HIS CHARACTERS OFTEN DIE.

Steve Buscemi in 'Fargo' (1996)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

He’s been shot numerous times, stabbed with an ice pick, riddled with throwing knives, tossed off a balcony, and fed to a wood chipper. Yes, Buscemi’s characters have died a variety of deaths, and the actor isn’t without a sense of humor about the whole matter. He’ll often joke in interviews that he’s living longer and longer as the years go by. Before the 2005 release of The Island, in which the aforementioned balcony-tossing occurs (and into a glass bar no less), Buscemi said he was happy his character lived almost a third of the way through the movie. Buscemi admitted that he will actually read ahead in any script he receives to see when and how he dies.

7. HE HAS A FAVORITE DEATH—AND IT ISN’T FARGO.

For connoisseurs of Buscemi's movie deaths, the demise of Fargo’s Carl Showalter by way of axe then wood chipper is the crème de la crème. But when asked about his own favorite onscreen death, Buscemi references another Coen brothers film: The Big Lebowski. In that movie his character, Donny Kerabatsos, succumbs to a heart attack. It’s a surprise for viewers, and so out-of-the-blue that Buscemi can’t help but be tickled at the randomness of it. “They thought, ‘Well, Buscemi’s in it, so we’ve gotta kill him,'" the actor said in an appearance on The Daily Show.

8. HIS CHARACTER IN CON AIR WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

In Con Air, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action movie filled with muscled-up prisoners, Buscemi played the most dangerous con of them all. His Garland Greene—a serial killer whose exploits “make the Manson family look like the Partridge family,” according to one character—enters the film strapped to a chair, Hannibal Lecter mask affixed to his face. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, a friend of Buscemi’s, wrote the part with him in mind, and was tickled when Buscemi accepted the role. To this day, fans will still serenade the actor with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

9. HIS CHARACTER IN DESPERADO IS NAMED AFTER HIM.

Steve Buscemi in Desperado
Columbia Pictures

Although he inevitably dies (courtesy of Danny Trejo’s throwing knives), Buscemi commands the opening of Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’s stylish revenge movie, regaling bar patrons with the story of the title gunslinger, played by Antonio Banderas. Because his character’s name is never mentioned, Rodriguez decided to have some fun and name him "Buscemi" in the credits.

10. HE WON’T FIX HIS TEETH.

Buscemi’s crooked smile has helped him portray lowlifes and losers throughout his career. Dentists have offered to fix the actor’s teeth, but he always turns them down, knowing how valuable those chompers are to the Buscemi brand. In a guest starring role on The Simpsons, Buscemi poked fun at the matter after a dentist offers to straighten his character’s teeth: “You’re going to kill my livelihood if you do that!”

11. THERE’S SOME CONFUSION OVER HOW TO PRONOUNCE HIS LAST NAME.

Many people pronounce his last name “Boo-shemmy,” but it turns out Buscemi himself pronounces it “Boo-semmy.” In interviews, Buscemi says he’s following his father’s pronunciation, and says he doesn’t begrudge anyone who says it differently. It turns out, though, that his fans have it right—or at least mostly right. On a trip to Sicily to visit family, Buscemi recounted recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he noticed everyone saying “Boo-SHAY-me.”

12. HE GOT STABBED IN A BAR FIGHT.

Steve Buscemi in 'Trees Lounge' (1996)
Live Entertainment

On April 12th, 2001, while filming Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina, Buscemi, co-star Vince Vaughn, and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg went out for late night drinks at the Firebelly Lounge. After Vaughn traded insults with another patron (whose girlfriend had apparently been flirting with Vaughn), the two stepped outside, and a brief scuffle ensued before the two were separated. Buscemi, who was among the crowd that had gathered, was then confronted by a man who, after a brief exchange, attacked the actor with a pocketknife. Buscemi suffered stab wounds to his face, throat, and hands, and had to return to New York to recuperate. His attacker, Timothy Fogerty, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In typical good-guy fashion, Buscemi declined to press additional charges and instead insisted Fogerty enter a substance abuse program.

13. HE REJOINED HIS FIRE ENGINE IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

After the horrific attack on New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, Buscemi—like many Americans—was desperate to help. Although it had been nearly 20 years since he had strapped on his fireman’s gear, the actor reunited with his Engine 55 brethren and for days scoured the towers’ debris for survivors. Buscemi didn’t want his actions publicized; when people asked to take his picture, he declined. It took more than 10 years, in fact, before word got out, thanks to a Facebook post from Engine 55. “Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble,” the post read. “This guy is a badass!”

14. HE NARRATES THE AUDIO TOUR AT EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY.

People who take a tour of the historic Philadelphia prison may notice a familiar voice coming through their listening device. So how did Buscemi end up lending his talents to such a seemingly obscure place? It turns out Eastern State is a popular location for film and photo shoots. Scenes from Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys were filmed there, as were album covers for artists like Tina Turner. In 2000, Buscemi scouted the penitentiary for a film project. The location didn’t work out, but the actor fell in love with the history and grand architecture of the 190-year-old prison. When officials asked for his help to celebrate the prison’s tenth year running tours, he agreed.

15. HE DIDN’T BELIEVE TERENCE WINTER WHEN HE OFFERED HIM THE LEAD IN BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


HBO

After years of playing disposable villains and losers on the periphery, Buscemi had grown accustomed to being passed over for leading roles. So when Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter offered him the part of corrupt politician Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the award-winning HBO series, Buscemi offered his usual reply. “When Terry did call me and he said that he and Marty [Scorsese] wanted me to play this role, my response was, ‘Terry, I know you’re looking at other actors, and I just appreciate that my name is being thrown in,’" Buscemi recalled. "He said, ‘No, Steve, I just said we want you.’ It still didn’t sink in.” Eventually, of course, reality did sink in, and Buscemi went on to win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award across the show’s five seasons.

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