SNARK WEEK: Poll – Crappy Actors


Support Frock Flicks with a small donation! During Snark Week and beyond, we’re grateful for your monthly pledges for exclusive content via Patreon or your one-time contributions via PayPal to offset the costs of running this site. You can even buy our T-shirts and swag. Think of this like supporting public broadcasting, but with swearing and no tax deductions!



Some actors show up in frock flicks and make you go “huh?” Others make you actively wretch, gag, and turn away. Yet more actors get cast repetitively in historical costume movies and TV shows so much that we’re sick of seeing them. There’s a whole host of reasons why a certain actor isn’t a good fit for costume dramas. Since this is Snark Week, we don’t have to get into the subtle nuance of it — let’s just be judgey!



Tell us who you picked! Did we miss anyone egregiously bad?



So much to snark - Donate to Frock Flicks!


About the author

The Frock Flicks Team

Twitter Facebook Website

Three historical costumers who decided the world needed a podcast and blog dedicated to historical costume movies and everything right and wrong with them.

36 Responses

  1. Kitty

    Keira Knightley always irritates me i period roles for the reasons this site has already covered. She’s clompy and she always feels too modern and like she’s acting rather than inhabiting a role. Plus her jaw juts out in a way that irritates me but I recognize that’s a “me” problem.

    • The Scrivener

      Not just a you problem! Her jaw really irritates me as well.

      I liked her in Bend It Like Beckham (not period, obvs) but she makes me want to pull my eyes out when she shows up in a frock flick!

      • Shannon Russell

        Oh! I am not alone! Besides the clompiness and that she always feels too moderm her use of the slightly open mouth as an acting tool drives me insane! I watched The duchess because of the costumes but I usually try to avoid her movies in general

  2. Michael McQuown

    Welch/musketeers, more for the crappy costumes and hair than for the crappy acting. In some cases actors are miscast; in others, they’re just not suited for the material. Hillary Swank, for instance, was terrific in Million Dollar Baby. I think it takes a certain mindset to do historically oriented material, and some actors are just too oriented toward the modern, or conversely, don’t see that people are equally human no matter what period they lived in.

  3. B

    Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker’s Dracula – she came across like an actress in a school play trying and failing to do a British accent

  4. B

    Milla Jovovich – The Three Musketeers. Another unconvincing period performance. Speaking of The Musketeers, Charlie Sheen and Chris O’Donnell were pretty unconvincing in the 90s version

  5. Colleen

    Gwyneth Paltrow for sure. It’s her horrible-as-hell English accent. Emma would have been lovely, but her accent ruined it.

  6. Colleen

    Gwyneth Paltrow, for sure. It’s her horrible-as-hell English accent that kills period films she appears in. Emma and Shakespeare in Love would have been lovely, but then she comes in and ruins the movies with her English accent.

  7. Al Don

    While I understand including the other flicks (I can’t stand Troy), in my opinion Brad Pitt was fantastic in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Pitt claims it’s his best work and I’m inclined to agree. It was also lauded by, funnily enough, Jesse James’ own descendants.

    It’s a slow burn of a movie, but it’s a highly atypical Western – a genre I normally have no patience for – and one of the best shot films so far this century.

  8. Maude

    Did everyone miss the fact that Tom “I can’t act” Cruise is on this list? Because I will watch EVERY OTHER PERSON ON THIS LIST before I watch Tom Cruise in anything (other than Legend, because Tom Curry > Tom Cruise.)

    • Sharon in Scotland

      I was looking for Tom Cruise’s name on the list If it had not been on the list then I would not have entertained this whole endeavour and walked away.
      I love Legend, but only for Tim Curry.

  9. Max

    Wow, I know Im might be eaten alive but you all are so petty! my goodness!
    I personaly love KK in her costume period dramas and do NOT mess with my girl Carey Mulligan, she is an extraordinarily underappreciated actress who is gonna get her oscar very soon with Promising Young Woman

    • Nevada Harvey

      I feel the same about Keira Knightley. And I like Gwenyth paltrow, Barbara Streisand, and Kevin Costner, too.

    • Kendra

      It’s Snark Week, we’re supposed to be petty! And I am the one-third of the Frock Flicks team who thinks Carey Mulligan is an insanely talented actress. Maybe I’ll do a positive post about her post-Snark Week! (That being said, I defend anyone’s right to be annoyed during Snark Week)

  10. Constance

    I voted with my personal dislikes for Hilary Swank and Kevin Costner…just can’t handle either on my screen in front of me, though I really want to watch Affair of the Necklace :(…and threw in Billie Piper just because.

  11. Max

    I mean, they are insanely talented and I love their costume reviews, but this was way too mean.

  12. Miriam Lewis

    I picked three before I saw Tom Cruise, but Gwyneth Paltrow is still my least favorite–worst possible posture for period dress, with Keira Knightly slouching along behind her in second place.

  13. Lily Lotus Rose

    The actress Nikki Reed, who played Rosalie in Twilight, had a character arc on the TV show Sleepy Hollow as Betsy Ross. I don’t want to knock her acting skills, because I haven’t seen enough of her work to make a call on that, but she looks too contemporary to pull off historical roles in my opinion.

  14. Damnitz

    Keira Knightly in “The Duchess” not only for not looking like the real duchess but showing no spirit at all.

    It’s a shame, that you don’t include German or French actors. I would nominate Matthias Habich, I felt that he was in every frock flicks especially if TV-production during the 1970s and 1980s. And Michel Le Royer (La Fayette, 1961) – oh what a poor performance in all those films even in very good productions.

  15. Kristin

    I don’t know why, but Romola Garai gets seriously on my nerves, and she’s been in a ton of frock flicks, and frequently as the lead, too…

  16. Julia R

    I think Keanu Reeves seems like a fantastic person, but if he was never in another period movie I wouldn’t cry about it. He is SO BAD in Dangerous Liaisons, makes me unrealizable angry.

    • Rochelle

      Completely agree. I’m quite fond of Keanu, but if anyone reads as quintessentially modern it’s him. He was born to be Neo. But there was that heinous period when they threw him into every historical movie they could, I assume to get the kids to show up. Oh it grates on my nerves, especially in Dangerous Liaisons, which is otherwise pretty much flawless.

  17. Terry Towels

    When I was a kid, Raquel Welch was a weather presenter on TV in San Diego. She wasn’t famous until she ripped her costume down from the top, and up from the bottom in ‘One Million Years B.C.’

  18. Sarah C.

    I have mixed feelings about Kiera Knightly. I don’t mind her in POTC because that’s basically a fantasy series anyways. I thought she was fine in “The Duchess”, and I actually thought she was a really good fit for the character of Anna Karenina (I was reading the book and watching the film in tandem), it’s just the rest of the movie was trying to pull a weird artsy interpretation that I didn’t think particularly worked. But I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch her in “Pride and Prejudice” because she does not feel like a good fit for Elizabeth Bennet AT ALL.