"Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean, Chris, we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it read as if it had been written by a thirteen-year old boy. But I'd never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it. And I think I succeeded."
Say you're an actor, and a damn good one at that. You're hot stuff in Hollywood, with directors throwing money at your feet to be in their film. So you pick the one that gets you the most cash
or sounds the most promising in general. It'll all be fine, right?
You arrive on set to find what seems to be a film Gone Horribly Wrong
, complete with Special Effects Failure
, bad actors
and a worse script. So what do you do? You could go "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
", storm off and refuse to associate with the film ever again, you could take the film seriously
, try with all your might to make it work... or
you could unleash The Hog
, and Chew The Scenery
If it's going to be a well-remunerated
bad movie, you might as well enjoy yourself, eh? And who knows? You might even end up saving the film
You may notice that these performances tend to appear in tandem with ones that Took the Bad Film Seriously
, if only because they are such obvious Foils
for each other. Also compare One-Scene Wonder
; both roles/actors in these films play memorable, often over-the-top enjoyable performances and can make them one of the best parts of a film. Compare the Rule Of Sean Connery
; the rule often applies to actors who know exactly when to serve up the Ham and Cheese.
Can overlap with WTH, Casting Agency?
and Awesome, Dear Boy
. Compare Chewing the Scenery
, Wag the Director
. Contrast Took the Bad Film Seriously
This is not
for listing hammy roles in good or even decent works. For the ham without the cheese, see tropes such as Large Ham
and Incoming Ham
for good alternates.
open/close all folders
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Doctor Who:
- "The Celestial Toymaker" was a script heavily hampered by No Budget conditions and the fact that the plot's central point had been made impossible by copyright disputes, leading to much of the story being basically Padding. On the other hand, Michael Gough chews on scenery hand over fist and is obviously loving the opportunity to be an over-the-top, hammy villain. He even takes the script seriously in some places to deliver some surprisingly intense interactions with the Doctor.
- Professor Zaroff in "The Underwater Menace" is likely this. Most fans (and the cast and crew) find "The Underwater Menace" hokey, nonsensical and generally stupid, but Joseph Fürst played Zaroff so outrageously over-the-top and with so much Chewing the Scenery that he becomes an entertaining and memorable villain (although the interview with Anneke Wills on the reconstruction audio suggests that she thought he Took the Bad Film Seriously, and that she and Troughton would constantly make him repeat his line "NOTHINK IN ZE VORLD CAN SHTOP ME NOW!!" to laugh at him and he never realised they were mocking him).
- Philip Sandifer thought that Patrick Troughton, as the Doctor, was hamming it up out of boredom in the serial The Dominators, a story that most people find excruciatingly boring:
Forced to do a scene in which the central joke is the use of the "number nine pill"note to create a bomb, he gives up all pretense of playing the Doctor and simply begins trying to clown the script into submission in a desperate attempt to make it even remotely watchable. You can frankly see the will to live just drain out of his eyes.note
- Patrick Troughton spends a lot of "The Space Pirates", a rather convoluted story in which he has virtually nothing to do, hamming it up as much as he can get away with. This involves a lot of Took the Bad Film Seriously, as he plays his scene where he nearly kills everyone perfectly and terrifyingly straight, but also involves him extending his vowels as far as he can while trying to look clever in front of Zoe.
- Tom Baker was, according to the special features on "Robot", specifically cast for this - as the future of the show at that point was uncertain due to the lead actor and entire production team changing (and there had been several attempts to kill the show off), the casting director's brief was to find someone who was 'a very good actor' and 'so charismatic that he is fun to watch even when nothing else is'.
- Before Tom Baker got to the point where he could change lines in the script, he tended to really overact stupid lines of dialogue or unfunny jokes he would have to say - usually delivering them by fixing the camera with his eyes and overacting the line with a contemptuous "can you believe I am saying this shit?!" grin, as if asking the audience to laugh at the show itself. (For some examples, watch his face during his 'naturally, the others were all foreigners' and his 'ask the Titanic - glug, glug, glug!!' lines in "Robot", or his face when getting through the racist jokes in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". This draws a lot of attention to the clunkers, unfortunately, but pushes at least a few of them into So Unfunny It's Funny.
- Both Elisabeth Sladen and Tom Baker (especially) have an absolutely wonderful time overacting their way through the incredibly out-of-characterand cynically recycled audio drama Dr Who and the Pescatons. Tom Baker delivers his bad lines with an audible smirk, comes up with all sorts of fun ways of interpreting a 'generic Doctor'-type script to fit the Fourth Doctor's character and even bursts out into song at one point.
- "The Creature From the Pit" features Special Effect Failure, No Budget, a kindly monster that happens to look like a giant cock and balls, and Tom Baker cracking himself up by cramming as many nob jokes and fellatio innuendos into his performance as possible.
- The 1979 story The Horns of Nimon. Despite Graham Crowden's legendary chewing of scenery there was plenty of set left for other actors to dine on. One of the other characters - the co-pilot, played by Malcolm Terris - has the catchphrase "WEAKLING SCUM!" that he delivers in increasingly over-the-top pantomimic ways. Even more delicious is that during his death scene he overacts so spectacularly that his trousers visibly split. According to Doctor Who Magazine, "WEAKLING SCUM!!!" wasn't even in the script, Terris came up with it all by himself. Pop him between two slices of bread and you'd have a ham and cheese sandwich you could use to beat a bear to death.
- Colin Baker: no matter how awful the Sixth Doctor's attitude (and Baker's personal life at the time) got, his truly marvellous overacting always made up for a lot.
- Timelash. Paul Darrow gives a performance that has to be seen to be disbelieved. He later said that this was revenge for Colin Baker's Large Ham tendencies when he appeared on Blake's 7 as Bayban the Butcher.
- Kate O'Mara is clearly having a wonderful time playing the vampy, Campy Mad Scientist villainess the Rani in all three of the godawful stories the character was in. In fact, many people think that easily the worst story out of them - "Dimensions in Time" - had the best Rani.
- Richard Biers openly admitted that he took his role in "Paradise Towers" to have the opportunity to act badly.
- Eric Roberts seemed to be doing this as the Master in the TV movie.
- The Sycorax Leader and David Tennant in his debut role as the Tenth Doctor during The Christmas Invasion. Killer Santas and killer Christmas Trees meet a bellicose alien who wants to sell humanity into slavery. When he meets Ten, it results in Ham-to-Ham Combat. And when the Sycorax Leader is practically frothing at the mouth, Ten decides to mock him and takes the ham through the ceiling.
Sycorax Leader: (growling) I DEMAND TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!
Tenth Doctor: (bellowing outrageously) RIIIII DOOON'T KNOOOOOOOWWW!!!
- You're Christopher Walken. You've just arrived at a new not-yet-opened hotel, the set of a music video starring only yourself and a wire rig. What do you do? You give them the best over-the-top performance of your life.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one episode's plot forced the main cast to act out the roles in Dr. Bashir's James Bond holosuite program. Avery Brooks, in the role of an intentionally campy Omnicidal Maniac Bond villain, wolfed down the scenery and went back for seconds.
- As does Nana Visitor, who in this interview, said she was in heaven because her Bond girl role called for a comically terrible Russian accent and coming out of a wall on a round bed.
- Over in Star Trek: The Next Generation: You are Patrick Stewart. You have a dodgy script that isn't likely to be filmed very well for an episode called "Masks". You also have a prop with a distinctly phallic shape. What do you do? a) Try manfully to turn in a good performance; b) Sleepwalk through the episode, or c) Hold the prop with its base right in front of your crotch, emphasise the words that make the best euphemisms in that scene, and make Jonathan Frakes crack up ?
- The BBC documentary series Simon Schama's Power of Art focuses less on documentation and more on ridiculously dramatized reenactments of famous artists throughout history. Particularly notable is Andy "Gollum" Serkis as Vincent van Gogh.
- Christien Anholt as Eon in Ben 10: Race Against Time.
- The cast of Canadian Musketeer series Young Blades used to veer madly between narm-tastic attempts to take the bad show seriously, and bouts of outrageous tongue-in-cheek ham. The latter approach was a lot more successful, as it was often damn hilarious to watch and caused the series to tip over into So Bad, It's Good territory. Robert Sheehan (King Louis XIV) was probably the only cast member with Ham and Cheese as his default setting - his camp and outlandish performance was easily the most entertaining part of the show.
- In the later seasons of Law & Order: SVU, B.D. Wong can occasionally be seen doing this with some of Dr. Huang's increasingly silly Mister Exposition/Captain Obvious dialogue.
- Peter Dickson, the famous Voiceover Man of shows such as The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, is well known and loved for his overdramatic voiceovers, most brilliantly amplified in a BBC comedy bit where he does the voice at home to a long-suffering wife.
- While David Caruso is known for being a somewhat pretentious asshole, he is really over the top as CSI: Miami's Horatio Caine. He said that the script forced him to do it initially, as in early episodes of the first season he appears to be more humane. Later on, he's made of ham and cheese, and his performance... *shades on* is damn tasty. YEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!
- The entire cast of Gilligan's Island was painfully aware of the show's caliber, and often turned to this trope for solace. Jim Backus still managed to stand out.
- Barbara Goodson (Rita's English voice), Jason Narvy (Skull), Paul Schrier (Bulk), and Robert Axelrod (various monsters, Lord Zedd) clearly get a kick out of their roles in Power Rangers.
- One interesting example from the series is the character of Divatox from the Turbo movie and season and the Space season. In the movie, the latter part of the Turbo season, and all of In Space, she was played by Hilary Shepard Turner in this manner. For many fans, she was all that made any of Turbo watchable. But for the first 60% or so of that season, she was away on maternity leave and replaced by Carol Hoyt. Carol took the role much more seriously, which came across as rather boring and generic. Most fans still prefer Hilary's version and were happy to have her back.
- Everyone in The Cape. EVERYONE.
- Barbara Kellerman is clearly doing this in the BBC TV version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, playing the White Witch as an over-the-top villainess in a performance similar to Faye Dunaway's in Mommie Dearest and Uma Thurman's in Batman & Robin. Her overacting is hysterical, such as her Big "NO!" to Edmund.
- Bronson Pinchot in The Langoliers. Yes, believe it or not, Bronson Pinchot can actually turn the ham up even more.
- Not to mention Dean Stockwell, who appears to be channeling Shatner.
- 24 had its very lackluster seventh season that was part of a multiple-season Dork Age where one of the primary memorable scene stealers was Jon Voight as Jonas Hodges, an over-the-top Corrupt Corporate Executive that had little to no trouble chewing the scenery whenever he showed his face in a scene. Not too shockingly, after Hodges was taken out of the picture the majority of the fans felt that the rest of Season 7 completely nosedived.
- In Smallville, Callum Blue's Ax-Crazy portrayal of Zod is pretty much the only redeeming thing in the atrocious season nine.
- While being a Large Ham is in the job description, special mention should go to Dusty Rhodes. Many wrestling observers saw his time in WWE in the 1980s as shameful, as it involved him dancing around the ring in a polka-dot suit and getting his head stuck in toilets. Rhodes, however, has since said that was the most fun he had as a wrestler, since he didn't have to worry about booking duties and backstage politics like he did in WCW.
- For that matter, his sons. Goldust has won numerous "worst character of the year" awards, but he goes so over the top in his portrayal and voice that it's such a joy to watch. And for "Dashing" Cody Rhodes...well...just hit him in the face. You can clearly see how much fun he has in his responses.
- The Rock seemed to be trying to top him during his later appearances.
- Chris Jericho has made a career out of trying to out-do them both.
- Shawn Michaels used this to do a Take That to Wrestling/Hulk Hogan, when backstage politics lead to him getting buried in a match. Michaels, rather than try to turn in the normal top-tier performance you're supposed to try for a PPV, spent the whole match flying around the ring◊ in ways that would make a Ragdoll Physics programmer think he was overdoing it.
- You can also count on this whenver Michaels teams up with Triple H (rarely these days, unfortunately) in D-Generation X. WWE is so intrinsically absurd anyway that you tend to get used to all the folderol and usually manage only a mild chuckle - but DX will make you laugh right out loud. Uncontrollably.
- A lot of the humor CM Punk provides will come from his intentional overacting or telling an intentionally bad joke.
- Bad News Barrett. While it isn't enough to redeem the gimmick in most fans eyes, he clearly enjoys the gimmick
- Metal Wolf Chaos is, arguably, an enforced version of this. The plot and writing is so completely ridiculous that anything less than extreme doses of B-movie overdramatics and yelling would've ruined the charm. This is a Japanese game with No Export for You - yet it is entirely in over-the-top English and recorded by people who speak English natively for a game released only in Japan.
- Out of the utter train wreck that is Sonic '06, Dan Green's gloriously over-the-top performance as Mephiles the Dark is easily the most enjoyable part of the game.
- The series in general has Doctor Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik. While the Adventure-to-Heroes-era and 4Kids voice actors were much criticized, Deem Bristow and Mike Pollock respectively stood out in doses of awesomely cheesy ham and memorable catchphrases. In fact, when Sega finally gave in to fan complaints and replaced the 4Kids actors in 2010, Pollock – by far the most popular and least criticized of the cast – was the only one of the bunch to keep his job.
- Indeed, it has often been said about the series that Robotnik has never had a bad voice actor.note In the cartoon adaptations, Long John Baldry (Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog) and Jim Cummings (Sonic Sat AM) both play him ridiculously over-the-top (though in very different ways) and both give the most memorable performances in their respective shows.
- Even with the otherwise terrible voice acting of Sonic The Movie, Edwin Neal was actually pretty good as Robotnik.
- Sir Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies) plays the ghost of 16th century knight Sir William Hawksmoor in Ghost Hunter, his only videogame appearance to date. Whether he's threatening the heroine, "I want FLESH", performing William Shakespeare on a high-school stage (yes, seriously), giving orders to the ghost of a killer who died in the electric chair, pleading for his unlife with an unseen Parliament, or negotiating with modern day military, it's pure Ham and Cheese.
- He's not the only one. Rob Paulsen, Joe Morton, Andre Sogliuzzo, Michael Cochrane, and Veronica Hart are all chewing the scenery at one time or another, including a ghostly high school librarian breaking into the school song.
- In Resident Evil 5, it is quite clear that DC Douglas was having a good time as Albert Wesker.
Wesker: Complete. Global. SATURATION.
- Grandia Xtreme isn't particularly well-remembered or well-liked, but it's worth it alone just to hear Mark Hamill ham it up so hard that it makes his work as The Joker seem subdued.
- Christopher Walken again as Detective Magnotta in the early-nineties Full Motion Video adventure game Ripper. His performance could best be described as Walken doing a bad impression of himself. It's un-fucking believable!.
- Leonard Nimoy as Master Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep hams it up SPECTACULARLY. Just so we're clear, he's playing the original incarnation of the first game's villain - y'know, the guy played by Billy Zane who outhammed half the Disney rogues gallery? That's a lot of scenery to chew, but Nimoy manages it.
"I SWORE I would surVIIIIIIIIIVE, and be there to see what awaited beYOOOOOND the Keyblade WAAAAARRR! And it is YOOOUUURR DARKNESS that will be the ARK that susTAAAAAIIINS MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
- His Seiyuu in Japan did just as well, too. Master Xehanort was intended to be a ham of biblical proportions, as evidenced by the wild gesticulations, the god complex, and the fact that just about every Xehanort character takes massive bites out of the scenery in any game they're in.