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5 characters ruined by their actors

There are so many ways to act badly.

Danny Masterson as Hyde, sitting on the floor
Image via FOX

It’s become one of life’s little unpleasant regularities, like jamming your finger in a door or court-mandated alcohol counseling. You turn on the TV to watch your favorite Superman movie, only to get hit by a one-two punch: First, you realize that your favorite Superman movie is Superman Returns, which is bad enough. Then you remember that the bad guy is played by Kevin Spacey, the movie is directed by Bryan Singer, and they shot all of the downtown Metropolis scenes on Jeffrey Epstein’s island. What’s worse, most of that is accurate.

Truly, we in the audience are the ones who’ve suffered the most due to events surrounding the #MeToo movement, forced as we are to feel icky when we watch reruns of That ‘70s Show. Here are some more examples of beloved characters that just keep blindsiding us by turning out to be fictional constructs portrayed by actors who were weird jerks.

Armie Hammer – Martin Ginsburg

Armie Hammer as Marty Ginsburg
Image via Universal

There are plenty of examples of characters that Armie Hammer robbed us of when it turned out that he wanted to eat people. Luckily, none of them were load bearing, franchise-wise – in a slightly different timeline, he would have been the post-Christian Bale Batman in George Miller’s Justice League movie, and that would’ve been a tough one for the studio to bounce back from. Imagine a world where Warner Bros. went into a tailspin after heavily investing in a troubled actor to portray one of their tentpole DC characters. Crazy. See below.

Anyway, you can probably push the weird stuff to the back of your head if you’re watching The Lone Ranger for some reason, but the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex casts him as Martin Ginsburg, and damned if he doesn’t spend what feels like 50% of his screentime cooking. It’s distracting to the point of making the movie unwatchable. Hindsight is 20/20.

Ezra Miller – The Flash

the flash
Image via Warner Bros.

Somewhere at the Warner Bros. casting department, there’s an executive who’s secretly three sadistic goblins stacked on top of each other in a business suit. One day, about seven or eight years back now, they convinced their bosses that Ezra Miller was the best choice for not just the fledgling Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts, but more importantly, for one-sixth of the Justice League, putting the troubled performer in the position of carrying the company’s most expensive franchise for years to come.

Then they waddled back to their office and they shut the door and they closed the blinds and they turned the deadlock and climbed down off of each other’s shoulders and they laughed and laughed and laughed while they smoked giant cigars and kept laughing about Ezra Miller is absolutely going to take everyone at a Piggly-Wiggly hostage with a bazooka before the end of the 2020s.

Bill Cosby – Himself, appropriately

Bill Cosby on 'The Cosby Show'
Image via NBC

Even if you’re the kind of person who likes to give celebrities every possible benefit of every conceivable doubt, you’d have a hard time defending Bill Cosby. He certainly didn’t help his case by admitting to everything and then employing the legal defense tactic commonly known as “Yeah, but come on, right?”

The point is, half a dozen of the best comedy albums of all time, two iconic TV series, a legacy of positive influence, philanthropy, and social mentorship, and the most that any of it is good for anymore is making you feel like you need a hot shower.

Danny Masterson – Hyde

Danny Masterson as Hyde
Photo via Fox

30 years to life. That’s the sentence passed down to Danny Masterson at the tail end of his 2023 rape trial. The “30 years” part isn’t just decorative, either – he won’t be eligible for parole until three full decades have passed. It’s so, so, so far down the list of terrible things associated with the situation, but fans on social media have been powerfully bummed out by the idea that watching Masterson’s Hyde on 200 episodes of That ‘70s Show has become a total downer.

On the upside, the scene in Face/Off where Castor Troy teaches a teenage girl the best way to stab Masterson in the thigh just keeps getting more and more watchable. 

Jeffrey Jones – Principal Rooney

Jeffrey Jones as Principal Rooney
Image via Paramount

In 2003, Jeffrey Jones pleaded no contest when charged with soliciting a minor, following an eight-month stint of paying a 14-year-old boy to let Jones dress him up and take pictures of him. Among more serious problems, like his repeated failure to update his status as a sex offender and, off the top of my head, everything in the previous sentence, it really took the shine off the apple in terms of Jones’ portrayal of a curmudgeonly school principal who goes to a teenage boy’s house hoping to catch him alone. 

Tom Meisfjord
About the author

Tom Meisfjord

Tom is an entertainment writer with five years of experience in the industry, and thirty more years of experience outside of it. His fields of expertise include superheroes, classic horror, and most franchises with the word "Star" in the title. An occasionally award-winning comedian, he resides in the Pacific Northwest with his dog, a small mutt with impulse control issues.