The only thing more astounding than an actor’s rise to the top is their career pitfalls, and sometimes actors are capable of making comebacks that make them even more popular. There are a number of reasons why an actor’s career may plummet after they’ve found considerable success in their field. It may be due to an actor getting up there in age and low in demand because of it, their substance abuse, or something as simple as walking away from the business after reaching the zenith of their fame. It can be bittersweet to see a once world-renowned celebrity fall from grace faster than how they rose to prominence, but sometimes, it all works out when they find themselves making a comeback.
Just when it looked like their days as an illustrious ’80s or ’90s superstar were behind them due to their intense drug abuse, some stars have been able to come back even stronger. Robert Downey Jr. donned an Iron Man suit and became the megastar that he is today, and Liam Neeson returned to the acting world in a big way with Taken and became even more popular than he was during his initial run in Hollywood. Everyone loves a good comeback story and with the right movie, even the most obscure and forgotten movie stars of old can rise back to prominence. The best part is that it’s never too late for anyone to start their comeback. Age may have a number, but so does profit. No matter how old they’ve gotten, as long as an actor can return to the big screen in a way that makes a big profit, they’ve got themselves a career resurgence on their hands. Check out our list of the 15 forgotten stars that Hollywood should start using again, and decide whether or not they deserve their comeback moment.
15. Molly Ringwald
When it came to starring in teenage dramedies, Molly Ringwald was the undisputed queen of cinema during the ’80s. She made a name for herself by starring in several of John Hughes‘ classic tearjerkers and hasn’t looked back since. During her time away from American cinema, Ringwald took a break from Hollywood to pursue an education at a French high school in Los Angeles called Lycée Français de Los Angeles before moving to Paris to star in some French movies. When she returned to Hollywood, her status had already diminished. Aside from a couple hits here and there, her career wasn’t at the colossal heights it used to be and in due time, Ringwald settled on accepting TV work. While this is a respectable way to make a living, her presence on the silver screen has been sorely missed. Her electric performance from the show, Secret Life of the American Teenager, proved that she’s just as good of an actress now (if not better) as she was in her John Hughes days. She deserves one last big movie before putting a lid on her career.
14. Mike Myers
His last live action starring role was in The Love Guru. That alone should tell us that Mike Myers could use a comeback. Of course, just remembering the 2008 flop is reason enough to never want to see Myers on any screen ever again, but let’s not forgot the kind of star he was before that. Beforehand, Myers gave us hilarious works like the Austin Powers trilogy where he played multiple characters throughout each film to perfection. That kind of skill isn’t easy to come by and if he’s still got that kind of gas in the tank, he should come back to Hollywood and show today’s young stars how it’s done. Recently, he’s only settled on doing voice work for the Shrek franchise, but a live action movie return would be a special treat for Myers’ fans. If not for comedy, then for a drama. His surprisingly dramatic turn in the film, 54, proved he has the chops for it. The best comedians are known to give the best dramatic performances. It would be fascinating to see Myers return to the silver screen in such a varied way. Just, please Hollywood, don’t let The Love Guru be the last thing we remember Mike Myers perform in.
13. Andrew McCarthy
Finding his first big break with Pretty in Pink, Andrew McCarthy managed to be the unlikely teenage dreamboat of the ’80s. He wasn’t the typical pretty boy with an imposing physical build and a simmering jawline, but he was the typical boy next door and carried an unassuming charm into his performances. He may not have been a bad boy like Brad Pitt, but he certainly was the kind of guy you’d be proud to bring home to meet the parents. It wasn’t long before audiences realized his acting skills matched his good looks thanks to performances in Less Than Zero and Weekend at Bernie’s. While those boyish looks have long faded now at the age of 53, he’s just as talented as ever. Along with giving a chilling (yet oddly sympathetic) performance on the short-lived show, The Family, McCarthy has found himself directing behind the camera for shows like Orange is the New Black and The Blacklist. If only because his The Family performance showed so much promise for a big screen villain, McCarthy should find time to take a break from TV land and jump into a few movie roles. It’s a tour-de-force waiting to happen.
12. Jenna Fischer
Jenna Fischer’s 8-year run as Pam Beesly on The Office was charming enough that it once seemed like her star was being chiseled for guaranteed movie success when the show ended. It also helped that her supporting turn alongside John C. Reilly in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story generated critical success. Unfortunately, the film didn’t achieve much commercial success as it failed to make back its budget. That could be why we haven’t seen Fischer in many major motion pictures as that movie came out almost 10 years ago and Fischer has never had another big Hollywood role since. Her performance in Walk Hard was stellar enough to warrant a breakout role, but the only movie work she snagged afterward were some independent films that failed to pick up any buzz. While many of the actors on this list deserve another chance at stardom, it seems like Fischer was never given much of a fair shot. The best way to rectify that would be with one call from Hollywood to Fischer’s agent. Many of her fans are wishing they would give her at least one more movie to showcase the full extent of her acting chops to a mainstream audience.
11. Jennifer Tilly
Many people who do remember Jennifer Tilly may not remember just how good of an actress she was in her heyday in Hollywood. She nearly stole the show with her short scene in Liar, Liar, she had a rather subtly impressive performance in Bound, and let’s not forget that she was arguably the best thing about the Child’s Play franchise. She even has an Oscar nomination under her belt for her work in Bullets Over Broadway. She was a lot better than audiences gave her credit for. Perhaps after we revisit her stellar filmography, maybe we can welcome her with open arms if she makes a big screen comeback. Sadly, since she’s dedicating her time nowadays to lending voice work to Bonnie on Family Guy and Tiffany in the next Chucky film, a comeback may not be in Tilly’s near future. However, if she does decide to make a movie comeback, let’s actually appreciate her work this time around.
10. Jean Dujardin
We all couldn’t stop talking about Jean Dujardin’s charismatic and Oscar-winning Hollywood debut with the 2011 silent film, The Artist. Usually, that kind of success translates into a Hollywood breakout, but Dujardin never broke out on the American scene. While his acting career in France remains as impressive as it has ever been, it seems that Dujardin has struggled to achieve similar success in Hollywood. The only two American films he appeared in following The Artist were The Wolf of Wall Street and The Monuments Men. Both were over 3 years after The Artist was released and both featured him in relatively small roles, which made it difficult for him to make an impression on American audiences. It seems that all of the buzz that Dujardin generated off The Artist has been wasted, but as past comebacks have shown us, it’s never too late for an actor to revive his career. If given the right role (perhaps as a dastardly villain or a classic leading man) Dujardin could make a Hollywood comeback that’ll have all of America talking about him again.
9. Valerie Perrine
Valerie Perrine is best remembered for her Oscar-nominated breakout performance as Honey in the 1974 Lenny Bruce biopic, and most notably as Miss Tessmacher in the old Superman movies from the ’70s. No matter what we saw her act in, she always gave a magnetic performance. Oddly enough, her career never really got off the ground from there. It didn’t help that just as she was starting to make a name for herself in Hollywood, she won a Razzie for Worst Actress for her performance in Can’t Stop the Music. To be honest, compared to her co-star, Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner, Perrine really wasn’t that bad. Nonetheless, her career grew uneven from there. To this day, she rarely even appears on any screen. She pops up in small films and TV shows every few years, but it has been decades since she has taken part in a major Hollywood production. Remembering those magnetic performances of old has some of us curious about what a Perrine comeback would look like. Surely, she’ll remind us why she won us over so easily in those ’70s Superman films.
8. Brandon Routh
Brandon Routh has always had the credentials that make up the perfect Hollywood leading man. Handsome, charming, and versatile acting chops to boot, Routh was slotted for a substantial Hollywood breakout after taking up the title role in Superman Returns. Routh managed to play a stellar Superman, but unfortunately, Routh had the task of trying to live up to expectations set by not only Christopher Reeve’s classic performance but also Reeve’s entire Superman franchise from the ’70s. No one could’ve lived up to such overwhelming expectations and when audiences saw that Routh was nowhere close to matching Reeve’s greatness, his career fell before it had the chance to rise. Considering his excellent work on The CW’s plethora of DC Comics shows over the past few years, Routh deserves another shot at being the leading man he was pegged to be 10 years ago. Hollywood needs to give him one or two starring roles that don’t carry pre-determined expectations so that he can showcase the untapped talent that he’s capable of.
7. Bridget Fonda
Bridget Fonda has always been an underrated member of the famous Fonda family. While she was never fully appreciated during the height of her fame, it’s hard to deny just how good of an actress she was in retrospect. Her breakout performance in The Godfather Part III showed how she was able to hold her own alongside acting juggernauts like Al Pacino and Andy Garcia. In Jackie Brown, she nearly stole the show among a cast that included veterans like Robert De Niro and Pam Grier. Bridget Fonda undoubtedly lives up to the name carried by her father, Peter, and aunt, Jane. In 2003, she mysteriously disappeared from the acting scene. In reality, she married legendary film composer, Danny Elfman, and decided that raising a family was more important than her career. Walking away from the business still being a big star took a lot of guts, but it’s hard not to wish that she didn’t give us at least one last superb performance for her career. Her last film was a TV movie called Snow Queen. It would be nice to see her on the big screen one last time.
6. Dave Chappelle
A little over a decade ago, Dave Chappelle was on top of the world as America’s most popular comedian thanks to his work on Chappelle’s Show. After only a couple years on the air, Chappelle shocked the world when he decided to step away from comedy and the entertainment industry altogether. The reason was because he felt that the attention he was receiving in the limelight was keeping him away from his family. His career hiatus lasted almost a decade until his recent cameo in the Spike Lee joint, Chiraq, which also marked his first movie role in 13 years. Around the same time, Chappelle started doing stand-up again, although in untelevised acts. His return to the stage suggests that there must be some itch on Chappelle’s part to make a big comeback. His fans have been calling for such a comeback for years so there is certainly a demand for it. Chappelle should dedicate one last hurrah to a big stage, and the movie set is the biggest stage he could return to.
5. Goldie Hawn
There was a time when Goldie Hawn was Hollywood’s beloved sweetheart. The ’70s, ’80s, and the ’90s belonged to Hawn as she starred in some of the best films of those decades. Overboard, Private Benjamin, Death Becomes Her and countless others were just a few notable films from Goldie Hawn’s long, illustrious career which even included an Oscar-winning debut for her first big role in Cactus Flower. Her last film to date was The Banger Sisters, which she co-starred alongside Susan Sarandon. Hawn vanished into retirement from the film industry and started to focus more on her youth education program, the Hawn Foundation. Her final picture wasn’t a bad film to end on, but it would’ve been nice to see Hawn end her career in more of a bang than the whimper that was The Banger Sisters. Anyone hoping for Hawn to return to the big screen may be in for a treat in 2017 as Amy Schumer has convinced Hawn to make a film with her. Hopefully, the film leads to a career resurgence for Hawn.
4. Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall has a lot more versatility as an actor than most people give him credit for. Like a chameleon, we’ve seen Hall evolve into every role he’s taken. Whether he’s the bullied nerd from The Breakfast Club or the bully of a jock from Edward Scissorhands, we’ve seen him play a plethora of unique roles. Unfortunately, that type of skill hasn’t translated into an equally impressive filmography. In the ’80s, he was mostly typecast as the skinny geek archetype, but when the ’90s rolled around, he proved his critics wrong by bulking up and accepting more diverse work. He continues to impress with TV performances, but the star should be given some time to showcase his cinematic presence one more time. Hall still shows up in movies from time to time, but only in brief appearances like his blink-and-you-miss-it role in The Dark Knight. We’ll always remember him as the nerd from all of John Hughes’ movies, but he never had a memorable role once he bulked up. Despite being on the cusp of turning 50-years-old, it’s not too late for him to have one last cinematic swan song.
3. Christina Ricci
Upon rising to prominence following her breakout role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family films, Christina Ricci reigned supreme in the ’90s and early 2000s as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. As a child star, Ricci managed to win our hearts over with films like Casper and Mermaids. That early success managed to help her transition into adulthood with box office smash hits like Sleepy Hollow as well as critically acclaimed performances in Buffalo ’66, Monster, and Black Snake Moan. By the time the mid-2000s came around, Ricci’s star started to fade and thanks to the box office bomb that was Cursed, her presence in Hollywood started to stall out. In recent years, apart from some independent films and short-lived shows here and there, Ricci’s acting career has been pretty low key. One can argue that Ricci already had her time to shine in the sun and we should leave it that, but she’s far too talented for her last major live-action Hollywood film to be Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.
2. James Van Der Beek
This Dawson’s Creek heartthrob seemed to be primed for one long, successful Hollywood career following the success of the ’90s teen drama. His first attempt at Hollywood stardom was with the 2002 film, The Rules of Attraction, which didn’t do very well at the box office. The film was badly marketed as a teen sex comedy (a sub-genre we were all tired of by 2002) but the film was actually a haunting drama. James Van Der Beek impressed many with his psychotic performance as Sean Bateman, but the film’s performance hurt his career in a way he was never able to recover from. He went on to bring his talents to television. Most notably with his role on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and most recently with a stint on CSI: Cyber. Yet, both shows were canceled rather quickly. Apart from a show currently in post-production, Van Der Beek is not committed to anything big at the moment. Therefore, this is the perfect time for a Hollywood comeback. Van Der Beek’s body of work over the past decade proves that he has the chops to blow us all away on the big screen and the guy deserves at least one breakout movie performance before his career is over.
1. Rose McGowan
It’s been years since Hollywood came knocking on the door of former Charmed alum, Rose McGowan. The last time McGowan starred in a major Hollywood production was in Grindhouse nearly 10 years ago. The closest that McGowan was to having her name attached to any recent Hollywood media was when she criticized some X-Men: Apocalypse billboards for being sexist earlier this year. It’s debatable whether or not McGowan’s opprobrium was justified, but what can’t be denied is McGowan’s talents. Admittedly, she has given a few clunky performances, but her stellar work for films like Scream and shows like Nip/Tuck prove what she’s capable of when given a strong character. If her acting skills still seem questionable, then the least Hollywood can do is hire her behind the camera. Her first and, as of now, only directorial effort, Dawn, is one of the most dazzling, complex short films to hit the independent movie scene in years. If Hollywood doesn’t want McGowan for her acting, she certainly would be a good hand to use as a Hollywood director.