One for the money: the great actors who slummed it in dumb movies

Unwatchable. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

Unwatchable. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

Helen Mirren’s appearance in Fast and Furious 8 – or Fate of the Furious, or whatever you want to call it – is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it proves that not even dames of the British empire are impervious to the breathlessly dumb spectacle of a big-budget, boneheaded franchise. Second, it elevates her to the highest possible rank of actor: Thespians Who Should Be Above This But Aren’t.

Almost without exception, every great actor has spent at least some time slumming it in films that don’t accommodate their talent. In fact, you could probably make a highly enjoyable movie marathon out of these appearances. Here’s my suggested running order:

Orson Welles in Transformers.

Orson Welles – Unicron
Transformers: The Movie (1986)

We’ll start with perhaps the most infamous. By this point, Welles’s career had spiralled down to the extent that he was primarily famous for his angry, drunk, advert outtakes. His final indignity was playing a planet-eating robot called Unicron in a feature-length toy commercial. However, this raises an important point about slumming actors: although the work is beneath them, the films are often loads of fun to watch. Compare this with any of Michael Bay’s films, and Welles’s Transformers looks like a flat-out masterpiece.

Judi Dench – Aereon
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Dench managed to win an Oscar after being in a film for just eight minutes. That film was not The Chronicles of Riddick, in which she played Dame Judi Dench Who Can Nearly Fly But Not Quite and Also Has a Curtain Over Her Head. It’s long, tedious and far too self-regarding for its own good. But, as Fifty Shades Darker ably demonstrated, at least Christian Grey was a fan of the film. He has a poster of it hanging on his wall.

Dustin Hoffman – Mr Magorium
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)

A film so bad it became the punchline to Breaking Bad’s best joke, Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a prime example of all the bad things that can happen if you hire a renowned actor to star in your stupid movie. Hoffman endows his character with countless infuriating tics and quirks that would have almost definitely been beaten out of him if he wasn’t Dustin Hoffman. Future Oscar-winner Natalie Portman didn’t do herself any favours, either. Unbearable.

Marlon Brando as Dr Moreau

Marlon Brando – Dr Moreau
The Island of Dr Moreau (1996)

The stories about Marlon Brando’s antics on the set of this doomed HG Wells adaptation are much better than the actual film. It is said that, rather than learn the lines, Brando simply repeated whatever was dictated to him via an earpiece; a trick that went awry when the signal was highjacked by a nearby police scanner. He also insisted that his character should intermittently wear a bucket on his head and, although this was vetoed, that he should ultimately reveal himself to be a dolphin. The film is unwatchable.

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe – Lt Parker Barnes and SID 6.7
Virtuosity (1995)

Now it’s time for a twofer. This is the plot description from Virtuosity’s IMDb page: “When a virtual reality simulation created using the personalities of multiple serial killers manages to escape into the real world, an ex-cop is tasked with stopping its reign of terror.” The film, if you can believe it, doesn’t even live up to this. (NB: the film’s two leads have three Oscars between them.)

Michael Caine in Jaws: The Revenge

Michael Caine – Hoagie
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Caine’s “one for me, one for them” attitude towards filmmaking has resulted in a wildly spotty filmography. But his lowest point was the fourth Jaws movie. Roy Scheider’s character has died and his (possibly psychic) widow keeps getting chased about the place by an angry shark with a personal vendetta. Plus, said animal may or may not be controlled by a witch doctor. The film is partially redeemed by Caine’s devil-may-care attitude towards its horrible reception. “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible,” he once memorably remarked. “However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Peter O’Toole – Zaltar
Supergirl (1984)

Supergirl is filled with weirdly mournful performances by actors who all seem fairly close to death – Peter Cook’s role is especially sad. And yet it is O’Toole who takes the biggest hit. Playing a Kryptonian trapped in the Phantom Zone (who nevertheless seems to have access to Bill Beaumont’s A Question of Sport sweater collection), he exudes the air of a trapped circus monkey who won’t get any dinner unless he turns up and goes through the motions. Heartbreaking.

John Hurt – Dr Turner
Tender Loving Care (1998)

Technically, Tender Loving Care might not count as a movie, as it never had a theatrical release, but it does stand out as a bizarre outlier on Hurt’s filmography. The film is an interactive Hand That Rocks the Cradle-style thriller with the thinnest possible erotic undertone. You watch a couple of scenes, then answer an on-screen questionnaire about how it made you feel. Your answers dictate where the film goes next. Hurt’s role was to guide viewers through these questionnaires, and then pull an interested face as they entered their answers. The role could easily have been taken by a monkey in a hat.

Faye Dunaway – Elena Dubrow
Dunston Checks In (1996)

On the subject of monkeys, here’s a film about a crazy orangutan jewel thief and his kooky adventures in a negligently run hotel. You might remember Dunston Checks In as the film where an ape gives an erotic massage to a middle-aged lady. Or perhaps you’ll remember it as the film where the same monkey climbs on to a chandelier and flings himself at Faye Dunaway – star of Bonnie and Clyde, The Arrangement, Chinatown, The Thomas Crown Affair and Network – who then topples into a great big cake. This was probably less slummy for Dunaway than Supergirl (in which she also appeared) but, because she looks like she is having fun in this, it’s still worth throwing on the bonfire.

Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko

na Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

No matter how prestigious their stage and screen careers, all actors want to work for Steven Spielberg. Even if they end up working with him on a film where people get attacked by giant ants. Even if that film has a sequence where the hero is catapulted to safety during a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge. Even if, at one point, Shia LaBeouf escapes death by literally swinging away through the trees like a monkey. This is why Cate Blanchett appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Philip Seymour Hoffman – Owen Davian
Mission: Impossible III (2006)

At this point in his career, Hoffman was a true cinematic heavyweight. He had acted for Todd Solondz, Spike Lee and the Coen brothers. He was a favourite of Paul Thomas Anderson and Anthony Minghella. He had just won an Oscar for Capote. He could pick any role he liked, and he chose to be an anonymous baddie in the second-worst Mission: Impossible film. It made a small amount of sense, allowing him to chew scenery at full volume for his largest audience yet. But what a weird choice to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise’s frenzied running technique.

Robert Downey Jr – Dr Kozak
The Shaggy Dog (2006)

You could argue that Robert Downey Jr wasn’t slumming it by taking a reduced role in a fifth-rate Tim Allen movie. You could argue that, at this point in his life, he had scuppered his career so comprehensively that his appearance in this film counted as a kindness on Allen’s part. Even so, it’s jarring to see an actor so widely feted hopping around the interior of a courtroom on all fours with his tongue waggling around. Two years later, he would rehabilitate himself as Iron Man, becoming the world’s highest-paid actor in the process. But this performance remains a warning from history about all the bad things that can happen if you take too many drugs.

The entire cast
Tiptoes (2003)

Let us finish our marathon with an undiluted cavalcade of slumming actors. Tiptoes should have benefited from its murderers’ row of talent. It stars two-time Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage. It stars two-time London Critics’ Circle award-winner Kate Beckinsale. It stars two-time Bafta-winner Gary Oldman. It stars Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe-winning Patricia Arquette. It stars Matthew McConaughey, who won 18 awards in a single year for Dallas Buyers Club. Tiptoes should have been unstoppable. But it wasn’t because it was a weird hybrid of romcom and abortion drama in which Oldman played a dwarf. The whole thing was so offensive that it was never released theatrically in the US.


Police launch Mapperley Park murder investigation

The scene this morning

The scene this morning

Detectives have launched a murder investigation after a man died following a serious assault at an address in Mapperley Park in the early hours of this morning.

Nottinghamshire Police were called to the address in Woodborough Road just before 1am on Friday. The man was treated for his injuries at the scene but died shortly afterwards.

Road closures and local diversions are currently in place in Woodborough Road as detectives from the East Midlands Serious Operations Unit work to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Nottingham City Transport buses Blue 40 and Sky Blue 45, 46 and 47 are all being diverted.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 31 of 14 April.

You can follow all the latest developments in our live blog, below.

Amy Breffitt, 22, said: “My partner went out to work and saw the tape, then I saw on the Post what had happened. I’m really shocked.

“It’s a quiet area around here. You hear of it in other places in Nottingham but it’s always been quiet here. It’s a busy road so you don’t get anything like this happening.”

This shows police at the (closed-off) junction of Querneby Avenue and Woodborough Road.

Terrance Cullen has lived on the street for more than 40 years and woke up to the police presence this morning

The 90-year-old said: “It’s terrible. It’s always been quiet and a nice place to live ever since I moved here.

“You see these things on the television but you don’t expect it to happen outside your own home.”

There are diversions on NCT  Blue 40 and Sky Blue 45, 46, 47. Here are all the diversion details.

  • Blue 40 towards City Hospital is following normal route to the top of The Wells Road then turning right Woodborough Road, left Woodthorpe Drive, left Mansfield Road, right at Sherwood Manor on to Edwards Lane to resume normal route
    • The following stops are not being served: Maurice Drive, Gordon Rise, Sherwood Vale, Cavendish Vale, Mansfield Street, Sherwood Shops
  • Blue 40 towards City is following normal route to the Sherwood Manor PH then turning left Mansfield Road, right Woodthorpe Drive, right Woodborough Road, left The Wells Road to resume normal route
    • The following stops are not being served: Sherwood Shops, Mansfield Street, Cavendish Vale, Sherwood Vale, Maurice Drive
  • Sky Blue 45, 46, 47 towards Mapperley are following normal route along Woodborough Road, but turning right Hungerhill Road (full length), right Ransom Road, left The Wells Road (to the top) then turning right Woodborough Road to resume normal route
    • The following stops are not being served: Hungerhill Road, Alexandra Court, Dagmar Grove, Malvern Road, Ransom Road Top, Private Road, Mapperley Rise
  • Sky Blue 45, 46, 47 towards City are following normal route along Woodborough Road as far as Aldi then turning left The Wells Road, right Ransom Road, left Hungerhill Road (full length), turning left on to Woodborough Road to resume normal route.
    • The following stops are not being served: Mapperley Rise, Private Road, Ransom Road Top, Malvern Road, Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Court


13:23  We’re live at the scene right now

You can watch our live video here.


13:22  Just to confirm, this is what’s closed

The purple sections below are all closed off.



13:12  The other end of the cordon

This latest photo shows the cordon at the junction of Woodborough Road and The Wells Road.



13:09  News is ‘shocking’ says business owner
Residents from inside the cordon are being let out if they need to be.

Farahd Gazeran, who has run AFD of Mapperley used cars for the last 23 years, said: “I got here at 7.20am and there was a policewoman putting up some tape, but they wouldn’t tell me what’s going on. I am guessing I am going to have to close today – at least for a while.

“There are sometimes crashes on this road but this is more serious. It’s shocking.”

Woodborough Road is closed from its junction with Mission Street to the junction with The Wells Road.

The junction between Morley Avenue and Mapperley Rise is also closed.

And there’s no access to Woodborough Road from Querneby Avenue.

There are diversions on NCT services Blue 40 and Sky Blue 45, 46, 47 because of  the incident.

  • Blue 40 towards City Hospital is following normal route to the top of The Wells Road then turning right Woodborough Road, left Woodthorpe Drive, left Mansfield Road, right at Sherwood Manor on to Edwards Lane to resume normal route
  • Blue 40 towards City is following normal route to the Sherwood Manor PH then turning left Mansfield Road, right Woodthorpe Drive, right Woodborough Road, left The Wells Road to resume normal route
  • Sky Blue 45, 46, 47 towards Mapperley are following normal route along Woodborough Road, but turning right Hungerhill Road (full length), right Ransom Road, left The Wells Road (to the top) then turning right Woodborough Road to resume normal route
  • Sky Blue 45, 46, 47 towards City are following normal route along Woodborough Road as far as Aldi then turning left The Wells Road, right Ransom Road, left Hungerhill Road (full length), turning left on to Woodborough Road to resume normal route.

Delays on these services are expected.



Neighbors, ‘relative’ offer insights about Joseph Jakubowski

JANESVILLE—Neighbors said Joseph Jakubowski was quiet and polite and kept to himself in the few years they knew him.

Another woman, who characterized herself as a “relative” of Jakubowski’s, on Monday said Jakubowski had fallen on hard times in the past few months after he’d apparently lost his job at a local retail store and was unable to find other work or assistance.

Police believe Jakubowski mailed an anti-government manifesto to the president April 4, burglarized a rural Janesville gun shop and then vanished. Investigators continued an intensive local and national manhunt Monday.

Monday afternoon, a woman who pulled a car into Jakubowski’s last known residence at 811 Glen St. told The Gazette she would speak only on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns. She would only identify herself as a “relative” of Jakubowski’s.

The woman painted a picture of Jakubowski as a man who’d been struggling to find equilibrium after she said he’d lost his job at a local Best Buy store then hurt his back doing a pick-up job roofing houses.

“He lost his job, and he couldn’t find another job,” the woman said. “Couldn’t find work. Couldn’t get any help. Couldn’t get food stamps. Couldn’t get nothing. Hurt his back. What do you do?”

Despite those troubles, the woman said, Jakubowski had a history—even recently—of trying to help other people.

The woman said Jakubowski recently had helped mow people’s lawns, and he’d tackle handyman work and repair other people’s cars.

“He helped a gentleman that was taking organs from one hospital to the other that couldn’t get to his job because his car wouldn’t start. He changed the starter so that he could get to work that night,” the woman said.

The woman said she wasn’t sure what would have prompted Jakubowski to mail a 161-page manifesto to President Trump, then burglarize a gun shop, steal more than a dozen high-end guns, and then set his car on fire and disappear, as police believe. But she said it’s not the Joseph Jakubowski she knows.

“I don’t know what happened, or why he snapped. But Joe’s a good person down deep in his heart. Nobody’s printing anything good about him,” the woman said.

The woman said the last time she’d communicated with Jakubowski was at the end of March, when he indicated he planned to move out of the home on Glen Street.

“Joe was making a life for himself. He was making a good life. He just hit a really bad, hard run,” she said.

The woman said two other families live at 811 Glen St. She said one of the families recently moved in, and they don’t know Jakubowski. The woman would not disclose how she knew that information.

The Gazette on Monday knocked on the door to the upper level of the home where Jakubowski apparently lived for about two years, according to police and court records. No one answered.

Jakubowski is a longtime Janesville resident. A 1999 Janesville Parker High School yearbook in Gazette archives shows Jakubowski’s photo, and it has an image of him in uniform as a member of the high school concert band. Jakubowski was a freshman at Parker at the time.

Crystal Duran told The Gazette earlier she knew Jakubowski while growing up near Mercy Hospital and at Parker High School, where she saw him bullied.

“When we were younger, everybody was always picking on him all the time,” she said. “Kids beat him up at school.”

Duran said she never saw him do anything to prompt the bullying.

Jakubowski is well known to local police after minor scrapes with the law, mostly through his many traffic citations.

But in 2008, Jakubowski repeatedly pulled on an officer’s holstered sidearm during a fight with the officer in Janesville, according to a criminal complaint. Three officers eventually subdued him. He was charged with trying to disarm an officer and was sentenced to probation.

Police weren’t releasing much background information about the life of Jakubowski, and beyond characterizing his manifesto as broadly anti-government, police haven’t given much information about insights they’ve developed on Jakubowski’s mental state.

Sheriff Robert Spoden on Monday said the sheriff’s office was still interviewing people Jakubowski knows to gain insights into the man who police consider an armed and dangerous fugitive. He said investigators are working with FBI personality profile experts to try to piece together a clearer picture of Jakubowski’s personality and his mental state in the days leading up to him vanishing.

Spoden said he couldn’t highlight investigators’ findings because he didn’t want to compromise an ongoing investigation.

Jakubowski has been “highly agitated by national politics recently,” according to associates investigators have spoken to, Spoden said earlier.

“When you look at the (manifesto), it is a laundry list of injustices he believes government and society and the upper class have put … onto the rest of the citizens,” Spoden said.

Carol Austin, a landlord at the Glen Street house next door to Jakubowski, and Phil Scriven, one of Austin’s tenants, were outside doing yard work Monday. Both told The Gazette that in the two years Jakubowski lived next door, they’d had limited contact with the man, but they both characterized Jakubowski as “quiet” and “polite.”

Jakubowski once came by to borrow some oil and a set of wrenches from Scriven. Scriven said Jakubowski returned the tools promptly and thanked Scriven.

Scriven said he doesn’t know much about Jakubowski, who he said “stayed to himself and minded his own business.”

Scriven said he knew Jakubowski liked to drink soda—Mountain Dew, especially.

Scriven said it’s been a tense set of days for neighbors who’ve seen SWAT teams set up outside residences on Glen Street a few times.

“To see cops walking around carrying rifles in the neighborhood, all that commotion, it’s been unnerving to say the least, Scriven said. “We’ve had onlookers, sometimes 60 to 70 of them pulling up and down the street when police are here.

“It’s just been unsettling.”


Fishing for Derelict Gear in Cape Cod Bay

Bob Mallory and Capt. Mike Rego grappling for gear from the deck of the F/V Miss Lilly (Center for Coastal Studies photo)

The Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) has begun its “Fishing for Derelict Gear in Cape Cod Bay,”  a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program to identity, remove, document, and properly dispose of lost, abandoned or derelict fishing gear.

Side-scan sonar surveys have been conducted off of Provincetown, Truro, Sesuit and Sandwich, with additional surveys planned for the Chatham area. The surveys identify areas where lost gear exists and assists with documentation and recovery.

Commercial fishing vessels from each area will be enlisted to deliver divers to certain locations so they can document the lost gear as it rests on the ocean floor, and to recover the gear by towing a small grappling hook in targeted locations.  Once returned to shore, the derelict gear will be sorted for recycling, disposal, or return to rightful owners. The first recovery work will take place in Provincetown on April 8th at MacMillan Pier.

The Center works closely with the harbormasters in each port to organize the on-site activities.  As a partner in the program, Nauset Disposal has provided containers in each location for disposal and recycling.

“Nauset Disposal considers its commitment to the Cape Cod community – and the environment – top priorities,” said Shawn DeLude, owner of the company. “This partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies is an exciting step for us. It’s a natural fit to work with an organization so dedicated to protecting our environment and we are looking forward to a long term partnership promoting coastal conservation, protection and restoration.”

This project will yield information about the presence and prevalance of lost fishing gear, and will provide data on by-catch, gear functionality, and habitat impacts.  Previous removal efforts conducted by CCS in Cape Cod Bay recovered over 16 tons of lobster, gillnet, dragger, trawl and recreational fishing gear, including 660 lobster traps, of which over half were returned to the owners.