Fair Game: The Movie That Killed Cindy Crawford’s Acting Career

The iconic model’s one and only starring role was one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin in Fair Game
Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin In Fair Game Image Getty

Cindy Crawford is so much more than just an incredibly pretty face.

At one time the highest paid model on the planet, Crawford graduated high school as valedictorian and had been studying chemical engineering on an academic scholarship at Northernwestern University before dropping out to pursue modelling.

Unfortunately, one thing Crawford has never quite been able to master is acting, as cinemagoers soon learned in her one and only major big screen outing, 1995’s Fair Game – a film so bad and so crazy it’s almost good. Almost.

 


Plot

Crawford plays Kate McQuean, an attorney on the run from ex-KGB heavies intent on rubbing her out as part of some convoluted plan involving Cubans and a super secret ship or something.

She’s joined by William Baldwin’s Max Kirkpatrick, a renegade police officer tasked with protecting her from the bad guys, who are themselves led by Steven Berkoff an actor who had experience in the field of maniacal bad guys having played the main villain in Beverly Hills Cop.

Background

Fair Game actually began life as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, which is odd considering it’s based on Paula Gosling’s book of the same name which was, in itself, actually previously adapted into 1986’s Cobra starring… Sylvester Stallone.

More importantly, the two films are markedly different with Crawford and Baldwin on the run from Russians in Fair Game while Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen are attempting to escape the clutches of a group of social Darwinist radicals with axes. Odd.

Casting

Once Stallone dropped out of the production, despite the entire setting of the movie shifting from San Francisco to Miami to accommodate hm, Keanu Reeves was approached for the role of Fitzpatrick.

However, the bullshit-o-meter that saw him pass on Speed 2: Cruise Control evidently kicked in again with Baldwin stepping in.

Crawford was far from first choice for the film too with Julianne Moore, Geena Davis, Brooke Shields and Drew Barrymore all offered the part before producer Joel Silver tapped up the model with a lucrative one-movie offer.

Cindy Crawford

Crawford’s performance is a perfect storm of terrible acting and awful screenwriting, with the model delivering the majority of her lines with little in the way of inflection or intonation while the script veers from terrible gags to duff on-screen chemistry between the principal characters.

Reacting to a pretty serious attempt on her life, Crawford’s Kate, at one point flatly quips “No one tried to kill me! This is Miami. I’m local. We only shoot the tourists.” Ha.

Meanwhile, here’s an example of the two leads verbally jousting:

Crawford’s performance, and evident lack of on-screen chemistry with Baldwin in the final cut resulted in significant reshoots and the filming of additional scenes involving both that were designed to enhanced their characters and their relationship. It failed on both accounts.

William Baldwin

Fresh off the back of success in film’s like Flatliners and Backdraft, Billy Baldwin was a rising start when Fair Game came out, but struggled to reassert himself in the years since having once been in the running to replace Michael Keaton as Batman before Val Kilmer landed the part.

His performance hardly helps, with Baldwin guilty of some rather iffy acting, as this “tapping the phone lines” scene demonstrates.

Salma Hayek

Cast in the film long before she found fame in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado, Hayek was actually brought in as a replacement for Elizabeth Pena, who tested badly with audiences but kept her name in the credits.

Hayek only agreed to the role after insisting she be allowed to rewrite it. God only knows what the part of Baldwin’s cliched hispanic cuckolding ex-girlfriend was like before. 

Special Effects

The film also suffers as a result of some pretty lacklustre special effects, which contributed to a significant proportion of the 38 goofs recorded by IMDb with the filmmakers guilty of messing up on everything from blood squib splats to explosions as the clip below demonstrates.

 

Plot Holes

The film’s main failing is that very little of it makes sense, from the characters motivations to the deployment of nonsensical technology that, as of today, is still not in existence.

Arguably the biggest clanger comes with the fact that, despite spending the majority of the movie hunting Crawford with the express aim of killing her, once the KGB agents do get their hands on her she is kidnapped “for information” that she clearly does not have.

End Result

Panned upon it’s release (the review below is a prime example) Fair Game raked in a paltry $11.5m against a budget of $50m earning Razzie Award nominations for Worst Actress (Crawford), Worst New Star (Crawford) and Worst Screen Couple (Crawford and Baldwin).

Unbelievably, it lost in all three categories to Showgirls though the film did bring about a premature end to Crawford’s Hollywood career with her next role a cameo in Mike Myers’ 1998 dud 54.

Reflections

Despite the movie flopping, Crawford has few regrets, telling Oprah Winfrey in 2013:

“My reasoning for doing Fair Game was… I was like, ‘Wow, I’m only 28, if I stop taking chances now, if I stop doing new things now because I’m afraid to fail, what am I gonna do for the next 20 years?’ That was really the main reason that I said yes; it was like, ‘I have to still put myself in positions where I could fail’.”

Years later the film has attracted a cult audience, featuring on bad movie podcast ‘How Did This Get Made’ and enjoying a new lease of life online. Crawford’s on-screen legacy, however short, lives on.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.