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Stage Fright: Celebrating the worst performances by musicians in recent films

 

Countless lists are made every day of the best movie roles filled by musicians, and lord knows we could fill up several lists of our favorite performances (here’s a deep cut and a hot take: we actually loved Norah Jones in Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights). But very few talk about the worst performances made by musicians in modern film.

With Sir Paul McCartney making an appearance in this Friday’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, we thought we’d gather up what we think are some pretty horrific film appearances made by famous musicians in the past 10 years or so.

From a dressed-down diva and an aged rock legend to “the king” and a CGI abomination, there’s proof that not everybody can make the transition to the silver screen.

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Rihanna, Battleship

Before stinking up sad true-life stories for fun and profit with Marky Mark, Peter Berg was actually something of a respected director back in 2011 (the man made the film adaptation of Friday Night Lights and executive-produced the show, for fuck’s sake). Then, he announced he was going to make a Battleship movie, and the whole goddamn world wondered what the hell was wrong with him. He cast Rihanna as a Navy sailor, which didn’t seem like such a bad idea at the time — she’s a fantastic presence in anything, and it was interesting to imagine how she was going to be used. When the movie dropped, legions of fans and other moviegoers were deeply disappointed at just how horrible and thinly-written her part was, and how bad she was in the role. If you don’t believe us, check out this Vulture article from back in the day that lists, quite accurately, every line of dialogue she says in the film. Berg’s never been the same since, and here’s a video of him freaking out at an Israeli reporter on the press tour for Battleship.

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