There is no denying that you’re going to recognize every actor that we have on our list. We’ve tracked down some of the biggest television shows of all-time, but as these stars painfully learned, just because you loved these actors on the small screen does not mean you’re going to love them in their movies.
All 17 of the actors below have to wonder how many millions their agents have cost them over the years with acting roles they took both during and after their time in television was done. Granted one actor on our list is currently part of the biggest box office bomb of the year, so losing money goes both ways!
While some of these actors have been able to salvage their career, many of them like Alexis Bledel did so by returning to the medium – and in her case, the same character – that people grew up loving.
Others are some of the biggest examples of “whatever happened to?” in Hollywood as their career never got back on track.
We evaluated box office results, the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and the overall timing of the movies in relation to their popular series when compiling our names.
17. Matthew Fox – Alex Cross
While LOST started out as a fantastic series, many people feel that the series got progressively worse as the series went on and ended terribly.
Matthew Fox was there for the entire ride playing the lead role of Jack, but even with the less than ideal ending, it’ll remain the highlight of his career.
As the series was going on, Fox appeared in Smokin’ Aces (29% on RT) and Speed Racer (39%). The biggest damage came after LOST finished airing when he appeared in the movie Alex Cross alongside Tyler Perry.
16. Sarah Jessica Parker – Did You Hear About The Morgans?
In the year following the end of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker elected to star int he movie Failure to Launch. And while the movie earned around $100 million, the score of 24% on RT may help explain how the title also describes Parker’s movie career.
Her biggest low perhaps coming in 2009 with the movie Did You Hear About The Morgans? (12% on RT) that also starred Hugh Grant. In fact, outside of appearing in a documentary set around 4 different Broadway musicals, Parker has not had a single movie earn critical acclaim since 2000.
15. John Krasinski – Aloha
I’m a huge fan of The Office so I need to mention that Krasinski does lend his voice to the outstanding Monsters University as well as Disneynature Born in China, but you can’t honestly tell me you aren’t at least a little disappointed with how Krasinski’s career on the big-screen has gone.
His biggest miss may have come in 2015 when the Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams film Aloha failed to hit at the box office earning $26 million versus it’s $37 million budget and garnering a score of 19% on RT.
While still at Mifflin, Krasinski also bombed with movies like License to Wed which earned only 7% on RottenTomatoes and understandably may have made studios nervous.
Krasinski is getting another chance to potentially shine this August when he stars in the Kathryn Bigelow (who directed The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty) film Detroit that also stars John Boyega.
14. Jason Alexander – Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle
There is no denying how hilarious Jason Alexander is on the series Seinfeld. But what an actor decides to do after a series wrapped can be a huge factor and for Jason Alexander, he decided on the live-action Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle and the animated The Trumpet of the Swan.
Both of which failed to find an audience at the box office (including Rocky failing to make back even half it’s budget) and was followed up by Shallow Hal in which Alexander is overshadowed by the surrounding cast.
13. Alyssa Milano – Embrace Of The Vampire
Alyssa Milano found success on the television screen way back in 1984 when she was cast in the series Who’s the Boss? Milano admitted however that towards the end of the series – which wrapped in 1992 – that she was looking forward to exploring her more adult and sexually adventurous side onscreen.
While she’s had roles in which she dialed up the sex appeal, that definitely doesn’t mean the movies were well-received including the direct-to-video film Embrace of the Vampire that came out in 1995.
While Milano found success with Charmed, she has again bombed on the big-screen including her most recent titles including a remake of Embrace, Alvin and the Chipmunks (12% on RT) and New Year’s Eve (7%).
12. Matthew Perry – The Whole Ten Yards
Trust me, I love Friends as much as the next guy but man oh man has the crew been largely disappointing when it comes to their big-screen exploits. None perhaps more prominently than Matthew Perry whose career has never produced a critically acclaimed movie according to critics.
His lowest point may be The Whole Ten Yards which scored 4% with critics and earned only $16 million. However doing the forgettable comedy Almost Heroes which earned 8% and came out in 1998 when Perry could have been rolling may have been the most damaging.
11. Zach Braff – Wish I Was Here
While there are no shortage of medical shows to hit the air, but you wouldn’t be alone if Scrubs which starred Braff from 2001-2010 was one of your favorites. Braff found his comfort zone inside of the Sacred Heart teaching hospital, but it’s clear from looking at his big-screen resume that he may not be nearly as comfortable.
His biggest disappointment may have been his 2014 film Wish I Was Here (pictured above) which he also directed and wrote, but had a limited release earning under $10 million and a 44% score on RT.
Braff also took on a smaller role in the 2017 film In Dubious Battles but the film also saw a limited release this past February and was not well-received with critics (29%).
10. Kelsey Grammer – An American Carol
Kelsey Grammer struck gold with the character of Frasier Crane. Not only did he rock out on the series Cheers, but the spin-off series Frasier ran from 1993 until 2004.
From 2006 until 2015, Kelsey Grammer then appeared in 17 films. None of which earned a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes including Reach Me (4%) in 2014, Crazy on the Outside (8%) in 2010 while earning under $100,000 and Am American Carol coming out in 2008 and scoring 11% on RT.
Which means he must have been flabbergasted when Best of Enemies scored 94% in 2015.
9. Crystal Reed – Too Late
Crystal Reed knew that she was tired of being the lead in the television series Teen Wolf. In fact, she approached the executive producer and asked for her character to be written out of the show.
Except she clearly didn’t plan the next stage in her career because her 2013 film Crush was released direct-to-video and received poor reviews, and while the 2015 film Too Late was shot in 5, 22 minute takes and that’s a cool concept; it’s also the only 22 minutes she acted all year.
8. Jenna Fischer – Are You Here
Jenna Fischer may be one of the most radiant redheads in Hollywood, but sadly you probably haven’t seen her in a movie that you love. At least outside of Blades of Glory which came out in 2007 when The Office was still running.
Fischer was also part of the forgettable 2014 film Are You Here which earned under $50,000 and starred Amy Poehler and Owen Wilson. Given that this was shortly after The Office wrapped, you can imagine she wishes she had picked a more successful film.
7. David Spade – Jack And Jill
David Spade is no stranger to making fun of himself, so we’re sure he’s thought of all the insults people can make about his acting career and think of something even cleverer. But when it comes to the success that Spade has found, there is no denying that television is where he seems to be the most comfortable.
With successful shows such as Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, and Saturday Night Live it’s clear that audiences don’t mind Spade in small quantities.
The decision to sign up for things like Joe Dirt 2 (0% on RT), The Do-Over (5%) and Jack of Jill (god help you, 3%) have shown that Spade doesn’t seem to care much about appearing in films that are considered good.
6. Chris Kattan – Corky Romano
I need to admit that A Night at the Roxbury may be the movie that I have seen the most in my life. Does that mean it’s a good movie? God no, in fact, many may agree that the 11% on RottenTomatoes may even be too generous. But it should have been a clear sign for Kattan that the success he found for a decade on Saturday Night Live wasn’t going to translate to big-screen success.
The point became even clearer in 2001 when Kattan’s film Corky Romano scored 6% and failed to make $25 million at the box office. The brightest spot of the latter movie perhaps being a small role from an up and coming, Zach Galifianakis.
5. Aaron Paul – Need For Speed
There is no denying that Breaking Bad is one of the greatest television shows of all-time. There is also no denying that Aaron Paul was one of the biggest reasons why. But when you look at the roles that Paul has taken on since the series ended in 2013, you may find yourself questioning his judgment.
The biggest crash may have come with Need for Speed which was one of Paul’s first leading roles but a 23% score on RottenTomatoes kept people away from the box office.
Paul found some success in a minor role for Central Intelligence in 2016, but he also missed with Fathers and Daughters (28%) and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV.
4. Alexis Bledel – The Good Guy
When Alexis Bledel was trying to pick the lead role that she wanted to take on after her time on Gilmore Girls was done, we’re sure she wishes she had a strong agent and stayed away from The Good Guy.
Releasing in 2009, the movie failed to make a splash earning under $200,000 at the box office. That same year Bledel also failed with Post Grad which earned under $10 million at the box office and an 8% rating on RottenTomatoes.
We can hope things are turning around for Bledel though, as she returned to Gilmore Girls for a Netflix original series in 2016 and is also appearing in The Handmaiden’s Tale; both of which may re-affirm where she is the most comfortable.
3. Kevin James – Paul Blart
Kevin James was outstanding in the lead role of Doug Heffernan on the series The King of Queens, but when you took him out of New York (where the show is based) and put him on the big-screen there is no shortage of terrible decisions that James has put out there.
It’s hard to blame James for wanting to work with his buddy Adam Sandler but on the big-screen, they’ve helped bring us “classics” like Pixels (17% on RT) and the Grown Ups franchise (10 and 7%).
On his own, James failed to rock out as Paul Blart: Mall Cop not once, but twice with the latter earning an appalling 5% on RottenTomatoes.
2. Katherine Heigl – The Ugly Truth
Katherine Heigl would love it if the only thing you could say about her was that she was successful on Grey’s Anatomy and then failed as a movie star. But when you consider you can’t talk about Heigl for long without getting into the drama she causes behind the scenes, it may be her personality that had the biggest impact.
Heigl came under fire, in particular, one year after removing herself from Emmy consideration (after winning the previous year), citing that the material she was given on Grey’s wasn’t good enough to warrant a win or nomination (yikes, way to make your writers feel good).
Shonda Rhimes who was one of the showrunners of Grey’s, as well as the television Scandal has since called Heigl out for her asshole ways saying in a past interview
“There are no Heigls in this situation. I don’t put up with bulls**t or nasty people. I don’t have time for it,” when describing the cast on Scandal.
As for professional failures? You have Unforgettable that came out in 2017 with 27% on RT, Jenny’s Wedding bombed in 2015 (14%) as did Home Sweet Hell (5%).
1. Charlie Hunnam – King Arthur
Now if we’re going to be fair, Charlie Hunnam was great in The Lost City of Z which came out this year (and earned 88% on RT), but it’s impossible to ignore the huge bomb that was his perhaps first significant push post-Sons of Anarchy with the lead role in King Arthur.
With all the powerhouses that are in the theaters right now such as Guardians of the Galaxy the producers had to know things would be tough, but after an incredibly disappointing opening week, it was estimated that the movie could cost the studio $150 million.
“King Arthur is a paint-by-numbers Hollywood disaster — wrong director, wrong cast, wrong script, etc.. The whole Game of Thrones-on-steroids direction the studio went with from the get-go just didn’t get anyone psyched to see this…TV stardom is one thing; for these epics, you need an equally epic lead performance,” said Jeff Bock who works as a box-office analyst.
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