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Poor Jennifer Love Hewitt! The appealing actress, who's been in the spotlight since she was 10 years old, has just been declared the worst actress of the past 25 years. How did that happen?
The calculation was made by two writers at Slate.com, who cleverly used the data from the film site Rotten Tomatoes (which combines hundreds of reviews into an overall "Tomatometer rating" for each movie) to chart the career trajectories of individual actors and directors. The result is the "Hollywood Career-O-Matic," which can create a graph of any actor or director's movie career since 1985, based on critical success. (You can try it yourself on Slate.com -- it's about halfway down the page.)
Using this tool, the writers calculated that Hollywood's worst actor is Chuck Norris and the worst actress is Hewitt. Apparently, J. Love has never made a movie that garnered over 60% approval from critics. And while some of her movies rank in the cheesy-but-fun category (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Can't Hardly Wait), her bad films (Garfield, House Arrest, Sister Act 2) were so reviled that they bring down her whole rating considerably. Therefore, she has been declared the worst ever (a.k.a. since 1985).
Here are a few things to keep in mind, though. The chart only includes actors who have made more than 10 films, which means that they're already pretty successful; plenty of mediocre actresses (we're looking at you, Olsen twins) didn't even qualify for the chart. Also, it makes a big difference if you've been in a hit movie, even if it's just a cameo. Paris Hilton, whom the Razzie Awards recently dubbed the worst actress of the decade, has a better chart than Hewitt only because she appeared for three seconds in Zoolander. Similarly, Tara Reid actually has a much higher overall rating, but it's thanks to her brief appearance in the acclaimed comedy The Big Lebowski. Megan Fox would also be a candidate for the worst actress honor, if not for the fact that critics kind of liked the first Transformers movie.
Moreover, the Hollywood Career-O-Matic rates the movie's overall critical reception, not the actor's performance itself. The moral of the story may not be that Hewitt is a terrible actress; just that she has a history of picking terrible movies.
Of course, the most important thing to note is that the chart measures only Hewitt's film career, not her TV career -- where she has, inarguably, had much more success. She had solid hits, and decent reviews, with Party of Five and The Ghost Whisperer. She has three best TV actress Saturn Awards (which honor the best in sci-fi); a bunch of nods from the People's Choice, Teen's Choice and Kid's Choice Awards over the years; and even a Golden Globe nomination for the 2010 TV movie The Client List. And she's rumored to be in talks to replace Mariska Hargitay on Law and Order: SVU, a show that has garnered Hargitay quite a few Emmy nominations.
In short, it looks to us like Hewitt's career has been going pretty well. All she needs is one or two critically acclaimed movies to move into the Career-O-Matic's "most improved" category (which currently includes Josh Brolin and Dakota Fanning). If she's concerned, Hewitt should probably look into doing some quality indie films with good directors. But given her strong TV career -- not to mention being a producer, author and musician -- we suspect she's too busy to care.