Some acting careers in Hollywood look set to span for decades. Yet sometimes, this is just not how things unfold. Certain actors in the business can be big on the Hollywood scene one minute and completely off the radar the next. These stars are often the ones we believe will be around forever due to the hype that surrounds them at the height of their fame.
But no matter how much hype and praise a star receives it doesn’t guarantee longevity in Hollywood. This is the case with the actors on this list. One minute they were huge and then suddenly, without many of us noticing, they began to fade away. With some instances on this list, it happened so gradually that it was impossible to notice. With other cases, the star in question did something to damage their good name and movie producers could no longer take them seriously, or feared their reputation would damage the movie.
So, take a look at this list to see just which stars have, in a sense, been shunned by the Hollywood film industry, and have failed to reach the success they once had. It will be interesting to examine how quick these stars fell from grace, and may make you question just how long some of the movie actors you love today will last.
15 Haley Joel Osment
In 1999, Haley Joel Osment was a young boy who instantly became recognizable to many people, after the release of The Sixth Sense. Osment was only 11 years old when he appeared in the psychological thriller, opposite Bruce Willis, as a little boy who could “see dead people.” This movie is still considered, even now, as having one of, if not thee, best plot twists is history. Strangely though, after the hype of the movie died down and Osment began to grow up, we never really heard from the star again. This is one of those cases where you may not have even noticed how quick the actor vanished from Hollywood, until it is pointed out to you. Osment did, in fact, continue acting after The Sixth Sense, but these movies simply never gained the same recognition or attention as his breakout performance. Osment focused a lot on voice-acting in the likes of Country Bears and The Jungle Book 2. These days, Osment is still appearing in movies such as Sex Ed, Yoga Hosers and the Entourage movie. Nonetheless, this is a far cry away from his days appearing alongside Bruce Willis, and it seems unlikely that the actor will appear in a big Hollywood movie in the near future.
14 Rachel Leigh Cook
Rachel Leigh Cook was, in many respects, a one hit wonder on the Hollywood scene. Not unusual in la la land of course, but something about this one still surprises us. The actress had her 15 minutes opposite Freddie Prinze Jr in the 1999 hit teen movie She’s All That. Almost 17 years since its release the film remains popular amongst many individuals. Cook made her acting debut in the 1995 film The Babysitter’s Club. From that point she went on to appear in the likes of Tom and Huck and 26 Summer Street. Following on from her appearance in She’s All That, Cook did continue with acting, appearing in 2001’s The Bumblebee Flies Away, which was a success, however she also appeared in Josie and The Pussycats which was unfortunately a failure at the box-office. Eventually the actress took a step back from the spotlight and focused on a production company she founded titled Ben’s Sister Productions, named in honor of her brother Ben, an aspiring filmmaker. In 2007, Cook returned to acting and although her career was slightly successful once again, she never fully managed to grasp that moment of fame she had in 1999.
13 Bridget Fonda
Bridget Fonda, is a name that may not resonate with the youth of today, but during the 90s Fonda was a huge star. The actress appeared in huge movies such as The Godfather Part III, Single White Female, Point of no Return, It could Happen to You and Jackie Brown. The actress also received a Golden Globe nomination for her appearance in Scandal (1989). With all these appearances, Fonda was in many respects considered the ‘it girl’ of the 90s. So, whatever happened to the star? Fonda decided to take a break from the limelight to focus on her marriage to Danny Elfman and raising their children. For this reason, Fonda’s last appearance was a TV movie released in 2002 titled Snow Queen. As we all know, career breaks like this aren’t always the easiest thing to return from and Hollywood certainly isn’t trying to convince Fonda to return to the big screen. However, we’re sure Fonda is perfectly fine with this as she’s certainly had her fair share of success that many actresses can only hope for.
12 Hilary Duff
Unlike many young Disney stars, Hilary Duff succeeded in transitioning, somewhat smoothly, from a Disney star to a movie actress. Duff originally made her movie debut in 2003’s The Lizzie Maguire Movie. Nonetheless, after the culmination of the Disney series in 2004, Duff began to appear in various other movies separate from the show. Although these would never be critically acclaimed movies Duff did spectacularly well amongst teen audiences. The actress appeared in the likes of A Cinderella Story, The Perfect Man, Material Girls and Cheaper by the Dozen. These were all released around the mid-2000s, but looking at it now, we can see how this was clearly the highlight of Duff’s career.
It’s hard to say why exactly the actress’s career began to dwindle out. The main reason is most likely due to the fact that there is only so long someone can continue to play the same type of role, aimed at the same type of audience. At a certain point, as Duff began to mature, the only way to stretch out her career would be to take on some more serious roles. However, this requires a certain level of talent.
11 Emile Hirsch
Next up on our list is Emile Hirsh, who you will most likely recognize for his roles in Into the Wild (2007) and Milk (2008). Despite being in his early 20s when both movies were released, Hirsch showed incredible acting talent in the industry. It seemed as if the actor had everything it required to ensure a lengthy career. Despite this, since 2008, Hirsch’s career has remained very quiet. So, whatever happened to the once promising star? In the years after the release of Milk, Hirsh took a different route than the mainstream movie path he was on; instead the star wanted to appear in more artistic or unique roles. Although this worked for some actors, it wasn’t really the case with Hirsch, as most of these movies went unnoticed. It’s strange too, as although Hirsch wanted more challenging roles, the roles he had success with (such as depicting the true story of Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild), weren't just some money-making attempts. Instead, the star was playing the part of a real American with an incredible story to be told. Milk was another example of this. In 2013, however, Hirsch did make an attempt to make his way back into the spotlight with his appearance in Lone Survivor, a movie that was an all-round success. Unfortunately, once again the actor stunted his career and most likely this time for good. Hirsh was involved in a fight at a nightclub for which he was found guilty of assaulting a female Insurge Pictures executive.
10 Jennifer Grey
The 80s were a great time for actress Jennifer Grey as she appeared in two iconic movies; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, opposite Matthew Broderick and Dirty Dancing, opposite the late Patrick Swayze. Both these movies, to this day, remain very successful and popular, however, Grey has not remained so popular. In truth, this was as successful as the star’s career was every going to be. So, what exactly happened? Many individuals believe that a nose job Grey had done in the 90s is ultimately what ended her career. The actress became unrecognizable to many fans and things were just never the same for the actress.
Grey herself once famously stated: “I went into the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous. It was the nose job from hell. I'll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognizes because of a nose job.” In fact, when Grey made an appearance in Friends as Rachel’s friend Mindy, many people didn’t even realize it was Grey. In recent years, Grey has appeared in TV movies, as well as winning the 2010 season of Dancing with the Stars. Currently, the actress can be found appearing in the web comedy series Red Oaks.
9 Matthew Broderick
Another Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star who has not remained as active in the spotlight is actor Matthew Broderick. Broderick’s first acting hit came in 1983 in the form of the movie WarGames, in which the actor portrayed a teen hacker. This was followed by an appearance in 1985’s Ladyhawke. However, at the age of 23, Broderick appeared in his most successful move; Ferris Bueller, released in 1986, remains a favorite amongst many individuals. From that point on Broderick appeared in more successful movies such as Project X, Glory, Godzilla and The Lion King. However, from the 2000s onwards, the actor’s career seemed to hit a slump as his appearances in movies became less and less frequent. The star, instead took to appearing on Broadway. Throughout the 2000s Broderick appeared in musicals such as The Odd Couple, The Philanthropist and Nice Work if You Can Get it. So, although the actor is not as active on the movie scene, he has certainly accomplished a lot with his Broadway appearances.
8 Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald’s vanishing from Hollywood has become quite an infamous topic at this point. It seemed as if one minute Ringwald was a huge star and the next she was nowhere to be seen. The 80s were definitely Ringwald’s golden era as she could be found starring in an endless array of successful movies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire. Almost everyone is familiar with the titles of these movies as they have certainly come to be considered Classics. Despite this, as the 80s ended it seemed that so too did Ringwald’s career. Although the actress did continue to appear in movies throughout the 90s such as The Stand, something just wasn’t the same. Strangely, this was not that Ringwald wasn’t being offered big roles anymore; the actress was offered starring roles in movies such as Pretty Woman and Ghost, two movies that went on to be hugely successful. Instead Ringwald went to France and appeared in several French movies. Unfortunately, when she returned the hype surrounding her had already began to fade and although Ringwald continued to act, it was never quite the same as her roles in the 80s. Nonetheless, the actress remains an iconic member of the ‘Brat Pack’ and has been voted one of the most iconic teen actors of all time.
7 Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt’s most successful acting period came around the late 90s and early 2000s. The actress starred in movies like Twister, Castaway, What Women Want and Pay It Forward. Moreover, Hunt starred in As Good as it Gets, a role which earned the star her Oscar. With all these achievements, there is no doubt that Hunt is a very capable and talented actress. Hunt’s most recent movies appearance was in 2012’s The Sessions; interestingly, this movie earned Hunt her second Oscar nomination so it’s very surprising that Hunt has not starred in anything since. It’s clear that the talent is there, so just why do we not see the star on big screens anymore? Many people claim this is due to Hollywood’s infamous ‘over 50s cut-off line’ which suggests that, controversially, many actresses fail to be cast in starring roles once they are over the age of 50.
6 Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman has had a terrific acting run. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Thurman was one of the main leading ladies around Hollywood. The actress appeared in movies that remain popular today; some of these include Pulp Fiction, Dangerous Liaisons and both of the Kill Bill movies. It was around the mid-2000s though that Thurman began to fade away from the Hollywood scene. This was strange as the star has been sought out by movie producers up until this point. Thurman’s role in the Kill Bill movies even secured her two Golden Globe nominations and a Bafta nomination. So, what happened? Things went downhill in 2005 after Thurman started demanding 12.5 million dollars for any movie she appeared in. Despite this high payment, many of these movies flopped including Prime, which also starred Meryl Streep and The Producers, which unfortunately bombed at the box-office. An all-time low came for the actress in 2010 when her movie Motherhood gained only $93,388 worth of ticket sales during the three weeks it was in theaters.
5 Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba is another of many actresses whose career seemed to be hot in the 2000s, but as soon as 2010 came around, it seemed to cool significantly. This is a strange one, as Alba has got everything it takes to have a lengthy career but something just didn’t add up; as the years went past we began to see less and less of the actress. Some of Alba’s most successful movie appearances include Honey, The Fantastic Four movies, Into the Blue and Good Luck Chuck. Alba has not quit acting completely in recent years but she has certainly begun to fade from the movie scene. Many believe that this is due to the fact that although Alba is undeniably beautiful and a terrific actress to watch on screen, she is never going to be an Oscar-winning actress. Due to this, Alba focused her attention elsewhere such as on her booming business, The Honest Company, which is now valued at an amazing $1 billion. For this reason, eventually Hollywood stopped offering Alba big roles as it was clear she was no longer as committed to her acting career.
4 Jude Law
There was a time not that long ago where you couldn’t escape seeing Jude Law in a movie. In 2004 alone, Law appeared in no less than 6 movies. The actor made his first movie appearance in 1997’s science-fiction flick Gattaca, opposite Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. From this point on, the actor was in high demand in Hollywood, with endless movie offers drifting in his direction. Law went on to appear in the likes of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Enemy at the Gates and A.I Artificial intelligence. This success continued to the mid-2000s when the actor starred in the likes of Alfie, Cold Mountain, The Holiday and Road to Perdition. As the years went on however, Law’s big movie roles became more and more rare. Many believe this is due to Law’s antics when it comes to women in Hollywood. Not only did Law go through a very public divorce with his wife Sadie Frost, but he also cheated on ex-girlfriend Sienna Miller with the nanny. Circumstances like this and some questionable role choices in recent years have done nothing to strengthen Law’s career.
3 Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler has had a terrific acting career, appearing in a wide range of successful movies. Despite this past success, it seems like forever since we last witnessed Tyler appearing in a movie. Tyler found her love of acting early on and when she was just a teenager she could be found starring in movies such as That Thing You Do! and Stealing Beauty, for which she received critical acclaim. It was in the years that followed though, that Tyler’s career really took off as she started to be cast in bug-budget movies such as Armageddon (1998). From 2001-2003, Tyler found herself gaining international recognition due to her part in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. In the years after that, the actress remained very active in Hollywood with roles in films like Jersey Girl (2004), Reign Over Me (2007), The Incredible Hulk (2008) and The Strangers (2008). Although Tyler has appeared in movies since 2008, they have failed to gain the same attention as her earlier movies or the actress is simply not being cast in the big roles she once was. Nevertheless, Tyler has had great success with a TV role on HBO series The Leftovers, which has received numerous good reviews. It’s clear the actress still has a lot of talent so maybe we can expect another big movie appearance in the future.
2 Katie Holmes
During the early to mid-2000s Katie Holmes could be found starring in many hit movies, however, we barely hear anything about the star anymore. Holmes gained her first significant part when she was cast as Joey Porter on teen drama Dawson’s Creek which ran from 1998-2003. This was a gateway show to bigger things for Holmes, as during her time on the show and the years that followed the actress had many film opportunities land her way. Holmes starred in the likes of The Gift, Phonebooth, Wonder Boys, First Daughter and Batman Begins. However, from 2005 onwards Holmes' appearances on the big screen became less and less frequent, as it seemed that actress just didn’t have the same opportunities she once had. So, what happened? Many believe that Holmes’ marriage to fellow actor Tom Cruise somehow stunted the actress’s career. It is said that Holmes’ three-year career break was due to being engrossed in her marriage to Cruise. Ultimately her career took a backseat, and when she was ready once again to return to acting, roles were no longer being offered. Of course, Holmes eventually divorced Cruise, but her career never fully recovered. The actress has however, gained some success on TV screens with appearances in The Kennedys and Ray Donovan.
1 Josh Hartnett
Around the early 2000s, Josh Hartnett was a huge star due to appearances in movies like Pearl Harbour and Black Hawk Down. The star has everything going for him around this time, but in recent years he’s slipped completely under the radar. It was in 1999 that the actor got his big break playing Jamie Lee Curtis’ son in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. This role gained Hartnett some recognition and he was soon cast in movies such as The Virgin Suicides and Here on Earth. Hartnett was considered a huge heartthrob at the time and it seemed as if his career was about to take off completely. Which it did, but very briefly. So why as the 2000s went on did Hartnett’s career dwindle out? It’s hard to say but the actor’s decision to leave LA at the height of his hype certainly didn’t help. He moved backed to Minnesota to enjoy a low-key life for a year. When he returned, Hartnett made some controversial decisions; he turned down the role in 2002’s Spiderman, which later went to Toby Maguire, and the role of The Dark Knight in Batman Begins, a role that went to Christian Bale. The star stated that he wanted to work in some smaller productions and eventually this was his only choice, as Hollywood was no longer knocking with big movie offers. It’s not all bad though, Hartnett has been having great success on TV with his starring role in Penny Dreadful.