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What performer chose a role that wounded their career?

What performer chose a role so disastrous that it fatally wounded his or her career? Check out this week’s Ask the Critic question, then post your own

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What performer chose a role that wounded their career?

What performer chose a role so disastrous that it fatally wounded his or her career? — Isaac

In 1981, Faye Dunaway made the fearless choice to play Joan Crawford, the Hollywood Medusa of Christina Crawford’s trendsetting tell-all, Mommie Dearest. The movie was so reviled it became the Showgirls of its day, and the critics all but went medieval on Dunaway. They skewered her fire-breathing, rose-bush-hacking, ”No wire hangers!” performance as a ghastly spectacle of overwrought camp, a perception that lingers to this day. The film effectively snuffed Dunaway’s respectability; she never got another great role. Yet her performance is one of the most sadly misjudged in all of movie history. Watch it again, and you’ll see that it’s a scary and inspired piece of high-wire acting — a portrait of movie-star narcissism gone mad. The tragedy is that Dunaway was so much better than the movie. She conjures a vision of Joan, whereas the film’s sketchy tabloid psychology too often makes her grand opera of queenly rage sound slightly out of tune.

(Got a question for Owen or Lisa? Post it here.)