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Which Actors Have Played the Unluckiest Characters in Cinema?

In real life, certain individuals are especially prone to bad luck. And on the cinema screen, certain actors are subject to misfortune more than others.

This led us to investigate which Hollywood actor has played the most unlucky characters on film, devising a points-based system that looked at how many times a character is attacked, injured, jailed, divorced, or involved in an accident.

We also looked at the number of deaths each actor’s characters have experienced, and in films where there is an ‘afterlife’ in the script, that can mean more deaths than one in the same movie.

After determining 11 top box office actors and their most successful movies, the results are rather interesting, with Samuel L. Jackson taking out the top spot.

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth made the misfortune grade, coming in at number 05, and while the list consisted mainly of men, two high-profile females are featured: Gwyneth Paltrow at number 08 and Zoe Saldana at number 09.

Strangely, Leonardo DiCaprio did not make the danger grade, and nor did any of the old-school veterans of Hollywood such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson, but then those guys haven’t exactly been at the top of box office ratings over the past couple of decades.

 

01. Samuel L. Jackson – 473 points

Samuel L. Jackson ranked as the Hollywood actor playing the unluckiest roles in his four-decade acting career. Across his five most popular films (Django Unchained, Avengers, Unbreakable, Jackie Brown, and Pulp Fiction), Jackson racked up a total of 473 points in our index.

Of Jackson’s five most successful films, there were 31 movie deaths recorded (the most of all actors studied), thus resulting in 100 points – the highest number. Jackson also racked up another 100 points for the number of times ‘jail’ was mentioned, and 118 points combined for all the mentions of ‘dead’ and ‘death’ (80 and 38 points, respectively) across all five movie scripts. 

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S THE TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED 
The number of deaths recorded 31 100
Mentions of ‘death’ 20 38
Mentions of ‘dead’ 96 80
Mentions of ‘divorce’  3 12
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 30 73
Mentions of ‘jail’ 24 100
Mentions of ‘attack’ 22 17
Mentions of ‘accident’ 8 53

 

02. Robert Downey Jr. – 431 points

Robert Downey Jr. also ranks among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood throughout an acting career spanning five decades. His five most popular films include Avengers: Endgame, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Zodiac, through which he racks up the second highest number of points awarded in our index: 431 in total – 42 less than his fellow Avengers co-star, Samuel L. Jackson. 

Downey Jr. scored highly for mentions of ‘dead’ and ‘hurt’ among his five most popular films, which saw him awarded the maximum number of points for each (100). He was awarded a further 87 points for mentions of an ‘accident’ in each movie’s script, too. 

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 15 48
Mentions of ‘death’ 31 62
Mentions of ‘dead’ 118 100
Mentions of ‘divorce’  1 4
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 40 100
Mentions of ‘jail’ 1 4
Mentions of ‘attack’ 33 26
Mentions of ‘accident’ 13 87

 

03. Bruce Willis – 405 points

After analysing Bruce Willis’s four-decade long acting career, we can reveal that his five most popular films are Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, and The Fifth Element. From our analysis of these five films, Willis racked up 405 points in our index, ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood.

As far as his score was concerned, Willis scored the maximum number of points for mentions of being ‘hurt’ (100 points). He was also awarded 87 points for the 27 deaths recorded across all five films, and a further 80 points for mentions of an ‘accident’.

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS  POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 27 87
Mentions of ‘death’ 13 23
Mentions of ‘dead’ 66 52
Mentions of ‘divorce’  7 28
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 40 100
Mentions of ‘jail’ 5 21
Mentions of ‘attack’ 17 13
Mentions of ‘accident’ 12 80

 

04. Brad Pitt – 299 points

Brad Pitt ranks in fourth with a total of 299 points in our index thanks to the various unlucky roles played throughout his three-decade career, thus ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood. 

Across his top five films (Fight Club, Seven, Moneyball, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and The Big Short), Brad Pitt scored highly for mentions of being ‘hurt’ (81 points), the number of movie deaths in films he’s starred in (52 points), and the number of times ‘dead’ was mentioned in each of the five movie scripts (48 points).

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 16 52
Mentions of ‘death’ 17 32
Mentions of ‘dead’ 61 48
Mentions of ‘divorce’  2 8
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 33 81
Mentions of ‘jail’ 10 42
Mentions of ‘attack’ 14 11
Mentions of ‘accident’ 4 27

 

In his five most successful films (Thor: Ragnarök, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers, Thor, and Rush), Chris Hemsworth scored maximum points for mentions of an ‘accident’ (100).

 

05. Chris Hemsworth – 293 points

Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth has the fifth highest point scorer of all Hollywood actors studied in our index, with 293 points awarded across his five most popular films, thus ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood. 

In our analysis of his five most successful films (Thor: Ragnarök, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers, Thor, and Rush), he scored maximum points for mentions of an ‘accident’ (100 points). He also scored highly for mentions of ‘death’, as he was awarded 74 points in our index after 37 mentions were recorded. 

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 6 19
Mentions of ‘death’ 37 74
Mentions of ‘dead’ 48 36
Mentions of ‘divorce’  0 0
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 15 32
Mentions of ‘jail’ 0 0
Mentions of ‘attack’ 39 31
Mentions of ‘accident’ 15 100

 

06. Will Smith – 280 points

Across Will Smith’s three decades on the big screen, his five most popular films are Men in Black, Independence Day, Concussion, Bad Boys, and Bad Boys for Life. From our analysis of these five films, he scored 280 points in total in our index, ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood.

Across the top five films, Smith was awarded maximum points for the number of times an ‘attack’ was mentioned across all five movie scripts (100 points). He also scored highly for the number of times the word ‘dead’ was used (50 points).

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED 
The number of deaths recorded 8 26
Mentions of ‘death’ 20 38
Mentions of ‘dead’ 63 50
Mentions of ‘divorce’  3 12
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 11 22
Mentions of ‘jail’ 3 13
Mentions of ‘attack’ 124 100
Mentions of ‘accident’ 3 20

 

07. Johnny Depp – 269 points

Since the inauguration of his acting career in 1984, Johnny Depp has starred in hundreds of films, but his five most popular entries are Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. From these titles, Depp scored 269 points in our index, ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood.

In our analysis of the top five films, Johnny Depp scored the highest for mentions of being ‘hurt’ across all five film scripts, as well as the number of deaths recorded in each film, scoring 76 and 52 points for each, respectively. 

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 16 52
Mentions of ‘death’ 21 40
Mentions of ‘dead’ 52 39
Mentions of ‘divorce’  0 0
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 31 76
Mentions of ‘jail’ 5 21
Mentions of ‘attack’ 11 8
Mentions of ‘accident’ 5 33

 

08. Gwyneth Paltrow – 260 points

During her three decades in Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow’s five most popular films are Shakespeare in Love, Iron Man, Seven, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. From our analysis of these five films, Paltrow scored 260 points across all variables considered, ranking her among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood.

Across all five of these films, Paltrow scored highly for mentions of ‘death’ and ‘dead’, with a combined total of 138 – 70 and 68 points, respectively. 

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 7 23
Mentions of ‘death’ 35 70
Mentions of ‘dead’ 83 68
Mentions of ‘divorce’  1 4
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 19 43
Mentions of ‘jail’ 4 17
Mentions of ‘attack’ 12 9
Mentions of ‘accident’ 4 27

 

09. Zoe Saldana – 260 points

Similarly to Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana also scores 260 points in our index, resulting in both actors sharing eighth place. In her two decades in the acting business, she has starred in various films, but her top five are Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl, and Avengers: Infinity War.

In our analysis of these five films, Saldana scored highest for mentions of ‘death’ and ‘dead’, with a combined total of 146 points (81 and 65 points, respectively). She also scored highly for mentions of an ‘attack’ across all five film scripts, as she was awarded 49 points.

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED  NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 5 16
Mentions of ‘death’ 40 81
Mentions of ‘dead’ 80 65
Mentions of ‘divorce’  1 4
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 10 19
Mentions of ‘jail’ 3 13
Mentions of ‘attack’ 61 49
Mentions of ‘accident’ 2 13

 

10. John Travolta – 255 points

Across John Travolta’s almost five decades on the big screen, his five most popular films are Grease, Pulp Fiction, Hairspray, Gotti, and From Paris with Love. From our analysis of these five films, he scored 255 points in total in our index, ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood.

Across all five of these films, Travolta scored highest for mentions of an ‘accident’ (60 points), followed by the number of movie deaths (52 points), and mentions of ‘jail’ (42 points).

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 16 52
Mentions of ‘death’ 11 19
Mentions of ‘dead’ 37 26
Mentions of ‘divorce’  7 28
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 12 24
Mentions of ‘jail’ 10 42
Mentions of ‘attack’ 6 4
Mentions of ‘accident’ 9 60

 

11. Ian McKellen – 253 points 

Since his acting career began in 1959, Ian McKellen has starred in various films, but his five most popular movies are The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, X-Men, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

From our analysis of these five films, he scored 253 points in total, ranking him among the top 10 actors playing the most unlucky characters in Hollywood. He scored highest for mentions of ‘death’ and ‘dead’ in each of the five movie scripts, being scored 100 and 60 points, respectively. He also scored highly for mentions of being ‘hurt’, where he was awarded 43 points in our index.

UNLUCKY FACTORS CONSIDERED  NO. RECORDED IN ACTOR’S TOP 5 FILMS POINTS AWARDED
The number of deaths recorded 10 32
Mentions of ‘death’ 49 100
Mentions of ‘dead’ 74 60
Mentions of ‘divorce’  0 0
Mentions of ‘hurt’ 19 43
Mentions of ‘jail’ 0 0
Mentions of ‘attack’ 15 11
Mentions of ‘accident’ 1 7

 

This article was first published here.

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