Happy Birthday to Me arguably killed Melissa Sue Anderson's career. Fresh off the success of Little House on the Prairie, her starring in a B-grade slasher flick must not have looked too good on a resume, as her career ever since has been filled with nothing but D-list projects at best. Despite this, the film has become a cult classic among slasher fans.
The failure of Barb Wire killed Pamela Anderson's film hopes. What perhaps also didn't help her ability to move on as an actress was her turbulent marriage to Tommy Lee (the drummer of Mötley Crüe) and the release of her sex tape.
Julie Andrews suffered a massive blow to her career with the back-to-back failures of Star! and Darling Lili - where she tried to play something different from her wholesome Disney image. She took some time off after the latter, as it coincided with her marriage to Blake Edwards and she inherited his children to raise. She didn't star in another solid hit until Victor/Victoria, but her momentum was dented again when a botched throat surgery left her singing voice affected. A true Career Resurrection finally came in the 2000s with The Princess Diaries.
Kate Beckinsale burst onto the scene in the early 2000s and became an action star with Van Helsing and the Underworld franchise, working steadily in Hollywood for the next few years. While she had begun to step away from blockbusters to focus on smaller projects a couple of years before, the 2009 bombs Whiteout and Everybody's Fine killed her momentum. She disappeared from the limelight, not appearing in any films for another three years, and after the bombing of Total Recall (2012), she was doing direct-to-video films and voiceover work. A shot at a comeback came in the form of Love & Friendship (an adaptation of Jane Austen's Lady Susan) in 2016, but a pair of critically savaged bombs afterwards (The Disappointments Room and Underworld: Blood Wars) quickly destroyed the goodwill she had built.
In 2008, Julie Benz starred as a co-lead in three films - Rambo IV, Saw V, and Punisher: War Zone. Each one of them received bad reviews from critics, which in the case of the first two films, cast a shadow over their moderate box office results. Punisher: War Zone, however, was a Box Office Bomb, which was enough to convince studios not to give her any more leading film roles. Benz instead went back to the frontier of television, where she got her start (as Darla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and where she would continue to find success (most notably with Dexter as Rita).
Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls. To note, just after the film debuted to savage critical reviews and middling box office performance, Berkley tried contacting a number of studios that had been aggressively courting her for taking such a risky role, since she had the Contractual Purity stigma she got from Saved by the Bell, only to discover that none of them would return her calls, and her agent unceremoniously canned her. While she's had some decent success with small films (Roger Dodger) and bit parts in shows like The L Word and CSI: Miami since then, it's a far cry from her days of ultra-popularity. She did regain some footing when she appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
Jessica Biel became popular due to 7th Heaven becoming a hit, and while her attempts at stardom were rarely successful with critics, she was comfortably on the B-list during the '00s. Then she made the Total Recall remake and Playing For Keeps in 2012, which both flopped at the box office. After those two movies came out, she has never starred in another major Hollywood film again, instead sticking to independent and direct-to-video films and marrying Justin Timberlake. She's returned to television with The Sinner, and has gained a lot of new popularity from her Adam Westing on Bojack Horseman, where she actually told the writers to go even harder on her than they planned.
Thora Birch in Dungeons & Dragons (2000). On top of this, her father, Jack, also contributed to her career's decline as he cost her roles with his on-set meddling, and yet she refused to dismiss him. After the D&D film, Thora starred in Ghost World and The Hole. The former was praised by critics and became a Cult Classic, but audiences stayed away. The latter saw theatrical release in the UK but went straight-to-DVD in the US and garnered mixed reviews. Neither earned more than $10 million globally. She has since found a new manager (they are now married) but her acting career has stagnated.
Lucille Bremer was a rising star in the 1940s who debuted to great acclaim in Meet Me in St. Louis. Unfortunately her first starring role, Yolanda & the Thief, was a Box Office Bomb - mostly because its surrealist fantasy theme was a bit too much for wartime audiences. She took most of the blame and MGM lost interest in promoting her.
Amanda Bynes got famous at a young age for the Nickelodeon series All That and The Amanda Show. After The Amanda Show was cancelled, she went on to star in The WB sitcom What I Like About You, and also starred appearing in many movies. However, besides Hairspray, most of her movies weren't successful critically or financially. Sydney White was the final straw, as it bombed at the box office and got terrible reviews. She never got another leading role after that, only doing a supporting part three years later in Easy A, a supporting role in a Lifetime movie, and a guest spot on Family Guy before retiring from acting altogether and suffering a high-profile mental breakdown in 2013, which resulted in her being put under the conservatorship of her parents. She managed to recover from the breakdown after successful psychiatric treatment and going to fashion school. In a 2017 interview (her first major interview in years), she stated that she is planning to return to acting; however, she has no roles booked since then.
The back-to-back bombs of Three to Tango in 1999 and Drowning Mona in 2000 killed off the hype that Neve Campbell had built from Party of Five and the Scream movies, causing her to spend the next decade and a half doing Scream sequels, TV appearances, and assorted indie and Direct to Video films. Only in 2016, after taking some time off to raise her son, did she return to a starring role, playing LeAnn Harvey on season four of House of Cards.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park more or less did this to Vanessa Lee Chester. She was never a big star but did have some supporting roles in some moderately successful children's movies like A Little Princess and Harriet the Spy. One would think this movie would've helped make her a big name, but given the film's poor critical reception, it did nothing to help her career — in fact, it might have hurt it, as she has followed it up with only doing TV work and some film roles here and there where she only plays characters like "Student #2".
Sofia Coppola isn't an actress by trade to begin with, and was a last-minute replacement for The Godfather Part III after Winona Ryder fell ill. However, her heavily criticized performance as Michael Corleone's daughter, as well as charges of nepotism (since her father was the director), effectively ended Sofia's acting career. However, she has enjoyed much greater success following in her father's footsteps as a director in her own right.
Joan Crawford's last film of any note was What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?; while it was a Sleeper Hit, the attempts to recreate the momentum with Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (re-teaming her with rival Bette Davis) resulted in Joan being dropped halfway through filming because of erratic behavior. For the next decade, she only was able to get work in B-horror movies and guest spots on TV shows. Her reputation for being drunk and difficult to work with likely had something to do with it. She also tried to take over a role intended for her daughter on a soap opera, and reports described her drunken performance as so bad they would need to patch it together in editing.
Miley Cyrus in LOL. It barely got any sort of theatrical release and very little promotion, and the few that did see it weren't too fond of it, which assured that her Hannah Montana days have long passed. Another movie she made around the same time as the former, So Undercover, went straight to DVD in North America in February 2013 (although it got released theatrically overseas the previous December). Afterwards, Miley focused on music full-time and hasn't really looked back since (outside of starring in an episode of Black Mirror in 2019, which was a dark parody of her most famous TV role).
Brooklyn Decker in Battleship. She had already become famous because of her modelling work and much was expected of her, but the film was both a critical and commercial disaster, effectively ending any chance she had at becoming a movie star. Nowadays, she works on Direct to Video films and short-lived TV shows.
Mr. Wrong, The Love Letter, and Goodbye Lover managed to derail the film career of Ellen DeGeneres, who, despite having a successful stand-up career and a popular sitcom on ABC, could not break into major Hollywood motion pictures. Her only major project worth noting since then is the role of Dory in Finding Nemo and its sequel, Finding Dory. Her television career remained strong, however, in part thanks to the success of her nationally-syndicated talk show until 2020, when allegations of her show being a hostile workplace filled with racism and sexual harassment was discovered.
Rebecca De Mornay with Never Talk To Strangers. The film killed her comeback chances following The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and has done TV guest spots and little-seen features ever since. Taking up an executive producer credit on the film probably didn't help as well.
While most of Bo Derek's career as a leading lady was in vanity projects directed by her husband John Derek, the awful 1989 film Ghosts Can't Do It well and truly sank her as a lead actress (and proved a Creator Killer for her husband). She still remains a prolific actress, but mostly in TV and occasional supporting roles in movies.
Hilary Duff, having attained plenty of hype from the success of her Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire and a flourishing pop music career, tried to bring her golden touch to film in the early to mid-2000's. While she did have some financial hits (Agent Cody Banks, Cheaper by the Dozen, A Cinderella Story) that were popular with tweens and early teenagers, they weren't well received by critics. Soon, even her target demographic's interest began to wane with duds like Raise Your Voice, The Perfect Man, and Material Girls, which flopped as badly in the box office as they did with critics. Disney's increasing glut of shows and direct-to-TV films, most notably High School Musical, damaged her career further as attention turned towards them and away from her work. Duff instead turned back to TV, where she would spend the next few years in guest parts. In 2015, she got renewed attention as a main cast member on Younger, and stayed on the show for the entirety of its seven-season run. Eventually, Duff tried to make a comeback in film while taking a break between seasons of Younger. However, the project she chose, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, was widely reviled upon its release in 2019 and was compared unfavorably to another film featuring Sharon Tate released that year. Her performance as the title role earned her a Razzie Award for Worst Actress, seemingly killing her film career for good.
Due to a string of Pepsi commercials, Hallie Kate Eisenberg became a big star for a short time. However, her movie career and 15 minutes were killed by Paulie and Bicentennial Man underperforming at the box office. After those two movies, she only did two theatrical movies — Beautiful, which only received a limited release, and How To Eat Fried Worms, which came out seven years after her last wide release film. After those two movies, she was relegated to TV movies and independent films before disappearing in 2010, just as her brother Jesse was breaking out.
Throughout the 2000s, Carmen Electra kept popping up as The Hot Chick in comedies like Starsky & Hutch and Scary Movie. Then she kept appearing in Seltzer and Friedberg's movies in various roles. All four of their movies that she was in seems to have killed her career as she had only done independent/direct-to-DVD films and TV work since.
Sherilyn Fenn in Boxing Helena. She was riding high after Twin Peaks and a well-received film adaptation of Of Mice & Men, but after Boxing Helena bombed, she soon went back to television for good.
Boxing Helena was also a very near-miss for Kim Basinger, who decided to break her contract to avoid starring in the film. She was sued into bankruptcy but sustained no career damage, and won an Academy Award only a few years later, though such success didn't last for long (see above).
Linda Fiorentino made her breakthrough in the 1994 neo-noir The Last Seduction, to the point where critics said that she deserved an Academy Award nomination. (In fact, the only reason she didn't get one was that the film's producers premiered the film on HBO before releasing it in theaters, thus disqualifying it from any Oscar nominations.) Fiorentino received further fame for playing the female leads in Men in Black and Dogma respectively. Then it all fell apart in 2000 when her films What Planet Are You From? and Where the Money Is both flopped critically and commercially. Her next film Liberty Stands Still went straight to video, and she didn't do another film for seven years after that. It certainly didn't help when Kevin Smith, in the DVD Commentary for Dogma, talked about how difficult she had been to work with, to the point where he wished he had cast Janeane Garofalo (his second choice for the role) instead. Her being difficult to work with was also rumored as to why she's absent from the Men in Black sequel, which has a throwaway line explaining her absence from it. (She has only said she was "unavailable" for it.)
Crista Flanagan's performance on later seasons of MADtv was promising, showing she could potentially be a great comedian despite the series' decline in popularity and quality. Then she repeatedly appeared in films made by Seltzer and Friedberg, starting with 2007's Epic Movie, and soon became the most recurring actress in their films. MADtv proved to be her peak in terms of media exposure, as she never landed a major role in any other feature film ever since. She was relegated to playing bit roles on TV series, featuring on webseries, and has apparently moved on to become a Program Director for an acting school, presumably because acting opportunities for her are becoming fewer.
Claire Forlani played a number of love interests and supporting roles in big movies in the '90s including Mallrats, The Rock, and Meet Joe Black. Then she appeared in four flops in a row: Mystery Men, Boys And Girls, Anti Trust, and The Medallion. She's rarely appeared in a Hollywood film since, mostly sticking to independent films and TV shows. That being said, she found more success on TV, including a recurring role on CSI: NY.
The failure of Jennifer's Body also badly damaged the Hollywood career of its writer Diablo Cody. See Creator Killer for more.
Pamela Franklin was a rising child star in the '60s and her critically acclaimed turn as Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie looked to be a Star-Making Role. But The Legend of Hell House typecast her as a 'scream queen' and she did mostly made-for-TV movies and TV appearances, before retiring in 1981.
Greta Garbo was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1930s. Initially, she starred primarily in dramas like Grand Hotel (1932) and Anna Karenina (1935), but in 1939 she starred in the Ernst Lubitsch comedy Ninotchka, which was a big hit. So MGM decided to cast Garbo in another comedy, Two-Faced Woman (1941). The movie was a critically-panned dud, and Garbo retired from acting. Although there were attempts to revive her career (notably, the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard was offered to her first, but she rejected it, and subsequently Gloria Swanson got the role), she never appeared in a movie again and lived as a recluse until her death in 1990.
Whoopi suffered an earlier career derailment in the late-80s after an attempt to turn her into an action-comedy star led to box-office failures such as Fatal Beauty and Burglar. An attempt to recreate the success of The Color Purple with Goldberg in the lead became Clara's Heart, which also performed poorly and is probably best known as the film debut of Neil Patrick Harris. Her Oscar-winning performance in Ghost led to a Career Resurrection.
Jennifer Grey was a rising star in the mid-to-late 1980s with hits like Red Dawn, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Dirty Dancing. But things derailed when she underwent a rhinoplasty, making her almost unrecognizable to her fans and friends alike, reducing her to flops as Bloodhounds of Broadway and Wind and numerous made-for-TV movies and guest appearances ever since. Her biggest thing since then was competing on Dancing with the Stars in Fall 2010 (in what was a clear nod to her Dirty Dancing role), and eventually being crowned the season's champion.
Katherine Heigl got a lot of attention while starring in Grey's Anatomy, and got some high profile film work in movies like Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. 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. She later started doing commercial and voiceover work, and unsuccessfully attempted to make a comeback on Grey's Anatomy. In fall 2014, she starred in the TV drama State of Affairs, which was dismissed by critics, DOA in the ratings, and canned after one year. She then starred in the CBS drama Doubt, which was canceled after 2 episodes.
Her reputation for being difficult to work with, in no small part thanks to her mother/manager, has had a lot to do with the post-Grey's fizzling of her film career.
The 1970 film version of Song of Norway might have made Florence Henderson (who had already played Maria in the touring production of The Sound of Music) into the next Julie Andrews. Its critical and box-office failure, especially compared with the runaway success of The Brady Bunch, effectively killed her big-screen career as soon as it began; her next appearance in a theatrical film was a literally nameless supporting part in Shakes the Clown over two decades later. (Her Norwegian co-star, Toralv Maurstad, more predictably went back to making movies in his home country.)
Katharine Hepburn was a rising star in the '30s but became known for her prickly attitude, tomboyish behavior (in a time when such wasn't nearly as socially accepted), and combative relationship with the press, which earned her the nickname "Katharine of Arrogance". Her unpopular public image caught up with her with a string of box-office disappointments in the latter half of the decade, with The Last Straw being Bringing Up Baby in 1938. While it's now regarded as one of her best films, and it did indeed receive praise from critics at the time, it bombed at the box office and many observers blamed Hepburn for its failure, with the Independent Theatre Owners of America even branding her box-office poison. Afterwards, RKO Pictures started offering her roles in B-movies, leading her to buy out her contract. In the words of film academic Andrew Britton, "No other star has emerged with greater rapidity or with more ecstatic acclaim. No other star, either, has become so unpopular so quickly for so long a time." Fortunately, she rebounded in 1940 with The Philadelphia Story, which helped her rebuild her public image by playing to her reputation as a stuck-up socialite (the film opens with her getting knocked over by Cary Grant and falling on her ass).
Julianne Hough in Rock of Ages and Safe Haven. Having emerged from being one of the pro dancers on Dancing with the Stars to star in the successful Footloose remake, Hough was hyped as a star in the making, but the successive failures of both films damaged her career. Her only major work since has been returning to DWTS, this time as one of the judges. She attempted one acting comeback as part of Fox's Grease Live!, which came and went with little fanfare.
Bryce Dallas Howard in Manderlay and Lady in the Water. Hyped as a star of the future and being the daughter of Ron Howard, much was expected of her, and she made an impression right away with The Village. But then, her stock quickly fell with these back-to-back failures (the former was a critically-panned sequel that was hardly seen, the latter came during the height of the backlash against M. Night Shyamalan). Though Bryce has gone on to carve a niche as a character actor (in films such as The Help and 50/50), she never reached the levels that were expected from her. Her role in Jurassic World, however, proved to make her more famous than she ever had been before.
Olivia Hussey received a lot of hype for her debut in Romeo and Juliet (1968) and was immediately offered roles in major films. As she was only sixteen and extremely agoraphobic, she alienated producers of True Grit and Anne of the Thousand Days through youthful nerves. She did maintain critical acclaim with her follow-ups in All the Right Noises and The Summertime Killer, despite them being smaller indies. However, she killed a lot of momentum by starring in the legendary failure that was the Lost Horizon remake. Not helping matters was her turbulent relationship with Christopher Jones taking a toll on her mental health. She did manage to regain some goodwill with Jesus of Nazareth and Black Christmas (1974) (which became a Cult Classic), and managed to be part of the All-Star Cast in Death on the Nile.
Robin Johnson's career was torpedoed by her debut appearance, Times Square, less because of its critical and commercial performance (neither of which were particularly stellar) than because of a three-year exclusive contract with the Robert Stigwood Organization. Her hands were more or less tied for the three years; she couldn't accept any offers to appear in anything, and yet RSO wasn't offering her anything. Even after her contract expired, she couldn't find any steady work as an actress and eventually just gave up.
Ashley Judd in Twisted. The film's poor critical and commercial receipts marked the end of her headlining days as a leading lady. Although she has since focused on modestly-budgeted ensemble and independent features ever since, she's pretty much better known nowadays for her political activism and for being one of many women who came forward to out former employer Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual harasser (which in turn led to revelations that Weinstein played a part in her career decline by blackballing her from several major projects, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as revenge for her rejecting his sexual advances).
Victoria Justice with Fun Size. Before the film, she was headlining Nickelodeon's Victorious and looked like an up-and-coming star. After the film flopped, the show was canceled and Nickelodeon severed ties with Justice. The fact that one of herVictoriousco-stars became a bigger superstar than she ever was could only have rubbed salt into her wound. She went into a new direction with Eye Candy, but despite positive reviews, the show was canned after one season due to low ratings. Since then, her career has been reduced to low-profile indie films.
Diane Keaton with Because I Said So and Mama's Boy. Before their release in 2007, she was a highly-respected actress with an Oscar and decent drawing power. But after these two films, which got bad reviews (mainly for Keaton's performances), she has mostly appeared in little-seen flops.
Mumta Kulkarni was a rising star in Bollywood during the 1990s, playing the love interest in several large hit films like Aashiq Awara, Waqt Hamara Hai. and Krantiveer. But then she starred in China Gate. By most accounts, she and the director did not get along, and rumor has it the only reason she wasn't fired outright was that a gangster intervened on her behalf. Whatever the truth, the film was a flop, and her career soon dried up. In recent years, she's been in the news for allegations of drug smuggling, so her career is probably over.
After being nominated for an Oscar for Chicago, Queen Latifah got a lot of starring and supporting roles throughout the 2000s and even into the early 2010s. But it seems that Joyful Noise killed her career, as the only mainstream release she's done since is reprising her role as Ellie in the fourth Ice Age movie. Otherwise, her career after that movie has been made up of a Lifetime movie, a movie that went directly to Netflix, and TV work, including guest appearances on Single Ladies and Let's Stay Together and her own talk show. However, she received great acclaim for playing Bessie Smith in HBO's Bessie, which won four Emmys (including one for her as a producer - she was also nominated for her performance). She has had huge success with Girls Trip, however.
Jennifer Lawrence became a superstar in The New '10s thanks to the success of The Hunger Games and taking over the role of Mystique in X-Men: First Class. She proved she could survive outside those franchises, earning an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook and getting further nominations for Winter's Bone and American Hustle. Her momentum was dented however with Joy - a third collaboration with David O Russell. While the film made its money back and got her another Best Actress nomination, it was given a critical thrashing. This was only exacerbated by the underperformance of X-Men: Apocalypse, the complete critical and commercial failure of Passengers, and the divisive reception to mother!. The bombing of Red Sparrow and Dark Phoenix hasn't helped. She is however usually given a good reception for her acting regardless of the film's quality (her acting was considered the saving grace of Joy and Red Sparrow in particular), meaning a Career Resurrection is all but guaranteed at some point.
The failure of Green Lantern (2011) temporarily short-circuited Blake Lively's hopes for a career after Gossip Girl, leading her to take a three-year hiatus from acting in order to focus on building a lifestyle brand called Preserve. It proved to be a short-lived derailment; she returned to acting after Preserve folded within a year, and soon enjoyed a brief comeback with The Age of Adaline, The Shallows, and A Simple Favor. Unfortunately, in early 2020 she headlined The Rhythm Section, which received lukewarm reviews and proved to be a massiveBox Office Bomb (it made only $6 million on a budget of around $50 million) that ended up pulled from nearly 3,000 theaters by its third weekend.
Lindsay Lohan's career had been in a nosedive shortly after it peaked with Mean Girls, mainly due to her out-of-control personal life and diva antics. It was after I Know Who Killed Me bombed at the box-office and was ruthlessly savaged by critics and audiences alike that Lohan lost her status as a bankable actress and her roles became limited to television and indies. It's a pretty safe bet that even if her life hadn't fallen apart so badly, it's still not too likely that her career and "it girl" status would've fared much better after the critical and box-office flop of that film. A few years later the indie film The Canyons killed any semblance of a career she had left, from terrible reviews and accounts that she was impossible to work with, as chronicled in a scathing feature by Stephen Rodrick for The New York Times Magazine, and she hasn't appeared in anything since. In 2014, she managed to get clean and finished community service with her probation officially ended in addition to making her stage debut in Speed-the-Plow, though critical reception of her role was divisive and it's not enough to revive her career yet.
Eva Longoria in Over Her Dead Body. Before the film opened, much was expected of her due to her role on Desperate Housewives and her status as a sex symbol. Then the film opened and showed that, while looking good was a strong suit of hers, headlining a movie wasn't. The film's failure assured that Longoria won't be leading anything for some time, and she has rarely appeared in films since then (mostly in supporting roles in Direct to Video fare).
Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. Like her spear counterpart, her career would recover albeit as a musician before The Boy Next Door killed her career all over again in 2015. After having a Career Resurrection in 2011 with her song, "On the Floor", being a hit and becoming a judge on American Idol, Lopez attempted to revive her film career. Her first attempt, What to Expect When You're Expecting broke even while her second attempt, Ice Age: Continental Drift was a hit at the box office. However, neither of these movies were critically praised. That being said, considering the success of those two movies, she quit American Idol so she could pursue acting full-time. However, she then did Parker, which was a box office flop. She ended up returning to American Idol but she tried to revive her film career one last time with The Boy Next Door. However, while that movie was modestly successful at the box office, it didn't just get bad reviews but the critics trashed the hell out of it, getting a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, prompting her to back out of a film career and stick to TV with Shades of Blue, however, she resumed her film career with Second Act, which received mixed reviews though better received than The Boy Next Door and the film after that, Hustlers was well received with her performance being lauded by critics as one of her best performances and was given a Golden Globe nomination for her role though unfortunately overlooked at the Oscars, so only time will tell if this will result in her doing a full-fledged Career Resurrection.
The failure of North served as a serious speed bump for Reba McEntire's cinematic career. On the other hand, her glowing career as a country singer didn't slow down a bit, and she received high praise as a television actress headlining her own show.
Kelly McGillis was a rising star in the mid-to-late 1980s following the successes of Witness, Top Gun and The Accused. But then 1989 saw the release of Cat Chaser, which led her to become disaffected with Hollywood amidst the film's Troubled Production and her problematic working relationship with Peter Weller, and eventually went straight-to-video following poor test screenings. McGillis then went into semi-retirement in Florida, taking a few parts for the better part of a decade until she resumed acting full-time. She has since focused on made-for-TV films and independent features with a few mainstream works in-between.
Sarah Miles became one of the British New Wave's biggest stars thanks to The Servant and Blow Up and earned an Oscar nomination for Ryan's Daughter. Set to transition from sex symbol to serious actress, She starred in the Vanity ProjectLady Caroline Lamb, directed by her husband, screenwriter Robert Bolt. Lamb was an expensive, critically reviled flop that destroyed Miles' reputation. Her career further dissolved through the '70s with revelations of bizarre hobbies (she admitted to drinking urine and being a spiritualist, among other things), the dissolution of her marriage to Bolt (though they later reconciled), and the scandals surrounding The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, where her publicist/lover committed suicide on-set. Today, Miles remains known more for her eccentricities than her dwindling acting roles.
Penelope Ann Miller was an up-and-coming star in the late '80s and early '90s with films like Biloxi Blues, Kindergarten Cop, Awakenings and a Golden Globe-nominated role in Carlito's Way. But after the failures of The Shadow and The Relic derailed her momentum, Miller has since concentrated on made-for-TV movies and many TV guest appearances with only a few major film appearances in between like The Artist.
Hayley Mills was a successful child star for Disney in the 60s. After her Disney contract ended, she moved towards darker roles to shake off her wholesome image. The film Deadly Strangers drew so much controversynote which, oddly enough, didn't damage her relationship with Disney one bit that she left the industry for several years. She attempted a comeback on TV in the 80s with Good Morning Miss Bliss, but that was eventually re-tooled into the more famous Saved by the Bell (dropping Mills completely). However, she has found more success on the stage.
Demi Moore was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood in the early '90s, owed mainly to her star-making turn opposite Patrick Swayze in Ghost. However, her star power faded around the mid-to-late '90s after a string of flops such as the loose film adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, Striptease, and G.I. Jane (the latter two films were "Worst Actress" Razzie winners for Moore). In the years following those films, Moore's productivity slowed as she took time off to raise her daughters, only appearing in a few major movies, the last such big hit being Mr. Brooks. She has since found some success acting in independent films.
Before License To Wed, Mandy Moore had a somewhat successful career as a movie star, even though her movies weren't huge hits critically or financially. The movie seems to have been the one that killed her career; for almost a decade afterwards, she did mostly TV movies, with her only theatrically released film since then being Tangled. Fortunately, she eventually rebounded big time with a widely acclaimed role on This Is Us, where she even impressed the crew enough to also play the older version of her character under makeup rather than a separate actress.
Chloë Grace Moretz never made movies that lit the box office on fire but she got acclaim for her performances in Kick-Ass, Let Me In, and Hugo. This inspired studios to turn her into a movie star. Unfortunately her attempts at movie stardom, including Dark Shadows, Movie 43, Kick-Ass 2, Carrie, and If I Stay, got mixed to negative reviews and none of them were very successful at the box office. Then came The Fifth Wave which, like the previous movies, was a critical and financial disappointment and seems to have ended her run as a potential leading lady as the only big role she's had since was Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising which, while receiving mixed to positive reviews, failed to replicate the box office success of the original. Otherwise she followed it up with two films that were mired in controversy, I Love You, Daddy and Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, the former of which for being the passion project of Louis C.K., whose career was ruined by sexual harassment allegations which caused the movie to not be released, and the latter of which was criticized for an ad campaign that suggested overweight women weren't beautiful, a campaign Moretz herself was critical of. Not only that but she announced that she was going to take a break from acting only to clarify later she just meant she was going to start being more picky of the projects she's choosing. Time will tell if there is a Career Resurrection in the cards for her.
Olivia Munn's career as a leading lady began and ended with The Babymakers, which was a critical and commercial disaster. The distributor had expected Munn's cult appeal to sell the film but not even that could save it. She has gained a comfy supporting role in The Newsroom, but hasn't been the leading lady in any films since. A turn as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse didn't help matters, as she was reduced to being a Satellite Character. A lead role in the cancelled TV series Six and the flopping of The Predator didn't help.
The Wicker Tree, the 2011 "spiritual sequel" to The Wicker Man (1973), introduced the world to Brittania Nicol, who played the film's protagonist, Beth Boothby. The film's poor performance in both theaters and with critics led to it being forgotten, and Nicol's career was over before it even started. This is Nicol's only on-screen credit.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in New York Minute. The twins' one and only "adult" theatrical outing only grossed $21 million during its whole box office run, which put an end to their "twin" films. (Mary-Kate did do a few supporting roles in films like The Wackness and Beastly.) However, they remain successful in other ventures, as shortly after the film's release, they both became presidents of their company Dualstar, which continues to see success, and fashion line The Row, which is largely respected amongst their peers.
Nicole Parker was almost universally regarded by fans of MADtv as a fan favourite, especially considering she was often one of the few highlights of a comedy sketch show that was otherwise declining in quality and popularity. Unfortunately, much like Crista Flanagan, she made her feature film debut in the Seltzer and Friedberg films Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, and like Flanagan, in retrospect this may be the biggest mistake she made in her career. She has never landed a major role in any other feature film since. She did appear in Judd Apatow's Funny People, but it was a small role and largely fanservice, which might have influenced her unstated aversion to do any more feature films. Nicole still managed to turn her acting career around by playing to her greatest strengths — Broadway performances, although she remains largely in D-list obscurity even after landing the role of Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked.
Lori Petty in Tank Girl. Following well-received roles in Point Break (1991), A League of Their Own, and Free Willy, Petty was given the chance to headline her own major movie with the comic book adaptation of Tank Girl. Once it received negative critical reviews and bombed quickly at the box office, she has since been stuck doing straight-to-video films and guest appearances on television shows. Petty did get a lot of positive attention from directing The Poker House, although a lot of the attention that gets has now become retroactive since the film's lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, became a superstar. She has regained some footing by appearing on Orange Is the New Black.
Coming off of the critically-acclaimed adaptations of The Millennium Trilogy, Swedish star Noomi Rapace moved on to Hollywood, where she planned to become the next Sigourney Weaver by starring in the Alien sort-of-prequel Prometheus. Unfortunately, Prometheus, despite strong reviews, sank under the weight of Executive Meddling and took Rapace's Hollywood career with it. She's done other movies since then, but nothing with the kind of high profile she once enjoyed.
Denise Richards saw her career momentum sink after her performance in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough was widely criticized as one of the film's weakest links. Her biggest role since that film was two years later as a middle-billed cast member in the slasher film Valentine, which also flopped.
After ending her professional relationship with John Hughes, Molly Ringwald set out to make a name for herself with films such as For Keeps? and Fresh Horses, none of which set the box office on fire. Then came Betsy's Wedding (budget, $26 million, box office, $19.7 million), which was the final straw for Ringwald. She might have pulled a Career Resurrection off if she'd taken some of the offers she was still getting - Blue Velvet, Pretty Woman, Scream (1996) - but she turned all of them down. She later retreated to France to continue her career, then returned to America and has since made a number of low-quality films and TV shows.
Diana Ross in The Wiz. Already an immensely popular singer during the 1960s and '70s, Ross attempted several forays into acting, achieving modest success until taking up the role of Dorothy in the 1978 film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical The Wiz. Ross fought for the role despite concerns that she was too old for it, being in her early thirties at that time (and in the movie itself she looks even older!). Ross' casting led to some of the most drastic changes found in the screenplay, none of which resonated well with audiences. The film was a major critical and financial flop with most of the criticism being leveled at Ross' performance, effectively ending her career as an actress. Fortunately, the film's failure barely harmed Ross' immensely successful singing career.
Rene Russo in the remake of Yours, Mine & Ours. She wouldn't appear in another movie for six years (Thor), and didn't appear in a headlining role again until 2017's Just Getting Started, which also tanked.
Meg Ryan had a brief moment where her career was derailed after making Against the Ropes in 2004, having not appeared in a theatrically released film until 2007's In the Land of Women. Although she's still acting to this day, she has never recovered the A-list status she had in the '90s, beginning in 1989 with When Harry Met Sally.... Before that, Ryan's derailing role was in 2000's Hanging Up, ironically the final film Walter Matthau, who died shortly thereafter, did (he was its narrator).
While her career isn't completely derailed thanks to her roles as Uhura in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise and Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the failure of Colombiana in 2011 killed any chance of convincing Hollywood to let Zoe Saldana be the lead in a major motion picture. The projects she's done since were either indie films or supporting roles in major pictures, mostly in the franchises mentioned above.
While Chloë Sevigny hasn't been hard up in getting work in TV and small movie roles since The Brown Bunny (in which she performed unsimulated fellatio), she has successfully blown off any mainstream cinematic success in the process.
Cybill Shepherd became a star thanks to The Last Picture Show and became a muse, and eventual lover, of director Peter Bogdanovich, which ended his marriage to writer Polly Platt. Bogdanovich subsequently cast Shepherd as the lead in two of his films, Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love. Both films were critical and commercial flops and Shepherd garnered immense criticism for her performances, giving her the reputation of a horrible actress whose rise to fame was solely because she was sleeping with a famous film director. Shepherd later retreated to television, where an acclaimed turn on Moonlighting restored her reputation.
Brooke Shields got acclaim for her work on the film Pretty Baby. She then followed it up with The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love, the former a notoriously Troubled Production that spent almost two decades in Development Hell and a Creator Killer for Randal Kleiser, who was never able to match the huge success of Grease, and the latter being only known for Tom Cruise's debut, which got terrible reviews and were box-office disappointments, as well as controversy over her sexualization by her Stage Mom, considering she was underage at the time. However, the 1983 movie Sahara ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back, as after that film flopped at the box office, she has pretty much been stuck doing independent films, Direct-to-DVD films, and television shows (including a decent run on Suddenly Susan) ever since. Her moving-image career would be effectively ended with the TV series Lipstick Jungle, which was canceled by NBC after a disappointing run of 20 episodes, and since then, she largely focused on her family and on Broadway. Today, she is mostly known as a fashion model.
Employee of the Month (2006) killed Jessica Simpson's film career. While The Dukes of Hazzard flopped with critics, it did well at the box office, boosting Jessica's star power. After this movie underperformed, however, she only did two movies, one which only saw a limited release (Blonde Ambition) and the other which went Straight-to-DVD (Major Movie Star).
Leelee Sobieski was fresh off the momentum from Never Been Kissed and Eyes Wide Shut when she took her first lead acting role, The Glass House, which was a critical and commercial flop (it made only $18 million domestic). Once the next "It Girl", she was reduced to working in lesser roles in films like the remake of The Wicker Man, 88 Minutes, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Her TV debut in the swiftly-cancelled NYC 22 doesn't look likely to change much in her career direction, either. She eventually quit acting altogether to focus on raising her children, and later started a new career as an artist under her married name, Leelee Kimmel.
Jordin Sparks became famous after winning American Idol, and then tried to become a movie star with Sparkle. However, the movie did average business at the box office and was met with mixed reviews. Her next two films were a TV movie and a Christian movie. However, her music career has gone on just fine.
Hailee Steinfeld with the 2013 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. After getting an Oscar nomination at 13 for her acting debut in the 2010 remake of True Grit, Steinfeld was hyped as a potential star of tomorrow with a number of offers for major projects. Instead, she turned them down and took a few years off of acting, choosing to return with a new adaptation of Shakespeare's classic. Unfortunately, not only did that film flop, but Steinfeld got singled out in the film's numerous negative reviews. Over the next two years, a glut of projects featuring her, including Ender's Game (which was not helped by certain remarks the source material's author made before its release) and Three Days To Kill, were released to critical and audience indifference and her potential had turned into a "what could have been" had she not taken that time off. Fortunately, she eventually rebounded a few years later, both commercially with Pitch Perfect 2 (a film that also marked the beginning of a successful second career for her as a pop star) and critically with The Edge of Seventeen. She's also voiced Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and is set to star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Hawkeye as Kate Bishop.
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2, which was ironically a reprisal of her Star-Making Role. The film's box office disaster and bashing by critics marked the end of Stone's run as an A-list leading lady, following other noteworthy failures early in the 2000s like Cold Creek Manor and Catwoman (2004).
Madeleine Stowe with Impostor. The film's failure marked the end of her movie career, and she ended up taking a hiatus to raise a family before storming back with her role on the hit show Revenge.
Mena Suvari in the Day of the Dead reboot. Prior to this, She was an indie queen who made a name for herself by starring in a string of popular and well-regarded teen films (including American Pie and Sugar & Spice) and the critically-acclaimed American Beauty. She followed this up with several more teen films (including the 2001 flop The Musketeer), culminating in the aforementioned Day of the Dead, which went straight to DVD and flopped domestically. Aside from her much-disregarded work in Kingdom Hearts II as the voice of Aerith, she's only appeared on bit parts in TV shows and Direct to Video films.
The Reaping and P.S. I Love You ground Hilary Swank's career to a screeching halt in 2007. She tried to gain back some of her critical respectability (she had been a two-time Oscar winner with Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby) with the biopic Amelia and the drama Conviction over the next two years, but the former was a critical and commercial failure, and while the latter got good reviews (Swank was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance), it didn't pull in that much money at the box office. By 2011, Swank's movies were going Direct to Video, as seen with the thriller The Resident. Following a part in the poorly-received ensemble romantic comedy film New Year's Eve, few of her film projects have been announced since.
Loretta Swit in Beer. After this TV commercial satire film tanked, Swit went from being one of Hollywood's top actresses to a notorious blacklist victim, having spent her later years doing television appearances and cameos. She's done nothing noteworthy since The Love Boat ended, with a 20-year acting drought from 1998 to 2019.
Raven-Symoné became popular with tweens when That's So Raven ended up being a hit. It led Disney to hype her up as the next big star, as she started appearing in many of their TV movies, doing music videos for many of their theatrical movies, and doing voice-over work for many of their animated shows. They then tried to turn her into a movie star with College Road Trip. However, the movie got terrible reviews and only did average at the box office, which helped solidify her as just another former Disney Channel star. After the movie came out, she never got the lead role in another major film again and only does guest spots on various TV shows and voice work now. Her biggest hit was... a sequel series to her breakout role in Raven's Home!
Uma Thurman's career had previously flatlined with Batman & Robin (see Multiple Offenders), only for her to enjoy a Career Resurrection by reteaming with Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill. Her second wind faded quickly, however, after Motherhood in 2009, one of the biggest Box Office Bombs in history ($726,534 box office proceeds against a $10 million budget) and easily the biggest flop of Thurman's career. It was particularly notable for its British release, where it's the second-biggest flop of all time. It was shown in only one UK cinema and took £88 on its opening weekend. On its opening night it took £9. That's one ticket. Thurman's career since has been limited to TV appearances and independent films, with only a handful of major roles (Playing for Keeps, Burnt). It also didn't help that, as revealed years later, she suffered permanent damage to her neck and knees in a car stunt for Kill Bill, which has prevented her from taking any similar action roles.
Lio Tipton (formerly Analeigh), first gaining prominence for placing third on Cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model, was tapped by Hollywood studios to headline romantic comedy films such as Crazy Stupid Love, arthouse film Damsels in Distress (which featured their first lead role), and Warm Bodies. Then derailment quickly came with their second lead role in the indie film Two Night Stand, which bombed with critics and audiences alike and fizzled their career before they could go anywhere with it. They tried to bounce back with the ABC romantic comedy series Manhattan Love Story, but it got canceled after only four episodes.
Nia Vardalos became a huge star when her film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which she starred and wrote, became a sleeper hit at the box office. However, she then did a sitcom spin-off called My Big Fat Greek Life, which was quickly cancelled due to bad reviews and low ratings. She then tried to follow up her success with Connie And Carla, which flopped at the box office. She then ended up attempting a comeback in 2009 when she starred in My Life In Ruins. However, that ended up flopping at the box office as well. Since then, she's stuck to independent films and TV work. It seems that she wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 to make it a Career Resurrection for her. It was successful but panned by critics.
Quvenzhané Wallis was a rising star thanks for being the youngest Oscar nominee for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Then she made Annie (2014), which was a modest box office success but it was blasted by critics and she's hardly acted since. Just one independent film, a bit part in Trolls, and an appearance in a Beyoncé music video. The highest-profile role that she's had since Annie has been a guest-starring arc on Blackish. Since Quvenzhané is still very young, there's definitely still a chance that, in the future, she could come back and become a bigger star. But for the time being...
Naomi Watts' career was almost destroyed twice. She had barely got started when she had a major setback with Tank Girl, just like Lori Petty, and she spent the rest of the '90s struggling in Hollywood until she was cast in Mulholland Dr.. This led her to have a solid career, until the epically awful biopic Diana in 2013. However, few critics blamed Watts for the film's worst excesses and most seemed to pity her for being in it at all.note It didn't hurt that she was coming off some career-best work in The Impossible. She's since been well-reviewed for her work in St. Vincent (2014) and Birdman and decent roles keep coming to her, so the derailment seems to have been a brief one.
Though Welcome To 18 stars Courtney Thorne-Smith and Mariska Hargitay managed to survive its box office underperformance, JoAnn Willette was relegated to TV work shortly afterwards. Her use of an ethnic slur didn't help matters, nor did her pirating the film later on, which has since been dealt with by the production company, Green Griffin (which also edited many of her scenes out of current prints as a result of her racist remark).
Mae West took a hit to her popularity when her film Belle Of The Nineties was hastily censored by Paramount to appease the enforcers of the Production Code. She was soon overtaken as screen queen by Shirley Temple, and subsequent efforts to rehabilitate her image failed, culminating in a Role-Ending Misdemeanor in which she was fired by Paramount for causing a scandal at NBC by appearing alongside Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Her biggest screen success since then was My Little Chickadee, in which Universal paired her with fellow washup W. C. Fields.
Mara Wilson's movie career died with A Simple Wish. After that movie, she only did one more theatrical movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, before she decided to retire from film acting after not finding it to be fun anymore, largely due to her typecasting as insufferably precious characters, which caused many to assume she was actually like that in real life. In-between those two movies, though, the only work she got was a guest appearance on Batman Beyond and a role in the TV movie Balloon Farm. She's since transitioned into writing plays, where she often has to issue warnings about their adult content to people who'd expect something lighter given her acting career. In the 2010s, she came out of retirement, mostly as a guest voice artist.
Sean Young in Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde. Her career was already floundering by the time of the movie's release in 1995 after a string of critical and commercial failures by the beginning of that decade, but this ultimately proved to be the last straw for the actress. Between the film tanking, a string of accusations of stalking actor James Woods, and her spectacular failure to get the role of Catwoman in Batman Returns, Young gained a reputation as being difficult to work with in Hollywood, and she struggled with alcoholism and appeared on reality television shows afterwards.
Pia Zadora in The Lonely Lady. The massive controversy over her Golden Globe win for New Star of the Year, widely assumed to have been the result of her husband bribing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (especially after she also won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Actress), only soured people that much further on the idea of her as a major star. She has had only a handful of small roles and cameos after this film, though her musical career proved to be more successful.
Renée Zellweger was one of the biggest actresses of the late '90s and early-mid '00s, starring in hits like Jerry Maguire, Bridget Jones' Diary, and Chicago. She also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2003's Cold Mountain. As late as 2007, she was one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses. Her movies became less financially and critically successful as her career went on, but she was still able to snag some decent parts. Then she made 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. She didn't star in another film for five years. A drastic change in her looks in 2014, supposedly due to extensive plastic surgery, to the point she is almost unrecognisable, was most likely the final nail in the coffin. She returned to the screen in 2016 with Bridget Jones's Baby, which got decent reviews and international box office (it disappointed at the US box office), but didn't do much to revive her career. Soon afterwards she picked up a potential comeback role in a biopic of Judy Garland. Her performance as the star herself won her renewed critical acclaim, eventually culminating with an Oscar for Best Actress.
Catherine Zeta-Jones got hit by this with No Reservations. Despite being a modest success at the box office, she didn't appear in another mainstream Hollywood film for five years after the movie came out. She attempted a comeback in 2012, but Rock of Ages, Playing For Keeps, Broken City, Side Effects, and Red 2 all bombed at the box office.note Though Side Effects was an Acclaimed Flop as it has an RT score of 83% and an MC score of 75/100. She hasn't been seen in a major Hollywood film since, and her upcoming projects are all independent films. This seems partly intentional, as she doesn't appear to mind her obscurity.