5 Cringeworthy Early Works Famous People Hope You Forgot
Very few creative people jump straight to success. James Cameron directed Piranha II: The Spawning, Sylvester Stallone did schlocky erotica, and George Lucas had to make Star Wars I, II, and III before he got the formula right for the rest of them. But there's a difference between cutting your teeth and gnawing zombie-like at the very concept of creativity itself. For example ...
The Career Of Chernobyl's Creator Is The Perfect Example Of Trying Until You Succeed
HBO's Chernobyl recently captivated / grossed out millions of enraptured viewers. Knowing the pedigree of its creator and writer, Craig Mazin, it's easy to see why the miniseries was such a success. After all, before Chernobyl, he previously penned or co-penned, uh, Scary Movie 3 and 4, The Hangover Part II and III, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Identify Thief, and other movies that failed to crack 35% on Rotten Tomatoes.
But he also wrote RocketMan! Oh, not Rocketman the smash hit Elton John biopic; RocketMan the 1997 Disney comedy that bombed despite the timeless appeal of Harland Williams and Jessica Lundy. It's about a mission to Mars, but wacky! There's a monkey involved somehow! You've already lost interest!
Granted, this is often how Hollywood works. You have to take the work that you're offered, and while you're discouraged from inserting long monologues about the horrors of bureaucratic indifference to the common man into whatever inane Melissa McCarthy vehicle you've been slapped with, if you hang around and reliably hit your deadlines for long enough, you might get your shot at a dream project.
Perhaps the most challenging obstacle Mazin had to overcome was being Ted Cruz's roommate at Princeton. But then, even that's allowed him to build a second career out of insulting Cruz on Twitter. Hey, it's good to have a varied skill set in this economy.
David Benioff Wrote A Short Story That's Really Into Butts
You know David Benioff as half of the partnership that took the reigns of Game Of Thrones, and eventually steered it off the world's least-subtle cliff. But before writing films like Troy, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and also The Kite Runner somehow, Benioff got his start in books. He wrote two novels and a short story collection before presumably coming to the grim realization that there's no money in literature. And while his output was mostly perfectly respectable, he was also responsible for this strange paragraph:
Molly wore a powder blue catsuit that zipped up the back. Winter wasn't over yet, and this is what she wore. She had what seemed to be a permanent wedgie. All the men within sight had noticed this condition. An old man chewing potato knish stared at her ass, glanced back at Tabachnik, and then resumed staring at her ass. The other men pretended not to stare at her ass, pretended to look up only at appropriate moments -- as when the conductor announced something unintelligible -- and then sneakily stared at her ass. When Tabachnik caught them, they would quickly look away, but Tabachnik wanted people to stare at her ass. He wanted the whole world horny for Molly Minx.
Molly Minx is the lead singer of "The Taints," which Benioff apparently thought was a cool name for a punk band. And while we don't know if you quite managed to pick up on this, she has an ass. The narrator is a sleazeball record executive trying to steal Minx away from her label, so wanting the whole world horny for her can be explained as the thought process of a jerk, but it's hard to imagine even the dirtiest of dirtbags using "permanent wedgie" as a sexual compliment.
But this is also a world wherein a punk drummer is named "SadJoe," another cool band is called "Postfunk Jemimah," and Benioff's secret to making people and places sound hip is to cram an umlaut in wherever humanly possible. The man is probably a hard-working writer, but he grew up an extremely un-punk rich kid, and oh boy does it show.
Joe Pesci's Music Career Drifted From Average To Abominable
Joe Pesci is famous for playing a profane, violent a-hole in Raging Bull, a profane, violent a-hole in Goodfellas, a profane, violent a-hole in Casino, and a family friendly (but violent) a-hole in Home Alone. But back in the '60s, well before his acting career took off, Pesci was trying to make it as a musician.
He played guitar in a few bands, including Joey Dee and the Starliters, who had a massive 1962 hit called "Peppermint Twist." Depending on your age, there's a good chance that either you, your parents, or your grandparents boned to it.
So put this on and get down to business. You and Grandpa will have something to high-five over next Thanksgiving.
The Starliters also briefly employed Jimi Hendrix -- although sadly, and to the great detriment of historical fanfiction everywhere, not at the same time as Pesci. By 1968, Pesci was trying to take center stage, releasing an album of pop covers called Little Joe Sure Can Sing! under the name Joe Ritchie. Note that the title carefully avoids any mention of quality. He's not bad, but we're not shocked that he had to switch careers.
Then, for reasons known only to Pesci and the god he angered, he released Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You in 1998. Yes, that's the name of his My Cousin Vinny character. The tracks where he revisits his lounge singing days are inoffensive, but then there's this monstrosity:
This seems like a lot more remorseless murder than we remember from that movie.
Yes, that is Joe Pesci rapping, or at least speaking in a way vaguely reminiscent of the form. Yes, his lyrics include "A made man, fact like my ass is fat" and "Tow away zones? I don't get a ticket." Yes, he implies that he will screw your wife. Yes, part of the song constitutes a drive-by-themed parody of "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" And yes, it is normal to have a headache that lingers for hours after the conclusion of this four-minute odyssey.
Pesci wouldn't act again until eight years after this album's release, and while that was ostensibly by choice, we can't help but feel that he was atoning for this sin. Or maybe "the bitches that'll get yas" got him. Anyway, here's Pesci singing, "Why don't you take your love and shove it up your big fat ass?"
If you're intending to make some memories to "Peppermint Twist" from earlier, make sure this doesn't autoplay after.
Vince Gilligan Wrote A Rom-Com About Pyrokinetic Brothers Vying For The Same Woman
Vince Gilligan put in yeoman's work on The X-Files, helped create its spinoff The Lone Gunmen, then gave us Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. He could release nothing but videos of sock puppets doing funny voices for the rest of his career, and his legacy would remain secure. But he didn't hit the ground running so much as he tripped over his own shoelaces, slammed face-first into the dirt, and then bleed all over himself in front of whoever happened to be nearby.
In 1993's Wilder Napalm, Arliss Howard (Wilder) and Dennis Quaid (honestly, who cares what his character's name is) are brothers who can start fires with their minds -- a fact they discover as children when they accidentally murder a homeless man. So far, so hilarious! As estranged adults, Howard works a dead-end job, while Quaid performs as a circus clown. When his circus travels back home, problems arise between the brothers because Howard's pyromaniac wife is really, really horny. Literal firefights and various other shenanigans to win her love ensue. Honestly, we don't quite have the words to describe how bizarre it gets. They should have sent a poet, and that poet should have been on meth.
This somehow got in front of an LA Times movie reviewer, who quipped "Don't expect a Vietnam movie. In fact, don't expect a movie," before ripping it as a "full-fledged disaster." Gilligan also wrote 1998's only slightly less baffling and terrible Home Fries, although that at least features Jake Busey as a maniacal attack helicopter pilot, which should be a staple of all rom-coms.
Related: Is 'Die Hard' Actually A Rom-Com
Tommy Wiseau's First Commercial Gives Us A Glimpse Into The Madness
Tommy Wiseau is of course famous for appearing in the Hulu series The Neighbors, and apparently also for directing and starring in something called The Room. But before he created a cinematic disaster for your most annoying friends to quote ad nauseum, he owned a clothing store called Street Fashions USA.
Part of Wiseau's cult appeal comes from the mystery sounding his personal life, parts of which have been pieced together over the decades, but other parts of which remain obscure -- to the point where we don't even know for sure how old he is, or how he made the money for his expensive independent film production. But we do know that he spent some time selling discounted irregular blue jeans, thanks to a commercial that tells us he's either not putting on an elaborate act, or that his elaborate act long ago consumed him completely.
Only the clearance Levis know the truth.
Within the first eight seconds, Wiseau chews up and spits out a Hamlet quote, then cuts his own line off with jazz music. He gets his message across, but it's so aggressively unprofessional that if you didn't know who he was, you would have to assume that he'd have learned some lessons about filmmaking from its creation. He, of course, did not. Although he was smart enough to revive Street Fashions USA in the wake of his wildly undeserved fame, and if somewhere out there, people are dropping 17 bucks on underwear with Wiseau's name on it, then maybe he's been a genius all along.
For more, check out 8 Quirks Of Famous Actors You Will Never Unsee:
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