George Hardy didn’t know what he wanted to study when he was an undergrad at Auburn University in the ‘70s.
He was a cheerleader, a member of Kappa Alpha Order and was interested in theater but didn’t get involved because he was afraid that acting wouldn’t be a practical career.
Then, during his sophomore year, he was approached by a group of men in white coats while at a career fair in the Haley Center. One of them told Hardy he was meant to be a dentist, and after Hardy graduated from dentistry school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and completed a post-doctoral program in Salt Lake City, Utah, the white coat’s prophecy came true.
What the dentist in Haley Center couldn’t have possibly foreseen was Hardy’s dream to become an actor — a dream that led him to be heavily involved in an award-winning documentary, a tour and speeches in front of thousands of adoring fans. But he would also be a key part in what many would call the worst movie ever made: “Troll 2.”
Currently sitting at a six percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 2.8 out of 10 stars on IMDB, Italian director Claudio Fragasso’s “Troll 2” has been compared to Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” in terms of quality or, to put it more accurately, the lack of it.
Hardy, who played the unwitting father in a family vacation gone wrong in the vegetarian-goblin-infested town of “Nilbog,” got the role while he was living in Utah and taking acting classes on the side.
“There was an agent in town, I didn’t really have agent, but she had heard about me, and she called me and asked me, ‘Would you like to go up to Park City and audition for this B-rated film?’” Hardy said.
Hardy didn’t even know what a B movie was at the time but decided to audition anyway. After getting the part and receiving the script, Hardy said he didn’t understand it and that it was “so discombobulated.”
The script was written by Fragasso’s wife, an Italian, and the majority of the crew as well as the director could only communicate with the English-speaking cast in broken English, which no doubt added to the poor quality of the film.
Hardy moved back to his hometown in Alexander City, Alabama, after filming for “Troll 2” was completed in 1991. He opened up a dental practice in his great-grandmother’s house near downtown and tried his best to forget about his unfortunate first acting role.
“I completely forgot about the film,” Hardy said. “I didn’t even watch it. I was too embarrassed to watch it.”
Then, 17 years after the film’s release, he got a call from a journalist wanting to do a radio documentary on the making of the film.
“I said, ‘Why are you doing that?’” Hardy said. “He said, ‘It’s a cult phenomenon.’ This was 2006. He said, ‘There are underground parties all over the world. If you don’t believe me, go to IMDB.’”
So Hardy went to IMDB and went through all of the comments related to “Troll 2.” At the bottom of the page, he saw that there was a cast reunion and screening of the film in Utah coming up.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to go,’” Hardy said. “So, $700 later, my life changed that day. I hop on a plane, fly to Salt Lake. ... I end up going to the screening, walk in late and, lo and behold, I end up tackled at the end of the program by all these BYU students wanting to get my autograph plus seven or eight cast members that I hadn’t seen in 12 years.”
From there, Hardy got reconnected with Michael Stephenson, who played Hardy’s son in “Troll 2” and wanted to make a film documentary about the making of the film and its evolution into an underground cult classic.
Together, they toured around the United States and Canada, attending film screenings and meeting up with other actors who were just as ashamed of their work on the infamous B movie.
The documentary, “Best Worst Movie,” was released in 2009 to critical acclaim and still holds a 96 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won the category for “Best Documentary Feature Film” at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.
Today, Hardy still operates his dentistry practice in Alexander City and acts in films.
His most recent acting role came about when Tyler Russell, a longtime fan of “Troll 2,” contacted Hardy and wanted him to be a part of his short film, “Here Comes Rusty.” After a successful collaboration, Russell asked Hardy to star in a feature-length film titled “Texas Cotton,” a modern-day Western/mystery.
Despite moving on to more serious acting roles, Hardy still hasn’t forgotten his “Troll 2” roots.
Instead of being ashamed to have been in one of the worst movies ever made, Hardy seems to embrace it and attends screenings of the film whenever he can, including an upcoming collaboration with the Donald E. Davis Arboretum at Auburn University. Hardy will present a screening of “Troll 2” and “Best Worst Movie” on April 13, and he even has an oversized poster of “Best Worst Movie” prominently displayed in the waiting room of his dentistry practice to this day.