Hollywood is vicious. When they love you, it’s all glamour and exclusive parties. However, when the newest young star comes along, they relegate you down to singing for your dinner. It appears they love to build you up only to watch you fall. For some celebrities, the allure of the spotlight is what keeps them going. They will try anything to stay on top and will accept any role or job, no matter how unflattering, ridiculous, or desperate it may seem. Some might have won Academy Awards and then find them being typecast to that role that got them the award. It’s sad, but actors had to know the rules of the game going in. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s really bad. Has-been stars and nearly-has-beens find themselves struggling for that one project to bring them to the forefront again, or possibly hope to be part of some groundbreaking event to refresh their image in the minds of the public.
In Hollywood, the struggle to stay relevant is real. There are tons of stories of former superstars doing outrageous things to stay in the spotlight. For some it’s a shameful grab for attention, for others it’s a sad commentary on how the entertainment industry uses you for all your worth and discards you like yesterday’s lobster thermidor. What follows are just a few celebrities who have been or are in danger of finding themselves marginalized and are desperate to stay relevant in 2017.
15. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey was already named the best-selling female artist of the millennium, so what else is there to accomplish? She has the reputation for being the ultimate diva, and rightly so. Her music industry achievements have cemented her as one of the best, with hit songs like “Vision of Love” and “One Sweet Day,” and her duet with Boyz II Men, which spent a record sixteen weeks at number one on the Billboard charts. Her classy, elegant image at the time endeared to male and female fans alike. However, after her high-profile divorce from record mogul Tommy Motola, she reinvented herself and adopted a more hip hop image, complete with cleavage-baring outfits and short-shorts, playing up the sexy, not so much the classy. Carey is now in her late 40s, but she still dresses like she did twenty years ago, oblivious to the fact that she’s not in her twenties anymore. Admittedly, she’s still hot, but maybe it’s time to not try so hard. You’ve reached diva status; let it go.
14. Vanilla Ice
At one time, Vanilla Ice was at the pinnacle of success. His one-hit wonder status for “Ice Ice Baby” would make him world-famous. As his song’s popularity faded, so did his fame. He tried to re-invent himself as more hard rock, which didn’t work, and then he disavowed his hit song completely, promising to never perform it again and saying goodbye to that former life. He returned home to Florida and began a successful side-career as a contractor and dabbling in motor cross racing and professional jet skiing. But fame is addictive. He’s since re-embraced his hip hop image and returned to music. He also dabbles in acting and even has a home improvement series on the DIY network. Last year he appeared on the ABC television series Dancing with the Stars, which is known for cementing a star’s C-list status. It’s time to slow down, Ice. We all know when we hear, “stop,” we should “collaborate and listen.” You don’t need to try so hard anymore.
13. Lindsay Lohan
Oh Lindsay, we all had such high hopes for you. As a child actor, you were incredible in Disney’s The Parent Trap (1998). Your performance was great. With your talent, we were so sure you were set to be a big star. Lohan successfully transitioned to teen idol with the success of Freaky Friday (2003) and Mean Girls (2004). However, somewhere along the way, something happened. Lindsay Lohan started to become known more for her legal run-ins and questionable behavior than for film roles. Every time we’d see her on the news, it wasn’t for a red carpet event, but for a court appearance. A few years ago she tried reinventing herself by allowing a television crew to document her attempt to get her life on track after rehab, which aired on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network in 2014. The mini-series failed to inspire. Maybe it’s time to take a step back, Lindsay. Don’t try so hard to be in the spotlight. Focus on your health and well-being.
12. Jessica Simpson
While not quite as good a singer as Christina Aguilera, and not quite as good an entertainer as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson was popular and she was talented. Her down-home quality and personality landed her a reality show on MTV. Many of us were fans because she was adorable. The series saw her fame skyrocket to a level of that her music career could never reach. Her music career grew lackluster and she began to pursue a fashion career on the side. She tried to shift gears and perform country music, but that didn’t work out. She went back to reality television for a while, but truthfully she’s more well-known now for her personal life. Whether it’s her boyfriends or her fluctuating weight (seriously, she’s a professional at gaining and then losing weight), her personal life has out-shined her music career. She’s rich, married, has two children, and a modestly successful fashion business. Maybe it’s time she stepped away from the spotlight.
11. Farrah Abraham
Farrah Abraham‘s story should have been one of inspiration. She fell in love at the age of 15, got pregnant, and then tragically the father to her unborn child was killed in a fatal car accident. Unable to get an abortion due to religious beliefs, she chose to raise her child as a single teen mother. She was signed to the MTV reality series 16 and Pregnant, then the spin-off Teen Mom. After the show was cancelled, Abraham had grown addicted to fame. She tried desperately to remain in the entertainment industry and parlay her modest fame into something greater. First, she released an album, to mixed reviews, and then her memoirs about her drug addiction and depression as a single teen mother; it was a New York Times bestseller. Then she pulled the ultimate stunt in order to remain relevant: leaking a fake “private tape.” After her ruse was discovered, she went ahead and released a second adult film. Some people will do literally anything to stay in the public eye!
10. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey was the king of 1990’s comedy films with successive comedy hits like 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Then, in 1998, Carrey opted to take a play against type and take a serious role in The Truman Show. The gamble paid off and Carrey’s performance was highly acclaimed. Time and time again, Carrey proved that he’s probably at his best when not portraying slapstick, comedy characters, but instead when he takes a chance with more dramatic roles, such as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Unfortunately, he appears content with playing it safe, with recent roles in films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) and Dumb and Dumber To (2014). Both roles probably would’ve been big hits had they had been made in the 1990s. However, today, audiences are more discerning. Star-driven cinema is a thing of the past. Plot and character development now matter. You have to evolve, Jim, if you want to stay relevant in today’s cinema.
9. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian evokes feelings that very polarizing. Some are either devoted fans, while others can’t stand her. Many don’t understand the fascination with people who are famous for being famous. Whatever it is, Kardashian is relishing her fame and has used it to her advantage. She first came to media attention as a friend of Paris Hilton, arguably the first media starlet famous for being famous. Kardashian’s fame grew exponentially after a very private 2003 videotape of her and her then-boyfriend Ray J was leaked in 2007. You know the one. Within a year, she and her whole family were signed to appear in the E! reality series Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It was then that the decline of modern civilization began, by the way. She has since started her own television production company, a fragrance line, an online shoe site, as well as a boutique. Here’s hoping that with all the success, she’ll soon step back a bit from the public eye.
8. Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage won an Academy Award. Let that sink in. He won for his role in 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas. He was nominated again for his role in Adaptation (2003), so we know Cage can act. But, instead of seeking out great roles that could showcase his ability, he seems more content destroying any credibility he once possessed. His film choices have something to be desired (we’re looking at you, Ghost Rider, Next, Season of the Witch, Trespass, and Drive Angry). If you sat through those films, I’m sorry. Cage is apparently aware of just how bad his image has become, but portrays himself as an entertainer rather than an actor, someone who bucks the system. Okay, that is admirable, I guess. But if he wants to enjoy the same level of success as he had in the past, he’ll need to stop revelling in his notoriety and get back to serious acting.
Madonna is almost sixty years old. I know, it’s hard to believe. She doesn’t act like it, and she most definitely doesn’t look like it. Is it plastic surgery? I don’t know, she certainly looks like she works out a lot. Regardless, she’s been pushing the boundaries with her songs and performances for four decades. She has sold over 300 million records worldwide and her tours are consistently top-earners. She is consistently reinventing herself. So, why does she creep us out so much? Oh, that’s right, because she’s almost sixty years old and runs around on stage all night in skimpy lingerie. Come on. I get the pushing boundaries bit and I’m a fan, really. But, Madonna is a bonafide megastar. She doesn’t have to try so hard to be relevant – she is relevant. Her legacy is secure.
6. Tom Cruise
We all know he’s one of the most successful box office stars in modern times. He’s probably full-blown crazy, but still a darn fine actor. He’s a man with an interesting personal life to be sure. His incredible career and body of work have ensured that Tom Cruise remains perpetually in the spotlight. Cruise is known for insisting on performing a majority of his own stunts in his films, especially the death-defying ones in his Mission Impossible franchise. This year he broke his ankle trying to perform a stunt for his latest, Mission Impossible 6. His injury shut down production for two months, hurting the pocket books of all the crew members working on the film. Tom, you’re a superstar now and you’re in your mid-fifties. Let a stunt man do it, it’s their job. I’m sure your fans will understand.
5. Janice Dickinson
When you think of the first supermodels, who do you think of? Elle MacPherson, Claudia Schiffer? Beverly Johnson, Gia Carangi? Well, if you listen to Janice Dickinson, she says she was the world’s first supermodel. I don’t think anyone believes that except her, but that claim brought her fame. While Dickinson was admittedly a supermodel in the 1970s, most today wouldn’t know who she was if she hadn’t fought so hard to remain relevant in today’s pop culture. In an effort to keep her name in the public eye, she tried fashion photography and then launching her own jewelry line on TV’s Home Shopping Network. In 2003, Tyra Banks hired her as a judge on the reality series America’s Next Top Model. That returned Dickinson to the public eye. In the following years, she jumped from reality show to reality show in a bid to avoid losing the media attention. It’s just sad.
4. John Travolta
A big star in the late 1970s when still in his mid-twenties, John Travolta entered a slump with drab roles in films like Staying Alive (1983) and Perfect (1985). However, Travolta persevered and saw his career revived in films like Look Who’s Talking (1989) and Pulp Fiction (1994), which raised him to A-list status. He spent the rest of the 1990s shining in great films like Get Shorty (1995) and Face/Off (1997). Travolta has done pretty well steering clear of the whole Scientology issue (he’s been a member since 1975). However, when Travolta tried to adapt a story by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard into a feature film, the result was disastrous. The 2000 film Battlefield Earth was a critical and commercial failure, even being considering one of the worst films ever made. His brand started to decline. Sure, he’s had some good roles since then, but they are peppered with many more stinkers. Travolta needs to be more careful with career choices to remain relevant.
3. Bruce Willis
One could argue that the big three of 90s action film stars are Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis. All ruled the cinema in their day. Schwarzenegger took some time off to dabble in politics and now takes time and care when choosing film roles. Stallone has accepted his age and chooses to portray the older (though still a*s-kicking) mentor roles in his action films. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, is an actor that refuses to understand that he’s in his sixties now. Sure, he’s in good shape for his age, but let’s be honest; Schwarzenegger and Stallone are in better shape than he is. Besides, since Cop Out (2010), Willis appears to lack the energy or temperament to continue being an action star. His continuing return to the Die Hard franchise is evidence that Willis is no longer the actor he once was: charismatic, humorous, committed. He needs to evolve if he wants to stay relevant in today’s cinematic landscape.
2. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler was a huge comedy superstar churning out hit film after hit film in the 1990s. His films have a combined box office gross of over $2 billion. He tried dramatic roles with some success as well, such as Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and Reign Over Me (2007). After a string of flops like Jack and Jill (2011) and That’s My Boy (2012), Sandler signed a multi-picture deal with Netflix, akin to acknowledging that his films might not be theatrically relevant any longer. He tried to re-ignite cinema magic by re-teaming with Drew Barrymore, his Wedding Singer co-star, for 2014’s Blended. That didn’t go well, as it bombed. It looks like Sander is content currently playing in the fringes of relevancy. As Los Angeles Times critic Mark Olsen says, Sandler is “smart enough to know better, savvy enough to do it anyway, lazy enough not to care.”
1. Taylor Kitsch
Taylor Kitsch should’ve been huge. He was a popular actor when he portrayed Tim Riggins on the NBC television series Friday Night Lights (2006-2011), yet he couldn’t translate that success to feature films. Kitsch failed to make an impact with audiences. His portrayal of the fan-favorite Gambit in the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was met with mixed reception. This was later confirmed when he had two cinematic flops in a row: John Carter (2012) and Battleship (2012). His next film, Savages (2012), was only slightly better received. He showcased some of his talent in the Mark Wahlberg hit, Lone Survivor (2013), and then again in the HBO ensemble film, The Normal Heart (2014). Regardless, it is pretty apparent he most likely won’t be the big star everyone was hoping he would be. His next project is Pieces, which Kitsch is not only starring in, but writing and directing. If that’s a hit, then maybe stepping behind the camera is his true calling.
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