Why do good actors make crappy movies? Or, the allure of Twilight.

This post falls under the  “me and my thoughts” category.


In RA land we’ve heard Lee Pace’s name mentioned a few times lately. There was the spotting of RA and LP at a showing of Prometheus and then Pace apparently confirmed that Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage will indeed be attending Comic Con (excuse me while I pause to squee).

Now, I’ve enjoyed watching Lee Pace in the past. Pushing Daisies was a fun show with a quirky plot and it was always eye-catching. It has however, been a while since I’ve seen him in anything. This was reason enough for me to look him up and I was surprised to see that he’s in the final installment of The Twilight franchise.

Lee Pace as Garret the vampire in a still from Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Photo from MTV.com

The question I have to ask is: why? Forget about the books for a minute and lets talk about the movies. They suck! The studios saw a way to make bucket loads of money by churning out cheap, poorly written movies that tweens to Twi-moms would devour as though they were starving. There isn’t much artistic integrity going into these movies (at least from what I can see). So I have to wonder what the appeal is to a talented actor.

Is it the money? That it is an easy job? Do they take into consideration the fact that although crappy, the movies will certainly boost their visibility in Hollywood? In my head, I imagine an actor with a pros and cons list, trying to decide if the role will benefit them enough to make it worth their time.

What do you think? There has to be a good reason that talented actors like Michael Sheen (Oscar nominee), Lee Pace and even Dakota Fanning (although she is in the Twilight demographic) choose to make these movies.

Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen in the Twilight Franchise

In the case of Lee Pace, I’m just glad he has a role in The Hobbit films. He’s a talented guy, and I look forward to seeing him in something that will showcase those talents.

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20 thoughts on “Why do good actors make crappy movies? Or, the allure of Twilight.

  1. servetus

    sings, “Go on, take the money and run”

  2. Michael Caine was once asked what he thought of Jaws 4 (in which he starred). He said he hadn’t seen the movie, but he saw the house his fee from it bought and the house was lovely. 😀 When they offer to pay you a couple of $million for a few days on set, I think you’d be a fool to say no. 😀

    • I’ve never heard that about Michael Caine before (Jaws isn’t my type of film). I appreciate his candor in admitting that doing a movie like that was purely for monetary purposes.

  3. servetus

    I think it’s not as awful as I made it sound — if you do one project like that, you can afford to do another two that you believe in but where the remuneration isn’t so good, I suppose. The question I read under yours is: when does participation in bad projects start to erode your standards as an artist?

    • Snicker's Mom

      I think this is true. Most of us take jobs from time to time to pay the bills and for no other reason. It may not be something we are overly fond of and we may actually despise it, but we do what we need to.

    • Right, I’m sure actors have to take jobs that don’t live up to their ideal standards in order to pay the rent, which then hopefully allows them to accept roles that are artistically fulfilling. I guess I just wonder about the whole thought process that leads to taking a role in a poorly crafted film.

      With someone like Lee Pace, I can’t imagine he was aspiring to be in movies like this when he was a student at Julliard. I can more easily understand actors who just kind of fall into acting not caring. But like I said in the post, I can just picture a talented actor who has studied his craft and aspires to be the best he can, sitting down and weighing the pros and cons.

      “The question I read under yours is: when does participation in bad projects start to erode your standards as an artist?” is right on the money.

      • servetus

        I’ve never been an actor, but it’s a concrete problem in the lives of history professors. In order to get a job in the U.S., you need a Ph.D. from one of about basically twenty-five institutions. Many more institutions grant the degree, and there are some exceptions, but the vast majority of jobs — 80% or more — go to graduates of a particular group of universities. If you go to one of those universities, you get used to a certain standard of pretty much everything: quality of library, level of pay for work, quality of students, expectations about the kind of publishing you do, even the quality of intellectual life with your colleagues. And then the vast majority of those people go off to universities that are not in that particular group of institutions to work, where the people who run the institutions haven’t had time to cultivate that kind of life and the standards are different / lower, or the students aren’t as good, or the university can’t afford a good library, or whatever.

        And yet people clamor for these jobs.

        I don’t think there’s one single calculation involved in that. Some people say, well, I’ll be there for a few years and then I’ll move up — the ambitious. Others say, I love the job so much I’m willing to do it even at a place where the standard is not so high — the self-motivated. Still others say, the standards at these institutions are unreasonable and I’m happy to do the job at a lower standard which is good enough for me — the “I acknowledge I’m not ever going to be at the top of the field, and it doesn’t matter, the middle is nice, too” folks, let’s call them realists or non-perfectionists. Some say, “my partner sacrificed to get me here and now it’s time to settle down and buy a house and have kids and plant a garden” — the security and happiness-minded.

        I imagine for an actor it’s hard to predict entirely what the outcome of any role choice will be. Lee Pace has had a lot of critically acclaimed roles such that he can obviously get artistically satisfying work with less trouble — but maybe he needs more security and thinks, well, one or two of these shoddy pieces aren’t going to negate everything else I did. (I always wonder if the reason Peter Firth stayed in Spooks for so long is that he’s paying tuition somewhere and thinks, well, eventually I’ll go back to theatre.) In a way, it’s more credible to step down than to step up — people aren’t saying about Pace, well, he’s been in all these crowdpleasers without any substance, but can he really act, like they must with Pattinson. I suppose people who fell into acting may not ask these questions in the same way, but if they end up caring about it they probably regularly feel like they have something to prove.

  4. I read an interview with Colin Firth awhile back (2008), and he was quoted as saying, “Peter O’Toole used to say, rather archly to me, “One for show, one for dough, darling!””

  5. Snicker's Mom

    I think another reason may be that someone in his life may be a fan of the series and he may have wanted to do it for him/her, especially if it were a family member or close friend’s child.

    • I can see that being a big reason for someone to do a role in something like the Twilight franchise.

    • servetus

      I like that story a lot and am incorporating it into my picture of Lee Pace 🙂

  6. Work is work. There are only so many roles on offer compared to how many actors? As lovely as he is He’s no Brad Pitt, George Clooney etc in terms of exposure/name. Who knows what further roles might eventuate. Plus Lee gets to add being in a major movie franchise on his CV. I’ve avoided all the Twilight hoopla but I do know how popular it is with a lot of younger family members.

    Interesting question Jas. Another one I have is. How do you know in advance whether the movie is any good or not. This might prove to be the best Twilight film ever made :p ….*hysterical laughter*

    To sum up…work is work 🙂

  7. I have wondered the same thing. Is the wider exposure? The money? I know Lord Laurence Olivier took roles in some pretty awful films in late life in order to leave money for his family with third wife Joan Plowright.

    Lee is indeed talented–he was amazing in the film “Soldier’s Girl” and seems like a real sweetheart ( I think he and RA would be simpatico with each other). He’s an attractive and gifted young man and I, too, am glad he is in “The Hobbit.”

    I have frankly NEVER understood the hoopla over the Twilight series and now I can’t figure out the juggernaut that is 50 Shades of Grey, which is basically Twilight with BDSM substituting for sparkly vampires ( along with very faulty psychology, the most annoying Inner Goddess ever written and a really disturbing message) . . . the public has an appetite for junk that goes beyond the food we ingest.
    I was really surprised to see Michael Sheen, an actor for whom I have a lot of respect, show up in the Twilight series. Go figure. I guess he had his reasons . . .

  8. Joanna

    Why Michael Sheen and Lee Pace starred in ‘Twilight’?….becase I needed a reason to watch it.;)

  9. In an interview Michael Sheen said that his daughter liked Twilight and this was the reason for him to do it.

  10. Has no one looked into the actual character Garrett? If you read the scene where it’s the final showdown, as well as his time leading up that climax, you find that Garrett’s a likeable, adventurous, curious guy who answers to no one but himself. In the climax scene, he has a long, powerfully inspiring monologue about freedom from oppression and the pursuit of truth and goodness. At the time he became a vampire, the year was right around 1776, and he was an American.

    I personally have nothing to say in defense of the Twilight books or movies, because I honestly don’t like them very well, but I will defend Garrett. He’s awesome. If I had to pick the best Twilight character for Lee Pace to play, it’d be Garrett, hands down (Edward’s annoying). So sure, Pace may have done it with the money in mind, but I think he liked Garrett enough to get involved, and the character was key in his decision. Plus, bonus for Lee Pace: he’ll get some serious face time with an awesome monologue from an awesome character in a big-budget movie.

    So, I’m going to see it (in the dollar theater) just for Lee Pace’s perfomance, and how he pulls off that monologue. On the other hand, if they butcher that monologue (which isn’t improbable), I may or many not kill myself.

    And honestly, who doesn’t want to pay a little money to see Lee Pace in all his handsome, reserved sexiness?

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