Hollywood is a fickle industry, and sometimes it’s hard to stay on top. While wannabe stars will pull any number of tricks to snag a spot in the limelight, they often find that it’s even more brutal once they’re up there. With just one poor choice in a project or one burnt bridge, a once-promising career can come tumbling down like a house of studio executive business cards. Not to mention all of the increased scrutiny and accompanying criticism that remains part and parcel of being a celebrity. For us normal people, it’s pretty jarring to see this happen — especially when it means that a once-famous person hasn’t graced our TV and movie screens for years upon years. Remember Jessica Biel? Can you name something she’s known for other than The Illusionist and being married to Justin Timberlake? Probably not — and it’s surprising once you realize it, no?
Fans aren’t entirely free from blame, however. Laypeople can be some of the most critical, and trolls will do their best to bury famous people who rub them the wrong way. Sometimes this negativity catches on and spreads like wildfire, and the star in question is forced to take a break. (Case in point: Anne Hathaway pre-Colossal.)
Whether it’s due to aging, poor choice in projects or a terrible attitude, the 15 celebrities on this list have temporarily fallen off of the Hollywood bandwagon. While we hold out hope that they might band together in unemployment and create one super movie to rule them all, we’ll have to hold our breath in the meantime.
15. Julia Stiles
‘90s kids will always have a soft spot for Julia Stiles thanks to movies like 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, while ‘90s grownups will always have a soft spot for her thanks to her luminous turn in the Bourne franchise. Unfortunately, due to a string of high-profile Post-Bourne failures (The Omen remake, anyone?), she has never quite been able to achieve career longevity. Other than a guest starring role on Dexter — and a very brief turn in the most recent Bourne movie —she hasn’t done much to raise her profile lately. IMDB says she’s still working, but we won’t believe it until she’s making us cry in chick flicks again. (However, if you’re really looking for a Stiles fix, then check her out in the web series Blue or in this Amy Schumer sketch. You get to see her talk about how her lady parts are a “wasteland.”)
14. Jessica Biel
After charming WB audiences for seven seasons on 7th Heaven (remember the WB?), Jessica Biel broke out in the early aughts with high-profile roles in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blade: Trinity. She then further raised her profile by holding her own against Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti in 2006’s The Illusionist. Despite gaining some awards buzz for a brief foray into otherwise-dull prestige flicks, Biel hit a career slump sometime around 2010 with a string of movies that were either critically panned or generally ignored by audiences. (See: Valentine’s Day, Total Recall.) Even I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry wasn’t the bonafide hit everyone thought it would be. Reportedly, Biel has thrown fits about missing out key roles to Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables and Dark Knight Rises. Plus, her last couple movies have barely registered with audiences. Her movie Accidental Love with Jake Gyllenhaal remained unfinished before being sent to the discard pile. But hey – She’s married to Justin Timberlake!
Remember when Mo’Nique won an Oscar for Precious? It seems like it was so long ago, right? That’s because it was. After reports surfaced of Mo’Nique donning a holier-than-thou attitude throughout the Oscar campaign for 2009’s Precious, the actress and standup comedian was “blackballed” by not just director Lee Daniels but by Hollywood at large. She didn’t exactly help her case by going public with this information because it forced Daniels to explain to press that she had been unwilling to “play the game” on the Oscar campaign trail. In Hollywood, an accusation like that can be poison. Accordingly, she has only appeared in four movies since 2009. One of them was a TV movie, and two of them featured her as a minor character. Other than her regular standup gigs, she doesn’t seem to have any confirmed upcoming projects. Perhaps it’s time for a spa day, an attitude adjustment, and a PR comeback?
12. Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Someone with a mug like Freddie Prinze Jr.’s is the opposite of who you would imagine when you hear “face for radio.” However, despite his heart-melting handsomeness, Freddie is somehow doing just that (sorta.) Ever since his guest role on 24 in 2010, the star of She’s All That and — um, She’s All That —has been confined to voice acting for video games and animated shows. Unfortunately, his sitcom Freddie never took off, and the Scooby Doo franchise was a bit of a clunker. He also apparently had such a terrible time working with Keifer Sutherland on 24 that it made him want to quit acting forever. Maybe that is the real reason he hasn’t graced us with his presence? (To Sutherland’s credit, he is unaware of Prinze Jr.’s reported passionate hatred.) Maybe Prinze could pitch some suits on I Still Haven’t Stopped Knowing What You Did Last Summer?
11. Cameron Diaz
Mary of There’s Something About Mary will always hold a special place in our hearts, even though she’s made movies like Knight and Day. That’s why it might be surprising to know that she hasn’t made anything since 2014’s Annie. Diaz’s case, she has taken a break from acting in order to settle into married bliss with hubby Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. She also currently holds the title of Second Highest Grossing Female Actor of All Time, so why shouldn’t she plateau while she’s on top instead of ruining a good thing? But wouldn’t it be cool if she, like, got an Oscar nomination for something? Or actually won one of those Golden Globes? Maybe she’ll get back on screen one of these days. We could totally benefit from a sequel to The Holiday. (Cameron Diaz’s adoptive children grow apart, but find each other again when they unwittingly swap houses!)
10. Eddie Murphy
Eddie has seemingly slumped since playing a slumping pop star on Dreamgirls in 2006. Other than 2007’s Shrek the Third and 2011’s Tower Heist, his starring roles have failed to stand out. His 2016 movie Mr. Church barely eked out $500,000 at the box office, and his last movie to pass 20 million was 2012’s A Thousand Words. We choose to blame stinkers like Norbit and Meet Dave on sullying his comedic (and dramatic) reputation. Perhaps in his pursuit for that next big starring role, he’s forgotten to look for actually worthy vehicles. Hopefully, the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop 4 will put him back on top — and if that doesn’t work, then there’s his Twins sequel with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. As you may have guessed, it’s called Triplets and it stars Murphy as yet another long lost sibling of DeVito and Murphy. Ghostbusters and Twins director Ivan Reitman is set to helm the production.
9. Alyson Hannigan
Other than showing up in guest roles and a TV movie, Hannigan hasn’t seemed to register with fans since How I Met Your Mother ended in 2014. This could mean that she’s content to live in marital bliss with her Buffy co-star Alexis Denisof, or it could mean that her limited — though charming — acting range is preventing her from getting roles. OR it could mean that she’s rolling in dough right now and doesn’t need to work! We support all of these possibilities, except for maybe the not-getting-roles part. For now, Hannigan fans will have to get their fix by catching Buffy and American Pie on USA. She was also apparently in a TV movie version of The First Wives Club and a limited-release gay marriage movie starring Mark from Rent and Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls. We tried to research the gay-marriage movie further, but after five seconds, we haven’t learned anything more than everything we just told you.
8. Tobey Maguire
Aww, poor Tobey Maguire. The O.G. Spider-Man and perpetual DUFF to Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t done anything since 2015’s Pawn Sacrifice. (According to Google, it’s about chess master Bobby Fischer, and no one saw it.) Wait, no, he was the narrator on Boss Baby. Does that count? Whatever the case, Tobey seems to be taking a break from acting. It has actually gotten to the point where one of the first questions that come up when you Google Tobey Maguire’s name is: “Is Tobey Maguire dead?” We assume he has taken a break so that he can focus on raising his two children, which has no doubt been harder since he recently separated from his wife of nine years. The two have been hanging out with their kids lately, so here’s hoping that Spidey works things out and gets back into the swing of things. In the meantime, we’ll satisfy ourselves with GIFs of him crying.
7. Kel Mitchell
We can pinpoint the exact moment when Kenan and Kel star Kel Mitchell’s career hit a roadblock: When co-star Kenan Thompson snagged a spot on SNL in 2003. Mitchell, who unsuccessfully auditioned at the same time as Thompson, has spent the ensuing years playing bit roles on TV and appearing in the movie Dance Fu, which he also produced. Reportedly, he’s still salty about the unfortunate turn of events, despite appearing with Kenan in a Good Burger reunion on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. However, if Kel happened to be your favorite of the pair, then you can catch him on the Nickelodeon sitcom Game Shakers as a rap superstar who is taken on as a business partner by the show’s fictional Game Shakers company. Actually, j/k, the fictional company is run by two seventh graders, and Game Shakers is a show for children. We’ll get back to you when Kel shows up in something for adults!
6. Amanda Bynes
This one’s a no-brainer. Despite nabbing headlines left and right for her undeniably insane meltdowns (remember the driveway fire? And the bong drop? Ooh and the Alias wigs??), Amanda Bynes hasn’t actually made a movie since 2010’s Easy A. In addition to picking up the pieces of her life, she’s also no doubt spending her days seething over the fact that her career seemed to end just as Easy A co-star Emma Stone’s career took off. After announcing in 2012 that she was retiring from acting, Bynes has spent the ensuing years weaving in and out of psych wards and fashion school. According to her Twitter account, she’s on the up and up and enjoying her studies at Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She still hasn’t given up wigs, though, and she still gives off a vaguely Girl, Interrupted vibe. We can’t wait for her fashion line.
5. Paz de la Huerta
Fans of Boardwalk Empire may remember Paz de la Huerta from her two season-long role as Steve Buscemi’s former mistress, whereas fans of erotic gross-out horror films may know her from Nurse 3D. However, fans of watching trainwrecks will remember her from her multiple drunken stunts over the years. Paz’s off-screen career has included such memorable roles as “International Drug User,” “Blacked-Out Party Crasher,” “Exotic Dancer,” “Unintentional Flasher,” and “Person Who Passed Out In Public.” Despite her attention-grabbing moves —or, perhaps, because of them — she hasn’t been able to book any gigs bigger than Boardwalk and Nurse. Her last several projects have yet to be released, and she has yet to confirm any new projects. We’re sure it didn’t help when she was severely injured after an ambulance struck her, breaking her tailbone, on the set of Nurse 3D. She has since sued Lionsgate for damages and is currently waiting as her case moves forward.
4. Kevin Jonas
The pure, maybe-gay Jonas Brother is mostly known nowadays for his cutesy marriage to Danielle Deleasa, whom he randomly met in the Bahamas. Partly due to his new role as a father of two, he hasn’t put out any new music since the Jonas Brothers split in 2012. Apparently, the former boy bander is now pursuing a career as a contractor — and it seems to be working for him. He even drummed up some business by appearing on Real Housewives of New Jersey, where he seemed fairly competent as he led construction on housewife Kathy Wakile’s home, despite his obvious lack of business savvy that he had demonstrated during his previous stint on Celebrity Apprentice. He also managed to avoid any on-screen drama, which is a true feat on any Real Housewives episode. Now you know that he’s available in case you want a pop star to collaborate with you on your next patio extension! No word yet on whether Kevin delivers his invoices through song.
3. Kathy Griffin
Since My Life on the D-List bowed in 2010 after successfully raising Kathy Griffin off of the D-List, the snarky comedienne extraordinaire has launched a talk show — which ran for two seasons — and taken up a regular New Years Eve hosting gig with Anderson Cooper. However, other than making brief appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Lopez, Griffin hasn’t done much since her last stand-up special in 2013. She is, of course, continuing to tour the country with her stand-up, but it seems that she is happy with lounging about her Bel Air mansion these days. (Kim and Kanye are her next-door neighbors.) Your best shot at seeing her on TV might be to witness SNL featured player Melissa Villasenor’s spot-on impression of her, which she debuted on America’s Got Talent. Villasenor also recently broke out her shtick in an impression-heavy sketch on Octavia Spencer’s episode of SNL.
2. Jack Gleeson
Jack Gleeson is perhaps the only celebrity on this list who has slowed down his career voluntarily. After nailing his love-to-hate role as Joffrey on Game of Thrones, Gleeson publicly announced that he was retiring from acting. Apparently, the sensitive soul at the heart of TV’s most hated villain (until Ramsay Snow/Bolton came along) couldn’t rise above the online hate that his character received. He has since changed his tune, but at the time of his “retirement,” he claimed that the pushback he received from fans had made him dislike acting in general. Gleeson may never move on from Joffrey — not even old uncovered stills from his Batman Begins cameo as a tiny non-sociopathic child have been able to shake the stench of evil Joffrey from his cherubic visage — but he’s at least continuing to create things. Reportedly, he is working with his theater company Collapsing Horse and developing a show for Adult Swim.
1. Hilary Swank
With two Best Actress Oscars, Hilary Swank is arguably one of Hollywood’s best working actresses. Why, then, has she failed to make a blip on our radar lately? Her latest, 2014’s critically-acclaimed The Homesman, was essentially a straight-to-DVD release, and she has only led a couple of high-profile hits since winning an Academy Award for Million Dollar Baby. One might argue that her star has dimmed with clunkers like The Reaping and Amelia, or that P.S. I Love You wasn’t beloved enough to carve out a niche for her in more audience-friendly cinema. We choose to believe that she’s just slightly out of luck and that her upcoming work with Michael Shannon on What They Had, and with Steven Soderbergh on Logan Lucky, will restart her career. We’re also not counting out another Oscar campaign: She’s still young, and there’s no shortage of prestige material out there. (Or backless dresses!)
Sources: www.hollywoodreporter.com, www.etonline.com, www.nydailynews.com, www.vulture.com, www.independent.co.uk, www.usmagazine.com, www.complex.com, www.dailymail.co.uk