When bad roles happen to good actors

Halle Berry in Catwoman, George Clooney in Batman & Robin and Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex....

Halle Berry in Catwoman, George Clooney in Batman & Robin and Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex. (Handouts)

STEVE TILLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

We love Vera Farmiga. Desperately. She's smart, sexy and ferociously talented. But we're worried about her checking into the Bates Motel.

Farmiga, who earned an Oscar nomination opposite George Clooney in Up in the Air, will play Norman Bates' pre-mummy mommy in A&E's upcoming Psycho prequel series, Bates Motel, due to begin filming soon in Vancouver. (Maybe American Horror Story's Taissa Farmiga told her big sis that starring in a TV horror-drama is a solid career move.)

Even though Bates Motel has some established talent behind it, including Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse and 20-year-old Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as a young, present-day Norman Bates, this just doesn't sound like a good idea. With each successive Psycho sequel performing worse than the one before it, and Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake bombing outright, it's clear that following in Alfred Hitchcock's footsteps can be dangerous indeed.

It's the same kind of trepidation we feel for Jennifer Lawrence starring in House at the End of the Street, opening today. With a hugely popular franchise-in-the-making (The Hunger Games) and an Oscar nomination (Winter's Bone) to her credit, does Lawrence need to be making what looks like a generic horror-thriller? (Coincidentally, her House at the End of the Street co-star, Max Thieriot, will play Norman Bates' brother in Bates Motel. Who knew he had a brother?)

But we aren't genuinely scared for Farmiga. Even if Bates Motel were to die horribly, we're confident she'd join the ranks of great actors who stumbled on a bad role but came back stronger than ever. One danger sign, though -- the truly bad roles that afflict great actors are often in so-called genre projects: sci-fi, fantasy and (uh-oh) horror. Take a look.

Ben Kingsley

Kagan, BloodRayne (2005)

We're not sure what possessed Sir Ben to play a vampire king in this gawdawful adaptation of the video game of the same name. It sucked, in every meaning of the word.

The bounce-back: Polish mob hitman Frank Falenczyk in You Kill Me (2007).

Michael Fassbender

Burke, Jonah Hex (2010)

Even star Josh Brolin admitted the supernatural western based on the comic books was a huge waste of time and talent for everyone involved.

The bounce-back: Sex addict Brandon Sullivan in Shame (2011).

Jeremy Irons

Profion, Dungeons & Dragons (2000)

A true "what the hell were they thinking?" movie, this flaccid fantasy loosely based on the role-playing game series was even worse than that description makes it sound.

The bounce-back: The Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth I (2005).

Halle Berry

Catwoman, Catwoman (2004)

Just three years after her best actress Oscar win, Halle coughed up a sloppy hairball with this terrible take on the Batman anti-heroine.

The bounce-back: A go-go dancer with a split personality in Frankie and Alice (2010).

George Clooney

Batman, Batman & Robin (1997)

Speaking of Batman, in the year 1997 B.C.B. (before Christian Bale) Clooney donned the cape and cowl in the brutal bat-flick that buried the franchise for eight years.

The bounce-back: Suave bank robber Jack Foley in Out of Sight (1998).

Frank Langella

Skeletor, Masters of the Universe (1987)

We can only assume Langella needed to send his kids to college when he starred as the toy-based villain opposite Dolph Lundgren's He-Man.

The bounce-back: A poignant portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon (2008).

Julianne Moore

Lila Crane, Psycho (1998)

While Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn came out of this mess smelling the worst, Moore was guilty by association. Be careful, Vera Farmiga!

The bounce-back: Moore has scarcely had a misstep since, but her quickest post-Psycho rebounds were An Ideal Husband and The End of the Affair (both 1999).

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