As the age-old saying goes, what goes up must come down; the ten individuals listed below certainly know this. These ten actors are Hollywood ex-starlets whose once-glimmering careers have taken quite a tumble over the last few years or so, be this from bad role choices, box-office blunders or personal problems. They’re also actors whom I firmly believe should be awarded with the Mickey Rourke/Robert Downey, Jr. treatment, i.e. a shining comeback.
So, scroll down, take a look and see if you think any of these washed-up has-beens deserve to be placed back in the spotlight as I personally think they should be. I should probably note that they’re assembled in alphabetical order of surname, and not in order of washed-up-iness.
Rachael Leigh Cook
The case of Rachael Leigh Cook is an odd one. I believe Cook to be a decent actress as well as a very good-looking woman; most would assume that with these two features – her acting talents and her good looks – she’d enjoy a fair and lengthy movie career, and yet for one reason or another she hasn’t. Cook’s first proper slice of fame was in 1998, when, at the age of 19, she destroyed a kitchen with a frying pan in a public service announcement centred on the dangers of drugs. The following year, she had her biggest role in the shape of “She’s All That,” a cheesy teen rom-com that raked in over $100 million at the box office and has developed something of a cult following. In the film, Cook played a bespectacled nerd who is turned into a prom queen when a jock played by Freddie Prince, Jr. is, unbeknownst to Cook’s character, dared by friends to take her to the prom.
Since then, Cook has starred in a number of films, including a supporting role in the 2000 remake of “Get Carter” and a starring role in the 2001 box-office flop “Josie and the Pussycats,” but nothing in her filmography post-“She’s All That” is particularly noteworthy; it appears she’s made some dodgy role choices over the years. I trust, however, that she will one day find fame once again; she is, after all, just 32, still utterly gorgeous and her talents have presumably not faded away along with her disappointing career.
Geena Davis had quite the luxurious film career up until the turn of the 21st Century. Making her feature film debut in Sydney Pollack’s 1982 cross-dressing comedy “Tootsie,” Davis went on to star in David Cronenberg’s 1986 cult horror film “The Fly” and Tim Burton’s darkly comic 1988 supernatural comedy “Beetlejuice.” That same year, she received an Academy Award for her supporting performance in Lawrence Kasdan’s drama film “The Accidental Tourist.” She would also go on to receive an Oscar nomination in 1991 for her leading role in Ridley Scott’s unlikely chick-flick “Thelma and Louise,” perhaps her most famous role to date. At this point in her career, Davis was very deservedly considered to be one of the best and most reliable actresses working in Hollywood.
And then “Cutthroat Island” happened; this was the 1995 swashbuckling action-adventure flick starring Davis as a sword-brandishing, rope-swinging pirate. The film, which was directed by Davis’ then-husband Renny Harlin, received mixed reviews and, having lost $80 million, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest box office flop of all time. The film is widely regarded as having heavily damaged Davis’ credibility as a movie star, and in turn massively hurt her acting career for years to come. In 2006, however, she received a Golden Globe win for her performance as a female President of the United States in the ABC television drama “Commander in Chief,” proving that she most certainly has still got it. Hopefully someday this fantastic actress’ movie career will get back to the way it was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s; I would, however, advise her not to use “Pirates of the Caribbean” to gain this – we don’t want history repeating itself.
An actor who brings much complexity and reason to the characters he plays, the currently washed-up Danny Glover first rose to public attention in the middle of the 1980s. The year 1985 saw him impressing in three supporting roles, one in Peter Weir’s “Witness,” one in Lawrence Kasdan’s “Silverado” and another in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.” Two years later, Glover starred alongside rising star Mel Gibson as an LAPD detective in Richard Donner’s classic action film “Lethal Weapon.” The film, a major success, spawned three sequels, all of which saw Glover and Gibson returning in the leading roles. In 1990, Glover took his first solo leading role in “Predator 2,” a moderately successful sequel to the 1987 science-fiction actioner that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger; the film itself may not have been particularly great, but Glover’s oddly committed performance is very admirable.
Following this, there was little of note in his career until supporting roles in Wes Anderson’s quirky 2001 comedy-drama “The Royal Tenenbaums” and James Wan’s independent 2004 horror flick “Saw.” Many small roles have followed since, with few major acting credits to his name since 2004; the only real attention he has received since then was for playing the President of the United States in Roland Emmerich’s “2012” and also largely negative attention for last year’s “Age of the Dragons,” a cheap Moby Dick re-imagining featuring dragons instead of a whale. Glover has become very politically active over the years while his career has become practically inactive; here’s hoping he shapes up and turns that around before he, ahem, gets too old for that shit.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The second half of Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s career is an embarrassing case indeed; it’s rather astonishing how far and how hard Gooding, Jr. actually managed to fall. But first let’s take a look at the first half of his career. In 1991, Gooding, Jr. landed a role in John Singleton’s South Central drama “Boyz n the Hood;” unexpectedly, the film was a big financial success and also managed to nab two Oscar nominations, one for Best Director and another for Best Screenplay. Gooding, Jr.’s next big role came in 1996 in the form of Cameron Crowe’s comedy-drama “Jerry Maguire,” in which Gooding, Jr. gave a supporting performance as an arrogant football player. Gooding, Jr. received much acclaim and many awards for his tremendous performance, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He followed this success with roles in Vincent Ward’s “What Dreams May Come,” George Tillman, Jr.’s “Men of Honor,” Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” and Jerry Zucker’s “Rat Race.” After this comes the embarrassing part.
In 2002, Gooding, Jr. starred in awful kiddie comedy “Snow Dogs;” in 2003, he starred in homophobic rom-com “Boat Trip” and mediocre musical “The Fighting Temptations,” both of which earned him a Razzie nomination; in 2007, he starred in ghastly comedy hit “Norbit” and was Eddie Murphy’s replacement in the unbearable “Daddy Day Camp,” both of which earned him another Razzie nomination; bafflingly, his last nine films all went straight-to-DVD. Currently, he’s starring in Anthony Hemingway’s war drama “Red Tails,” which may not quite be a comeback, but it’s something; with any luck, this handsome, charming and talented actor will somehow clamber his way back into the spotlight in which he once relished; all Hollywood has to do is take notice of him once again and show him the money – seriously, any amount of money, he’ll take it.
Steve Guttenberg is perhaps the very definition of an ‘80s actor; his career both began and practically ended in the decade of big hair. Guttenberg first found fame at the age of 26 in the uber-successful 1984 slapstick comedy “Police Academy,” in which he played the leading role of trouble-making police trainee Cadet Mahoney. Guttenberg then went on to star in the first three of the film’s increasingly dreary sequels before cutting the cord in 1987 (the franchise went on without him until the seventh film in 1994). In 1985 he starred in Ron Howard’s financially rewarding science-fiction comedy “Cocoon,” as well as its significantly less rewarding sequel, “Cocoon: The Return,” in 1987.
Fame also came from another sci-fi comedy, 1986’s “Short Circuit,” and 1987 comedy hit “Three Men and a Baby,” which also had a sequel, “Three Men and a Little Lady,” in which Guttenberg reprised his leading role. Since then, Guttenberg’s biggest hits have been “The Big Green,” a long-forgotten Disney comedy about an English soccer team consisting of a bunch of misfit kids, and “Zeus and Roxanne,” a film about a dog that falls in love with a dolphin. Unfortunately, Guttenberg’s career has now all but faded into obscurity, although his name remains very familiar to the public – perhaps familiar enough for him to ease his way back into the Hollywood limelight and show us all his comedy chops again?
Action heroine Linda Hamilton started her acting career on television, landing a major role in nighttime CBS soap opera “Secrets of Midland Heights,” which ran for only eight episodes. Deciding to turn her attention to cinema, she starred in her first film, “TAG: The Assassination Game,” in 1982, which was followed in 1984 with a leading role in Fritz Kiersch’s cult horror film “Children of the Corn,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story of the same name. It was also in ’84 that Hamilton starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Biehn in James Cameron’s “The Terminator.” In the film, Hamilton plays Sarah Connor, a woman who is being mercilessly pursued and hunted by a killer robot from the future. “The Terminator” was an unexpectedly enormous critical and commercial success, and also earned Hamilton some of the public attention and fame she very much deserved.
Six years later came the first of the film’s three sequels, the more action-oriented “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” Hamilton reprised her role, which was now more physically demanding and emotionally draining; more than living up to the demands of the role, Hamilton received the Saturn Award for Best Actress in 1992 for her hard-as-nails performance. The film itself was an even bigger success than its predecessor, being lauded by critics and ultimately earning over $500 million worldwide. Following “T2,” Hamilton starred in a box-office flop, “Silent Fall,” in 1994 and a box-office hit, “Dante’s Peak,” in 1997. It was after “Dante’s Peak” that Hamilton’s name sadly drifted away from the public’s memory, most of her subsequent work consisting of TV movies, low-profile films and bit parts in TV shows. But I’d say there’s still quite a bit of potential left for Hamilton. I mean, on top of owning potentially phenomenal acting talents, Hamilton is one of the most convincing action-chicks ever to handle a gun and kick some ass on-screen, much more naturally convincing than Milla Jovovich or Angelina Jolie have ever been; I’m telling you, if she can still do all that 20 years later, I‘d say there’s a good chance she’ll be back.
Starting out as an unsuccessful stand-up comedian, Michael Keaton eventually set his eyes on film acting, scoring his first big break in the 1982 comedy “Night Shift,” Ron Howard’s second film as a director. After much acclaim for his fast-talking performance, Keaton was cast in the title role of Tim Burton’s 1988 comedy-horror “Beetlejuice,” in which he played an obnoxious “bio-exorcist” who is approached by a recently deceased couple who want him to get rid of the living, breathing humans now inhabiting their old home. Keaton immediately shot to fame with the role, and was soon cast as the caped crusader in “Batman,” also directed by Tim Burton, the following year. Keaton later reprised the role, for which he received critical praise and fanboy acceptance, in 1992’s “Batman Returns” and went on to star in Harold Ramis’ sci-fi comedy “Multiplicity” in 1996 and Quentin Tarantino’s crime drama “Jackie Brown” in 1997.
In the last decade, Keaton’s career drastically slowed down, with financial success found only in the critically panned 2005 horror film “White Noise,” the critically-divisive family comedy “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and the better received Pixar animation “Cars,” in which Keaton provided the voice of a villainous automobile. In 2010, Keaton provided the voice of a Ken doll in Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” and had a hilarious supporting role in Adam McKay’s action-comedy “The Other Guys.” At 60 years young, Keaton does still have a bit of a career going, but it’ll take something big to launch him back to the fame he once enjoyed – most will agree that he certainly has the talent to achieve this.
After gaining some attention in New Zealand and Australia with 1977 political thriller “Sleeping Dogs” and 1979 romantic drama “My Brilliant Career,” New Zealand actor Sam Neill became something of an international star with leading roles in 1981 horror sequel “The Omen III: The Final Conflict,” 1981 TV drama “Ivanhoe” and 1983 TV mini-series “Reilly, Ace of Spies.” Subsequent leading and supporting roles throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s further secured this position, with high-profile films such as “Dead Calm,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” “Sirens,” “Event Horizon,” “The Piano” and “Bicentennial Man” among his filmography; he impressed very much in each of them.
In 1993, he starred alongside some man-eating dinosaurs in Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking, enormously successful special-effects blockbuster “Jurassic Park,” as well as its less successful second sequel, “Jurassic Park III,” in 2001. Since then, Neill’s roles have been significantly lower in profile, aside from a villainous role in 2009 vampire horror “Daybreakers” and a voice-over role in 2010 animated family film “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.” Neill, a very versatile and likable actor, shouldn’t have to work too hard to get back on the A-list in which he once sat rather comfortably; he just has to speak in that soothing New Zealand accent of his, and Hollywood will come begging.
Described in the ‘90s by TIME critic Richard Corliss as “the current soul of romantic comedy,” Meg Ryan has practically vanished from Hollywood without a trace ever since, although she has left behind her quite a legacy. Ryan’s film career first got going in 1989 with Rob Reiner’s masterful romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally,” which also starred Billy Crystal. Famous partly for a scene in which Ryan loudly orgasms in the middle of a busy deli, it immediately shot Ryan onto the A-list, much more so than her previous roles in “Innerspace” and “Amityville 3-D.”
All of a sudden, Ryan was the face of romantic cinema, taking starring roles in John Patrick Shanley’s “Joe versus the Volcano,” Luis Mandoki’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” Lawrence Kasdan’s “French Kiss,” Griffin Dunne’s “Addicted to Love,” Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” However, it seems her romantic stylings got a little old as the noughties approached, her biggest film since 2001’s “Kate and Leopold” being the critically panned 2008 comedy remake “The Women.” Ryan’s recently been clumsily toying with the indie circuit, but one hopes she’ll find her way back to Hollywood’s golden gates once again to do what she does best: being a man-hungry city slicker in love with Tom Hanks.
Before her career had even got going, steely-eyed actress Sharon Stone had already received a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress for her performance in “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold,” a 1987 “Indiana Jones” parody. Unfazed, Stone continued taking supporting roles until receiving a career boost in Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi hit “Total Recall,” in which she played the mysterious wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heroic character. Two years later, Verhoeven cast her as Catherine Tramell, the ultimate femme fatale, in erotic thriller “Basic Instinct” alongside Michael Douglas. The film was a massive hit and shot Stone to fame, partly for her acting talents, partly for flashing her lady-bits to the camera in the film’s most infamous scene.
Following two Razzie wins in 1994 (Worst Actress for both “The Specialist” and “Intersection,” and Worst Screen Couple for the former), a Razzie nomination (Worst Actress for 1993’s “Sliver”) and a box-office bomb (1995 western “The Quick and the Dead”), Stone found success again in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 gangster drama “Casino,” for which her wonderful performance as a mobster’s troubled wife earned her a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination. Unfortunately, it was then that her career completely died on its ass; she’s appeared in many films since, few of which are of any note, aside from 2006’s “Basic Instinct 2,” which was a critical flop and a surprising box-office disaster; it also earned Stone yet another Razzie win for Worst Actress (her “lopsided breasts” also scored her a nomination for Worst Screen Couple). No matter what the Razzies say, however, I personally believe Miss Stone to be a very fine actress who deserves a second shot; either that, or she’s managed to hypnotise me with all her frequent on-screen nakedness and whatnot.