The most devastating blow that an actor can take to their career is simply being forgotten. Sometimes, their acting talents have been forgotten enough for their talents to be wasted in films not worth their time. Sometimes, the actor’s popularity and name brand deteriorate due to age or other unpredictable circumstances that stall their careers. Either way, anything that halts an actor’s momentum and removes them from the mainstream conversation can be detrimental to an actor’s staying power. These reasons have led to the career conclusions for some of the biggest Hollywood actors. Even if their career doesn’t end altogether, they do end up making the transition into working into smaller independent films. While it’s a reasonable way for an actor to make a living, a once world-renowned actor usually would rather sustain their global success through the Hollywood hive. Many of the actors on this list plan to recapture their own success with movies and series set to be released soon.
All of the movies these actors plan to come back with will be released within the next couple of years. Not all of these movies are guaranteed to be massive box office successes, but based on the talents of all of these actors, they are capable of giving performances that could remind Hollywood of their talent. By doing so, it could lead to at least a handful of actors being in higher demand in the acting world, which certainly will lead to more offers, possibly in major productions. If things go well in their respective upcoming movie and/or television ventures, we could all very well see these actors find themselves in career comebacks. Some of us may have forgotten who some of these stars are, but 2017 is looking like it will provide us all with a healthy reminder of their talent. Check out our list of the 15 forgotten actors that are planning to make big comebacks in 2017, and decide whether or not they truly deserve another shot in the limelight.
15. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore has spent the last couple of years living pretty much under the radar. While her last major Hollywood production, Blended with co-star, Adam Sandler, was a box office success, it wasn’t a favorite amongst critics. Aside from a couple of indie flicks, Barrymore hasn’t been the subject of any major mainstream movie talk or fanfare lately. That could change with her 2017 arrival to Netflix with her new show, Santa Clarita Diet. It’s a comedy she’s set to star alongside Timothy Olyphant where they play a real estate agent couple living in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles. While some may see Barrymore’s arrival to the Netflix scene as a step down for the former Hollywood starlet, we should take this as the first step towards bigger things for the future. No matter the platform, a comeback is a comeback. Just ask Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, who have both been in the limelight more often now thanks to their own Netflix series, The Ranch. Hopefully, Barrymore can achieve similar success with her own show.
14. Martin Lawrence
It’s been awhile since we had Martin Lawrence on the tip of our tongues, but there was once a time when he was so popular that no one could shut up about him. His meteoric rise and fall from grace is a fascinating one to consider. Following a few breakout roles in films like Do The Right Thing and House Party, Lawrence garnered his own self-titled hit show, Martin. All was well until Lawrence developed an alleged drug problem that led to the onset groping of his co-star, Tisha Campbell, that led to Campbell walking away from the show and eventually the show’s cancellation. Lawrence continued making films, but by the time he was clean of his drug addiction, his popularity had died down. After having one too many box office flops in the 2000s, Lawrence hasn’t been in a film since 2011. Lawrence’s luck may turn around as his much appraised Bad Boys franchise with Will Smith will return with a new film. Latest reports say that Bad Boys for Life is due for a January 2018 release, but we’ll certainly be seeing plenty of Lawrence in 2017 trying to promote the film. We’re guaranteed to see a lot more of Lawrence in the next couple of years.
13. Eddie Murphy
Based on his legendary work in the world of comedy during the ’80s, Eddie Murphy became a world-renowned superstar. In 2006, Murphy shocked critics when he turned in a surprising dramatic turn in Dreamgirls that earned him both a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, his career then took a turn for the worse after the release of the critically lauded, Norbit, which was released shortly before the Oscars and earned Murphy three Razzies. A couple of years later following the flop that was A Thousand Words, Murphy’s career has remained stagnant ever since. That is, until the recent release of his first film in four years, Mr. Church. Mr. Church debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22nd, 2016, before being given a wide release this past September. While the film itself has received mostly unfavorable reviews, critics and casual moviegoers alike all seem to agree that Murphy’s performance is the best work he’s put out in ages. This could very well bring Murphy his second Oscar nomination announcement in early 2017. Even if he isn’t nominated, Murphy’s return to form could provide a career resurgence for him.
12. Andrew Garfield
In the wake of his star-making performances in The Amazing Spider-Man movies, it appeared that Andrew Garfield was always at arms length of reaching the Hollywood brass ring. Sadly, before Garfield had the chance to take his career into full swing following the box office success of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Marvel regained the movie rights to the character. Once that happened, they decided to drop Garfield out of his suit and replace him with Tom Holland. Without a box office character to fall back on anymore, Garfield’s career in big Hollywood productions went limp and people stopped talking about him. While he may still have a recognizable face to get him roles, he lacks the household name capable of sustaining his presence as a Hollywood leading man. Fortunately, Garfield is back in worldwide cinematic conversations with a critically praised performance in the recently released Hacksaw Ridge. Some even say the role could earn him his first Oscar nomination, which would only increase Garfield’s demand in Hollywood.
11. Aaron Eckhart
After popping in and out of movies as a character actor for his entire career, Aaron Eckhart broke out in the eyes of mainstream audiences for his gripping portrayal of the formerly righteous Harvey Dent turned deranged sociopath Two-Face in The Dark Knight. After the 2008 hit, Eckhart was on top of the world. He slowly made his way into spearheading big blockbusters like Battle: Los Angeles and the London/Olympus Has Fallen films. Unfortunately, in between all of the action popcorn fluff, people seemed to have forgotten about the serious acting chops that Eckhart is capable of. He’s being wasted in movies like these, but luckily, by the end of 2016, we’re set to see him show those serious acting chops again in both Sully and Bleed for This. Both films have swept up some early Oscar buzz and the dramatic talents of Eckhart could get him a Best Supporting Actor nomination from either film once 2017 approaches.
Once upon a time, Ann-Margret was one of the most popular actresses in all of Hollywood. In terms of box office appeal, she had the 8th highest earnings out of everyone in Hollywood in 1964 and the 17th highest earnings in 1965. Her long spanning career has garnered her Oscar nominations, several Golden Globe and Emmy wins, and even a couple Grammys from a successful singing career. Her career has relatively slowed down in the last few years. Ann-Margret has mostly been spending her time in TV land while she has seldom appeared in movies. She’s kept her career low-key for the most part, but that could change with her upcoming role in the Zach Braff-directed heist comedy, Going in Style. While this isn’t likely to be a huge hit, just seeing Ann-Margret on the big screen for the first time in so many years is not only a treat for those unfamiliar with her acting skill, but also serves as a mini-comeback for Ann-Margret.
9. Faye Dunaway
From the start of her career, Faye Dunaway was an instant star. The year that she debuted in Hollywood, she was the Bonnie to Warren Beatty’s Clyde. An actor can’t ask for a better debut than that. Just as no one could ask for a more prolific movie career than Dunaway’s nearly 50 years in the entertainment industry. However, Dunaway’s presence in movies has deteriorated over the past few years with her last widely released picture being in 2002 with The Rules of Attraction. Since then, Dunaway just stuck to indie flicks, many of which were never even given theatrical or digital releases. She’s maintained a quiet career for over a decade now. With that said, Dunaway looks to return to the mainstream eye with four films and a recurring series role. For television, Dunaway joins the second season of the Amazon series, Hand of God. In the realm of cinema, she’s set to bring her talents to The Bye Bye Man, The Case of Christ, Inconceivable, and Cliffs of Freedom. 2017 will undoubtedly be a big year for Faye Dunaway.
8. Ioan Gruffudd
The last few years of Ioan Gruffudd’s career have been rather uneventful to say the least. He showed promise to mainstream audiences as Mr. Fantastic for the mid-2000s Fantastic Four films, but he failed to make an impact as a vital Hollywood player once those films ran their course. Gruffudd has spent the last few years appearing in mostly movie cameos and guest spots on television series. Gruffudd teased a comeback in 2014 with a starring role on ABC’s Forever, but the show lacked the ratings to survive passed one season on TV. In 2017, Gruffudd plans to take another shot at a comeback as he will return to the big screen with the horror movie, Keep Watching. Playing Bella Thorne’s father in a supporting role may not make any big waves for the actor, but the part is big enough that it’s better than what he’s been given as of late. Plus, the movie’s interesting premise could provide enough attention to lead to a small comeback for Gruffudd.
7. Anna Torv
Sci-fi enthusiasts will recognize Anna Torv as FBI Special Agent, Olivia Dunham, the lead star of the FOX series, Fringe. Fringe was far from ever being a ratings juggernaut, but it was beloved for its five-year run by critics and especially lovers of all things science fiction related. Viewers especially gravitated towards Torv’s performance which included her regular, stern agent character as well as alternative reality versions of that same character. Unfortunately for fans, when the show ended, Torv seemingly disappeared from television and film altogether. Her career has remained active, but she hasn’t dedicated her talents to any work of media that warranted any major attention. In 2017, she will bring those talents to the upcoming Netflix series, Mindhunter. Torv is due to play one of the lead roles as a psychologist, and given the grim contents of the material, this series will definitely put eyes back on her as an up-and-coming actress.
6. David Wenham
Not many people will know David Wenham by his name, but there are plenty who will remember him by his face. One look at this Australian native and one can’t help but recall his stints in Van Helsing, the 300 films, and most notably as Faramir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Many will argue that Wenham stole the show in each of these respective films. Unfortunately, Wenham never capitalized on his critical praise in Hollywood and for most of his career has been making movies in Australia. Still, 2017 has provided Wenham with another shot at Hollywood stardom. First, we’ll be seeing him early in the year as the main antagonist for the Netflix adaptation of Marvel comics’ Iron Fist. Then, Wenham will be part of the cast for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which he is currently filming. Not only will each insert him back into the mainstream public eye, but we’ll get see more of Wenham’s impressive acting chops.
5. Rita Moreno
With a career spanning over 70 years, Rita Moreno is as classic of an actress as they come. As one of only twelve other actors to ever earn the prestigious accolade of the EGOT (winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award), it’s a shame that so many young people today either have forgotten about her or never even heard of this legendary entertainer. While she does sparingly continue to appear in films and television series, it has been an extraordinarily long time since Moreno has been given a truly memorable, prolific performance. Thankfully for all of her older fans, Rita Moreno is due to play one of the main roles in the 2017 Netflix series, One Day At A Time, which is a remake of the 1975 series of the same name. Considering that this new series will be written by the creators of How I Met Your Mother, this show has the potential to have the laughs and longevity to introduce Moreno to a whole new younger audience.
4. Ronda Rousey
No one is calling Ronda Rousey forgotten, but her movie career surely was. Not many people remember her minor dabbles in the film industry over the last couple years with The Expendables 3, Furious 7, and Entourage appearances. These all featured Rousey in minor roles due to her main commitment to her MMA career, but thanks to some developments over the last year, her focus may switch to acting. We haven’t seen Rousey inside of an octagon since November 2015 when Holly Holm broke The Rowdy One’s undefeated streak. Since then, she’s booked to return at UFC 207. She’s hinted that she may retire from fighting afterward. If she does retire, she may make a new career out of acting since we will be seeing her on the big screen soon, starring in a Road House remake. If this film succeeds financially as a breakout hit for the Arm Collector, she may just chalk up her UFC loss to the past and create a future in Hollywood. If Rousey’s fighting career really is over, her movie career is in the early stages of having just begun.
3. Matt Smith
Matt Smith is a former Doctor Who alum that was predicted by many to prosper in Hollywood after finally hanging up his Doctor’s bowtie in 2013. As the first actor to ever be nominated for a BAFTA (the British equivalent of an Oscar/Emmy) for the portrayal of The Doctor, there was no doubt that Smith had the talents to excel in Hollywood. Unfortunately for Smith, it appeared that he arrived in Tinseltown as a small fish in a big pond. In 2015, he was basically an afterthought as a cast member in his first major Hollywood production, Terminator Genisys. When 2017 rolls around, things may start looking up for Smith as he’s been cast in the starring role of an HBO production of a biopic about the controversial artist, Robert Mapplethorpe. If the film manages to be just as shocking as Mapplethorpe’s work, it’s bound to get people talking. If Smith does justice to Mapplethorpe with a great performance, he could very well be at the center of some serious Emmy talk. Either way, it’s a win-win for Smith’s career.
2. Billy Crudup
While he did manage to be a supporting cast member for this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, Spotlight, Billy Crudup’s time in the sun as a lead actor seems to have come and gone. Following his breakout performance in Almost Famous in the year 2000, fans and critics alike saw him as an emerging Hollywood darling. Unfortunately, his endeavors as Hollywood’s next big thing never quite stuck as he struggled to pick up a hit movie with his name under the top billing. He still pops up in Hollywood productions every now and again, but not in prominent roles. If anything, Crudup’s become a bit of a forgotten actor with most moviegoers struggling to recall his name but somehow recognizing his face and still enjoying his presence. Crudup is looking to have a busy 2017 to get people to remember his name again. In addition to co-starring with Naomi Watts as part of a Netflix series called Gypsy, Crudup’s 2017 includes him appearing in Alien: Covenant and filming the part of Henry Allen in The Flash film. With such a massive workload, he may be back in Hollywood’s good graces soon enough.
1. Clancy Brown
As one of the more obscure names on this list, Clancy Brown is in dire need of a comeback and it can be argued that he needs it more than anyone else on this list. There was a time when Brown was the go-to actor to ask to play significant, villainous supporting roles. He gained notoriety for doing just that with films like Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption, and Pet Cemetery Two just to name a few. Then, it seemed like the older he got, the fewer roles came to his doorstep. He has salvaged through an impressive voice acting career and lent his voice to the likes of Lex Luthor and Mr. Krabs. Yet, his appearance in live action form has come few and far between for the past couple of decades. However, things could change in 2017 since he has one of the main starring roles in the Jake Gyllenhaal vehicle, Stronger. Based on the premise alone, some people have already pegged it out for an Oscar contender with Gyllenhaal possibly snagging a Best Actor nod. However, there’s a chance that Clancy Brown could surprise us all and get a Best Supporting nod for himself.