A major industry that most of the world pays attention to in varying degrees, the movie-making business has a long shadow in the entertainment world. A tumultuous thing to try your hand at, if you are the one in charge of deciding which films get made and who is involved in them, it could easily feel like taking a shot in the dark. That is why the powers that be are always interested in casting anyone that audiences seem to have attached themselves to in their movies. That gives movie stars a hugely important place in their business plans which is why it is shocking that some people who were a big deal at one time are now virtually gone. Realizing that this happens and how fascinating it is inspired us to put together this list of twenty actors that Hollywood wants nothing to do with anymore.
In order for someone to be considered for inclusion on this list, they first and foremost need to have been a decent-sized presence in the acting scene at one point. They don’t necessarily need to have been a star as long as they were a consistent presence at one time, and their absence seems notable. Next, it needs to seem like Hollywood, for the most part, has no interest in taking advantage of their acting skills and star power anytime soon. If they continue to get roles in projects that are released with little to no fanfare or by companies without a major foothold that does not matter. Finally, we want to make it clear that how big of a star they were at their zenith will be the difference maker in the ranking of this list.
20. Emilio Estevez
An actor that reached his zenith in the eighties and early nineties, at one time, it seemed like Emilio Estevez was everywhere in the movie industry. A member of the much-vaunted brat pack who were big stars at the time and were also renowned for their partying ways, he helped to create a number of entertaining movies as well as headlines. Best remembered for his work in films like The Outsiders, Repo Man, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Young Guns, and the Mighty Ducks franchise, he truly did some seminal work. Last seen on screen in a film called The Way that came out in 2010 and was well-received by critics, since then, his only effort in filmmaking was as the director of a little-seen 2017 film called The Public. Not given a major role in a widely-released movie since Mission: Impossible or D3: The Mighty Ducks, we wish that Emilio would get another kick at the bucket in more mature roles, he’d fit like a glove.
19. Jenna Fischer
Someone who made her biggest impact as one of the stars of a much-beloved series, Jenna Fischer’s performance as Pam Beesly from The Office earned her legions of fans. Given the central romance on the show, hearts swooned across the world when they got to see her and John Krasinski’s Jim embrace wholeheartedly for the first time. Landing several film roles in the shadow of her television success, she popped up in movies like Slither, Blades of Glory, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and Hall Pass at the time. Not making much of an impact in either medium at the moment, she is set to star in her own sitcom later this year but we’d love to see her try her hand at big-screen comedy again really soon too.
18. Brandon Routh
Somebody who was given the role of a lifetime not that long ago, Brandon Routh was tapped to play the titular superhero in the 2006 movie Superman Returns. Not quite able to make back double its budget at the box office, it wasn’t exactly a flop but it underperformed to such a degree that it went from being a star-making vehicle for him into becoming an albatross. Since seen in other movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as well as shows including Chuck, Arrow, The Flash, and more, he has proven himself to be a very capable actor. Blessed with incredible looks and a quality that makes him very believable as a villain, we’d love to see him get cast as a Ted Bundy-style serial killer that used his image to disarm but is vicious under the surface.
17. Geena Davis
A puzzling entry in the annals of Hollywood history, Geena Davis spent years building up a career only to see it fall apart due to a single role. The star of many movies that are considered classics because of how wonderful they were and how well they stand the test of time, at least that means that she is likely to go down in history. Most memorable in movies like The Fly, Beetlejuice, A League of Their Own, as well as Thelma & Louise, she has created a slew of characters that made a huge impact on audiences. Then, she starred in Cutthroat Island, a movie so disastrous in terms of the amount of money it lost that it was the last film put out by Carolco Pictures and her career has yet to rebound. A real shame since she is such a talented woman, it seems like she deserves a lot better since she could improve any movie she is a part of with her skills, and we think she’s earned all of our respect.
16. Dan Aykroyd
A comedy legend that is responsible to varying degrees for some of the most impactful comedies of all time, Dan Aykroyd wasn’t born with the looks to be a movie star but he definitely had the skills. First becoming a star during his tenure on Saturday Night Live where he would create a long list of characters that people love, it was a great proving ground for him. Moving on to the movie world after that, he is best remembered for films like The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Ghostbusters, and its sequel, My Girl, and too many more to list here. Given a cameo in movies every once in a while over the last decade, his last starring role came in 2010’s Yogi Bear, which is an awful way for a legendary career to peter out so we need him to come back.
15. Jennifer Connelly
A masterful actor who consistently popped up in movies that garnered huge followings over the years, Jennifer Connelly is an award-winning actress that has shown her ability to find hit films too. Remembered for movies that were a big deal over several decades, she was in classics like Labyrinth, Career Opportunities, The Rocketeer, Dark City, Requiem for a Dream, and A Beautiful Mind too. However, since 2014’s Noah, it seems like Hollywood has forgotten what she can do since her only notable part came as a voice in the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming, but we’re not counting that. Someone we need to see a lot more often on the big screen, there is very little that she can’t do in movies if only she was given the chance.
14. Molly Ringwald
The second and final member of The Brat Pack to make this list, for a number of years, Molly Ringwald served as America’s teen sweetheart. Forever associated with John Hughes, a powerhouse director from the eighties, he cast her in the main role of his landmark movies Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Not only seen in his work, however, she also was a part of other memorable flicks like The Pick-up Artist, Betsy’s Wedding, and Teaching Mrs. Tingle as well as the mini-series The Stand. All but disappearing from the scene as the nineties wore on, she hasn’t been the star of a major movie since that decade came to an end. Someone who has always been relatable on the screen, we’d love to see her use that ability in more maternal roles today.
13. Josh Hartnett
Starting out his career as a heartthrob in movies in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, Josh Hartnett would go on to show that he was more than just a good-looking dude. Seen in movies that have gone down in history like Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, The Faculty, The Virgin Suicides, Sin City, Black Hawk Down, and Lucky Number Slevin, in them, he proved that he has real acting chops. On top of those, he also starred in Pearl Harbor which was a pretty awful movie but did big business at the box office. Deciding to take a little bit of a step back himself at one time, Hollywood seems to have decided that that decision was a deal breaker for them but that is a huge shame. After all, he has what it takes to headline a film or play a memorable supporting role at a moment’s notice and that should not go to waste.
12. Antonio Banderas
A highly charismatic actor that became a huge deal when he played the lead role in the movie Desperado, in it, Antonio Banderas proved that he has what it takes to be an action star of the highest caliber. Taking full advantage of that momentum, he would go on to star in movies like Evita, The Mask of Zorro, as well as the Spy Kids and Shrek franchises. Consistently working ever since, these days, it seems like the only roles he can land are as part of movies that are either released direct to video or showed up in so few theaters that you’d never know it. That should not be the case if you ask us since he is as charming and talented as ever and has a very compelling energy whenever he does his thing.
Somebody who spent the majority of her time in the spotlight as a comedic actor, Mo’Nique first came to prominence when she was a part of the UPN series The Parkers. Also, a stand-up comedian who has honed her timing on the stage as well as on screen, her resume landed her roles in movies like Soul Plane and Beerfest, among others. Then, the movie Precious landed and her stunning performance as the abusive mother of the main character took our breath away and won her an Academy Award and many other trophies. Somehow hitting the skids after that, her next film role didn’t come for five years which we find to be extremely galling. Giving the performance of a lifetime is supposed to be a career-making thing instead of putting an end to one, and Mo’Nique deserves to be given more opportunities to blow it all away.
10. Wesley Snipes
An actor that has pretty much done it all, for many people, Wesley Snipes stood out early on when he was cast in a Michael Jackson music video. Becoming a movie star in the early ’90s when he was fantastic in New Jack City, he would go on to lasting success with films like White Men Can’t Jump, Passenger 57, and the Blade franchise of films. Becoming a figure of controversy when he was sent to prison for tax evasion in 2008, in the previous years, it seemed like he was taking on any role he could get in order to pay the government back. Only given a handful of roles since his release, including The Expendables 3 where he was solid, it took being cast by his old friend, Sylvester Stallone, to be a part of a major movie. A disappointing turn of events, since he still has the star quality to him today, we’d love to see him be another aged actor that is still killing it.
9. Hilary Swank
A prestige actor of the highest caliber, Hilary Swank was never the type of person that you saw headline blockbuster movies, but her presence in dramatic fare was often a marker of quality. Earning a long list of awards for her work in the past, her hypothetical mantelpiece could feature trophies like Oscars, Golden Globes, SAG awards, and many more. The star of movies like Boys Don’t Cry, The Gift, Insomnia, Million Dollar Baby, and more, she has played several characters that stuck with moviegoers for a long time. Mostly forgotten these days, her only film that made a big mark in the last several years was Logan Lucky. But for the vast majority, she is a forgotten part of it. Needing another role that could land her a spot in audience’s hearts, we’re certain that she’ll knock it out of the park if that comes to pass.
8. Cuba Gooding, Jr.
An actor whose career has been more defined by his choices instead of his talent, Cuba Gooding, Jr. has given some amazing performances but followed them up with roles in horrendous films. Seen as a joke by many as a result of his part in movies like Chill Factor, Boat Trip, Norbit, and Daddy Day Camp to name only a sampling, he has been a part of some real crap. On the other hand, he killed it in films like Boyz n the Hood, Judgment Night, Jerry Maguire, As Good as It Gets, What Dreams May Come, American Gangster, and Selma. A real mixed bag as an actor, we do understand why Hollywood lost faith in him but his recent work in the show American Crime Story as OJ Simpson proves that he still has it. We just wish that the film world would give him another chance and that he’d work with an agent that was better at filtering out the crap that has dragged him down.
7. Katherine Heigl
From one actor whose career was destroyed by dubious choices to another, this time around, we’re looking at Katherine Heigl whose off-screen antics have made her seen by many as toxic. Quite good at what she does, she starred in memorable shows like Roswell and Grey’s Anatomy as well as movies including Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, and The Ugly Truth. However, her history of saying negative things about her two most noteworthy roles in the public has made it so the powers that be want nothing to do with her for fear that she’ll do the same to them. An unfortunate turn of events since she was pushing for more nuanced female roles in all fairness, if she is given more substantial roles, it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll go down the same road.
6. Roberto Benigni
An Italian actor who has also proven himself to be a talented director and screenwriter in the past, Roberto Benigni deserves to be known for a lot more than just one role. However, if you are going to be renowned across the globe for a single performance, it would be hard to think of a better one than his part in the movie Life Is Beautiful. An inspirational film that changed the way that many looked at how to cope with the worst of situations, he deserved the awards he garnered for his work in it. Unfortunately, he would go on to star in and direct a live-action version of Pinocchio that was deservedly destroyed by critics. Still an immensely amusing and lovable person both on the screen and in public appearances, it is hard to fathom that someone so likable isn’t a big star as he would be glorious in the right comedy.
5. Bridget Fonda
A member of one of the most respected and cherished acting families of all time, Bridget Fonda seemed destined for stardom from an early age based on that alone. Very much living up to those expectations for a long time, she was in great films like Single White Female, Singles, Point of No Return, and Jackie Brown among others. Also a small part of other fantastic movies like Easy Rider or Army of Darkness, it is hard to believe that she hasn’t been in a single movie since the year 2001. Somebody who we have always been drawn to when she is in a film, her ability to anchor dramas, thrillers, and action movies make her a jack of all trades that Hollywood needs to bring back.
4. Pam Grier
From an actress that was a supporting part of Jackie Brown to the star of it, if you’ve forgotten about the skills of Pam Grier, then you need to give your head a shake. An actress that is a symbol of an era of filmmaking for good reason, she helped to define the Blaxploitation genre for many because she was the main part of so many of its best films. Making a name for herself with her work in Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba Baby, years later, she would show up again when she was cast as the lead in the aforementioned Quentin Tarantino movie. Desperately in need of another comeback, her filmography in recent years is spotty at best since she went without a role in several of the last years. Always fantastic in everything she does as far as we can tell, she even rises above bad movies, and we need an actress as great as her around.
3. Brendan Fraser
A fun goofball that is best known for his part in several movies that bring a smile to the faces of many people, at one time, Brendan Fraser was a pretty big movie star. Loved for his work in comedies like Encino Man, Airheads, The Scout, Bedazzled, and more, he also anchored the action film franchise known as The Mummy. Also able to prove himself a very talented dramatic actor in the past, he was awesome in Gods and Monsters but blew us away in the underseen drama School Ties early on in his career. Damaged by being in too many movies that were lambasted by critics and audiences, if he’d picked better projects, he’d likely be a mainstay of entertainment today. Fortunately, for him and us, in our opinion, he was in enough classic films that he would be embraced by audiences if they were given the shot.
2. Adrien Brody
Far from someone who looks like he would be likely to become a movie star, despite his unique face and body, Adrien Brody rose to that position nevertheless. First becoming a big deal when he was tapped to star in The Pianist for which he won an Academy Award, it showed off how skilled of an actor he is as well as how compelling he is on the big screen. Moving on to other major movies like The Village, King Kong, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Predators, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Midnight in Paris, for a time, he was near the top of the acting world. Over the last several years, however, he hasn’t appeared in a single movie of note which is something we think should change because we are certain that he could up the ante in many films to come.
1. Christina Ricci
There are few examples we can think of that more epitomize the idea of an actor and character fitting each other better than Christina Ricci and her role as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family films. A perfect part of the gothic motif of that movie, it was somewhat surprising to see how great she would be in other flicks that had a very different tone. For instance, she was also stellar in Casper, The Ice Storm, Buffalo ’66, Pecker, Monster, and Black Snake Moan over the years. Not seen in a huge movie since her part in Speed Racer, which was a bomb since it made less than its budget back, that movie seems to have really hurt her. Unfair since she was only a cog in that machine, there is nobody else but her that we’d like Hollywood to welcome back with open arms more.
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