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10 Terrible Movie Tattoos

Over the past few weeks our subway stop has been plastered with posters for angel-warfare movie Legion, out tomorrow. And that means pretty much every day over the past few weeks we’ve been asking ourselves, “Is that really Paul Bettany? The guy from Wimbledon? With tattoos?!” Of course, Bettany’s just the latest in a long line of Hollywood stars that don’t quite manage to pull off their fake body ink. To make Paul less lonely this week, we’ve collected some of questionable tattooing’s greatest cinematic moments. Click through to check it out!

If you’re a postapocalyptic dragon-hunter with any respect at all for your prey, you should probably have artsy dragon tattoos all over your body. But the problem with McConaughey getting marked up in 2002’s Reign of Fire is that over the years we’ve become so intimately familiar with his real-life, non-tattooed bare chest that seeing him otherwise is highly discomfiting.
It was probably enough of a departure to make mild-mannered British person Paul Bettany play a ripped, Uzi-wielding angel disobeying God’s orders, but adding layers of neat tattoos to his chest, neck, and six-pack really makes sure no one mistakenly buys a Legion ticket thinking they’re seeing that movie where Bettany plays Darwin (also out tomorrow!). Don’t worry, there’s a perfectly good explanation for the tats: says Bettany, “It’s angel language, as ridiculous as that might sound to some people.”
Crowe was a ways off from Hollywood leading-man status when he played an Aussie neo-Nazi in 1992’s Romper Stomper, but that doesn’t make it any less weird to see photos of him now with fake dinosaur-bone tattoos. One thing’s for sure: He doesn’t look fat!
Catching the thoroughly wholesome Bullock’s back tattoo in the trailer for The Proposal certainly threw us off, but not the general populace. The rom-com was a hit, kick-starting an improbable late-career surge for Bullock that may very well end in an Oscar win for The Blind Side. Clearly, Sandra should have been hitting the fake-tattoo salons a long time ago.
The Vatican must have been pleased with the excellent free advertising it got via Keanu’s chest here.
We have a soft spot for batshit crazy From Dusk, and that’s thanks in no small part to Clooney’s dumb ink. At the time, dude was a few years away from the A-list, so it was probably easier to convince him this was a good idea. And if you’ve ever stumbled across a tatted-up Clooney icing vampire Salma Hayek on Starz at 3:30 in the morning, you know it was.
Just one question — did Keira rip off Mike Tyson, or was it the other way around?
For a while there we thought Travolta as a “bad-ass” hostage-taker, with a neck tattoo that paraphrases one of Charlton Heston’s more senile moments, could not be topped. The problem is that Travolta’s look for his new movie is already making this one seem less dumb.
While points must be awarded for the pervading crappiness of Justin Timberlake’s tattoos in Alpha Dog — Chinese characters! Stars! A Virgin Mary on fire! — J.T. still looks less like a seedy kidnapper here and more like a guy who sleeps with movie stars. Perhaps borrowing Travolta’s handlebar mustache from Pelham would have helped?
Many recall the critical lashing this movie took. Few recall that it may have had something to do with that horrifying photo to the left. For the record, we don’t mean to disparage Jim Carrey’s acting range here — to be fair, even Meryl Streep probably couldn’t pull off a tribal tattoo piercing a heart.
10 Terrible Movie Tattoos