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11 Oscar Winning Actors Who Played in Terrible Sci-Fi Movies [List]

The Academy Awards have come and gone and here is a list of bad sci-fi movies that stars like Christopher Plummer wants you to forget.

An Academy Award is a powerful thing. Just being nominated for an award is considered the height of an actors career. Of course, every actor has highs and lows. In the history of all great actors are the films that they hope don't come up at parties. The films that they made when they were desperate, drunk or both.

From Marlon Brando to Ernest Borgnine, here are eleven Academy Award winning actors who've made horrible, terrible science-fiction films.

11. Christopher Plummer - Starcrash (1978)
Christopher Plummer's career has spanned decades, but it wasn't until he reached 82 that he won an Academy Award. Maybe its because he was in the terrible Z-Movie known as Starcrash. Below the B-movie and the C-movie is the Z-movie. A film so bad B-movies make fun of it. A low budget Star Wars knock-off, it also features the "un-nominated" David Hasselhoff. Thankfully, he was in Star Trek VI as the Klingon General Chang.

10. James Earl Jones - Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

As much as fans hate Star Wars Episode I, the worst Star Wars film is the Holiday Special. James Earl Jones was given an honorary Academy Award this year despite his decades in the industry. He famously played the voice of Darth Vader, and infamously was the voice of Vader in the TV special. Thankfully, his role on the show is brief. Unfortunately, the Wookie Lumpy and Malla had plenty of screen time. This one is kind of a pass since he didn't star in the film. Not like Ernest Borgnine.

9. Ernest Borgnine - Laser Mission (1997)
The Oscar wining character actors from such films as Escape From New York also starred in the terrible science fiction action film Laser Mission. He played a Russian scientist kidnapped by the evil Russkies to make a space laser. His horrible accent and the cheesy special effects put a damper on his Oscar, but he's laughing all the way to the bank these days.

8. Jack Nicholson - Wolf (1994)
Jack Nicholson is a consummate actor and has performed in numerous roles. He's tied with Walter Brennan for winning three Oscars. In 1994, he starred in Wolf which was loosely based the 1941 film The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr. Ironically enough, even though Lon Chaney Jr. is the greatest character actor who ever lived, he never won an Academy award. The film, about a middle aged guy getting new life from a wolf bite, didn't bite at the box office. Here's a typical scene where Jack "wolfs out" on a bunch of muggers.

7. Marlon Brando - The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) 
Marlon Brando set the standard for actors for generations with his powerful method acting. He played Superman's father. Ranked by the American Film Institute as the fourth greatest screen legend among male movie stars. Then, he got a little strange. In a movie about animals being turned into people, he managed to "out-strange" the whole concept. Most of the blame for this terrible movie falls on Val Kilmer for delivering a stilted performance. Brando's mumbling and fat clothes didn't help.

6. Max Von Sydow - Judge Dredd (1995)
Max Von Sydow's voice and presence are as legendary as his acting. He even played Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). This year, in 2012, he was nominated for his supporting role in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Unfortunately, one of the few black spots in his career was as Judge Fargo in the film Judge Dredd. He brings all his acting skills, but can't raise the film over the horrible over-acting of Stallone. It's fun to watch his performance though. Even in the trailer Sydow is regal.

5. Russell Crowe - Virtuosity (1995) 
He had three Academy Award nominations in a row (1999-2001) and won in 2001 for Gladiator. In 1995 he played the psychotic killer SID 6.7. A virtual reality program that jumps into an android and becomes a real-life serial killer. A killer so evil he has to absorb broken glass. This film is a two-for since it also starred Oscar winner Denzel Washington. It has a rotten score of 34% on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. George C. Scott - The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
George C. Scott has won numerous awards for roles like General George S. Patton and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Unfortunately, in 1973, he starred in a movie about a talking dolphin that tries to kill the President. If I need to say anything else, just watch the "action packed" trailer.

3. Denzel Washington - Virtuosity (1995)
Denzel is one of the greatest actors of our time and has two Academy Awards from Glory and Training Day to prove it. Back in the mid-90s though he starred in a terrible sci-fi thriller called Virtuosity. His acting skills were overshadowed by the silly story and over-the-top acting. He tried his best, but the tagline said it all "Justice needs a new program." He was reprogrammed for Training Day and his Oscar winning costar Russel Crowe became a Gladiator.

2. Ben Kingsley - A Sound of Thunder (2005)
Ben Kingsley is a highly professional actor with credits for dramatic roles in films like Ghandi and Schindler's List (1993). For some reason, he decided to play the evil businessman Charles Hattan in the adaption of the short story Sound of Thunder. The film was the actions of "time tourists" causing the world to unravel. Of all the things wrong with the film three stand out: Poor special effects, bad performances, and Ben Kingsley's hair.

1. Jon Voight - SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
Jon Voight is known for two things: Being a three-time Oscar winning actor and bringing Angelina Jolie into the world. In 2004, he was famous for something else. He appeared in the horrible film Baby Geniuses 2 and was nominated for a "Razzie" (the Oscar for bad movies) for worst supporting actor. It's one of the few films to get a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With a bad German accent and major over-acting he makes you forget he was ever played a paraplegic Vietnam veteran in Coming Home (1978).

That's it! From movies about killer dolphins to evil German babynappers. Those are the eleven Oscar winning actors who forced us to watch terrible sci-fi movies.

What do you think about our Oscar winners? Any great actor you've seen in really bad movies?
[Image source: Black Hole Reviews
UPDATE: Fixed typos and grammar


  1. Virtuosity claimed two actors! And anyone who has never seen the Star Wars Holiday Special should feel grateful. Unfortunately, I have seen it...
    And while not a great actor, he is an Academy Award winner - Sylvester Stallone - and he was in the awful Judge Dredd.

  2. Oh there are skeletons in everyone's closet. Jane Fonda will never live down Barbarella.

  3. Alex, I didn't realize Stallone had an Oscar. That's two for Judge Dredd.

  4. Michael,your right. Fonda probably wakes in a cold sweat everytime its on TV.

  5. Plummer looks like Ozymandias

  6. Good call Macaco. I was wondering who he reminded me of. LOL


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