If you are somehow able to become a working actor who is able to support yourself by performing, you should be very thankful, because the odds were stacked against you. More than that, if you become successful enough at your chosen craft that your face or name becomes recognizable to the masses, then you are really living a charmed life. Still, there is one more step above that-- if you become an entity that is beloved enough that you are able to headline a film, then there really aren’t any mountains in the acting world left to climb. Yet, that is far from true as you then have one more feat to pull off-- showing actual staying power-- and this time the world is waiting to see if you fail.
There are a lot of reasons why an actor who was once on the lips of casting directors everywhere can suddenly become persona non grata. You could have the misfortune of lending your name and acting skills to a series of films that under-perform either critically or financially. Worse yet, you could be the poster person for a single film that fairs so poorly that the world sees you as toxic. Then there are the cases in which your film choices and acting skills have nothing to do with your downfall. You could be embroiled in a controversy that changes the way the world sees you. You could be a normal person who is going through the aging process, and as a result, the powers that be start to believe people won’t pay to see you any longer. Hell, there are so many reasons why an actor’s career could hit the skids that we could go on and on. That is what inspired us to put together this list of fifteen huge stars Hollywood wants nothing to do with now.
In order for someone to be up for consideration for inclusion on this list, they first need to have been a big enough star at one point that their name was used to advertise a movie to the public. After all, the reason why we’ll see an actor’s name emblazoned on a poster is that the publicity folks believe they will be a difference maker in the masses deciding whether or not to see a movie. Secondly, they need to currently be in a position where it seems like the studios have no interest in working with them in a meaningful way. As a result, if an actor makes appearances in indie films, or gets the odd minor role in a big film, that doesn’t disqualify them from being a part of this list.
15 Nicolas Cage
We know what you may be thinking, you see new Nicolas Cage movies coming out all of the time and while that is very true, if you actually look at the films he is in you’ll likely know nothing about them. For instance, in 2016 alone Nic was in five separate films but all but one of them flew under the radar and were clearly produced independently. Furthermore, the one movie he made last year you’ve heard of, Snowden, was directed by a Hollywood outsider, Oliver Stone, and he played a small supporting part in it. Gone are the days that he starred in movies like The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, City of Angels, or Gone in 60 Seconds.
14 Demi Moore
For those of you who weren’t around for the heyday of Demi Moore’s career, let us tell you just how big of a star she once was. A member of the Brat Pack, a group of young actors in the eighties who were seen as the toast of the town and heavy partiers, she would go on to have the strongest career of the entire group. Starring in films like St. Elmo’s Fire, Ghost, A Few Good Men, Indecent Proposal, Disclosure and G.I. Jane during her glory years, she was once seen as both a star and power broker. In fact, at one point she received the biggest paycheck that any actress ever had in the history of the business. Unfortunately, that was for the role that did irreparable damage to her career, Striptease, which is seen as one of the worst movies of all-time. Acting occasionally throughout the years since, the last time she was given a prime role in a big Hollywood movie was in 2003 when she was the villain in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, which is a shame.
13 Dustin Hoffman
During the nineteen-seventies and eighties, there were a few actors who were among the most respected purveyors of their craft, Dustin Hoffman belonged on that list. Esteemed for his work in films like All the President's Men, Marathon Man, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Rain Man and Wag the Dog to name but a few, his casting in a film made people take notice. Given more awards and nominations during his career than we care to list, he also starred in movies that did well at the box office, which meant he seemed like the ultimate sure bet. These days, however, Dustin is barely seen and when he does rear his head it is often in movies that go nowhere. Starring in only eleven films since the dawn of this decade, his only roles of note were in Little Fockers or the Kung Fu Panda franchise. In short, his only shot at stardom these days come about when he is in a sequel to a film he already did.
12 Kristen Stewart
Let’s be frank, even during the greatest height of her career Kristen Stewart had a lot of detractors because she was decried for starring in a hated franchise and being perceived as wooden. Despite that, you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t recognize that at one time she was a huge movie star because of that very series, Twilight. The main character in a series of films that grossed more than 3.3 billion dollars at the box office, it earned her a legion of devoted fans. Unfortunately, for her career and pocketbook, she was caught cheating on her co-star in the series, and real-life boyfriend, Robert Pattinson which greatly upset many of her former followers. Since then she was in two big studio films, Snow White & The Huntsman and American Ultra, the latter of which underperformed, and it seems like her days as the “it girl” are over.
11 Geena Davis
If you are a film fan then in all likelihood, Geena Davis was in several films that mean a lot to you. Between her work in classic films like The Fly, Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own and Quick Change, her place in film history has been cemented. Unfortunately, those successes aren’t the only thing she is remembered for as cinephiles will also be able to tell you she was in a movie that is renowned for putting the studio that made it out of business. While it is a gross simplification, Cutthroat Island is seen as destroying Carolco Pictures and once you have that in your employment history it is going to be incredibly difficult to overcome. That is probably why her career hugely declined after that movie, including only being cast as a supporting character in the Stuart Little franchise over a nine-year period, and has never recovered since.
10 Wesley Snipes
One of the most badass action stars of his generation, or arguably any of them, Wesley Snipes was also able to show dramatic chops at times. Between movies like New Jack City, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man, Money Train, and the Blade franchise, his movies are seen as some of the best of whatever genre they belong to. However, he was also dogged by rumors of being hard to work with and being sent to prison certainly ensures your career will take a hit. By the time he was released the only important people who showed any interest in him were Sylvester Stallone and Spike Lee in the films The Expendables 3 and Chi-Raq and neither production did much for his career.
9 Tobey Maguire
An actor who never seemed like he was destined to be a major movie star, Tobey seemed like his career would consist more of artistic films that garnered respect but probably not too much at the box office. How wrong that was considering he would be cast as the titular character in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy which were all behemoths when it came to making money. Also memorable for films like Seabiscuit, his hilarious cameo in Tropic Thunder and The Great Gatsby, the latter of those two was the last hit he was a part of at the time of this writing. While the drama Brothers made a modest amount of money if you don’t factor in Hollywood accounting, he can’t seem to get a meaty role to save his life these days. In fact, between 2013 and 2016 Tobey wasn’t in a movie that made any kind of impact and wasn’t even in anything at all in 2016.
8 Lindsay Lohan
During her teens and early twenties, Lindsay Lohan seemed to have the world at her fingertips. Between making guest appearances on shows like That '70s Show and releasing hit music that would have been more than enough for most people but not Ms. Lohan. Instead, her biggest claim to fame was as a movie actor in films like Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and above all else Mean Girls. Then her life and career became embroiled in one controversy after another and the good roles began to dry up. These days things haven’t improved for her and the fact that aside from her personal life being a mess, Lindsay was awful in I Know Who Killed Me and Liz & Dick is the nail in her career’s coffin. That said, we still root for her that she can turn things around one day.
7 Brendan Fraser
An actor that came to prominence through solid performances in movies like Encino Man, School Ties, With Honors, The Scout, Gods and Monsters and more, Brendan Fraser became huge by starring in The Mummy. Part one in a trilogy of films that did huge things for his career, he was also part of other hits like Bedazzled and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Then he was in a series of films that chipped away at the reputation he’d built, including Furry Vengeance, Extraordinary Measures, Pawn Shop Chronicles, and more. Deciding to pass on Journey 2 out of loyalty to the director of the first film who wasn’t involved, it was an admirable move but a terrible decision for his career. Since then, he hasn’t appeared in a live-action film since 2013’s Gimme Shelter that made less than two million dollars which makes Hollywood’s disinterest in him a lot more understandable, even if it makes us sad.
6 Drew Barrymore
A former child star, Drew was known best for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial before her career was hurt badly for years due to her drug and alcohol issues. Eventually making an impressive comeback in the late nineties, she became relevant again against all odds. Between movies like Scream, The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, Donnie Darko, 50 First Dates, and the Charlie’s Angels films, she became a giant star once again. Then she began to focus on the producing and directing side of things and before too long her film acting career began to dissipate. Last given a prominent role in 2014’s Blended and a 2015 movie we’ve never heard of called Miss You Already, Hollywood wants nothing to do with her but mainly because they have a short memory.
5 Cameron Diaz
Speaking of Charlie’s Angels, Drew’s co-star in those films, Cameron Diaz, arguably had an even bigger career than her. Debuting in The Mask, the movie would become a smash and this actress took full advantage of the momentum that afforded her. Starring in movies like My Best Friend's Wedding, There's Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich, Any Given Sunday, Gangs of New York, and the Shrek series over the following decades, she was everywhere. Things began to go awry for her in 2010 when she began a run of starring in movies that performed very poorly aside from Shrek sequels and a few small bright spots. Knight and Day, The Other Woman, Annie, and What to Expect When You're Expecting were all panned which all contributed to her current position in Hollywood. In fact, things are so bad these days that she hasn’t been in a film since 2014 and doesn’t have anything coming up until 2020’s Shrek 5.
4 Vince Vaughn
We bet you are like us when coming across a photo of Vince Vaughn or one of his movies and wonder to yourself, what the hell happened to that guy? An actor with incredible comedic timing, he made himself a star by giving an unforgettable performance in Swingers which was penned by his pal, Jon Favreau. Moving on to appear in movies like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Old School, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Wedding Crashers and more, the world seemed to fall in love with him. In 2008 cracks in his career began to show and between hated movies like Fred Claus, The Dilemma, The Watch, Delivery Man, and more, he began to be a direct to video caliber star. While he played a supporting part in Hacksaw Ridge, that movie was an independent production and is no indication that the studios have forgiven him yet.
3 Jean-Claude Van Damme
One of the biggest action stars during the nineteen eighties and the first half of the nineties, Jean-Claude had a lot going for him. A martial artist who was ripped and capable of impressive splits, it may have made men feel uncomfortable, but it was a great trademark for him. The star of movies that made you stand up and cheer like Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Lionheart, Universal Soldier, Hard Target, Timecop and Sudden Death, millions of people loved watching him kick butt. That is until all of his films began to feel like pale comparisons of the movies of his we loved, especially The Quest which had the same basic plot as Bloodsport but awful. As people went to his movies less and less his work began to go straight to video which is almost always a death blow to an actor’s career. Aside from a small voice role in the Kung Fu Panda movies, a respected performance in JCVD and a cartoonish performance in The Expendables 2, Jean-Claude’s career is all pretty much ignored these days.
2 Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy, you talented bastard, why did you have to disappoint us so much? One of the funniest performers we can think of, there was a time where an Eddie Murphy release was probably going to be a classic almost from the get-go, including a pair of stand-up specials. Don’t believe us? Tell us you didn’t love movies like Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel, Coming to America, 48 Hrs., Boomerang, or The Golden Child. Then he seemingly became obsessed with putting on fat suits and playing multiple characters and that was ok at first until it began to strip him of any subtlety and humanity in his performances. A part of a long list of dubious films since the dawn of the millennium, aside from a few high points, it all started to catch up with him. Between movies like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, The Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave, Imagine That, and A Thousand Words, Hollywood is no longer knocking on his door. Hopefully Mr. Church, his recent film which is his first movie gig since 2012 and an independent film, will turn things around for him with its positive reviews.
1 Meg Ryan
At one-time Meg Ryan was among the most bankable actors in the world. The star of a long list of beloved films like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, City of Angels, You’ve Got Mail, as well as Kate & Leopold, it is safe to say she had a long line of fans. Previously married to Dennis Quaid, the pair were seen by outsiders as one of Hollywood’s best couples but it seems as though things were not so rosy from the inside. Stating at various points that Dennis had cheated on her during their marriage, Meg may have resented him when she worked on Proof of Life with Russell Crowe. Revealed in the tabloids to be having an affair with her famous co-star, it was a major hit to the lovable way that some fans saw her and then when in a dark movie called In the Cut, the bloom was off the rose. Also a victim of plastic surgery that forever altered the way she looked dramatically, whatever the reason, Meg has all but disappeared from the Hollywood scene. In fact, she has only been in two films since 2009, both of which were made outside the system and one she directed herself.