The '90s were big for action movies and some of our favorite actors of all time were killing it in the '90s. As big as they were back then, not all of them made it out. Sometimes an actor’s career will go so big and then it will suddenly fizzle. They will disappear from the limelight and the next thing we know, they are on the beach looking nothing like the action star we remember them being.
Some of them made it out, though — Tom Cruise is a huge '90s star that is still killing it in action movies. Despite the fact that he is now in his 50s he is still doing his own stunts in movies like the Mission Impossible franchise and the latest instalment in The Mummy franchise. But not all of them have the kind of long-term success that Cruise has had. Where has action stars such as Jen Claude Van Damme, Russell Crowe, and Brendan Fraser?
Many of these stars couldn’t make it past the few big-budget films that they had and now we never even see them. These days, they are just part of our memory, we often see them when we flip through the cable movies on the weekend and it gives us that feeling of nostalgia. If you have been wondering what happened to these stars, then read on. Check out these 15 photos of our favorite '90s action movies stars that prove that they’ve given up.
15 Steven Seagal Is Not A Judo Guru Any Longer
Steven Seagal was a huge hit in the '90s when he was doing one action movie after another. The problem with Seagal is he never wanted to mix up his look. He was essentially the same character in every movie that he starred in. That was his doom because when people grew bored of the judo master with the ponytail, he really didn’t fit in anymore. He went from being a huge star to making forgettable movies like Maximum Conviction. After a while, he could only act in straight-to-video movies and no one really cared to see him in anything but that.
He’s not doing too much these days and only seems to be irritating everyone in MMA.
He was the one after all that tried to take credit for Anderson Silva’s front kick KO against Vitor Belfort.
14 Val Kilmer Lost His Ice Man Vibe
Val Kilmer was huge in the '90s with movies like Ghost and the Darkness, The Doors, and The Saint. He came on the scene as Tom Cruise’s adversary in Top Gun. The Ice Man was one actor that was hot for a lot of years. He seemed to go from one movie to the next. He is still acting in Hollywood, but he hasn’t been a major star for a really long time.
He has had a rough couple of years since he was diagnosed with throat cancer and although he is in recovery now, it certainly took a toll on him.
He had surgery on his trachea and it’s left him short of breath and with a raspy voice. We hope that he will be able to get back into things — he does have a few projects in post-production.
13 John Travolta Rocked Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction was one of the greatest movies in the '90s and it catapulted John Travolta to superstardom. He went on to be a regular action star in movies such as Face/Off, Broken Arrow, and Swordfish. His action movie status didn’t last however and he was no longer being cast in big budget action movies. The last known project he was seen in was the TV show America Crime Story: People v. O.J. Simpson where he played one of the famous lawyers on O.J.’s team. He had a lot of prosthetics for the part, but these days, it’s clear that Travolta is trying to stop the aging process with plastic surgery and Botox. There have been gay rumors about the actor for years and he’s also another celebrity that believes in Scientology.
12 Wesley Snipes Gave Us Faith In Vampires
Wesley Snipes was pretty amazing in the Blade franchise; he was a true vampire and warrior. But that’s not all he was known for. He was in a ton of action movies in the '90s that made him a pretty great career. We got to see him in hits such as Demolition Man, Murder at 1600, and Passenger 57. Although he was an amazing action hero, he couldn’t make it last long term.
He’s had quite a few ups and downs over the years, including going to jail for tax evasion and a lawsuit that caught the attention of the media.
These days we only see him in movies that go directly to DVD. He’s been in Game of Death and The Contractor, but neither was anything that would remind us of the movie star he used to be.
11 Russell Crowe Is No Gladiator
Russell Crowe became popular in the '90s with movies such as The Quick and the Dead and L.A. Confidential, but it wasn’t until the 2000 release of Gladiator that he hit superstardom. He was a total babe back then with an Australian accent. He was wooing all the women in Hollywood and even stole away Meg Ryan from her husband, Dennis Quaid.
These days, he’s not wooing anyone away — he's not looking too healthy and he’s going through a divorce. Although he’s been in a few good movies lately like The Mummy alongside Tom Cruise, he’s no longer the star that he once was.
If you’re wondering what he’s doing with himself these days, he’s about to have a “divorce auction” in a month to celebrate his divorce. It’s called The Art of Divorce and it’s an excuse for Crowe to get wasted on Cognac and hang with models.
10 Brendan Fraser Was The Irreplaceable Mummy
Brendan Fraser was the badass action star from The Mummy franchise. Not too many people were impressed to see him replaced by Tom Cruise, but Fraser’s been in obscurity for years now so it’s not like they could bring him back. In the '90s Fraser was at the top of his game and he seemed to be really killing it in Hollywood.
But just as quickly as he rose to fame, he seemed to drop right out of Hollywood.
It seemed the only movies he would get cast in were family movies like Furry Vengeance. He also put on a ton of weight and we didn’t recognize the hunk that we were used to in The Mummy. It seems he may be making a comeback, however, in an FX series called Trust which is a crime drama that is based on the true story of the kidnapping of the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s grandson in 1973.
9 Nicolas Cage Is Buying Pyramids
Nicolas Cage was another action star in the '90s that was seriously killing it. We saw him in Face/Off, Con-Air, The Rock, Snake Eyes and he steamed up the screen with Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds. He was still going strong in the 2000s when he made Ghost Rider and National Treasure but like many others, his career started losing steam. Around 2010 when he made The Sorcerer's Apprentice, we could see his career going down the tubes and the only movies he’s in these days go straight to video.
These days, he’s more in the media for his weird behavior like buying his own pyramid-shaped tomb to be buried in or finding out that he bought a stolen dinosaur artifact.
He seems to be getting weirder the older he gets.
8 Pierce Brosnan's James Bond Days Are Over
Pierce Brosnan, of course, made a distinguished 007 when he played the legendary James Bond in multiple movies. He was also in movies like The Thomas Crown Affair and Dante's Peak. The days of being considered 007 are long gone. We saw Brosnan’s career faltering when he started getting cast in roles of the dad or an older man. Movies like Mamma Mia!, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief started showing his age. Brosnan has certainly been someone who has aged gracefully over the years and he was a distinguished-looking man for quite some time.
His career is nothing like it used to be and the fame that he had in the '90s and early 2000s is also long gone.
He is set to return in the second addition, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again later this year.
7 Kevin Costner Sank In Waterworld
Kevin Costner wasn’t a huge action star, but he made his fair share of action movies that brought him fame and fortune. In the '90s, he was finding success in movies like The Bodyguard, JFK, Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves among a few others. He was one of the top stars at the time and it seemed as if he was going to have a strong career. That was until he made Waterworld, which was supposed to be Mad Max in the water, but it was a massive failure.
It wasn’t totally over though, he still made some good movies like Message In A Bottle and The Guardian alongside Ashton Kutcher, but these movies were nothing like the ones he used to make.
It wasn't long, though, before he kind of disappeared from Hollywood. He’s still making movies of course and he played Jonathan Kent in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
6 Sylvester Stallone Is Still Trying To Hang On
Sylvester Stallone was one of the greatest action heroes of our time. He came out big in the '90s for his role as Rocky and that whole franchise was a massive success. That sealed the deal for him as an action star. He went on to make some pretty awesome movies such as Cliffhanger, Assassins, Demolition Man, Rambo and Daylight.
Once the '90s were over, it was as if his career slowed to a crawl and for a few years, he wasn’t doing much of anything.
It wasn’t until 2010 that we saw him return in a big way with The Expendables franchise. He brought back a lot of the old '90s action stars as well as some new ones. His career certainly isn’t what it used to be. His appearance has also changed a great deal. He’s from the era where actors just don’t want to age.
5 Antonio Banderas Could Walk Away From Explosions
Antonio Banderas killed it in the movie Desperado and he amazed us with the way he walked away from an exploding building, looking totally badass and nonchalant. He went on to be an awesome '90s action star in movies like The Mask of Zorro, Assassins, and Never Talk to Strangers. We’re not sure what started killing his career, but it may have been when he started making movies like Spy Kids. He actually made four instalments in the franchise and each one probably hurt his career.
He’s still acting to this day, but he’s nowhere near as famous as he once was.
He also recently got divorced from his longtime love Melanie Griffith. He most recently played the role of Picasso in a TV series and it definitely wasn’t a good look for him.
4 Kurt Russell Took On Supporting Roles
Not in Goldie Hawn’s eye of course but just in action movies. He’s been in the industry a really long time and in the '90s he was giving us action-packed movies like Backdraft, Tombstone, and Soldier.
But things slowed down for him after the '90s and his popularity waned.
He wasn’t getting the same roles as he used to and it had a lot to do with his age. We still see him in a few action flicks like Poseidon, Grindhouse, Furious 7, and The Hateful Eight. He’s only been in a handful of movies over the past few years, but they are only supporting roles. He has slowed down a lot over the years and he’s not offered the same roles as he once was. He seems more focused on his relationship with Goldie Hawn and their children.
3 Arnold Schwarzenegger Was The Ultimate Action Hero
Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered to be one of the biggest action stars in the '90s. He was a huge hit in Total Recall. He was the Terminator after all and that was one of the most successful big-budget movies ever. He went on to play in plenty of action movies like True Lies, Last Action Hero, the Terminator franchise, and Collateral Damage.
He disappeared for a while to get into politics and even though he eventually returned to Hollywood, he has never had the same level of success that he saw in the '90s.
He’s still as big as ever in the muscle department, but he’s clearly aged quite a bit over the years. He is supposed to be bringing back Conan in a movie called Legend of Conan, but a date to film has not been announced.
2 Jet Li Kicked His Way Into Our Hearts
Remember this amazing actor? He really had a massive talent in the martial arts and he was always an awesome character. Jet Li was the badass fighter from China that started appearing in American movies, usually as a villain coming up against our favorite action heroes. He was huge in the '90s when we saw him in a few of the Lethal Weapon movies as well as Kiss of the Dragon, Cradle 2 The Grave, Hitman, and Unleashed. He terrified us in the Lethal Weapon movies because he was lethal and deadly — a truly cold character. Over the years, however, his popularity died and we saw less and less of him. He’s appeared over the past few years in movies like The Expendables franchise, but we but he hasn’t been in anything significant in years.
1 Jean-Claude Van Damme Was A Kick Boxing Master
Jean Claude Van Damme was a huge action star in the '90s. He was one of the big names at the time and if there was a martial arts movie coming out, he was sure to be in it. He was hot and had some serious talent when it came to martial arts. He was making hits like Universal Soldier, Nowhere to Run, Lionheart, Timecop, and Double Impact, just to name a few. He was often in back-to-back movies as if he had all the energy in the world. But when the '90s were over, so it appeared was his big career.
He may not be a big star anymore, but one thing is for sure, he’s still super strong and fit.
That wasn’t something that he was going to let go of. Which was probably why he was cast in The Expendables 2 in 2012.