"Oscar winner." The two words together carry a certain noble cachet, as if anyone anointed with an Academy Award is destined for nothing but the choicest, meatiest roles worthy of their thespian talent.
But it doesn't always work out that way. Exhibit A: Eddie Murphy -- who hasn't won the Oscar for best supporting actor yet, but he's the odds-on favorite. Fresh off the heels of his electrifying, Oscar-nominated turn as fading R&B singer James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls, Murphy's got a new movie out, Norbit, in which he plays ... um, let's see if I've got this right ... a skinny geek AND the obese beeyotch he's bullied into marrying. (He's got a third role, too, as "Mr. Wong." I shudder to think.) I think it's safe to say that come next year, Murphy won't be bounding up to the podium to accept an Oscar for this particular film.
Now, I'm not knocking Eddie Murphy. The man's a comic genius, and audiences sure do love him in a fat suit. Besides, I'm guessing Norbit was in the can well before Dreamgirls even came out, so it's not as if Murphy had any say as to when it would be released. But that's Hollywood: One minute you're picking out your outfit for the Oscars ceremony, the next you're in drag, wearing a size 22 wedding dress.
And that made me wonder: What about Oscar winners past? Surely, whether through missed opportunity, financial need or plain ol' bad luck, at least some other winners (not to mention nominees) have found themselves in the embarrassing position of promoting a cheeseball film while the Oscar laurels were still fresh. And boy, was I right. Let's take a look, shall we?