This year’s Emmy nominees in the major acting categories boast a wide array of talents… but that doesn’t mean every role they ever took is award-worthy. Here, we dive deep into the nominees’ IMDb pages and pull out the kind of not-so-flattering roles that they’d prefer you didn’t remember, thanks.
Kyle Chandler: Freddy’s Nightmares (1989)
Before he was piloting a boat through the Florida swamps on Bloodline or delivering stirring pep talks on Friday Night Lights, Kyle Chandler just needed work. At age 24, he landed a role on this short-lived Nightmare on Elm Street TV spinoff as a military man named Chuck. His anguished screams and calls for “Dad” maybe aren’t Emmy-worthy, but Chandler still remembers the role fondly. “Having the tiniest bit of my sandal in the door had me on cloud nine,” he tells the L.A. Times about when he found out he’d booked the role. “And I’ll tell you what, that night was just me and a full bottle of $3 wine.”
Taraji P. Henson: Satan’s School for Girls (2000)
The only thing scarier than getting on Cookie Lyon’s bad side? The thought of working with Shannen Doherty on a TV movie. But that’s just what Empire’s breakout star did back in 2000, teaming with a Charmed-era Doherty, former Charlie’s Angel Kate Jackson, and future Dexter star Julie Benz for this witchy ABC remake. Henson played college student Paige, who befriends Doherty as she searches for her sister’s killer and stumbles upon a coven of witches. And hey, maybe Henson’s experience shooting this with Doherty got her ready for that Cookie-Anika catfight?
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Matt LeBlanc: Ed (1996)
Most of the people on this list at least have the excuse that they were just starting out. But LeBlanc was already on Friends for two seasons (!) when he forced this cinematic abomination on us. He starred as minor-league baseball player Jack “Deuce” Cooper, who befriends a chimpanzee after the primate joins the team. Word has it LeBlanc’s Friends co-star Matthew Perry was also up for the lead role in Ed. You think Perry still laughs about this every time he sees LeBlanc?
Tony Hale: “Mr. Roboto” Volkswagen ad (1999)
Even if you didn’t recognize Hale before his days on Arrested Development and Veep, surely you remember this ubiquitous TV ad for Volkswagen, which featured Hale as a man dancing silently in his car to Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” while waiting for his friend. And hey, the car comes with an eight-speaker cassette stereo system — standard!
Elisabeth Moss: Escape to Witch Mountain (1995)
You may know the future Peggy Olson played President Bartlet’s daughter Zoey on The West Wing… but you’re probably not familiar with her extensive work as a child actor, including this mid-‘90s Disney Channel remake. In it, she and the well-coiffed Erik von Detten play twins who have wacky supernatural powers, like creating a purple ball of energy when their hands touch. We’re not gonna lie; we kind of want to look this one up on YouTube.
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Ty Burrell: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
If you’re used to seeing two-time Emmy winner Burrell as dorky dad Phil Dunphy, you might be shocked to see him play “a total dick” — another character’s words, not ours — in this George Romero zombie flick (also co-starring House of Cards nominee Michael Kelly!). Burrell sports douchey sideburns, curses like a sailor, and finally gets devoured and re-animates as a zombie, only to be shot dead by his fellow survivors. To be honest, they probably would’ve shot him even if he weren’t a zombie.
Jane Krakowski: The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Remember that '90s Flintstones movie with John Goodman that nobody particularly liked? Yeah, this isn’t even that; this is the less-successful prequel to that. Krakowski plays Betty Rubble along with Mark Addy as Fred (who?), Kristen Johnston as Wilma (OK), and Stephen Baldwin as Barney (yikes). This movie could also apply for The Good Wife nominee Alan Cumming, since he co-stars as Fred’s alien buddy The Great Gazoo — but we’ll spare you the sight of that.
Liev Schreiber: Mixed Nuts (1992)
This was actually Schreiber’s feature-film debut… and what a debut! In this critical and box-office disaster, Schreiber plays a distraught transvestite named Chris who takes a shine to suicide-hotline operator Steve Martin and tries to entice him with a seductive dance. This role couldn’t possibly be any further from Ray Donovan, but we’ve gotta give Schreiber credit: The man commits.
Anthony Anderson: Kangaroo Jack (2003)
The Black-ish star should’ve taken a lesson from his fellow nominee Matt LeBlanc: Don’t work with animals… computer-generated or otherwise. Anderson stars alongside Jerry O'Connell as a couple of best friends who get roped into a criminal enterprise that somehow involves a sunglasses-wearing CGI kangaroo. Yeah, O'Connell’s expression in the photo above pretty much sums up how critics felt about this one.
Christina Hendricks: Undressed (1999)
Before Mad Men and Firefly, a 24-year-old Christina Hendricks made her TV debut on MTV’s racy, low-budget teen soap. She played high school senior Rhiannon, who got involved with an aspiring rapper; sadly, even she couldn’t prevent the show from being just terrible. In fact, she told Andy Cohen herself on Watch What Happens Live that Undressed was the biggest regret she has on her résumé. Probably because typing “christina hendricks undressed” leads to all kinds of online search results now.
Don Cheadle: The Golden Palace (1992)
Cheadle’s not the only victim here; even Betty White is probably embarrassed by this second-rate Golden Girls spinoff that saw the gals (minus Dorothy) invest in a run-down Miami hotel. Cheadle played the hotel’s business-minded manager Roland; in true cheesy sitcom fashion, they even gave him a sassy foster child named Oliver. The suffering didn’t last long, though; The Golden Palace shut its doors after just one season.
Julie Bowen: Acapulco H.E.A.T. (1993)
Yeesh… just the title of this early-'90s, Fabio-starring Baywatch rip-off is enough to make you cringe. (Although we’re dying to know what H.E.A.T. stands for.) The future Claire Dunphy guest-starred as the target of a kidnapping plot who falls for an undercover H.E.A.T. agent. But even this embarrassing credit turned out OK for Bowen: During a 2011 Tonight Show appearance, Jay Leno played a clip of her on Acapulco H.E.A.T. — and then brought out Fabio to sweep Bowen off her feet! That might be even better than an Emmy.
The 67th Emmy Awards air Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. on Fox.