Sometimes in a Hollywood, having a truly breakthrough success can be the kiss of death. Especially when the actors involved are really thrust into the limelight and are nominated for all kinds of awards. This sets up a situation where the expectations are so high for what that actor is going to do next to match that initial success. For some actors, that pressure is too much to bear. For others, they do their best to appear in roles that will take them back to the mountain peaks they reached with their breakthrough film - but it's hard for lightning to strike twice. Below is a list of 10 actors who haven't been able to follow-up the successful achievements of their breakthrough movies:
10 Nia Vardalos
In Hollywood, a breakthrough movie can either be a blessing or a curse, One actress who can attest to that is the screenwriter and actress Nia Vardalos. She broke onto the scene in 2002 with the global hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding that earned a whopping $368 million at the box office. The Canadian actress was nominated for best original screenplay and for a quick minute, she was truly the toast of Hollywood. However her fame was short-lived. The movies she was involved in afterwards (including I Hate Valentine’s Day) never really made any dent in popular culture. And in the last few years, no one has heard anything from her.
9 Jamal Woolard
It can be the kiss of death when an actor stars in a biopic of a well-known star. Usually the expectations are so high that if the actor even falters a little bit, they are judged so harshly. In 2009, a movie came out about the life and tragic death of Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G. Several rappers including Beanie Sigel auditioned for the role, but the producers of the movie ended up going with a relatively unknown actor called Jamal Woolard. He fit the bill for the role with his tall stature and massive physique. He even resembled the actual Notorious B.I.G. He did a pretty decent job with the role but after the promotional period and theater run of the movie, Woolard pretty much disappeared never to be seen again. So in his case, it was definitely one and done.
8 Brandon Routh
In 2006, blockbuster movie director Brian Singer was charged to helm the return of the Superman franchise and turn it into a box office hit. Of course he had to pick the right man to play Clark Kent, the Man of Steel. For the casting, he decided to avoid going with the already established names and went with a relatively unknown actor called Brandon Routh. Brandon’s experience till then had been mostly with soaps and minor roles, but he was instantly plunged into the limelight with this new role. There were also other big time stars in the movie like Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth. The movie performed okay, but afterward he found it hard to get cast for other leading roles in Hollywood. Recently he’s been scoring roles in television movies on cable channels like Hallmark - he never really made it as an A-list Hollywood name.
7 Samantha Mumba
Samantha Mumba is another actress who seemed to be on her way to being a global star with both her music and singing career. She had a popular single titled ‘Gotta Tell You” which did well in her native Ireland, the UK and the United States. She also made her presence felt in the movie industry starring in the movie Time Machine alongside Guy Pearce. But after that, there haven’t been any more big breaks coming from the Samantha Mumba corner. She recently sent a Tweet in 2013 that she’s working on new music material so perhaps she’s packing it in on the acting front.
6 Cuba Gooding Jr.
This is one name that always gets brought up on these types of lists. The reason is that he broke through the Hollywood ranks in such an explosive way in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire. He played the confident and energetic NFL player in the film and his role was a perfect counterbalance to the romance story playing out between Renee Zelwegger and Tom Cruise. Cuba Gooding won the Oscar for his role and everyone thought we had seen the birth of a new leading man in Hollywood. But that wasn’t to be. He has appeared in different movies over the years, but since he hit his zenith in Jerry Maguire, he has never been able to match the heights he once attained.
5 Mark Hamill
It’s a little harsh to call Mark Hamill a one-hit wonder because he actually appeared in three hit movies that all did very well. Of course these three movies are all connected: The original Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He was completely thrust into the spotlight as the young and brave Luke Skywalker, and his image will forever be etched in minds of millions because of that role. However after that era passed, he hasn’t really popped up in any hit movies. He apparently makes a really good living by doing voice-over work for animated shows and video games. So even though he hasn’t been visible at all, he’s still doing well.
4 Haley Joel Osment
It’s very difficult to have a huge movie hit as a young child because it often doesn’t bode well for your success in future years. That is exactly the case with Haley Joel Osment. He played the role of the terrified kid who could see dead people in the massive hit The Sixth Sense alongside Bruce Willis. The movie had those unforgettable lines “I see dead people” – and that further put him in a box of people constantly associating him with that role. It’s hard to believe that Osment is 26-yrs-old now and he’s barely showed up on the Hollywood radar in the last ten years.
3 Barkhad Abdi
One of the best movies of 2013 was the intense and action-filler thriller Captain Phillips. The film was so good because of the amazing acting performances of the two main protagonists in the movie: Barkhad Abdi (playing the role of a Somali Pirate) and Tom Hanks (playing the role of Captain Phillips). The casting of the former was pitch-perfect, in all honesty, it doesn’t look like he has the versatility and demeanor to play different types of leading roles in Hollywood. We understand that his breakthrough movie came out just last year, but after all the nominations and press he received, he should have been notching acting roles in a bunch of movies. It will be interesting to see how his career turns out and whether he pulls a vanishing act or not.
2 Freida Pinto
1 George Lazenby
It’s not easy to step into an iconic role like James Bond. Actors like Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan did their best with it, but they never really matched up to iconic Bond actors like Sean Connery and Roger Moore. In 1969, the actor George Lazenby was chosen to play the role immediately following Mr. Connery. The movie was titled On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and he ended up doing a laudable job with it. However he never returned to play any subsequent roles and that was definitely the high point of his career. His most notable films following that were in the seductive Emmanuelle film series.