Yes, the woman whose diverse and staggeringly impressive resume which includes “Almost Famous,” “Mississippi Burning,” “Blood Simple” and, of course, “Fargo,” will be appearing alongside Autobots, Decepticons and super-models in the third installment of Michael Bay’s action-packed “Transformers” franchise. To say it’s a bit of a departure (though, to be fair, the 54-year-old was in 2005’s “Aeon Flux“) is a bit of an understatement, but McDormand is hardly the first respected actor to appear in a popcorn flick.
As we countdown to the latest “Transformers” which features none other than Mrs. Joel Coen herself, we look back at five other top-tier actors and their surprising transitions to mainstream movies.
Ben Kingsley in “BloodRayne”, “Prince of Persia”
When you’ve got powerful Oscar-winning dramas like “Schindler’s List” and “Ghandi” on your resume, almost everything you do will likely pale in comparison. And while Kingsley has continued to earn his cred as one of the greatest actors of our time and has proven so with emotionally raw performances in films like “Elegy” and “House of Sand and Fog,” moviegoers and critics alike were surprised to see the knighted star show up in action flicks like 2005’s universally panned “BloodRayne” and then going sandal-to-sandal with Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”
Michael Caine in “Jaws: The Revenge”
When you think of Michael Caine, the first thing that springs to mind — besides his instantly recognizable voice — is his work in classics like “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Dark Knight”, “Children of Men,” and “A Bridge Too Far.” From dramas like “The Prestige” to lighthearted comedies like “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” Caine is in one of the few master classes of actors. Of course, not every career is flawless and you needn’t look further than 1987’s “Jaws: The Revenge” for proof in this case. While it’s certainly not uncommon for top-notch actors to appear in blockbuster follow-ups, it’s certainly shocking to see one like Caine star in the fourth, and arguably worst, “Jaws” movie.
Ralph Fiennes in “Maid in Manhattan”
Ralph Fiennes is so good at being bad. In fact, perhaps a little too good. From his terrifying work in “Schindler’s List” to his villainous role as Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” films, it’s sometimes hard to shake a certain image of Fiennes. So it was jarring, to say the least, to see Fiennes play a debonair politician who falls for Jennifer Lopez in the lighter-than-air 2002 romantic comedy “Maid in Manhattan.” We totally buy that it would be easy to swoon over the handsome Fiennes, but it was certainly hard to grasp how the star of “The English Patient” and “Quiz Show” was suddenly in Matthew McConaughey territory.
Elizabeth Taylor in “The Flintstones”
To call the late, great Elizabeth Taylor a legend would almost feel like an injustice. She was one of the untouchable icons thanks to her performances in classics like “Giant,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Place in the Sun.” So imagine the disbelief when the actress showed up in the big screen version of a beloved cartoon (see below, too) in 1994’s “The Flintstones.” Sadly, her yabba-dabba-doo appearance as prehistoric Pearl would turn out to be her last-ever film role.
Robert De Niro in “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle”
Talking about Robert De Niro to any movie buff, you’re bound to get a riled-up reaction and hear angered cries of “Sellout!” And, sure, while it’s been unnerving and at times downright upsetting to see the man who brought us unparalleled performances in classics like “Raging Bull,” “Casino,” “Goodfellas,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “The Deer Hunter” show up in flicks like “Meet The Fockers,” nothing was quite as baffling as watching the Oscar-winner try and take down moose and squirrel in 2000’s big screen adaptation of “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.” We’re all for the masterful combination of live-action and animation like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” but not one that can tarnish the memory of a Hollywood icon. We’re still reeling over his use of his classic “Taxi Driver” line “You talkin’ to me?” for cheap laughs in this flop.
Which respected star appearing in a popcorn flick surprised–or unnerved–you the most? Let us know in the comments section below and on Twitter!