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  • The Walt Disney Company has gone through this multiple times. The first was in 1950 with Cinderella, a return to feature-length animated movies after a string of mediocre package films designed to keep the company afloat during World War II. The second time was in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, a tribute to classic Disney films after some stiff competition from Don Bluth and the failure of The Black Cauldron almost sank the company’s animation division entirely. The third time was in 2010 with Tangled, after Disney had trouble adapting to 3D animation in the 2000s and was routinely being trounced by Pixar and Dreamworks Animation.
  • Ellen DeGeneres saw her career suffer when she came out of the closet in 1998 and her character followed suit on Ellen. This cost the show sponsors and viewers, leading to its cancellation. She attempted a comeback with The Ellen Show, but the show failed to attract enough viewers and was cancelled before its only season finished broadcasting. Then came Finding Nemo, where her performance as Dory brought her back into the spotlight in probably the biggest way this has ever happened with a voice acting role. Riding the hype and acclaim of the role, Ellen received a talk show and a couple of stints hosting the Oscars, and came to be considered one of America's most beloved celebrities (until 2020, when her popularity waned due to her reputation for being rather mean to her crew off-camera). Thirteen years later, the main draw of Finding Dory was considered to be that DeGeneres was the star.

  • Ben Affleck and Gone Baby Gone. After Gigli and his messy break-up with Jennifer Lopez, his career had hit rock bottom. Then in 2007, he made his directorial debut with the critical and commercial success Gone Baby Gone. He followed it up with The Town in 2010, which also received critical and commercial success. He won his second Oscar note  as a producer in 2013 when his third movie Argo won Best Picture.
  • Don Ameche in Trading Places. Ameche was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest romantic stars and light comedians in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s, starring in numerous successful films such as The Story of Alexander Graham Bell and Heaven Can Wait. After 1949, however, his film career flatlined with only five film appearances over the course of the next three decades. He made frequent television appearances and also starred in a few Broadway musicals, but his main income came from dinner theatre. In 1983, the 75-year-old Ameche was cast in the major role as Mortimer Duke in the hit comedy Trading Places, his first film in 13 years. The film brought him back into the Hollywood mainstream after 34 years put out in the pasture. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his following film, Cocoon, and worked steadily for the rest of his life.
  • Julie Andrews with The Princess Diaries. She had been an icon in the '60s and '80s for mega-hits like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Frustrated at such typecasting, she sought to break away from it, notably in the 1970 flop Darling Lili. Although she succeeded eventually with Victor/Victoria, a botched throat surgery left her iconic voice damaged. It wasn't until this 2001 comedy that she really returned to the public eye, also returning to her Disney roots. She now enjoyed a different Cool Old Lady image, somewhat Adam Westing her previous sweetly persona. She's also enjoyed lots of success as a Celebrity Voice Actor in the Shrek and Despicable Me franchises, as well as voicing a sea monster in 2018's Aquaman and providing the narration for Lady Whistledown in Bridgerton.
  • Drew Barrymore in Scream. After starting off as a child actress in the blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as well as Firestarter and Irreconcilable Differences during the 1980s, Barrymore's pre-adolescent drug and alcohol problems and her Stage Mom overshadowed her career. While she cleaned up by the early 1990s, by that time her career had been reduced to low-budget, independent movies (which most of the time, seemed to typecast her as a promiscuous, rebellious, and/or out-of-control youth) like Doppelgänger, Poison Ivy, and the remake of Gun Crazy, and small roles in major movies like Batman Forever. Her small but memorable role in 1996's Scream brought her more and more A-list friendly roles (beginning with The Wedding Singer), most often of the Romantic Comedy variety. In 2020, she started hosting her own self-titled daytime variety talk show on CBS.
  • Emily Blunt with Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods. After her breakout role in The Devil Wears Prada, Hollywood saw her as the next best thing. Unfortunately, after making several errors in film choices, the 2010 comedy flop, Gulliver's Travels (her commitment to which forced her to turn down the role of Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), being the most notorious, it seemed her career was going to be perpetually restricted to small indies or supporting roles. But then 2014 had both Edge Of Tomorrow and Into the Woods catapult Blunt back onto the A-list, and she has enjoyed a much higher profile afterwards in films like Sicario, A Quiet Place, Mary Poppins Returns and Jungle Cruise.
  • Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Brando was a major star in the '50s with classic hits such as A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, and he had won an Oscar for Best Actor for the latter. By the 1960s, however, Brando's failed movies outweighed his successes, partly due to his temper on set, and most movie studios considered him a risk. Flash forward to 1972, when Francis Ford Coppola was adapting a novel onto the big screen, and he wanted the 47-year-old Brando to play the patriarch of a Mafia family. Paramount finally gave in after Coppola gave Brando a screen test, and The Godfather became an instant classic. Brando won a second Oscar for his performance as Don Vito Corleone, and high-profile roles in Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now and Superman: The Movie soon followed.
  • Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men. After being considered a rising star in the 1980s following the success of The Goonies, a number of barely released films and short-lived television series derailed him. After spending several years in obscurity in films like Mimic and Hollow Man, he turned it around in 2007 by playing a few villain roles in the critically acclaimed Grindhouse and American Gangster (getting an Oscar nomination for Milk certainly boosted his career as well) and then playing the main character in No Country for Old Men. The role got him a lot of acclaim and, despite an Award Snub and an unfortunate turn in Jonah Hex, he hasn't looked back, with important roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Deadpool 2.
  • George Burns was a Vaudeville comedian who made his fame during the Golden Age of Radio and Television with The Burns and Allen Show, and doing the rounds with Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, and others. He faded like many stars of the age, before winning an Academy Award for The Sunshine Boys at age 79 and then starring in the smash Oh, God! series, and remained a hot property til his death at age 100.
  • Jim Carrey in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). He seemed to have faded from the limelight after 2014's Dumb and Dumber To, the sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Due to various legal issues surrounding that film against the crew responsible for making it, it was the end of Carrey's reign as a box office heavyweight, and he was the biggest for a time. After 2015, he was mainly in smaller art-house releases and direct to video fare, and doing controversial paintings critical of former president Donald Trump among others. He also suffered from depression, and had to cope with the suicide of his ex-girlfriend. In 2017 however, he ended up getting the role of Dr. Robotnik in the 2020 film adaptation of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. Not only is the film the second video game-based live action film to see critical and box-office success after Detective Pikachu, it's also Carrey's first big-budget movie in 6 years. His performance as the presidential candidate and later president Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live also allowed him to get viral fame and acclaim.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. In the late 2000's Cohen became famous for his role in 2006's Borat. However, none of the films that followed (Bruno, The Dictator, Grimsby) achieved the same level of success. Luckily, 2020 saw the above two critically acclaimed films release on Netflix and Prime Video respectively. The former is seen as one of the best movies of 2020, while the latter is considered a worthy sequel and became the second most streamed movie of 2020 (after Hamilton on Disney+).
  • Jamie Lee Curtis found her career slowing down in the 2000s and announced that she was going into retirement after Christmas with the Kranks flopped. She returned properly to the public eye with a starring role in Scream Queens (2015) - which got her a Golden Globe nomination. She also returned to the franchise that made her famous with Halloween (2018) - which became the biggest commercial success of the franchise and some critics called it her best work in years. She would also become part of the ensemble cast of Knives Out in 2019.
  • Willem Dafoe with Shadow of the Vampire and Spider-Man. Dafoe initially was one of the most notable up and coming actors of the 80's, having attained an Oscar nomination for his supporting performance as Sgt. Elias in Oliver Stone's Platoon and further critical praise for his role as Jesus in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. His trajectory dipped down, however, when he starred opposite Madonna in the critically reviled erotic thriller Body of Evidence, which was deemed one of the worst films of the 90's and was nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards (with Dafoe being nominated for Worst Actor). While Madonna was able to retain success with her music, Dafoe spent the next few years in relative anonymity. He kept popping up sporadically in supporting roles, before his portrayal of silent film star Max Schreck in 2000's Shadow of the Vampire netted him rave reviews and another Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Two years later, he portrayed the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, which became his first big financial success in years. Since then, Dafoe garnered two more Oscar nominations for The Florida Project and At Eternity's Gate, became a member of Wes Anderson's Production Posse, appeared in the $1B dollar-grossing Aquaman, and appeared in many other critically acclaimed films (Finding Nemo, The Fault in Our Stars, John Wick, The Lighthouse, etc.), re-affirming his place on Hollywood's A-List. He would later reprise his role as the Green Goblin in the MCU-set Spider-Man: No Way Home, which eclipsed the first Spider-Man and Aquaman as his highest-grossing film ever. Despite its 2021 release amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, No Way Home scored over $1 billion dollars during its first two weeks in theaters. It became the first film since the start of the pandemic to do so and broke many other box office records in the process. Reviews were positive as well, with Dafoe's performance considered a standout for the manic energy he brought to the role while also being game to do his own stunts despite being in his sixties.
  • Bette Davis pulled this off twice. After transitioning from Broadway to the silver screen, she became one of Hollywood's most respected leading ladies of the 1930s and 40s. But after she had a failed lawsuit against her studio, she found herself doing smaller and smaller films. Then came her famous performance as Margo Channing in All About Eve and the following Oscar nomination. After the buzz from that had died down, she went radically against type as a psychotic White-Dwarf Starlet in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? - and that ensured that she was still working steadily until her death.
  • Johnny Depp arguably underwent this twice, first in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He started off as Freddy's first victim and later gained notice on 21 Jump Street before breaking through in Edward Scissorhands. After that, his resume is a bit spotty, mixing dubious films (like Don Juan De Marco and Nick of Time) and some hidden gems (Donnie Brasco, Ed Wood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) along with a lone blockbuster (Sleepy Hollow... like Edward, with Tim Burton). Then he turns up in Pirates, earns an Oscar nomination, signs on for the sequels and renews his partnership with Burton to fantastic results in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland (2010). However, although it was a huge hit at the box office, Alice in Wonderland was heavily criticized with many arguing that Depp had become typecast as an eccentric loner. Depp's next films, Transcendence, The Rum Diary, The Tourist and Mortdecai were outright bombs, and culminated in the massive flop The Lone Ranger. Depp's performance in Black Mass was widely hailed as a return to form and seemed to have restored his critical respectability, but his next film after that, Alice Through the Looking Glass, irreparably nuked that respectability by being another colossal flop, not helped by his simultaneous domestic violence scandal. His replacement casting of Mads Mikkelsen in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald didn't help, although he still maintains strong fan support and is rumored to be signing up for smaller scale indie roles in the new decade.
  • Laura Dern was a critical darling in the early 90s, appearing in such acclaimed films as Blue Velvet, Mask, Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose - as well as her prominent role in Jurassic Park. She faced some backlash in her career when she starred in Ellen's infamous "The Puppy Episode" and claims that she didn't work for a full year afterwards because of her role. She kept a low profile in the 2000s but started coming back to prominence in The New '10s. It started with an appearance in the Oscar-nominated The Master and helped by the Sleeper Hit The Fault in Our Stars. She was nominated for an Oscar for Wild and was catapulted to the star-studded miniseries Big Little Lies and got a prominent role in The Last Jedi. In 2019, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story.
  • Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious. Diesel had started the Turn of the Millennium as an Action Hero with films like The Fast and the Furious (2001), XXX, and Pitch Black before destroying his credibility with action duds like The Chronicles of Riddick and Babylon A.D. and the critically ravaged family film The Pacifier. An attempt to establish dramatic credibility in Find Me Guilty won critical plaudits but no attention from moviegoers. Diesel reestablished his career by returning to the series that made him famous, as well as returning to Riddick. Furthermore, his status as One of Us has also produced two highly acclaimed Riddick games, Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena. He also gained near universal adoration for playing Groot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. He played a few second-string roles before receiving high critical praise in the biopic Chaplin as Charlie Chaplin, and the sky was the limit. Then his well-documented substance abuse problems pulled him into obscurity for about 15 years. He landed a recurring role on Ally McBeal and would occasionally surface in a big-budget A-list film like U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones or Gothika with Halle Berry, but never as the first-billed star. He would invariably be seen on the cover of some tabloid and being carted back to rehab shortly thereafter. First he rehearsed a comeback with critically acclaimed roles in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and A Scanner Darkly. Then Iron Man hit, his next film (Tropic Thunder) netted him an Oscar nomination, Sherlock Holmes (2009) won him a Golden Globe, and Iron Man 2 was a box-office smash. He also got top billing in the All-Star Cast of The Avengers, once again reprising what's now his signature role, Tony Stark/Iron Man, a character he has gone on to portray throughout the rest of his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As of late, he's one of the most paid male actors of all time, alongside Tom Cruise and Samuel L. Jackson (whom he has worked with in multiple MCU films.)
  • Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Dunst was an acclaimed child actress who managed to successfully negotiate her transition to adult roles, averting the Former Child Star trope in style with roles in The Virgin Suicides, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Spider-Man Trilogy films, among others. She was considered one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses before depression and rumored substance abuse led her to check herself into rehab at the age of 25, and the rest of Hollywood to write her off as yet another party girl burnout. Three years later, she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for her turn as a depressed young bride-to-be in Melancholia. It's a pretty spectacular way to make a career comeback, as these things go. Even director Lars von Trier's inappropriate Nazi joke at Cannes wasn't enough to kill Dunst's momentum.
  • James Fox was a prominent star of the British New Wave in the '60s with prominent roles in movies like The Servant, King Rat and Performance. However, Fox became heavily involved in drug culture, which (along with his father's death) precipitated a physical and mental breakdown. Fox left cinema for 14 years, became a born-again Christian and disavowed his earlier career. In 1984, Fox starred in David Lean's A Passage to India and experienced a major comeback, both as a leading man and popular character actor, appearing in films as diverse as The Remains of the Day, Patriot Games, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sherlock Holmes (2009).
  • Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby. Gaining momentum in the late 1980s to early-mid 1990s, mostly for his role as a pimp in 1987's Street Smart, he grew to become a household name for African-American cinema and was known for his award-winning performances in Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Se7en, until he was derailed with the flops of Moll Flanders and Chain Reaction. For the next several years, he would only play roles as narrators and other supporting roles, until a shed of light appeared, when he was praised for his performance as God in Bruce Almighty. When he won an Academy Award for his role as a former boxer in Million Dollar Baby, he once again returned to A-list status, and it seems he still is not looking back.
  • Richard Gere with Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman. He first gained notice in the mid-70's as a supporting actor before winning the lead role in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, which made him a star overnight. Gere soon became a recognizable leading man in the early 80's, with American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman being his biggest successes. Unfortunately, his career was then battered badly by the consecutive failures of The Cotton Club and King David. The Cotton Club was notorious for being an extremely Troubled Production and eventual Box Office Bomb, which overshadowed its muted acclaim (see Francis Ford Coppola's section on that page for more details). King David, on the other hand, flopped badly, with critics in particular noting how Gere was woefully miscast in the title role. The latter film's critical and financial failure led to Gere being passed over for many sought after roles for the next few years until 1990, when the consecutive successes of Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman put him back on the A-list.
  • Hugh Grant: A two-folded self-inflected example - after gradually loosing his boyhood looks and starhood status in the mid-naughties, he retired from acting to pursue larger parts behind the camera as a producer and outspoken political activist. This worked well for him until Florence Foster Jenkins was offered to him, in part because the opportunity to work opposite Meryl Streep was just too good to pass up. The film was a flop, but the acting bug bit him hard and he would soon appear as Big Bad in Paddington 2, a delightfully Meta Casted Large Ham part that leapfrogged him into future One-Scene Wonder bit-parts.
  • Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children and Watchmen. Known for his early role in The Bad News Bears, Haley's movie career was sidelined by a reputation as a Former Child Star. He all but retired from acting in 1993 and was forced to take menial work over the years (including a stint as a limo driver) until he started directing TV commercials in Texas. He was remembered by fellow actor Sean Penn (they had co-starred in a play in the early 1980s), who landed him a role in the remake of All the King's Men. It was followed by Little Children, which was critically-acclaimed and gave Haley an Oscar nomination. And then Haley virtually became a fan icon overnight after landing the role of Rorschach in Zack Snyder's Watchmen in 2009, and he has since become the go-to actor for portraying disturbing anti-heroes and villains. He has since reinvented Freddy Krueger in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (and was hailed as a worthy successor to Robert Englund even by those who hated the rest of the film). After Elm Street opened to negative reviews, Haley's time as a leading man quickly died. He has since gone back to supporting roles like in the beginning of his comeback, popping up in a handful of high-profile movies (Dark Shadows, Lincoln, the 2014 remake of RoboCop) and playing a corrupt sleazebag villain with a tragic backstory in the TV adaptation of Preacher.
  • Tom Hardy in Bronson and Inception. After Star Trek: Nemesis crashed and burned at the box office, Hardy fell into a deep depression, which resulted in him losing his girlfriend and turning to alcohol. He ended up beating his depression, and subsequently decided to pull an extreme form of reinvention when he bulked up to play an unrepentant, physically-imposing gangster in Bronson, which won him critical and commercial acclaim. Two years later, he would cement his return by playing the suave con artist Eames in Christopher Nolan's Inception. Hardy is also seen as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the protagonist of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the titular anti-hero in Venom (a role he would later reprise in its sequel Let There Be Carnage). His Oscar nomination for The Revenant in 2015 has certainly boosted his stature as well.
  • Woody Harrelson in Zombieland and The Hunger Games. Though pretty much always a sidekick or character actor, Harrelson had a solid run on Cheers for nearly a decade, and turned in a steady string of solid performances in fairly successful films (L.A. Story, Doc Hollywood, White Men Can't Jump, Indecent Proposal, Natural Born Killers) and even earned several award nominations for his turn as "Hustler" magnate Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt. After that, he sort of vanished, turning up playing bit parts in major movies, or as a guest star on television series (including a memorable stint on Will & Grace.) However after his memorable turn in Zombieland as gun-toting, redneck, Twinkie-seeking Tallahassee, Harrelson was quickly cast as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games and found himself back on the A-List, often in a first- or second-billed role. Since Zombieland and The Hunger Games, Harrelson starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in the runaway HBO hit series True Detective, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
  • Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. After winning an Oscar for 1933's Morning Glory and enjoying a box-office hit playing Jo March in that year's adaptation of Little Women, she seemed to be a star in the making. Unfortunately, between a string of box-office disappointments and her own controversial public image (known for being prickly and tomboyish in a time when it was not considered acceptable for women to act like that), her track record proved to be subsequently shoddy, aside from another Oscar nomination for Alice Adams (1935). 1938's Bringing Up Baby, despite positive reviews and later acclaim as one of her best films, was a Box Office Bomb that got Hepburn labeled "box office poison" by theater owners and "Katharine of Arrogance" by the tabloids, and she subsequently bought out her studio contract. She turned to Broadway and starred in a successful play called The Philadelphia Story, playing a stuck-up socialite who, in the opening scene, gets knocked over by Cary Grant and falls on her ass, and bought the film rights to the play so she could star in the film. A great risk that paid off, as The Philadelphia Story resurrected Hepburn's career overnight, and a Hollywood legend was born.
  • Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. Although it seems impossible looking back at his career over the past twenty years, there was a time when Hopper was anathema to studios and audiences. After a meteoric rise to the top in the 1950s with appearances in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant as well later appearing alongside John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit, and after his directorial debut Easy Rider in 1969, Hopper was on top of the world. However, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and had a dissolving marriage to boot. In 1971, Hopper released his second film as a director, The Last Movie, which was a complete flop with audiences and critics. Hopper would disappear into obscurity for years afterwards by hiding out in New Mexico and appearing in a number of low budget films in the 1970s, often as a "tormented maniac", an archetype that landed him a role in 1979's Apocalypse Now. After a failed "suicide" attempt in the early 1980s (it ended up being a stunt), though, he went into rehab and subsequently started a run of critically-acclaimed performances, culminating in his career-defining role as Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
  • Michael B. Jordan in Creed. Michael B. Jordan was already doing quite well for himself until he hit the brick wall that was Fant4stic. Unlike his castmates, Jordan suddenly hit his revival so soon after with Creed, where he played the illegitimate son of the late Apollo Creed and training to follow in his footsteps by his father's former rival Rocky Balboa. This resurgence allowed him to take up the role of the villainous Erik Killmonger in Black Panther (2018), which redeemed him for his earlier comic failure.
  • Michael Keaton in Birdman. Known for his comedic roles in the 1980s, Keaton first hit it big playing the titular role in Tim Burton's Batman (1989). However, once he left after the sequel, his career started a downward swing that was finally destroyed by Jack Frost (1998). The 2000s saw Keaton pursuing a number of secondary roles in lesser films, though he still managed to do some good voice work for Pixar in Cars and Toy Story 3. Birdman, in which Keaton plays a washed-up actor known for a superhero role twenty years ago, earned him a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and set him on the path to become a leading man once again. His next two films, Spotlight and The Founder, opened to excellent reviews, and Keaton's performance as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming was acclaimed by fans and critics as one of the best villain performances in, not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but superhero movies in general.
  • Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. Keitel was an up and comer in the 1970s, with his performance in Taxi Driver in particular gaining him favorable attention. He was then cast to play the role of Capt. Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now — and was sacked after only a week of filming, to be replaced by Martin Sheen. Although he kept quite busy for the next 15 years, appearing in small roles in many different films, it was not until Quentin Tarantino cast him as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs that Keitel attracted much attention. Since then, he still acts just as much, but he's far more likely to be playing a leading role (or, as in Pulp Fiction, getting a scene-stealing cameo).
  • Deborah Kerr became a star in her native UK with notable parts in Major Barbara, Love on the Dole and Black Narcissus - the latter of which got the attention of Hollywood. Although she got her first Oscar nomination with Edward, My Son, she soon found herself typecast as an English Rose in Costume Dramas - in what she mockingly called "poker up the arse parts". The low point for her was Young Bess, where she lost out on the lead role and got stuck with the insignificant role of Catherine Parr - which led to her nearly leaving Hollywood altogether. But her next big project was a war drama called From Here to Eternity - which saw her going against type as a depressed adulteress. It broke her out of typecasting, got her another Oscar nomination and secured her status in Hollywood until she retired in the late 60s.
  • Nicole Kidman first became well-known in the 90's through a variety of acclaimed performances, the most notable being 1999's Eyes Wide Shut (where she co-starred opposite her then-husband Tom Cruise). Further successes came with Moulin Rouge! and The Others (2001) in 2001, culminating in an Oscar win for Best Actress for her role in 2002's The Hours. Starting around 2004, however, she began falling into a slump with flops like Bewitched, The Golden Compass, Australia, and Just Go with It. Her sole saving grace during this period was the 2010 adaptation of the play Rabbit Hole, which was an Acclaimed Flop that still earned her another Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Kidman's lowest point came in 2014 with Grace of Monaco, a film with an extensively Troubled Production that was critically panned (with a glaring 9% on Rotten Tomatoes) and had its theatrical release revoked in the U.S. (ultimately being shunted to a debut on Lifetime). After that debacle, however, Kidman's luck began to turn for the better. First, she appeared as the main villain in the well-received children's film Paddington. Her next notable role was in 2016's Lion, which was a financial Sleeper Hit that received multiple Oscar nominations (including another acting nomination for Kidman, this time in the Best Supporting Actress category). The following year, she branched out into television with HBO's Big Little Lies, for which she won Primetime Emmy Awards for acting in and producing the miniseries. Kidman then had three theatrical releases in 2018: Destroyer, Boy Erased, and most notably, the superhero film Aquaman as the titular character's mother, which became her biggest financial success.
  • John Krasinski in A Quiet Place. He established himself in the mid-2000s with his role as Jim Halpert in The Office (US), and the success of that sitcom convinced studios to push him as a leading man in film comedy. That swiftly ended when he headlined the critically mauled License to Wed in 2007, which also hurt the rising film career of Mandy Moore (see Live-Action TV). Although he remained on The Office all the way until its run ended in 2013, Krasinski's film career was reduced primarily to supporting roles for the next ten years. Then he starred and directed in A Quiet Place opposite his wife Emily Blunt, which was hailed as one of the scariest horror films of 2018. Krasinski not only received critical praise for his performance, but also got newfound attention as a filmmaker on the rise. The film's financial success ensured a sequel was greenlit, with Krasinski returning as a director. That same year, he also made a return to television with the Jack Ryan series on Amazon Prime Video, which was a major hit on the streaming service.
  • Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. He was a hot young talent in The '90s, starring in such acclaimed films as Dazed and Confused, A Time to Kill, Amistad, and Lone Star. However, he became a walking punchline over the course of the 2000s, with critics savaging his perpetual shirtlessness and his poor choice of film roles and lamenting his squandered potential as a serious actor. Then in 2011, he earned big critical acclaim for his role in The Lincoln Lawyer and Killer Joe, and went on to astonish critics everywhere over the next few years with his turns in Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, the TV series True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, which won him an Oscar in 2014. Even the failure of The Paperboy couldn't slow him down. His seeming overnight turnaround from rom-com pretty boy to one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, and his comeback has been dubbed "The McConaissance". Unfortunately, McConaughey has been on a downslide since 2016, with only a few bright spots: Kubo and the Two Strings (which opened to critical acclaim, but flopped); Sing, which got decent reviews and did well at the box office, becoming his biggest hit domestically; and The Gentlemen, which was also a moderate success for its director Guy Ritchie (see below).
  • Eddie Murphy went through this twice. Murphy was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1980s, but as time went on, films like The Golden Child and Beverly Hills Cop II tainted his reputation with critics. In the early 1990s, they disappointed financially too (the vanity project Harlem Nights, Vampire in Brooklyn, etc.). He might have gone down as something of a relic of the '80s if not for his multiple-role performance in The Nutty Professor, which was a huge hit. Since then, the quality and financial success of his work has been wildly hit and miss, ranging from Bowfinger to The Adventures of Pluto Nash. He has a Rated G for Gangsta reputation now (due to doing many family films, most famously the Shrek franchise), but he was still an A-lister for much of the 2000s, even receiving an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls. Unfortunately, in the late 2000s/early 2010s another string of financial and/or critical flops (Meet Dave, Norbit, A Thousand Words), combined with the end of the Shrek franchise, put him back on the scrap heap, outnumbering hits like Tower Heist. But then Murphy hit Netflix starring as Rudy Ray Moore in the biopic Dolemite Is My Name, which was acclaimed as a long-awaited return to the R-rated comedy that made him a star in the 80s as well as the prestige material that he was previously praised for in Dreamgirls. Earning a Golden Globe nomination, he followed this up with a well received return to Saturday Night Live that boosted the show's ratings to their highest in a decade.
  • Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!. Nielsen had a long career in Hollywood, playing mostly bit parts in films, TV guest shots, with the occasional leading role in a low-budget project. Before 1980, he was probably best remembered for his leading role in Forbidden Planet. After 1980, he was best known as Dr. Rumack in Airplane!, where his deadpan performance made him one of the funniest things in the film. He would go on to play similar roles in an assortment of other, mostly similar comedies, notably Frank Drebin in Police Squad! and The Naked Gun film trilogy as well the lead roles in Spy Hard and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
  • Gary Oldman in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Batman Begins. He was known throughout the '80s and '90s for films such as Sid and Nancy, The Fifth Element and Leon: The Professional, but by the early 2000s roles were getting scarcer. He took the role of Sirius Black because he desperately needed the work, not having done a film in over a year, but this turned out for the best because he not only got to stay with the series for multiple films but also was sought out later to play Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy, resulting in the same outcome. The two franchises combined led to his name being known amongst a new generation of fans that thrust him back into the limelight, including being (finally) recognized by award committees.
  • Al Pacino has undergone several Career Resurrections throughout the years. After first making it big in the 70s with several of that decade's best films, his trajectory started dipping downward in the following decade. Cruising, released in 1980, was reviled by critics and condemned by the LGBT community for its homophobic undertones, while Scarface, despite being later reappraised as one of Pacino's best films, was poorly received and criticized for its graphic content upon its initial release. The utter disappointment of Revolution in 1985 led Pacino to take a hiatus from acting till 1989, when he appeared in a little film called Sea of Love. The film was a minor success, spurring Pacino to take roles in bigger films, culminating in 1992 with the consecutive successes of Glengarry Glen Ross and Scent of a Woman, the latter for which he won a long-overdue Oscar for Best Actor. Pacino had the pick of his roles for the rest of the 90s, with a plentiful output of box office hits (The Devil's Advocate, Any Given Sunday), critical darlings (Carlito's Way, The Insider) or films that were both (Heat, Donnie Brasco). However, he would fall into yet another slump in the following decade, first by taking a supporting role opposite Ben Affleck in the aforementioned Gigli. He had a brief respite with his Emmy-winning performance in the HBO miniseries Angels in America and a supporting role as the villain in Ocean's Thirteen. Unfortunately his next lead film roles were in 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill, which were eviscerated by critics, ignored by audiences, and garnered Pacino Razzie nominations for Worst Actor in 2008. Afterwards, Pacino would spend the next ten years slumming it in shlock (the most notorious of which, Jack and Jill, garnered him a Razzie win for Worst Supporting Actor), with his sole saving grace being the HBO television film You Don't Know Jack, for which he won another Emmy. In 2019, however, he appeared in two of the year's best films, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. Pacino's performance as Jimmy Hoffa in Scorsese's film has been deemed his best work in years, and it even garnered him his first Oscar nomination since his win for Scent of a Woman. He later appeared as Aldo Gucci in Ridley Scott's crime drama House of Gucci, which was released in November 2021.
  • Deepika Padukone in Cocktail. Having made her Bollywood debut as the heroine in the hugely-successful 2007 film Om Shanti Om, the momentum of her career faltered when she starred in several lacklustre films in the late-00's and early-10's such as Chandni Chowk to China and Housefull, which were financial and critical failures, respectively. Apart from an appearance as a Ms. Fanservice in the 2009 film Billu, and her performance alongside Saif Ali Khan in Love Aaj Kal, she had no other notable successes, and was slowly beginning to be seen as a One-Hit Wonder. In 2012, however, Padukone's career took a turn for the better when she starred in Cocktail, a romantic comedy where her role as a party girl garnered her notable praise for her acting talents. This was subsequently followed by other hit films in the following year such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express, and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, which further cemented her status as one of the most successful leading actresses in all of Bollywood, and as one of the most popular personalities in all of India itself.
  • Anna Paquin in X-Men. Paquin was a fading child star by the end of the 1990s, having never reclaimed the glory she captured with her Oscar-winning turn in The Piano. Then she was cast in X-Men and she became popular as an adult superstar. She continues to remain relevant to this day through her turn on True Blood and continued work in the X-Men Film Series. note 
  • Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse. While the Twilight films made him a Teen Idol, they also made him into a target of ridicule, with his detractors (especially those who never liked Twilight to begin with) believing that he couldn't act. The end of the series in 2012 seemed to kill his career prospects... at least until he, his meal ticket paid for by those teen vampire movies, realized that he was free to do whatever the hell he wanted, and proceeded to go indie. A string of acclaimed performances such as Good Time and The Lost City of Z followed, surprising critics who'd written him off in the past, culminating in The Lighthouse being praised as one of the best horror films of 2019. He is currently slated to play Batman in Matt Reeves' upcoming film, a casting decision that met the usual reaction at first but which died down considerably once his defenders pointed out his entire post-Twilight career.
  • Keanu Reeves in John Wick. During the 1990s and early '00s, Reeves made the successful transition from comedy to action, playing the lead roles in Speed and The Matrix series. However, a rising criticism was his lack of acting range, which got worse when the mid-late '00s saw him ruthlessly typecasted as The Stoic Action Hero, and his acting became the butt of many jokes by critics. His role as the Big Bad in Man of Tai Chi, which also served as his directorial debut, showed promise for him to finally break free of this typecasting, but he suffered a Star-Derailing Role in 47 Ronin shortly after. Initially expected to do poorly, the low-budget revenge thriller John Wick was instead a critically acclaimed, commercially successful Sleeper Hit, with critics and fans alike praising Reeves's performance as the titular hitman and for performing the action scenes himself. The film was successful enough to spawn a franchise, and the summer of 2019 was dubbed the "Keanussance", launched by the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (which quickly became the biggest hit of the franchise, immediately greenlighting a fourth installment upon its release), followed by turns in Always Be My Maybe (Adam Westing as himself) and Toy Story 4 (as the voice of Canadian action figure Duke Caboom), as well as the announcement of him portraying a character in the anticipated video game Cyberpunk 2077 at that year's E3.
  • Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding. Roberts looked like a rising star with critically acclaimed roles in Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias, and her Star-Making Role Pretty Woman. Sleeping with the Enemy was panned but did very well at the box office. However, her career hit turbulence when Dying Young and Hook were both trashed by critics, not helped by a Creator Breakdown as her relationship with Kiefer Sutherland fell apart — even fleeing the set of Hook to hide out in Ireland briefly. She took a two-year hiatus from acting, and when she returned, it was to flops like I Love Trouble, Michael Collins, and Mary Reilly. However, My Best Friend's Wedding proved to be a return to form. All her subsequent films did good business and she ended up as the highest paid actress of The '90s. An Oscar win later came for Erin Brockovich.
  • Saoirse Ronan with Brooklyn. She first became famous as a child for her supporting role in 2007's Atonement, which netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress at just thirteen years old. She subsequently received a bigger push from Hollywood and starred in many films, but none of them garnered the same levels of acclaim as Atonement had. After the critical and financial disasters of The Host and Lost River, many feared Ronan would fade into obscurity as a Former Child Star and disappear from acting altogether. She soon dispelled that notion and turned things around for the better, first by making a small but important appearance in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Then in 2015, she starred in Brooklyn, which landed her another Oscar nomination, this time in the leading category. She followed this up with a string of critical successes, and even garnered two more Oscar nominations for Best Actress in Lady Bird and Little Women.
  • Mickey Rooney started his acting career at just 17 months, and even in his teens continued his career as the "hyperactive, girl-crazy" Andy Hardy, often together with Judy Garland. Rooney's enlistment in World War II saw his career decline, making a few TV and film appearances after that (most notably in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). Eventually, in 1979, the 59-year-old Rooney made a comeback with the Broadway play Sugar Babies, to rave reviews. After that, he worked regularly on both screen and stage till his death in 2014.
  • Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. His career started with high critical praise and success for roles in Diner, 9 1/2 Weeks and Angel Heart. However, much like Downey, his substance abuse problems (and a bizarre decision to get into boxing) would drag him down. He made a series of small, low-budget films for 20 years, until Robert Rodriguez dusted him off to play Billy in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Marv in Sin City. Rourke then had a supporting role in box office bomb Domino before being cast in a "very close to home" role as a washed-up former pro wrestler in The Wrestler, which netted him an Oscar nomination and a part opposite Downey in Iron Man 2. However, after the failure of Immortals, he has fallen back out of stardom, now mainly appearing in Direct to Video films.
  • Mark Ruffalo with The Avengers. He was never derailed, but remained forever on the B-list in the 2000s. There even used to be a trope called 'Mark Ruffalo Syndrome' that was used to describe an actor who is eternally stuck in secondary roles. However becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made him more famous than he ever was - and led to him taking leading roles in films like Begin Again, Foxcatcher, and Spotlight, while netting critical acclaim for The Normal Heart. He has earned two Oscar nominations since.
  • Adam Sandler by signing to Netflix. Sandler's career was reeling in the early 2010s after the flops of Jack and Jill and That's My Boy, with the final straw seemingly coming in 2015 with Pixels. When, after that film's failure, he signed a distribution deal with Netflix to have his forthcoming live-action comedies released exclusively on the streaming service, many saw it as a symbol of how far his star had fallen; at the time, streaming exclusives were still seen as the equivalent of the Direct to Video market. Little did anybody know that Sandler would become one of Netflix's breakout stars as the streaming service invested in original films in a major way. The tipping point came in 2019 with Murder Mystery, a film that, had everybody who streamed it seen it in a theater, would've enjoyed a $120 million opening weekend, as well as a well-received guest hosting gig on his old Saturday Night Live stomping grounds that earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series as well as being selected as the show's submission for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series (ultimately winning). He followed this up with the starring role in Uncut Gems which earned him rave reviews for what many consider the best performance of his career.
  • Peter Sellers in The Return of the Pink Panther. Already huge in his native England, he achieved international megastar status over 1963-64 with the first Pink Panther films and his work with Stanley Kubrick. Still, he was so difficult to work with on Casino Royale (1967) that he was fired midway through the shoot, and the disjointed effort to cover up his absence resulted in an over-budget mess he was blamed for. From then on, most of his films flopped. By 1974, some of them weren't even making it to theaters; he barely got by making commercials and television appearances. When he was approached to reprise his Inspector Clouseau character in 1975, he took the opportunity. Return proved so popular that he was immediately back on the A-list. With two more Panthers, Murder by Death, and especially Being There (which netted him a Best Actor nomination, his second), he remained there up until his death in 1980.
  • Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa and Creed. Technically, his first resurrection was with Cliffhanger, that helped him Win Back the Crowd after two horrible comedies. But then his career choices were rather unfortunate (besides the critically acclaimed Cop Land, Demolition Man, and a voice acting role in Antz). After some self-parodying in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, he decided to go back to what started his career. Rocky Balboa was a critical and commercial hit, and allowed Stallone to finally make a fourth Rambo, and follow it with the action film with a dream cast The Expendables. Stallone went through another comeback with Creed, after starring in much-maligned bombs in the last few years, and garnered him critical respect he hasn't seen in a long time, including a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination.
  • Terence Stamp with Superman: The Movie and Superman II. By the mid 1970s, Stamp's acting career had dwindled away after having some attention in the 1960s. However, after playing General Zod so memorably in those blockbuster superhero films, Stamp found himself having the pick of roles for the rest of his career.
  • Hailee Steinfeld in Pitch Perfect 2 and The Edge of Seventeen. After winning acclaim and an Oscar nomination at the age of thirteen for her performance as Mattie Ross in the 2010 remake of True Grit, she was one of most heavily hyped child actors in Hollywood. However, she instead took time off from acting, and when she returned three years later with a new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, critics savaged the film, with Steinfeld's performance in particular criticized for feeling too childish to convey Juliet's coming of age. A string of box-office failures afterwards caused many to write her off as a flash in the pan. However, Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015 was not only a massive hit, it gave Steinfeld the means to start a successful second career as a pop singer, while The Edge of Seventeen the following year was widely praised and restored her critical stature. By the end of the decade, she was one of the most high-profile Teen Idols out there, in both film and music.
  • Jimmy Stewart with It's a Wonderful Life. He first established himself in the 30's as a supporting actor before gaining bigger exposure as the title role in 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for which he got nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. He subsequently won an Oscar the following year for The Philadelphia Story, which also revived Katharine Hepburn's career (see above). However, when the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, Stewart opted to partake in the effort as a military pilot, and served until the war's end. After finishing his service, Stewart, having lost a good chunk of recognition after being away from the screen for so long, struggled to find roles in Hollywood. Luckily, Frank Capra, his director on Mr. Smith, offered him the lead role of George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. While the film did fine enough at the box office, Stewart's performance was widely praised. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including another nomination for Stewart as Best Actor. The film has since been Vindicated by History, and signaled a new beginning for Stewart, who would go on to have an extensive, fruitful career in Hollywood.
  • Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria. Just as it was for her co-star (and boyfriend) Robert Pattinson, Twilight was a double-edged sword that made her rich and famous but seemed to limit her career prospects afterwards, earning her a reputation for Dull Surprise performances. Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012 knocked her off the A-list, especially after she was caught cheating on Pattinson with the film's director Rupert Sanders, which caused Twilight fans to turn against her. However, again like Pattinson, she responded to her exile from Hollywood by going indie and demonstrating that she could actually act, and with her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria, she became the first American actress to win a César Award (the French version of the Oscars). She also did a 180 on her public image, going from The Ingenue to a bisexual, semi-butch Good Bad Girl that turned out to be a much better fit for her. Whereas in 2012 she was one of the most hated young actresses in Hollywood, by the end of the decade it seemed as though all was forgiven.
  • Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. After winning an Oscar for Monster, Theron had nowhere to go but up, even getting nominated again for North Country in 2005, but the same year, she starred in the critically and financially unsuccessful Æon Flux. After that, she was relegated to starring in a bunch of forgettable movies. The critically acclaimed 2011 film Young Adult wasn't a huge hit, but it won her a Golden Globe nomination and put her back in critics' notice, leading to important supporting roles in two big films in 2012, Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman. 2015 would prove to have a massive start for her with heaps of critical acclaim being given to her for her performance as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, so much so that most will say it's really her film and Max is just along for the ride. Hers has been cited as the one of the greatest Action Girl performances, up there with Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. She further solidified her credentials as an action star with roles in Atomic Blonde and The Fate of the Furious, while a slew of other performances – including an Oscar-nominated turn as Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in Bombshell – ensured she would remain in the critics' good graces.
  • Henry Thomas in Ouija: Origin of Evil. For decades, Thomas struggled to shed his image as "that kid from E.T.". While he never exactly disappeared and he hasn't fallen victim to the sort of tumultuous lifestyle that so often consumes onetime child stars, it seemed for ages that he was forever doomed to minor roles and the (very) occasional major or even leading role in projects that were usually poorly-recieved. In 2014 however, he had a supporting turn in Mike Flanagan's prequel to the critically reviled Ouija. The film was a surprise critical success (especially compared to the downright abysmal reception the first film was met with) that led to Flanagan (who had already gained notices for his work with Absentia and Oculus) becoming an increasingly hot commodity whose every project seems to be even better-recieved than the last. And since then, Thomas has been one of the most frequently recurring members of Flanagan's Production Posse, with roles in Gerald's Game, The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass. His roles are still of the supporting variety, but they're all quite meaty and varied parts that have given him more of an opportunity to show off his chops and have earned him more attention than he's had in decades. While his part in E.T. will likely always be his signature role (to the point where he reprised it for a heavily publicized ad for Xfinity in 2019), he no longer has to worry about his career being defined solely by that one film.
  • Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. She became an "it girl" after Pulp Fiction, only to watch her career crash and burn after Batman & Robin and The Avengers (1998). Fortunately for her, Quentin Tarantino still saw something he liked in her, and gave her the lead role in what turned out to be one of the biggest action flicks of the year. Motherhood dented her career a bit - selling an embarrassing eleven tickets on its opening night in the UK. But she still got an Emmy nomination for her role in Smash, got critical acclaim for The Slap miniseries and doesn't seem to be disappearing without a fight. Unfortunately, as she would reveal years later, a neck injury on the set of Kill Bill not only damaged her working relationship with Tarantino, but prevented her from taking the action roles that might have otherwise become her bread and butter in the wake of that film's success.
  • John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. His career started with iconic roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease, a respectable run on the very successful sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and even critical acclaim with Blow Out. He spent most of the 1980s in hiding, emerging briefly in the narmish Look Who's Talking (which was a hit) and its two sequels (the first which was only a minor success and the second which failed). However, Travolta made his comeback with the iconic Quentin Tarantino Academy Award-nominated hit and followed up with Get Shorty, cementing him as an A-list actor for the following decades. Then, of course, came Battlefield Earth, a passion project based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard that was a Star-Derailing Role that left his career in ruins. After a decade of flop after flop, he's fallen into Direct to Video hell.
  • Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Witherspoon was a critical darling with films like Freeway, Pleasantville, and Election, with film magazines praising her as "the next Meryl Streep". She became a genuine star with Legally Blonde, culminating with an Oscar win for her highly acclaimed turned in Walk the Line. After that, she became in a string of films that either were bombs (Rendition, Penelope), critically panned (Four Christmases), or both (This Means War (2012), How Do You Know), later being "honored" by Forbes and one of the "most overpaid actors" in Hollywood, three years in a row, due to the businesses of those films. Even modest success, like Monsters vs. Aliens and Water for Elephants, didn't do much for her. She attributes this to her divorce from ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe, and a simple lack of passion about the job. What happened next? After garnering great reviews for her small roles in much-praised films such as Mud and the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Inherent Vice, she started a production company that produced Gone Girl, a commercial and critical success, and starring/producing Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, giving an Oscar-nominated performance that has been acclaimed as the best of her career. She later starred in/produced the HBO miniseries adaptation of the national best-seller, Big Little Lies, also directed by Vallée, which garnered her critical acclaim once again, with critics praising her performance as even better than what she accomplished in Wild. She would later go on to win her first Primetime Emmy Award as a producer when the project won Best Limited Series in 2017 and additionally earned a nomination for Lead Actress. Unfortunately, her film career after Wild hasn’t been too good, suffering critically panned, box office flops such as Hot Pursuit (which she also produced), Home Again, and A Wrinkle in Time (2018), although she did star in Sing, which is the biggest hit of her career. However, while her film career is in doubt, with a second season of Big Little Lies, the new Apple TV+ series The Morning Show starring her and Jennifer Aniston, and the Hulu miniseries Little Fires Everywhere starring her and Kerry Washington, her newfound career in television will ensure she’ll be getting high profile work for years to come.
  • Natalie Wood, after The Searchers, appeared in a string of failed films. According to Elia Kazan, by 1960, she was considered as "washed up" at just 22 (she had been acting since age 5). Kazan still cast her in Splendor in the Grass, which came out in 1961, received critical acclaim and brought Wood her second Oscar nomination. Also in 1961, she starred in West Side Story, which was the biggest hit of the year and won the Oscar for Best Picture. This one-two-punch shot her straight back to the A-list.
  • Renée Zellweger in Judy. After winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for in 2003's Cold Mountain, her movies became less financially and critically successful as her career went into The New '10s. The nadir arrived with Case 39, a movie that was delayed twice and, when it was finally released in 2010, received negative reviews and flopped at the box office, opening at #7 on its first week. This resulted in a six-year hiatus from acting. A brief return to the carpet in 2014 saw a drastic change in her looks, which was claimed to be due to extensive plastic surgery to the point she was almost unrecognisable (though she has denied this) which many deemed the final nail in the coffin for her career. However, she returned to acting in 2016 with films including Bridget Jones's Baby, a Surprisingly Improved Sequel critically speaking but not commercially successful otherwise. She would eventually reclaim her profile in 2019 after her role as Judy Garland in the eponymous biopic won rave reviews from critics, topped off with an Oscar for Best Actress.

  • Robert Altman with The Player. Altman was one of the biggest directors of the 70's, having directed acclaimed hits such as M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and Nashville. His career was derailed by an adaptation of Popeye released in 1980. After that, his 80's output consisted of bomb after bomb, until The Player was released in 1992 and was nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Director and Adapted Screenplay. He would be nominated for Best Director again the following year (for Short Cuts) and in 2001 (for Gosford Park, which also served as a second Career Resurrection as his career post Short Cuts began to lag). Altman would remain well-regarded by the time he died in 2006, with his final films, The Company and A Prairie Home Companion, being warmly received by critics.
  • Kathryn Bigelow with The Hurt Locker. She first found recognition in the 80's with the Western-vampire medley Near Dark, which was an Acclaimed Flop. Her following films, the cop drama Blue Steel starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and the action film Point Break (1991) starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, did just as well at the box office as they did with critics. Her momentum halted when the 1995 cyberpunk sci-fi flick Strange Days became an Acclaimed Flop too, except its rather steeper budget compounded with meager box office returns proved more damaging than the low-cost production of Near Dark. For comparison, while Near Dark grossed $3.4 million on a $5 million budget, Strange Days cost $42 million to produce yet only made a mere $8 million at the domestic box office. Afterwards, Bigelow failed to get any directorial projects off pre-production until 2000's The Weight of Water, a French-American co-production that never got a wide release in the US. Her following film, the 2002 submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker, also sunk, and she fell off the radar for some years afterwards. By the end of the decade, however, she received newfound recognition when The Hurt Locker became near-universally hailed and did decently at the box office. The film would win six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Bigelow. Her next films, Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit, were also positively reviewed, with Zero Dark Thirty becoming her highest-grossing film.
  • Shane Black with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He started out hot with Lethal Weapon, and his style of Witty Banter was quickly imitated by Hollywood action movies in the late '80s/early '90s, but the failure of The Long Kiss Goodnight brought his success to a screeching halt. Spending nearly a decade in retirement, Black came back swinging with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also served as his directorial debut and the beginning of its lead actor's own Career Resurrection.
  • The Coen Brothers went through this twice.
  • Richard Linklater had several. He first made a name for himself with Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise before spending the years of 1997-2003 making low-key indie projects that got minimal attention, the lone exception being Waking Life. All that changed when he made School of Rock, his only movie that was a box office smash that helped establish Jack Black as a major star in the process. But a So Okay, It's Average remake of The Bad News Bears and an adaptation of Fast Food Nation for which he was criticized for changing the tone of the novel to an anti-meat Author Tract grounded his career to a halt. Critics and fans began to feel that he had lost his touch. With Me and Orson Welles being under-distributed, many critics thought his career was good and done for. That is, until he reunited with Jack Black for Bernie and made the final part in the Before series, Before Midnight (receiving an Oscar nomination in the process). With his 12-year project, Boyhood, being released to overwhelming acclaim in 2014 with many critics calling it a modern classic, it seems he's back in their good graces.
  • Spike Lee with BlacKkKlansman. Lee first established himself as a confrontational force tackling heavy matters of race with his classic Do the Right Thing. While his films left white audiences divided, he experienced critical if not always commercial acclaim through the 1990s. That acclaim faded over the course of the 2000's and early 2010's, as his films (with the exception of Inside Man) either weren't well received or flopped at the box office. Lee instead became more known for his controversial statements including his lawsuit against SpikeTV over the name and his feud with fellow director Quentin Tarantino. It wasn't until BlacKkKlansman when he became mainstream again and truly returned to his social commentary roots, and is considered to be Lee's best film since Do The Right Thing and led to him winning a long overdue Oscar (for Adapted Screenplay). The positive reception towards 2020's Da 5 Bloods helped solidify his resurrection.
  • Guy Ritchie with Sherlock Holmes (2009). After directing Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch., he was pegged to direct the 2002 remake of Swept Away, which is considered one of the worst movies of all time. Sherlock Holmes became one of the highest grossing movies of 2009, and its sequel experienced similar success. Even though The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword bombed, he followed them up with the live-action remake of Aladdin (which earned $1B worldwide, becoming his highest-grossing film) and The Gentlemen (which brought him back to his gangster cinema roots).
  • David O. Russell with The Fighter. His first three films were relatively successful. But in 2004, he made I Heart Huckabees, which got mixed reviews, didn't make a profit, and Russell's difficult on-set behavior became more famous than the actual movie. His next project, Nailed, suffered from so much delay, that production was shut down, because the crew was not getting paid. However, in 2010, Russell made The Fighter, which received critical acclaim, was a commercial success and brought him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. His next two films followed suit. However the Sony email hacks would eventually expose that Russell was back to his old tricks on the set of American Hustle, Amy Adams eventually coming out and confessing to all the abuse she suffered during filming. Not helping matters was the revelation that the film's female leads had been paid drastically lower wages than their male co-stars. His follow-up Joy got mixed reviews and quickly faded from public consciousness - so time will tell.
  • Martin Scorsese has had several:
    • Raging Bull was not a wide commercial success, but on a personal and professional level, it was important in making Scorsese both continue to commit himself to narrative film-making and make himself more disciplined in both his personal and professional life (such as kicking his drug habit) — and in due time, it would be Vindicated by History as one of the greatest films of The '80s and of his career. The Color of Money, made in the middle of The '80s, likewise became his first major commercial success since Taxi Driver and helped get his career back on track; before then, it had stalled with the first version of The Last Temptation of Christ being canceled and his other movies getting mixed reviews (even if The King of Comedy is now considered a classic).
    • GoodFellas more or less gave him his Auteur License back and restored his commercial cache and critical reputation, allowing him to make films with bigger budgets and take on uncommercial subject matter like The Age of Innocence and Kundun and still continue to thrive.
  • M. Night Shyamalan: Once hailed as the next Steven Spielberg with The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan's reputation went into the gutter as he became more and more known for being a self-absorbed and pretentious filmmaker with the increasingly ridiculous uses of his Twist Ending that was one of the reasons why he was successful in the first place. Then came the quadruple bogey of Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth that bombed critically and/or commercially with most of the film industry thought his career was over. There was talk of a resurrection when, with his back to the wall and $5 million of his own money invested, he made The Visit and received mixed-to-positive acclaim. However, with the release of Split, his career seems to be back in full force, as the movie not only received glowing reviews, but it also ended up making four times its budget on its opening weekend. Despite the follow-up Glass (2019) not critically meeting up to the expectations set up by Split, Glass was a Critic-Proof box office hit that grossed 12 times its own budget. His next film, 2021's Old, was a modest box office success despite getting mixed reviews and being released amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Robert Stevenson with Old Yeller. Stevenson began his career in 1932 directing English films such as Tudor Rose and the first film adaptation of King Solomon's Mines. His work caught the attention of Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick, who was so impressed that he offered Stevenson a contract in 1940, which Stevenson agreed to. However his first American film Tom Brown's School Days was a flop and he spent the next five years bouncing around various Hollywood studios, his movies ranging from the Academy Award-nominated Joan of Paris to doing collaborative work on Forever and a Day. After World War II he spent the next seven years doing a run of crime dramas and film noirs, most of them for RKO and all of which were box office bombs. For most of the 1950s he was stuck doing television work and his story looked set to become a cautionary tale of European auteur directors being swayed by the allure of Hollywood during the golden age... until he was tapped by Walt Disney to direct a two-part episode of the Disneyland television show centered around the story of Johnny Tremain. Disney liked the way that the episodes turned out so much that he released them into theaters as a single film, and proceeded to sign Stevenson to direct Old Yeller. The film became Stevenson's biggest hit at the time and it led him to spend the remainder of his career at Disney, where he directed some of the studio's most famous films of the era including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Mary Poppins (for which he received an Oscar nomination), The Love Bug and Bedknobs and Broomsticks until his retirement in 1976.

  • In 2015, the Razzies (the anti-Oscars) introduced a new award called the "Razzie Redeemer Award", where a past nominee or winner had transitioned into a far more critically successful movie. Ben Affleck and Razzie king Sylvester Stallone, both of whom are listed above in Actors, were the first two "winners". Mel Gibson won in 2017 for directing Hacksaw Ridge. In 2019, Melissa McCarthy won for her performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me?. In 2020, Eddie Murphy won as well.
  • A film scoring example is Elmer Bernstein. Once a notable name for action films and dramas in the 1950s and 1960s, Bernstein had found himself reduced to scoring mostly TV shows by the 1970s (although even in the 1950s and 1960s he was happy to work in television, a medium he never considered himself above). Then John Landis, who was Bernstein's neighbor as a child, needed someone to score Animal House after the first score was rejected. He suggested Bernstein and the film's success resurrected Bernstein's career, later going on to score many successful comedies as well as thrillers and dramas (he was not only a regular composer for Landis, but for Ivan Reitman and Martin Scorsese as well) until his retirement in 2002 and eventual passing in 2004.
  • A truly unique example comes from the film Amadeus. Before the film, composer Antonio Salieri and his music were mostly forgotten, but the film revived interest in his work. Wikipedia notes how many of Salieri's operas and compositions have since been produced and recorded by modern artists, and festivals and theatres have been named in his honor.