Skyrocketing to fame may seem like wonderful thing when you’re the one sitting on the couch watching television, wishing that Skeet Ulrich was your prom date and that you could whip off your glasses, undo your ponytail, whip it around a bit and end up looking like Rachael Leigh Cook post-Freddie Prinze Jr. (Reality check: Ponytails leave hair bumps, remember? Duh.). Unfortunately, being famous (and staying that way) is not always as easy as it seems.
The truth is that fame is fleeting. If not managed well, anything from one bad movie to an ill-timed appearance can leave your career in the trenches, not to mention a couple of run-ins with the law or the glimmering of a drug or alcohol problem. Some of our once-favourite actors and actresses are barely household names today, going from larger than life pay checks to owing mountains of child support, while some of them just seem to have settled down, content to live the good life with their families, just shy of the spotlight. Honestly, that’s what we would do. Getting super rich and then disappearing for a while seems ideal—who really wants a creeper flashing photos of you from the jungle in Costa Rica or Bali when you’re trying to grab some downtime? And having to worry about whether or not they’re getting your best angle? Sounds exhausting, really.
Let’s see if you remember some of these stars from when they were still burning bright:
10 Jamie Lynn Sigler
So everyone remembers The Sopranos? The actress, who was cast in the role of Meadow Soprano when she was sixteen, has all but dropped off the red carpet. Following the wrapping of the HBO series, Sigler recorded a pop album, which was a complete disaster (with a title like “Here to Heaven” she really didn’t have much of a chance), followed by a stint on Entourage and guest appearances here and there (and you know, some Broadway), she’s become that face that we’re all like “Wait. I know you from somewhere” about. The New York native is now a full-time mom, engaged to baseball hottie Cutter Dykstra. We miss you, Meadow.
9 Skeet Ulrich
Originally born Bryan Ray Trout, the Virginia native was lined up to hit it big time following his roles in Scream and The Craft. The 90’s star was brooding and mysterious, but dropped off the face of the earth after Law & Order: LA was cancelled. We’re not sure what happened, but seeing as how his last big movie was Chill Factor, which was basically Ulrich and Cuba Gooding Jr. road tripping in an ice cream delivery truck to save the world, we’re guessing that maybe there is only room for one Johnny Depp per lifetime. These days the biggest rendezvous on his roster is his next court date—we hear that he owes a ton in child support payments to ex-wife Georgina Cates.
8 Mena Suvari
The former model was red-hot in Hollywood following her role as Angela Hayes in the Best Picture Winner American Beauty. Coincidentally, most of her movies have the word ‘American’ in them (American Pie, American Reunion, a guest role on American Horror Story), so maybe the tiny star is just patriotic about her role selections? After a little bit of digging, it seems that Suvari is simply in search of more serious roles, which explains her surge to the surface with this year’s Badge of Honour. But let’s be honest—whatever way the wind blows, we will never ever be able to get that image out of our heads. Ms. Suvari, you will forever be on a bed of rose petals.
7 Topher Grace
Paving the way for awkward teenage boys everywhere, Topher Grace seemed on the brink of full-blown stardom while starring as Eric Forman of That 70’s Show. After lead roles in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and In Good Company, Grace seemed to fizzle out, perhaps due to his lack of range as an actor, although both movies did reasonably well at the box office. While he hasn’t made any career-ending decisions, he seems to fall into a grey area, as he has failed to be memorable in many of his roles. It might be because we already have Tobey Maguire and Patrick J. Adams to inspire omega-types across America. But wait….wasn’t he a villain in Spiderman 3? And wasn’t he that guy riding around with Jessica Chastain in Interstellar? Oh right. We just can’t remember.
Honestly, we think that Jewel is incredibly talented. Jewel’s first albums are difficult to forget (we seriously still know all the lyrics to “Who Will Save Your Soul”). Since that album went multi-platinum, the singer penned several others that took different directions, her latest on the country side, which makes sense seeing as how she’s a farmer. Originally from Alaska, Jewel’s life is as shocking as it gets, from growing up in a shack with no water to having lived in her car for a short spell. The singer, who married the now-retired bull rider Ty Murray in 2008 after dating for approximately ten years (they are amicably divorced), has also authored two children’s books, written for her son, Kase Townes Murray. Our best guess on why her career fizzled out? After touring with Bob Dylan and playing for the Pope, this farm girl seems pretty happy living the quiet life.
5 Niki Taylor
Now this story is a little more tragic. The CoverGirl was toe to toe with fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford until one day she seemingly disappeared. In 2001, when she was only 26, Niki Taylor was in a car accident that literally tore her liver in two, leaving her bedridden. She was in a coma for weeks, having lost 80 percent of her blood and underwent approximately 40 surgeries. While the road to recovery was slow, the mother of four has since resurfaced. Once the youngest face to grace the cover of Vogue, Taylor now resides in Nashville with her husband, NASCAR driver, Burney Lamar and her children.
4 Rachael Leigh Cook
Rachael Leigh Cook was all that until she went MIA. The 90’s darling best known for her leading role in She’s All That and Josie in Josie and the Pussycats (where she starred alongside Tara Reid) inspired girls everywhere. A hot commodity from 1999-2001, scoring parts in movies like Texas Ranger and Get Carter, this doe-eyed beauty seemed to disappear from Hollywood. During her down time she got hitched to long-time love Daniel Gillies (The Vampire Dairies) and is now expecting her second child. She did pop up in TNT’s now-cancelled Perception, and hopped about in some television movies, but it looks like the Minneapolis native had her time in the spotlight. Honestly, we think she should just do another teeny-bopper movie, seeing as how she still looks like she’s eighteen. Ugh.
3 Adrien Brody
WE LOVED THE PIANIST. And could you forget that face? After winning an Oscar for Best Actor in 2003 at the young age of 29—making him the youngest actor to receive the award, Adrien Brody has been relatively off the radar, with the exception of his cameos in Wes Anderson films. The self-proclaimed hip-hop enthusiast (who counts RZA amongst his friends) has been selective about his roles, or so he says. But if that’s the truth can someone please tell us what the heck he’s doing starring in a movie alongside Jackie Chan called Dragon Blade?
2 Freddie Prinze Jr.
Another star that seems not to have aged, Freddie Prinze Jr. was at the height of his career in the 90’s. Every girl, and we mean every girl, had a poster of this brown-eyed hunk on her walls. The former heartthrob, who is now best known for being married to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lost his king of the rom-com status around 1999. Since then, the family man has written for WWE and guest starred in Bones and Witches of East End. Looking as fine as ever, mind you. Even if we had to double take to remember who he was.
1 Mischa Barton
Poor Mischa. We are sure that nobody forgets that they wanted to be Marissa Cooper, right? Girls everywhere envied everything from her flaxen hair to her vast collection of Chanel bags, and she pioneered flats and headbands (Pre-Gossip Girl. Sorry, Blair Waldorf.). Rocketing to the top of the totem pole turned out to be too much for Ms. Barton at such a young age, leading to a DUI in 2007 and a trip to the psych ward in 2009. Her weight soared as she battled her demons, finally dropping out of the spotlight for a time. Today, the London native owns an upscale boutique in her hometown (where you can probably get your hands on a pair of those flats) and has made a graceful return to the film industry. We wish you luck, Ms. Barton.