Tim Allen. With his pre-teenage life marred by the loss of his father, and his adult years disfigured by drug use, Allen managed to make a name of himself in the stand-up circuit, both on television and record, so that his life can go on the right track. He never conceived himself to be an actor, having stated at one point that he could only act based on "personal experience," but he eventually found his big break when he became the star of the ABC sitcom Home Improvement, which became one of the highest-rated sitcoms of the 1990s. A chart-topping book from him soon followed, his first major film role, The Santa Clause, became the 4th highest-grossing domestic release of 1994, and then he voiced Buzz Lightyear in a little animated project known as Toy Story, which became a pop-culture behemoth overnight. Hollywood soon began courting him for more film roles, but he turned down most of them due to his limited acting experience. Consequently, the only studio he received film roles from was Disney, who produced both The Santa Clause and Home Improvement and whom Allen had a close relationship with. During that time, he starred in the films Jungle 2 Jungle and For Richer or Poorer, whose theatrical runs were overshadowed by Allen's highly-publicized DUI arrest in Michigan, with his troubled past having caught up with him. After Home Improvement was cancelled in 1999, he seemed to be heading back on the road to stardom, starring in Galaxy Quest and reprising his role as Buzz in Toy Story 2, but quickly fell back into recession after starring in a few more forgettable film roles after that. He hasn't disappeared from the spotlight completely — another ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing, ran for an impressive six seasons before cancellation, whereupon Fox picked it up for three more seasons. He also has the continued success of the Toy Story franchise going for him. But his heights of the 1990s have long passed.
After the success of Garden State and the popularity of Scrubs, much was expected from Zach Braff. Then The Last Kiss (which he was given near-complete creative control over in an attempt to create another Garden State) fared so badly with critics and audiences that he more or less disappeared after the cancellation of the latter and little has been heard from him since (his first film project after this one was the little-seen 2011 film The High Cost of Living).
Edward Burns was heavily hyped as being a future voice in independent film after starring and directing in the acclaimed The Brothers McMullen in 1995. However, numerous attempts at trying to recapture the success of that film and his follow-up She's The One, combined with attempts to break into acting (despite those talents not being as good as his directing skills) and a failed attempt to make his ex-girlfriend a star, failed to catch on and his hype died out fast. He's still around, but most of his films (starring or directing), like A Sound of Thunder and the One Missed Call remake, were critical and commercial failures and either go Direct to Video or get barely released.
After a few minor roles, Dana Carvey got his big break in 1986 with Tough Guys, where he managed to hold his own alongside Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Shortly thereafter, he joined Saturday Night Live, and was one of the people to help reverse its declining popularity and make it "must-see TV" once again. After his success in the Wayne's World movies, it seemed like he was destined for great things.
However, his work afterwards was a story of disappointment and missed opportunities. His first movie after Wayne's World 2 was the critical flop Clean Slate, a pattern that would continue for The Road to Wellville and Trapped In Paradise. In 1995, he turned down a role in Bad Boys because he felt overwhelmed by fatherhood. 1996 gave him a chance at a return to form with The Dana Carvey Show. However, Carvey made the ill-advised decision to try out raunchier, edgier material, despite the show airing during primetime. While it was notable for launching the careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert (The Ambiguously Gay Duo first appeared on the show), ratings declined and the show was cancelled after only seven episodes. His attempted comeback vehicle, The Master of Disguise, failed in its intended purpose. Since then, Carvey has mostly retired from the screen and stuck to stand-up.
ABC threw Eddie Cibrian in every single "beefcake Latin Lothario" role they could think of for a three-year period, including Ugly Betty and the failed Football Wives pilot, even though nobody was interested in him and the Ugly Betty fan reaction when he was paired up with Betty's sister was 'anyone but him'. ABC eventually gave up and after the mess of his personal life involving his affair and eventual tabloid-ready marriage with LeAnn Rimes was dredged up (we also have him to blame for his ex-wife and mistress becoming Real Housewives regulars) and a quick season of CSI: Miami where he did nothing memorable, he was poison, and his derided role in The Playboy Club assured his star burned out quickly; everything he's done since then has been C-level cable network work, and his 2014 VH1 reality series with his wife saw substandard ratings which should make sure he never sees a major television role again.
Stephen Collins made a name of himself beginning with his critically-praised role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the cult series Tales of the Gold Monkey, but he wouldn't hit the big time until seventeen years later when he was cast as the Reverend Eric Camden in the television drama 7th Heaven, which became the highest-rated program of The WB for much of the network's existence and caused studios left and right to offer Collins roles in various films and shows. However, none of these roles offered Collins the star power he had with 7th Heaven, and thus the spotlight began turning away from him, especially following the cancellation of 7th Heaven after just one season on The CW. Since then, Collins tried to find suitable roles and avoid being cast as Eric Camden again, to little success. He made several appearances in the ABC series Private Practice and Scandal, but all that became overshadowed by his highly-publicized divorce with Faye Grant and the nasty proceedings that followed. And then came TMZ leaking an audiotape of Collins admitting to Grant during a private therapy session that he had molested several children decades prior, and the Hype Backlash came. Role-Ending Misdemeanor doesn't even begin to describe the immediate fallout from the scandal, such as his character in Scandal getting McLeaned, Collins resigning from his position at the Screen Actors Guild board, getting fired from the production of Ted 2, and multiple stations and networks yanking reruns of 7th Heaven from their schedules. With all these events, it's safe to say Collins may never be able to repair his career.
There was at one point in the late 2000s when there were three movies made in an attempt at turning Dane Cook into a movie star, beginning with Employee of the Month and continuing with Good Luck Chuck. The last film, My Best Friends Girl, ended up a flop, and showed that success as a comedian doesn't always translate into a successful acting career. Since then, Cook has mostly done stand-up and supporting roles in both films and TV.
Might come as a surprise, but Kadeem Hardison was actually fairly popular in the early '90s (at least in the black community). It was assumed (perhaps naively) that he was going to become a huge breakout star after A Different World ended. Needless to say, for whatever reason that never happened. It might be a case of both Critical Dissonance and Pop-Culture Isolation. Same could be said for Jasmine Guy, and Lisa Bonet.
This actually happens to a lot of up and coming black actors, who ended up with mediocre or stalled careers after a fairly huge beginning. Examples include Nia Long, Larenz Tate, Bokeem Woodbine, Allen Payne, Thandie Newton, Derek Luke, Gabrielle Union, and Lisa Raye. Basically, let's just say every black "it" actor/actress that's not Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, or Denzel Washington has faced this. Again, a mix of Pop-Culture Isolation, industry politics, and arguably racism play a part.
Emile Hirsch was a rising star who had built up much acclaim from films such as Into the Wild and Alpha Dog. Then the failure of Speed Racer (an attempt to turn him into a big star) more or less led his hype to dry up, as he would not appear in another lead role until the 2011 flop The Darkest Hour. Though he still has the occasional supporting role (most recently in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Hirsch's time seems to have passed. Also not helping his case was his 2015 assault conviction.
Kevin James rose to become the next top comedy star with the popularity of The King of Queens and the success of Hitch marking high notes in his career. Then, just two months after the cancellation of Queens, he co-starred with longtime partner Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which critics everywhere tore apart for alleged gay stereotyping. He bounced back a couple years later with Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which was also panned but became the highest-grossing film released in January, only to take another downturn in the next two years with Grown Ups and Zookeeper, both of which received bad reviews and did mediocre business at the box-office. After yet another Sandler-James collaboration, Pixels, bombed critically and financially, he decided to go straight back to television in the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. That series got canned after its second season due to CBS attempting to make it more like The King of Queens, going as far as to fire Erinn Hayes, kill off her character and replace her with Queens co-star Leah Remini, a decision met with largely unfavorable reactions.
Sam J. Jones. His is kind of a similar story to "one and done James Bond" George Lazenby's - he had the opportunity of the lifetime with Flash Gordon (1980) but his own attitude undermined his chance at success, but both have been able to find career success elsewhere while still occasionally taking on acting jobs.
Shia LaBeouf - who ironically didn't get the hype machine from Disney like his contemporaries, has had the most post-Disney success. While being featured in several big blockbusters in a supporting role (such as I, Robot and Constantine) helped to establish his cred, it was his relationship with Steven Spielberg that pushed him over the edge. Through Spielberg, LaBeouf got cast as the lead in the Transformers franchise and one of the leads of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Over time though, LaBeouf developed a negative reputation when he started to publically slam the movies he was part of. Though unlike most, LaBeouf's falling off ended up being his own decision after revealing he hates the studio system. Then he was found to be plagiarizing a Daniel Clowes comic for a short film that he premiered at a festival and was reviled for months (to the point where he wore a paper bag over his head), though the backlash eventually died down. He later got a supporting role in David Ayer's WW2 film Fury (2014) and has worked steadily since, though he doesn't appear to be eager to get back up to his former heights of fame. If anything, he moved onto a niche role as a performance artist starring in bizarro stage acts and public one-man theater shows.
Martin Lawrence was one of the fastest rising comedic stars of The '90s. His sitcom Martin was incredibly popular, and then in 1995, he starred along with Will Smith in Bad Boys, which was the Star-Making Role for both actors.note For more emphasis on how far he's fallen, he was billed ahead of Will Smith. Unfortunately, real-life drug issues and a sexual harassment suit would stain his career. On the film side, while Smith went on to star in other smashhits, Lawrence stuck with acting in comedies that only produced lukewarm responses (the first Big Momma's House and Wild Hogs arguably being exceptions).
In the early 2000s Eli Marienthal was getting a push as a child star following his One-Scene Wonder role in American Pie (as Stiffler's younger brother). He was the voice of Hogarth in The Iron Giant and given a prominent role in The Country Bears. Both films flopped at the box office (though the former became a Cult Classic on home video). He was tested out as the star of his own sitcom Tucker which only lasted one season. His role as the love interest in the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was commercially successful but trashed by critics, and he retired from acting shortly afterwards.
Australian actor Julian McMahon came to national attention for his Mr. Fanservice roles on Charmed and Nip/Tuck, and got something of a push - even being considered as a potential James Bond. His turn in the blockbuster Fantastic Four (2005) was critically panned, but the movie was a success. His attempt at headlining a project alongside Sandra Bullock in Premonition was a critical disappointment, and he didn't make another film after the Fantastic Four sequel bombed. He has stuck mainly to TV and smaller roles since Nip/Tuck ended its run. However, he managed to get a role as the Big Bad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe webseries Runaways (2017)
Dudley Moore was already a comedy star in his native United Kingdom as part of a wildly popular double act with Peter Cook in The '60s, but as that partnership dissolved in The '70s he struck out on his own — and to Hollywood. A movie-stealing turn in Foul Play led to a lead in Ten, and while Bo Derek (see Actresses below on her) was the focus of the marketing campaign, his career promptly skyrocketed as well. While Wholly Moses! was a disappointment (despite a strong opening weekend), the straight-up star vehicle Arthur was THE comedy of 1981 and even saw him nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He was promptly being offered projects left and right.
Alas, an attempt to branch out into drama led to the Follow-Up FailureSix Weeks and was followed by a run of five star vehicles, mostly romantic comedies — one was even titledRomantic Comedy — trying to recapture his Arthur heat, over 1983-84 that were modest successes at best and Box Office Bombs at worst. Trying to branch out with Santa Claus: The Movie and Like Father, Like Son did him no favors; the latter film was a minor hit, but that was more due to Kirk Cameron's presence than his. Arthur 2: On the Rocks put the coffin in the ground, with only one leading man vehicle afterward (Crazy People). In The '90s he found more success in his other career as a jazz and classical pianist than as an actor, but a disastrous marriage to Brogan Lane (who was abusive) and health issues (above all progressive supranuclear palsy, diagnosed in 1999) permanently derailed him professionally, and he died in 2002.
However, he developed a reputation for being egotistical and tough to work with, walked out of a planned movie adaptation of the SNL "Sprockets" sketches, and the Austin Powers sequels were met with frostier critical reactions (primarily due to vulgarity and Sequelitis) than the original had. A Star-Derailing Role came with his critically roasted turn as The Cat in the Hat in 2003, which was so terrible that Dr. Seuss' estate has prohibited any more live-action adaptations of his works, and it was his last live-action leading role for five years. In the interim he continued with the Shrek franchise, but that went into decline with the third installment. 2008's The Love Guru was intended as a comeback vehicle but bombed spectacularly. With the Shrek saga closing out quietly in 2010, and no leading roles in the pipeline, early hopes that he would be the second coming of Peter Sellers have proven unfounded. In the summer of 2017, ABC relaunched The Gong Show with "English presenter" Tommy Maitland, who just happens to be Myers under heavy makeup and a Scottish accent (though of course the network is denying that). Following a cameo in Bohemian Rhapsody, it was reported that he will be starring in and executive producing a comedy series for Netflix, with it to last for six episodes and him playing multiple characters. Time will tell if it helps Myers' career.
The Sixth Sense got the then-eleven-year-old Haley Joel Osment an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1999, making him the hottest child actor since Macaulay Culkin. Unfortunately, his first film role afterward was as the saintly hero of Pay It Forward, a failed piece of Oscar Bait that became a target of mockery instead. He had one more chance to prove himself as a star with A.I.: Artificial Intelligence the following summer, but that film proved to be a divisive box-office underperformer. Afterward he did several films' worth of voiceover work for Disney and Secondhand Lions; his highest-profile gigs since then have been voicing Sora in the Kingdom Hearts video game franchise.
After coming to the public's attention with his role in Skins, Dev Patel's career exploded with the success of Slumdog Millionaire. He was nominated for many awards, and looked to be a star in the making. Unfortunately, his next role was as Zuko in The Last Airbender, a critically-derided bomb that quickly put a stop to his rising international career. He managed to repair his reputation somewhat in Britain with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and landed a good supporting role in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, so he's not completely gone, but his chance at superstardom seems to be long past. However, he was nominated for an Oscar in 2017 for Lion, so things may be looking up for him.
After appearing in a number of well-regarded supporting appearances in various films and TV shows, Brandon Routh got a massive push when he was cast in the role made famous by Christopher Reeve in Superman Returns in 2006. His Star-Making Role ended up being a dead end when the film received mixed reviews, general viewer apathy and (despite making $400 million at the box office) negative profit due to prior production costs. Routh then disappeared for two years before landing a pair of cameo roles in a couple of films (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and a guest spot on the third season of Chuck, all of which failed to make much impact with audiences. His intended comeback in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, based on a bestselling comic series, also flopped at the box office ($4 million against a $20 million budget). Barring a major hit, it seems like he'll be stuck making small indie projects for quite some time. Though, he got a major role in Arrow as Ray Palmer aka The Atom and then, he's one of the main cast of the spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow so, at least, playing another superhero doesn't hurt.
Dougray Scott got a lot of hype after his role as Prince Charming in Ever After and soon became the front-runner for roles such as Wolverine and James Bond. But after Mission: Impossible II went over schedule, he was forced to give up the Wolverine role to a little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. While Jackman became a huge star, Scott's career fell into a tailspin as he's spent much of his career toiling away in TV movies, short-lived TV series (plus a single season on Desperate Housewives, just as the show was beginning its long descent in ratings and buzz) and little-seen movies (his possible low point being the 2011 film Love's Kitchen, which grossed just £121 at the UK box office).
Steven Seagal is a classic story of an actor who worked his way up the ladder, had a brief time as a big star, overreached himself, and sunk into obscurity, becoming a punchline to countless jokes about washed-up celebrities. He started work in movies as a stunt coordinator and martial arts instructor (including on Never Say Never Again, where he infamously broke Sean Connery's wrist during a spar), but made the transition to actor when one of his aikido students, superstar talent agent Michael Ovitz, arranged for him to demonstrate his martial arts skills on the Warner Bros. lot. Warner Bros. decided to take a chance on him, and in 1988, he wrote and starred in Above the Law (1988), which was a commercial success despite mixed reviews. His next two movies, Hard to Kill and Marked for Death, both opened at #1 at the box office, and while the former was a critical flop, the latter received good reviews. 1991 saw the release of Out for Justice, his third straight number one box office opening. To promote the movie, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live...and is still widely considered to be the worst host in the show's history, which many consider in retrospect to be a portent of things to come. While he was a niche actor up to this point, his appearance in the critically acclaimed blockbuster Under Siege allowed him to break out to general audiences and compete with A-list action heroes. Seagal used his newfound clout to make an environmentally conscious movie called On Deadly Ground, which was his directorial debut. The movie was a critical and commercial flop, and the following year's Under Siege 2: Dark Territory was a box office disappointment and received poor reviews. While 1996's Executive Decision was a success, it didn't do much for his career. Still, he would continue to appear in high-budget action movies, but after The Glimmer Man and Fire Down Below both flopped and his original multi-picture contract with Warner Bros. ended, his next major role was in a 1998 direct-to-video movie titled The Patriot (not to be confused with the Revolutionary War movie of the same name). In 2001, he seemed slated for a comeback after Exit Wounds, but the disappointing performance of Half Past Dead would push him off the big screen for good. Aside from Machete, he's been stuck in direct-to-DVD movies and Reality TV. It doesn't help that he's since been Overshadowed by Controversy, due to allegations of sexual misconduct and his apologia for authoritarian leaders like Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin.
Tom Selleck was supposed to be one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood thanks to his starring role in Magnum, P.I., one of the most successful action shows of the '80s. However, he preferred to play against type when it came to movies. His first breakthrough film role was Three Men and a Baby, which got decent reviews and was the biggest box office hit of 1987. After Magnum P.I. was cancelled, Selleck decided to take his action personality to film with An Innocent Man and Quigley Down Under. Although neither were box office hits, they went on to become cult classics, and Selleck would continue to build up his film career throughout the '90s while still being a television favorite. And then came 1999's The Love Letter, which despite Selleck being in a supporting role got poor reviews and failed to turn a profit. Not helping matters was when Selleck decided to show up on Rosie O'Donnell's talk show to promote the movie only to be confronted by O'Donnell over his appearance on a recent National Rifle Association advertisement, a move that O'Donnell received heavy criticism for and forced her to apologize. Even though the moment didn't harm Selleck as much, the failure of The Love Letter did, and his film career entered a steady decline thereafter. His TV career was also flagging simultaneously, eventually culminating in the romantic comedy Killers, which bombed and killed Selleck's film prospects for good. Although Selleck's TV career is still kicking, with Blue Bloods being a network favorite and a reboot of Magnum P.I. in the works, it's safe to say that his glory days during the mid-'80s and early '90s are dead in the water.
Daniel Stern. While he wasn't much of a big name to begin with, he had supporting roles in smaller fare in the early 1980s, but then he changed when he co-starred in the 1982 comedy-drama Diner, a film that was largely applauded by critics that it gave Stern a shed of light to being the next young comedy star in Hollywood (to the point where the producers of the Back to the Future series offered him the role of Biff Tannen, which he unfortunately turned down), and years later he got a voice part in the largely successful sitcom The Wonder Years, which would last over six seasons. His biggest career pushes, however, came with Home Alone and City Slickers, both of which grossed over the $100 million mark at the box office and renewed Hollywood producers' attention toward Stern.
His newfound success, however, did not last long. While he tried to look for main roles in films, he still was degraded to the supporting role he had played in many of his works, and his works after City Slickers suffered heavily as a result. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York ended up grossing less than its predecessor, Rookie of the Year (which he also directed) wasn't much of a hit, and City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold nearly floppednote it was presumably made because main star, producer, and writer Billy Crystal suffered a severe Small Name, Big Ego case after the first film was released. After these snags, he was finally given a starring role in the two comedy movies Bushwhacked and Celtic Pride (which he intended to be Star Making Roles for him), both of which fared so badly with critics that they were massive box office flops that literally obliterated all the hype Stern had built for his entire career. Since then, he's only made television appearances and direct-to-video movies, including turning down offers to reprise his role in the third and fourth Home Alone movies, and his comeback attempt in Whip It was a box office disaster, despite being applauded for his role.
He was cast in a supporting role alongside Miranda Cosgrove in the NBC sitcom Girlfriend in a Coma, but the series didn't go ahead. However, he did get cast on Manhattan, and the series has been renewed for a second season.
Chris Tucker was actually considered to be "the next Eddie Murphy" after Friday and the first Rush Hour movie in the mid-late '90s. Unfortunately, Tucker wasn't much motivated to branch out and capitalize immediately; he had become born-again during that time, and declined to reprise his role in Next Friday due to its raunchy content. Tucker has only appeared in a handful of movies since 1998, two of which were the sequels to Rush Hour (Tucker was apparently paid $20 million for Rush Hour 2). Tucker has seemed to be more passionate about his charity work, buddying up with the late Michael Jackson, and his stand-up. Rumor has it he was offered the same type roles over and over again, and turned them down out of frustration. After landing a major supporting role in the 2012 acclaimed comedy Silver Linings Playbook, it seemed he had an opportunity to make a comeback in film. However, his only film role since then was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which was a critical and commercial flop.
Following Avatar and Terminator Salvation, Sam Worthington has got a big push as Hollywood's next big Action Hero. The Clash of the Titans remake followed, as well as a number of smaller action movies. Like several others on this list, however, Worthington has taken criticism for playing more or less the same character in most of his roles. For a while there was even a debate if he is going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or the next Steven Seagal... and them he simply stopped getting roles at all, aside random episodes as One-Scene Wonder. The critical and commercial savaging of Wrath of the Titans, which served as the sequel to the remake of Clash, was the last straw for Worthington. With news that James Cameron's Avatar sequels entered production, it might change things in his favour.
However, the biggest story of 1993 for Kim Basinger was Boxing Helena, a movie that she backed out of at the last minute. To make a long story short, just before filming began, Basinger got cold feet about playing a woman who is held hostage by a surgeon who amputates her limbs. Not surprisingly, the makers of Boxing Helenasuednote The makers of the film Boxing Helena said that Kim Basinger agreed to star in the film, had been fitted for wardrobe and then she suddenly dropped out without making any effort to help them find a replacement. Basinger did not come off as honest or credible on the witness stand. and Basinger was forced to pay a settlement of $3.8 million dollarsnote She was initially ordered to pay the filmmakers about $8.1 million in damages, but it was cut down on appeal.. But the damage was done; combined with her costly legal battles and failed Braselton buyout, Basinger filed for bankruptcy. It still might have been worthwhile, though, as the film ended up as a notorious disaster that outright annihilated the career of its eventual female lead, Sherilyn Fenn. In 1994, Basinger co-starred with her then-husband Alec Baldwin in the remake of the 1972 crime drama film The Getaway. Despite some buzz if not controversy over some steamy sex scenes, it was not enough to make The Getaway a hit. Ultimately, the aforementioned lawsuits, bankruptcy, and box office flops caused Basinger to retreat from Hollywood for a few years.
Kristen Bell has been pushed heavily by Hollywood in the past few years, but it was her Forgetting Sarah Marshall co-stars Mila Kunis and Russell Brand (himself in danger of this trope) who became bigger stars out of the deal. So far, she's decently well-known, but is nowhere near what Hollywood was hoping. While she had a lead role in Disney's box office juggernaut Frozen, voice-over success tends to not translate back into live-action (ask Tangled'sMandy Moore) and the majority of the hype that did come out of Frozen seems to have gone to Idina Menzel (or even Josh Gad). She's only been in a few live-action films that grossed more than $40 million (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat, The Boss', Bad Moms and the latter's sequel) and she was part of an ensemble with all of them; with the Veronica Mars film having a simultaneous launch on video-on-demand, her cold live-action streak on the big screen will live on; as far as she's concerned, television is indeed The Good Place.
Elizabeth Berkley was supposed to be the Next Big Thing with Showgirls. Too bad that trainwreck of a film completely derailed whatever film career she may have had. The fallout was so bad that when she requested $2,500 to be interviewed for the V.I.P. DVD edition of the film, she was turned down. Ouch.
Jessica Biel has faltered badly, much to her fans' chagrin. Despite a lot of hype early on from 7th Heaven, an amazing fitness-girl body that still frequently shows up in magazines, having a high-profile marriage to Justin Timberlake, and several potential break-out roles, she has had a string of critically trashed box-office bombs like Blade: Trinity and Stealth (a massive dud that also sank Jamie Foxx's post-Ray hype and, along with Poseidon, halted Josh Lucas's career in its tracks). When she finally got naked in a "serious" movie (hoping for the extra career boost that it usually provides hot, young, fading actresses), it was a straight-to-video stripper role (Powder Blue) that earned her zero legit cred — and sadly for all concerned, is more likely to be remembered as Patrick Swayze's final film. The bombing of the Total Recall (2012) remake, which reportedly cost Sony over $200 million in losses, seems to cement her even further into this, especially as her "generation" of actresses include megastars like Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson. To date, despite being on tons of magazine covers, she's still just a minor star, and at this point is basically "Justin Timberlake's Wife". However, in 2017, she returned to the small screen with her critically acclaimed role in The Sinner, receiving Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.
Rachel Bilson was something of a TV It Girl during her days on The O.C. Once that ended, Bilson did a few underperforming films like Jumper and forgettable TV appearances and, like Bosworth, is now mostly known for attending various Hollywood functions and getting paparazzi photos of herself performing mundane daily tasks. However, she did score a TV series with Hart of Dixie.
Nikki Blonsky is a rather sad example of this. After being heavily hyped for her role in the 2007 remake of Hairspray, a lot was expected of her. Sadly, Hollywood didn't know what to do with her and she's been mostly stuck being typecast as the fat girl in little-seen TV movies and the short-lived Huge. Her first post-Hairspray film role wasn't until four years later (a small role in the critically panned Waiting For Forever) and it's since been discovered that she's been working in a salon to pay the bills.
Kate Bosworth had bit parts and a cancelled-after-one-season TV show on The WB called Young Americans before her starring role in Blue Crush. Once that hit, she was catapulted to the position of It Girl, hyped as the greatest and most beautiful actress of her generation (sometimes this phrase was used verbatim), and she became a regular tabloid and fashion mag staple because she was dating the premiere heartthrob of the time. Fast-forwarding to 2010, and just about every film since Blue Crush, with the exception of Superman Returns, has been a critical and/or commercial failure, though not for lack of trying for that great comeback.
Silent film actress Clara Bow was the original "It Girl" (because she starred in a movie calledIt). Natural charisma and an earthy sexuality uncommon for that era made her a huge star in the latter 1920s. She was able to overcome a thick Brooklyn accent and transition to talkies, but an exceedingly fragile psyche combined with an adversarial relationship with Paramount Pictures led to a nervous breakdown in 1931. Paramount fired her, and after an abortive comeback attempt she retired from movies at the age of 28.
Back in the 1940s, a former Rockette called Lucille Bremer impressed officials at MGM with her screen test and they began to test her as a potential star. She made a successful debut playing Rose in Meet Me in St. Louis, with director Vincente Minnelli saying more than once that he felt she came close to stealing the film from Judy Garland. However her first starring role Yolanda and the Thief flopped at the Box Office (despite good reviews) because of its fantasy theme. She took the blame for this and, despite a few more starring roles, MGM soon lost interest in promoting her. She opted to retire from films before the decade was over.
Amanda Bynes is a rather sad example. Debuting on All That as a preteen before segueing into her own spinoff The Amanda Show, her knack for physical comedy drew multiple comparisons to Lucille Ball. She was able to successfully graduate off the children's networks to the WB's What I Like About You and did moderately well in her ventures to lead roles in films (and even better in supporting roles such as Hairspray and Easy A.) However, in the new tens, it started to unravel. Several brushes with the law and bizarre behavior in real life and on Twitter made people worry for her mental health. As of 2021, she hasn't worked in 11 years and has repeatedly been put under psychiatric holds and the conservatorship of her mother.
Keisha Castle-Hughes was regarded as the next big thing back in 2004 after many critics and viewers praised her role in Whale Rider where she's nominated for Best Lead Actress at the Oscars, making her the youngest Best Lead Actress nominee at the age of 13 (until 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis beat the record in 2013). Then, she appeared in Revenge of the Sith and had another lead role in The Nativity Story. But after that, she didn't seemed to get much impressive roles as she got pregnant too early. She did get a guest role in The Walking Dead and eventually got in Game of Thrones Season 5 as Obara Sand, the oldest Sand Snake daughter of fan-favorite Oberyn Martell. Unfortunately, viewers and critics hated the Sand Snakes due to the Narmy lines, flimsy characterization and horrible acting. Though this didn't seemed to put a dent on Keisha's career as she still got more TV roles, it's a long way for her to get back on the A-list. Unlike that of nearly every other actor involved in the show, her role on Game of Thrones has not been able to supplant that of Whale Rider as her best known, and she is widely considered a One-Hit Wonder for it.
Rachael Leigh Cook first came to fame thanks to her role in a famous anti-heroin Public Service Announcementin which she demolishes a kitchen, and became a star proper when She's All That came out. The flop of 2001's Josie and the Pussycats and, to a lesser extent, Antitrust and Texas Rangers (she had supporting roles in those films, and unluckily for her, they came out the same year as Josie) derailed her career, and she spent the following decade playing bit parts on television and various forgettable straight to DVD flicks. In recent years, however, she has had some success as a voiceover artist and plum guest roles in the likes of Psych and Ghost Whisperer, so a comeback isn't an entirely unrealistic prospect. She stars in Perception, alongside Eric McCormack.
Marion Davies is a famous historical example, since it was William Randolph Hearst who financed her bid for movie stardom. While her looks were as good as people expected from a former Ziegfeld girl, and she was far more talented and off-screen amiable than her Roman à Clef opera singer counterpart in Citizen Kane, Hearst kept pushing for her to be cast in heavy-duty "respectable" dramatic roles when she was much better at comedy.
Nonetheless she found life after the A-list: Out of frustration with the lack of good roles for women in Hollywood (especially in shows aimed at children), in 2004 she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to research and advocate for change in the industry. She does still appear on TV and in independent films, specifically ones that are female-centric — in 2019 she appeared in the Netflix shows GLOW (2017) and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power in guest roles. That was also the year she won an honorary Oscar for her advocacy work.
Big things were expected of Bo Derek. After a minor role in Orca: The Killer Whale, she got her big break in Ten, which propelled both her and Dudley Moore to stardom. She was even unironically compared to Marilyn Monroe. However, her follow-up movie, 1980's A Change in Seasons, got unfavorable reviews and disappointed at the box office. The 1981 movie Tarzan, the Ape Man, while doing better financially, was mutilated by critics and earned her a Worst Actress Razzie (shared with Faye Dunaway for Mommie Dearest). She didn't get another film offer until 1984's Bolero, which bombed at the box office and earned her another Razzie. She took a five-year hiatus, and her intended comeback film, Ghosts Can't Do It, only put her career even further in the ground. She spend the next few years making TV films, not returning to the big screen until Woman of Desire came out to very little fanfare. After that, her most prominent role was in the 2006 telenovela Fashion House. By this point, it's safe to say that her career is toast, with some even going so far as to ask how she even got so big in the first place.
Shannen Doherty became a star in the late '80s and early '90s with hits such as Heathers and three respectable TV shows - Little House on the Prairie, Our House and Beverly Hills, 90210. The late 90s were kind to her as well, when she headlined the supernatural drama Charmed. But cracks started to appear as early 1994 when she was fired from 90210 for getting into fights with her co-stars. Stories surfaced about her difficulty on the Charmed set too - with actor TW King leaving after the first season being rumoured to be because she didn't like him. Tension between her and co-star Alyssa Milano caused her to be fired again. After being fired from two hit network shows, she was given a few reality TV projects to headline - all of which did middling business. After that, she stuck to doing TV movies and her star power quickly faded. Her recent battles with cancer have also put her career on hold.
Claire Forlani got to share the screen with a number of high profile stars in the '90s - notably in Mallrats, The Rock, and Meet Joe Black. Despite well-received performances, most of the films were commercial disappointments and she starred in three bombs in a row. She quickly faded from leading roles and turned to television instead.
Megan Fox came out of Transformers as the new It Girl sex symbol, and promptly rode it to tons of covers, press coverage, etc. Jennifer's Body and Jonah Hex were spectacular failures that seem to be sticking to her, her attempt to go indie with Passion Play failed (though her performance itself was praised), and she either left or got booted from the third Transformers film. Though she did get supporting roles in Friends With Kids and This Is 40 and she reunited with Michael Bay for the TMNT reboot, so while she's not quite the hot commodity people were expecting, she's still getting work nonetheless, and motherhood and marriage have mellowed her considerably. Jennifer's Body ended up experiencing being Vindicated by History, especially with regards to her performance, and 2020 saw her starring in several high profile roles. There has also been an increase in public sympathy towards her now with greater awareness of how she was objectified as a teenager (she was reportedly reduced to using botox in her mid-20s under pressure to maintain her Teen Idol looks), and better understanding of Bipolar Disorder.
Sadie Frost is an actress who was getting lots of buzz in the early '90s thanks to notable appearances in the music videos for Spandau Ballet (she was married to member Gary Kemp) and indie films in her native UK. She was poised to become a star when Francis Ford Coppola selected her to play Lucy Westenra in Bram Stoker's Dracula after being impressed with her performance in Diamond Skulls. There was a lot of buzz around her and she recalls being given all these offers - as well as told she should move to Los Angeles at once - but she chose to take a part in the small British film Shopping and opted to focus on indie films and raising her children. She found more success as a producer and fashion designer in the 2000s.
Danielle Harris. She got her start as a child actress with lead and supporting roles in films like Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, and Free Willy. By the mid-'90s, she was building a steady career as a teen actress with a high-profile supporting role in Roseanne. She later co-starred with Katherine Heigl in the Disney Channel film Wish Upon a Star, and with Sylvester Stallone in Daylight. The June 1998 issue of Teen People featured her on the cover alongside Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Jessica Biel. Sadly, it was not to last. Aside from voicing Debbie Thornberry in Nickelodeon's The Wild Thornberrys, her career never really took off as once expected, something Danielle herself acknowledges, saying she never really truly got a breakout lead in a mainstream film. She confessed that she was even working at a hair salon in the early 2000s to make ends meet. Danielle did undergo a minor Career Resurrection in 2007 by returning to the Halloween franchise in Rob Zombie's reboot of the franchise, getting her typecast as a scream queen in the years that followed. She also dabbed in directing with 2012's Among Friends. These days, she's largely put acting on hold to focus on her family.
Anne Heche made a big splash in 1997 for two reasons: her critically-acclaimed supporting roles in box-office hits I Know What You Did Last Summer and Wag the Dog, and her coming out of the closet and becoming one-half of what was then Hollywood's biggest gay power couple alongside Ellen DeGeneres. Both of these reasons made up for the fact that her first leading role in a Hollywood film, Volcano, flopped at the box-office. Nevertheless, the studios decided to parlay her newfound fame into an A-list acting career, but the resulting films were Six Days, Seven Nights, Return to Paradise and Gus Van Sant's infamous Psycho remake. The former film was a modest success and the latter were money-losers. The fact that America was still too homophobic to accept an LGBT woman as a female lead may have played a part in her losing more jobs (she was outright told that people didn't want to cast her because of it) and her increasing mental instability (the product of a very broken home), which led to her crashing at a random person's house, didn't help either. And on top of that, DeGeneres and Heche broke off their engagement after a three-year relationship. She still acts in indie films and on TV, but her career has been low-key ever since and is probably solely known for being Ellen DeGeneres' ex-girlfriend than anything else.
Katherine Heigl. After several years of TV appearances in stuff like Roswell and Grey's Anatomy, she gained a lot of fans for her starring role in Knocked Up... only to throw them all away within weeks. She was on her way to becoming a household name before leaving Grey's Anatomy presumably to pursue more film work, and went on to star in flops like Killers, New Year's Eve, One for the Money, and The Big Wedding, and developed a reputation of being difficult to work with, in part thanks to her mother/manager. Not long after Knocked Up came out, however, she did a very vocal interview where she attacked basically everyone involved in the film, calling director Judd Apatow a sexist and lead actor Seth Rogen a slob, among other things. Despite the backlash, her next two works, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, did very well at the box office despite not-so-great reviews. However, her reputation took another hit when she criticized the writing of Grey's Anatomy publicly on multiple occasions and was eventually Put on a Bus (so bad was the backlash to her behavior that she did an interview with Entertainment Weekly to apologize for her antics). Since 2009, her films have opened under $16m and have grossed less than $60m total domestically, and her latest try at television, in 2014-15 with State of Affairs, was derided by critics and canned after one season despite airing behind The Voice. In 2017, she made another television attempt with Doubt, which got cancelled after two episodes, and made another movie called Unforgettable, which flopped critically and commercially. Her career and reputation are basically in tatters at this point.
Paris Hilton. Unlike the other people on this list, this heiress and socialite did not earn her fame through "legitimate" routes (film, TV, music), but through a Home Porn Movie that was "leaked" online in advance of the debut of her Reality ShowThe Simple Life. Not only did the video turn her into a mega-star virtually overnight, it also established the home sex tape as a viable route for would-be celebrities and fading stars to boost their careers. She went on to channel her fame into careers in music and (non-pornographic) film, both of which have been non-starters, and the latter notable only for producing her performance in Repo! The Genetic Opera (though House of Wax (2005) was extremely profitable, because people turned up in droves to see her character killed off). Despite these failures to branch out she remained a tabloid mainstay until about 2008, when she was replaced as America's favorite reality TV starlet by Kim Kardashian (who rose to fame under similar circumstances as Hilton). Because of this, by and large the media stopped paying attention to her. She attempted a comeback in 2011 with a new reality show The World According To Paris, but the series was cancelled after only one season. Since then she's kept a pretty low profile, with only an occasional mention in the local Hollywood papers. She has since found moderate success as a DJ and continues to be popular on social media.
Julianne Hough is touted as "The Next Big Thing" by The Machine, and America will be subjected to the Dancing with the Stars performer's films left and right for the next several years until she either hits it big or they give up. The remake of Footloose was a good first step, the box-office and commercial flop Rock of Ages (which also included Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones elsewhere on this page)... not so much. However, Safe Haven became commercially successful despite not getting good notices from critics. As of 2017, she has not been in any big film roles since but has returned to Dancing with the Stars as a judge.
Kate Hudson had a huge star-making role as a drugged-out groupie in Almost Famous. Immediately, she was given major role after major role in romantic comedies, all of which did middling business and resulted in critics (including Roger Ebert) hemming and hawing over how far she had fallen. Years of magazine covers, bikini shots, and other big movie roles haven't done much for her career, though that certainly hasn't stopped her from trying. Almost Famous is the only film of hers still fondly remembered today. Now she is more known for her successful "Fabletics" athletic wear brand.
Lindsay Lohan. This one wasn't related to any lack of talent — Meryl Streep, of all people, vouched for her acting ability, as did her Mean Girls co-star Tina Fey. Instead, her decline came from a combination of a disastrous relationship with her parents, chronic partying and drug/alcohol abuse (which did quite the number on her looks and eventually led to legal troubles), and a reputation for being a diva who often showed up to the set late and hungover (if not completely missing filming days altogether). Attempts to revitalize her career — such as the Lifetime biopic Liz & Dick — have mostly flopped, with the qualified success of her 2014 West End theatre debut in Speed-the-Plow the one exception. Nowadays, she's far better known for her appearances in the tabloids and is considered a cautionary tale for the Former Child Star. It's also been joked that Emma Stone has the career she would have had.
Sophie Marceau was expected by many to have a successful crossover in American films, having found success in her native France and having played major roles in Braveheart and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. However, a number of flops and a bizarre, rambling speech she made at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 fast derailed her in the US. She still makes films, but many of them barely get released outside of France (you would think Ne te retourne pas, a film where she teams up with Monica Bellucci and which they embraced topless on the cover of Paris Match to promote, would have gotten a decent international push).
With the initial success of Gossip Girl, Leighton Meester was praised as a potential breakout star. Five major films featuring her were released from 2010-2011 - including Country Strong, clearly intended as Oscar Bait. All of them flopped with audiences and critics, though Leighton herself was praised as being better than the material. After Gossip Girl ended, she turned to indie films and had some minor success with a music career - but nothing with the high profile she once enjoyed. She did land a role on the FX comedy Making History, so time will tell. Ironically the opposite happened with her co-star Blake Lively; widely predicted that she would only remain famous for fashion and her marriage to Ryan Reynolds, she surprised everyone with very against-type turns in Hick and The Town. She later won critical acclaim for The Age of Adaline and The Shallows, which were modest Box Office hits - showing that she wasn't above taking risks in acting.
When Vanessa Marcil was still on General Hospital, she got the role as the female lead in The Rock. According to her, she then had to turn down several subsequent film roles because of her General Hospital contract. She eventually left for Beverly Hills, 90210, which forced her to turn down a role on Ally McBeal. Then she was supposed to be a regular on NYPD Blue but was replaced after only one episode. After one more primetime stint on the totally forgettable Las Vegas, she ultimately just ended up back on General Hospital.
Rose McGowan became a cult favourite in the '90s thanks to The Doom Generation. She got a lot of public notoriety for her 'edgy' image (and relationship with Marilyn Manson) and a prominent supporting role in the Sleeper HitScream (1996). It all looked ready to make her a star...except the latter was also the film after which she was raped by Harvey Weinstein, who proceeded to blacklist her from Hollywood afterwards. While she was able to keep working thanks to Aaron Spelling offering her a role in Charmed (1998) (ironically after Shannen Doherty mentioned above was fired), she still suffered from Harvey Weinstein being the distributor of her high profile Grindhouse roles - and Robert Rodriguez alleges that he buried the films out of spite. She was attached to a film adaptation of Red Sonja for years that never saw the light of day, and she also suffered setbacks when a nasty car accident required her to have reconstructive surgery on her face. In the late 2010s, she got fed up with the politics of Hollywood and helped expose the culture of sexual abuse and corruption - leading to a renewed career now as a feminist activist, with her memoir Brave going bestseller. She also expressed an interest in directing.
Gretchen Mol was touted as another "It Girl" when she debuted in Rounders. It didn't pan out, with Rounders doing middling business, and even she (with newfound indie-cred from playing the lead role in The Notorious Bettie Page) admits that it was a particularly bad example building up an unprepared starlet. She is doing quite well with films and a recurring role on critical favorite Boardwalk Empire.
Demi Moore has had various ups and downs, but has been hyped a lot. She was the most successful member of the '80s Brat Pack, and went on to some major success in The '80s, but a string of huge box office bombs in The '90s completely derailed her star. The Scarlet Letter was universally loathed by critics, and Striptease, a wannabe star-defining role for which she earned the then-highest paycheque of any female in Hollywood history, was another mega-bomb. She vanished for literally a decade, only resurfacing as Ashton Kutcher's new wife, and a storm of hype from her hot body (despite her age) in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle failed to amount to anything. Now, since her breakup with Kutcher and subsequent dating of an even younger man, she's best known as "that older chick who's into younger guys."
After a long string of appearances in failed pilots and short-lived series, Adrianne Palicki finally broke through the mainstream when she took the role of Tyra Collette in Friday Night Lights, which received significant critical and commercial acclaim. However, her roles after the series ended have been weak at best - she starred in the FOX flop Lone Star (cancelled after two episodes) and had the title role in the Wonder Woman (2011 pilot), which wasn't picked up and was trashed by critics and fans. The Red Dawn (2012) remake was similarly torn apart by critics and bombed in theatres (32.5 million box office against a 65 million dollar budget), with Palicki's presence in the film barely getting a mention from most critics and viewers. However, G.I. Joe: Retaliation did well enough at the box office ($122.5 million domestically and over twice that overseas) to justify a third film; while waiting to see if she returns, she's transferred from the Joes to S.H.I.E.L.D. (And now to The Orville.)
Denise Richards started out with mostly mediocre movies until she got the role of military pilot Carmen Ibáñez in Starship Troopers and an all-star nude role in Wild Things, making her a household name (amongst men) overnight. A bit of the Hype Machine got underway, but most of her subsequent films were trashed by critics and weren't too successful at the box-office (with the exception of The World Is Not Enough, and that was hardly down to her, it being a James Bond film; in fact, one of the most mocked/derided aspects of said film was that Richards wasn't convincing in her role of a nuclear scientist), she stopped doing nudity and basically vanished from Hollywood within the year. A failed marriage to Charlie Sheen later, and she's now more tabloid-bait than an actual star. She now appears on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Molly Ringwald is a serious case of this, to the point she could rival the above-pictured Shyamalan for the Trope Illustrator title. She seemed set for great things after a trioofhits with writer/director John Hughes, even making the cover of Time Magazine at the age of eighteen. However, a vicious split from Hughes and failed attempts to broaden her appeal to audiences utterly destroyed her future as a leading girl. After the failure of Betsys Wedding in 1990, Ringwald has rarely seen the silver screen since. Nowadays, Ringwald is both Persona Non Grata in Hollywood and virtually uninsurable. She currently makes a living guest starring on TV and taking character roles in B-movies for a quick paycheck, a very far cry from her ultra-popularity in the '80s. Though Riverdale received some critical buzz, it will take an act of divine intervention for her to regain even a modicum of her former stature.
The CGI actressAki Ross from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was supposed to have a long "career". The intention was for the computer model created for the movie to be used in projects unrelated to Final Fantasy and spanning multiple media formats (movies, games, etc.). "She" even got a photo spread in Maxim, including a plot on their "Hottest Women" list, and was promoted as the very first in what would be a long line of virtual actors. The failure of the movie to even recoup its astronomical production costs, and the subsequent collapse of the studio that financed it, resulted in a somewhat shorter career than numerous magazines had been predicting. It also ensured that the trend of "virtual actors" was stillborn, no doubt leading many SAG members to breathe sighs of relief (and ensuring that the Hype Machine would remain necessary for the foreseeable future).
ABC in the early 2000s attempted to push Kiele Sanchez in anything they could, first in the three-episode flop That Was Then, and later in the sitcom Married to the Kellys without stirring up much in ratings or interest in the actress. Her role as the female half of the infamous Nikki and Paulo couple on Lost though finally ended any interest in building her up after Nikki and Paulo were hastily dropped, and after a run on Samantha Who? to finish up her ABC deal, eventually found steady work in the A&E series The Glades and DirecTV's Kingdom.
Amanda Seyfried, after well-received early appearances in Veronica Mars and Mean Girls, was seemingly on a streak of success in becoming a top box-office draw (with hits such as the aforementioned Mean Girls and Mamma Mia!). But in an eleven-month period from 2011 to 2012, she had three major flops in a row (Red Riding Hood, In Time, and Gone) with some reviews for the third one questioning if she even had appeal or talent in the first place (though others reviewers contended she was better than the material). Les Misérables (2012), in which she played Cosette, was successful critically and commercially, but most of the acclaim was directed at Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Her role as the title character in Lovelace has gotten her a lot of praise, but the movie made only half a million at the box office. Hollywood has long-since given up on an A-List role for her, but she can probably maintain a solid career as long as she doesn't overreach. Her attempt at becoming part of a franchise to boost her success crashed and burned with the critical and commercial failure that was 2015's Pan. She reprised her role in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in 2018, which was a moderate success. Then in 2020, she played Marion Davies (see above) in Mank, which received critical acclaim. Her performance in this film is considered to be her finest yet, with there even being talks of her potentially being nominated for an Oscar.
Alicia Silverstone exploded into Hollywood in 1995 thanks to Clueless, gaining so much fame that she even had a 3-picture deal with Columbia that even gave her a production company, First Kiss Productions, to call her own. The summer of 1997 completely derailed her career before it could continue, thanks to the one-two-punch of serial career killer Batman & Robin and her company's first (and only) project, Excess Baggage, becoming a major flop. Silverstone nowadays is remembered as a quintessential One-Hit Wonder in the acting world, and is now more well-known for her political/social activism and promoting her vegan lifestyle.
Back in the '80s Helen Slater found herself getting a big push. It started with Supergirl, which was unfortunately a flop. Her next project was The Legend of Billie Jean, which she hoped would be her breakout role, but it was a Box Office disappointment (it did later get a cult following from TV airings however). She did have notable successes in Ruthless People, The Secret of My Success and City Slickers but work seemed to dry up in the 90s. While she's still working away, she's best known as Supergirl, and her high profile work is usually something that acknowledges this (such as Smallville or Supergirl (2015)).
Shannyn Sossamon was another teen actor who was a media darling, having catapulted herself to the A-List in 2001-2002 with starring roles in A Knight's Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and The Rules of Attraction. Afterwards, she spent the 2000's starring in a long string of DTV and indie films, as well as some TV work (most notably on the short-lived CBS vampire series Moonlight), but it failed to drum up any major following.
Octavia Spencer got major acclaim and won an Oscar for her role in The Help. However, like her co-star, Viola Davis, she hasn't done anything really big since then; this isn't due to lack of talent, but more of how what kind of roles Hollywood offers black actresses. She got her own series, Red Band Society on Fox and got a prominent role as Johanna in the Divergent movies at least. Spencer has since gone back to being a character actress, with another Oscar nomination for 2016's Hidden Figures. At most, she had a hit playing the title antagonist of Ma.
Nancy Valen could be regarded as a starlet who unfortunately never got any traction in her career. After a couple of bit parts in movies (such as Porky's Revenge and Loverboy as Patrick Dempsey's love interest) and TV (such as Miami Vice and Charles in Charge), she got the cover of TV Guide as one of the stars of an ill-fated attempt at a TV musical drama series on NBC called Hull High. Like Steven Bochco's similar show Cop Rock on ABC, it failed after only a few episodes. After that, she went back to occasional guest-starring roles on TV (like Murder, She Wrote, Full House, Boy Meets World, Friends, Walker, Texas Ranger and perhaps most notably, in the second season of Saved by the Bell as the sexy new school nurse in a role that was originally meant for swimsuit model Kathy Ireland) and appearing in small B-Movie roles. Oddly enough, at least twice she seemed poised to get a long-term role which suddenly evaporated. The first occurred on the late-night USA Network series Silk Stalkings. After appearing as an IRS auditor in Season 3, she returned in Season 4 to play the role of Dr. Jillian Michaels, who became the love interest of Detective Chris Lorenzo (Rob Estes), one of the show's two main characters. But the storyline was never continued. Two years later, she got her gig on Baywatch as the new lieutenant, Samantha 'Sam' Thomas (which is pretty much, her best known acting role), who was brought in to replace the long-running character Lt. Stephanie Holden, played by Alexandra Paul. That particular season ended with Sam in bed with none other than David Hasselhoff himself with the two of them discussing how to break the news of their relationship to Hasslehoff's on-screen son, Hobie. So everything seemed set for her to return the next year with an expanded role as Mitch Buchanan's girlfriend and partner in command. Alas, that didn't happen. Baywatch instead returned with even more former Playboy Playmates, including Carmen Electra and Angelica Bridges as the newer lieutenant, and Nancy Valen's character Samantha had disappeared with no explanation. After guest-appearing during the final season of Spin City, Valen seemed to go into semi-retirement from acting. She only had two more roles (last appearing in the 2007 Christian drama film The Wager) only to resurface as an infomercial host.
Nia Vardalos came out of nowhere to star in and write My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which became the biggest indie film and romantic comedy of all-time. After getting an Academy Award nomination for her script, big things were expected from her. However, her star fell as soon as it rose with a series of flops (the TV spinoff My Big Fat Greek Life, Connie and Carla) and she faded back into obscurity. A couple attempts at a comeback (starring in 2009's My Life in Ruins and writing 2011's Larry Crowne) have resulted in critical drubbing and box office failure (the latter was also a rare misstep for Tom Hanks).
Susan Ward was hyped as a potential "next big thing" after marrying one of the heads of Morgan Creek and having a movie built around her (The In Crowd). Then, the movie bombed and her hype fell as fast as it rose. Nowadays, she's known for her numerous plastic surgeries (which began before making the movie) rather than the numerous straight-to-DVD movies she appears in (or her regular role on the first two seasons of Make It or Break It).
Canadian actress Estella Warren got a huge push in 2001 when she starred as the love interest and femme fatale in two major Hollywood films — Planet of the Apes (2001) and the Sylvester Stallone racing film Driven. That, along with dating her Driven co-star Kip Purdue and landing a spot on Maxim's Hot 100 Babe List before she had a single film out, did a lot to jumpstart her fledgling career in spite of both films' middling box office and scathing reviews. However, Kangaroo Jack killed any momentum she had. What followed were a string of unsuccessful direct-to-video flops and indie films, along with an unsuccessful marketing push in 2005 (features in FHM and a supporting role in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), which was cut prior to the film's release). These days, she's more well-known for her tabloid antics (including trying to break out of a police station after being arrested) than her film career.
Pia Zadora is a notorious example from The '80s. After years of bit parts (including a small role in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians as a child), her bid for fame started when she married billionaire Meshulam Riklis in 1977. Her career peaked in 1981 when she won the Golden Globe for Best New Star of the Year for the film Butterfly, which was largely financed by Riklis. However, it has long been rumored that Riklis had "bought" Pia her Golden Globe by financing lavish trips to Las Vegas for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, allegations not helped by the fact that her performance also won her two Razzies for Worst Actress and Worst New Star. She won the Worst Actress Razzie again the following year for her performance in The Lonely Ladynote She would go on to be named "Worst New Star of the Decade" in 1990 and being nominated for "Worst Actress of the Century" in 2000., a film that essentially killed her acting career and left her doing small parts and cameos. She wound up having far more success as a singer, even earning a Grammy nomination in 1984.
Suvari was probably the most successful, as she also got major hype from American Pie (detailed below), but all in all is not that big of a star.
Birch had already established herself before the film, but had a Star-Derailing Role in the form of Dungeons & Dragons. She later won acclaim for Ghost World, but threw any momentum away when she refused to part ways with her father, whose Stage Dad tendencies cost her several major roles.
Bentley got some notable roles like the main antagonist in Ghost Rider, but an out-of-control drug habit seemed to have destroyed his career. However, he had no less than six films scheduled for released in 2012, including Seneca Crane in the successful film version of The Hunger Games, so only time will tell if he can make it work or disappear into oblivion.
Jason Biggs tried playing the same down-on-his-luck regular guy character (especially in The Loser) a bit too much, and he now mostly plays supporting roles in films like My Best Friend's Girl and Over Her Dead Body. His luck seems to be improving as of late following a stint as the voice of Leonardo on the the 2012 Ninja Turtles series and a role on Orange Is the New Black. However, he ruined this opportunity by turning his Twitter feed into a place where he boasted about questionable sexual practices with his wife, terribly sexist jokes about the wives of Republican candidates, and racist jokes about the Malaysian Airlines missing plane. This, along with tantrums over TMNT fans and parents who criticize him for his off-screen vulgarity made him seem like poison to anyone hoping to promote their products. The only reason his character existed in OITNB is because of the source material, and fan response to Larry has been of him as The Scrappy of the show. He was written out of season 3 of the latter with a nearly-closed invitation to return only when needed, and season 3 of the former saw him be permanently replaced by Seth Green, which may mean he's again on a downward slope.
Similar to Biggs, Seann William Scott did mostly the same kind of "big dumb happy guy" roles and mostly vanished from the limelight after the Hotter and SexierThe Dukes of Hazzard film came out. He now mostly plays supporting roles in films like Cop Out, however his role in the Ice Age franchise has made him the most financially successful of his former castmates. He had something of a resurgence when he replaced Clayne Crawford on Lethal Weapon.
Tara Reid had one of the better shots, but problems with drugs and alcohol, botched plastic surgery, and a penchant for carrying the Idiot Ball (though she claimed that she was only"acting" dumb, most people aren't sure of whether that's true or not) derailed her into a mess, though that still hasn't stopped her from doing DTV films. Although, she has since found success with the Syfy cult films, the Sharknado franchise.
Chris Klein was an ill-fated attempt to establish an attractive leading man that went nowhere after his hoped-for star turn, the remake of Rollerball, turned into a Star-Derailing Role instead.
Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) went from Pie to a series of "dorky, lovable loser" roles in films like the infamous flops Freddy Got Fingered and Dirty Love, as well as a string of DTV films rebranded under the "National Lampoon" banner. However, he has at least attempted to restore his cred in recent years with appearances in the Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle film series, as well as a starring voice on American Dad!, the HBO series How To Make It In America and his current gig on Scorpion. Only time will tell whether he can bring his star back.
Natasha Lyonne is an especially unhappy case. She got even more cred with But I'm a Cheerleader, but a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, as well as health problems and extreme mental illness, all but destroyed her career. There was even a period where she was living homeless on the streets of New York after being evicted from her apartment for her behavior. Eventually she came back with a cameo American Reunion, and is finally coming back to prominence for her praised role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black and headlining her own show Russian Doll. Unlike Biggs, Lyonne completely escaped the shadow of Pie after landing the show.
The cast of Twilight all enjoyed a big push, particularly Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Anna Kendrick. Stewart's first big post-Twilight role was Joan Jett in the biopicThe Runaways, and while her stone-faced performance of Bella became a running pop culture gag, at least seems to get regular work and even some critical acclaim (albeit often in a "wow, she actually can act" sense) in fairly low-budget indie movies; Pattinson had the romantic dramas Remember Me (which seems to be more famous for its controversial ending than anything else) and Water for Elephants and the complicated David Cronenberg dramas Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars; and Kendrick went for indie and Oscar cred with her performance in Up in the Air, not to mention mainstream success in Pitch Perfect. She even got a top ten chart hit in "Cups", a track from the aforementioned film's soundtrack. If anything, Kendrick (who has a sarcastic and self-deprecating demeanor in real life) has maintained stardom following the end of the franchise and appears to be the most ready of the three to hit the next level. Other cast members don't seem to have the same luck as them, however:
Taylor Lautner parlayed his good looks and fame from playing Jacob into the action movie Abduction, but it was panned by critics and flopped at the box office. He's largely-disappeared into Adam Sandler movies.
Kellan Lutz seems to be on even shakier ground since his biggest claim to fame is being shirtless at every available opportunity. He recently dragged out the "I want to be taken seriously" line, but since he has yet to put his shirt back on, some people didn't really believe him. His first big post-Twilight work, The Legend of Hercules, was a flop.
Stewart and Pattinson have had a much better push in recent years with Stewart pulling off three critically acclaimed films in 2014 and becoming something of a critical darling (Even nabbing a Cesar award, making her one of only two American actors ever to do so). Pattinson has followed a similar path and Good Time seems to have finally given him the push he needs to break out from under the shadow of Twilight. The two, particularly Pattinson, have also done themselves favors by making it clear aren't very fond of the films either. Eventually, Pattinson got cast in Christopher Nolan's Tenet and became the new Batman for the upcoming solo movie of the Cape Crusader himself directed by Matt Reeves, so things finally look up for him.
The cast of the MTV reality show Laguna Beach fell under this. When it premiered, Laguna was the first teen-oriented reality series on the network, and rode a wave of commercial acclaim, teen mag appearances, and ratings domination. The teenage cast members all attempted to parlay their exposure into different avenues (to various levels of success), with most falling into obscurity after high-profile appearances in series or films. Lauren Conrad made the jump to her own successful spinoff, The Hills, but left the program after several seasons to unsuccessfully try her hand at a fashion line. Kristin Cavallari took up Lauren's spot as the main character of The Hills, but she mostly does DTV films now. Jason Wahler is more well-known for his guest stint on Celebrity Rehab than any of his prior work. Audrina Patridge's self-titled spinoff didn't last long. Only Stephen Colletti from the first season (who parlayed his fame into a long-running role on One Tree Hill) has had a relative degree of success.
Thanks to Professional Wrestling becoming quite mainstream in the 90s, and The Rock managing to parlay his wrestling success into a respectable acting career, others have followed suit.
Sable was an example that came before The Rock's breakout role in The Mummy Returns. Her beauty and popularity with fans led to her gracing the cover of Playboy (and she later got a second less than a year later), and she soon left wrestling hoping to break into the mainstream. It mostly translated to small parts on TV shows, a failed comic book series, and B-movies. She returned to WWE in 2003, stayed there for one year, and kept a low profile after leaving a second time.
Chyna's mainstream popularity was almost as big as The Rock's in 2000, and she got a Playboy cover too. There were rumors of her playing Wonder Woman and the T-X, and she got a second Playboy cover. But numerous personal problems behind the scenes led to her abruptly leaving WWF, and her drug problems led to her being persona non grata. After a few years of appearing in small parts on TV shows and a failed music career, she moved to Japan to become a teacher and passed away tragically at the age of 46 in 2016.
John Cena rose quickly through the ranks and had become WWE Champion within three years of his debut. He released a successful rap album, and made his feature film debut in The Marine. He has appeared in various action films over the years that mostly catered to his physique, and he flirted with dramatic credentials in the 2010 flop that was Legendary. Unlike many others, he has made it clear that wrestling is his main passion, hence why he hasn't gone into films full time. Things do appear to be changing in the late 2010s - as John is now in his 40s, he has taken more breaks from his WWE schedule and enjoyed more success in voice-over with Ferdinand, and supporting roles in films such as Bumblebee and Blockers.
The Miz is unique in that he was first famous for reality TV - The Real World to be specific - but didn't start to make it big in wrestling until 2010. He's had several attempts at acting roles, but most of them are in films made by WWE Studios (and therefore go Direct to Video). He has yet to star in a film outside WWE. But he parodied this in 2014, adopting the gimmick of a Small Name, Big Ego who thought he was a Hollywood star.
The cast of Total Divas got lots of hype after the show proved to be a ratings hit on the E!Network. Eva Marie left wrestling altogether in 2016 to launch onto film work - and her debut Inconceivable was trashed by critics, despite its All-Star Cast. The Bella Twins appear to be doing the best, with their reality show Total Bellas proving to be a successful spin-off and launching a successful fitness and clothing brand. Cameron announced an intent to produce music and go into acting, but has yet to make anything happen. The rest have focused almost entirely on wrestling.
The entire Inhumans franchise went through this. After years of being a minor group in the Marvel universe, usually in supporting roles, they had a number of well-received series. Then came the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which could not use mutants, which are tied to the X-Men film rights (which were owned by 20th Century Fox, locking them out of being able to appear in the Disney-owned Marvel Films), but did still use some characters that are normally mutants. The majority of readers saw the 2010s Inhuman push to be an attempt to popularise them so that they can be used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to mutants (the Guardians of the Galaxy were similarly pushed before their film was announced, but nowhere to the degree the Inhumans were), all but confirmed by insiders who note that Ike Perlmutter, the guy in charge of Marvel, would literally tear down posters featuring characters whose film rights didn't belong to Marvel. It was eventually outright confirmed by Charles Soule — who wrote many of their series at the time — in a podcast with artist Ryan Stegman that the Inhumans were indeed intended to be the new X-Men. This also extended to video games, with developers stating that they were explicitly told to not use X-Men characters. An Inhumans movie was announced for Phase 3 of the MCU, and their origin setup in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. After months of being hyped up as Marvel's next big thing, the main Inhuman comic book series was delayed, leaving a bunch of tie-ins to a story that nobody knew anything about. Then, months behind schedule, the series finally released and... needless to say, the response was not what Marvel wanted, with a heavy 'meh' heard across the comic world, and the general consensus being that it was not worth the wait. The first issue of the series wasn't even able to break the top 10 of the month, and the second issue dropped all the way to barely making the top 50. Then came their relaunch as Uncanny Inhumans, which attempted to push the brand with multiple ongoings, while also re-working the Inhumans to have more of a grounded presence in the Marvel Universe akin to mutants. This didn't take either, not helped by Marvel starting a plot about how the Terrigen clouds that give Inhumans' their powers were killing mutants, in what many saw as an unsubtle metaphor for the franchise war. During all this, the Inhumans comics still didn't sell well. This culminated in the despised Inhumans vs. X-Men event, which only made longtime Marvel readers despise the Inhumans more for the attempt to shill them and failing spectacularly. Finally, with Resurr/Xion, the Inhumans comics were consolidated down to Royals and Black Bolt, with the latter in particular receiving critical praise, although neither were strong sellers (Royals was outsold by reprints of decades-old single issues). During this time, the Inhumans TV show premiered — by this point, Marvel Studios was restructured to report directly to Disney and not Marvel, and Kevin Feige apparently had no interest in the Inhumans — and bombed both critically and commercially. Then Marvel/Disney made an offer to acquire Fox that had to wait for government approval, and while that was happening, Marvel quietly turned down the Inhumans hype with one last miniseries, Death of the Inhumans, before shunting the franchise away, just a few months before the Disney/Fox merger was approved and the film rights to the X-Men were regained. Following the rights returning, the X-Men were heavily promoted in a new relaunch that not only saw critical and commercial success but even saw some X-Men occupy the Inhumans' traditional location of the Earth's moon, while there were no Inhuman books on stands.