Hollywood is a touch and go business. For a lot of stars, it can be difficult to break through from being an extra into being a leading character. And those that do manage to break through sometimes only get that one chance. Any number of things can keep their careers from taking off, like canceled shoots, movie theater screening competition, and box office flops never really getting their deserved recognition. The industry is fickle, and one slip can turn you from an A List celeb into a No Way List celeb. Sometimes there are stars that haven’t fallen victim to chance. They’re the ones who soared to a great height of fame quickly and let it go to their heads. Instead of being victim of industry whims, they’ve actively made choices or said things that have forced the industry to stop hiring them. Read on for horror stories of demands, disasters, and people that went way too method to ever be considered castable again.
20. Michael Cera
Poor Michael Cera. The king of pubescent awkwardness, Hollywood picked him up after his success on the kids’ show circuit. He did great work on the Berenstein Bears, and then picked up his most famous gig on Arrested Development as the misadventurous son George Michael. Hollywood pegged him quickly as quiet, awkward, and oh-so-lovable, throwing him into big hits like Juno and Superbad. He flourished in these so-bad-they’re-good characters, charming us with his cluelessness and endearing haplessness. He’s kind of like the friend that’s always there when you need him; he’s a good support, and that’s how he should have stayed. Hollywood’s mistake was casting him in a starring role, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This movie was a big flop, breaking the hearts of everyone who’s ever loved Cera (and the graphic novels). He couldn’t quite seem to come back from this, and has since dabbled in music, indie movies, and what could almost be called… Comedy?
19. Kristen Stewart
We all know her as the moody, broody teenage girl from the Twilight Saga. But Kristen Stewart had a strong, quiet history beforehand. Working with the likes of Jodie Foster, Stewart was merely building on the scaffolding of a career she had when she took the Twilight movies. These made her a household name (in any house that had a teenage girl in it at least) and seemed to be the big break she needed to continue on her path to stardom. Unfortunately, personal life made a splash in the tabloids and combined with a flop of a movie (or two), she ended up stopping on the path before walking too far down it. Even though Hollywood decided to toss her out in the cold, she’s found herself a comfy home in the indie film circuit. She won a Cesar award and has managed to do some intelligent work in movies that like to comment on, and breakdown the stereotypes of, desirability and gender.
18. Mel Gibson
How many more ‘Mel’tdown jokes can we make? Mel Gibson was granted immunity for a long time by the Hollywood gods, but back in 2010 they finally cut him off. Hurling abuse and profanity at his wife, most of the world lost interest in him after his female directed, racist, and violent tendencies were brought to light. The public refused to let him get away with it, and even though he achieved a huge cult following from movies like Mad Max, it wasn’t enough to excuse him anymore. The pressure had been building for a while, if we look at the history. From calling a police officer “sugar tits” to spouting homophobic statements in interviews, everyone seemed to turn a blind eye. Drunk driving couldn’t even get him torn to public shreds! It was just a matter of time until we wouldn’t stand for his excuses anymore, and took him down the notch that he needed to be dropped down to. His production and direction of a film about the crucifixion also didn’t help… But at least that one wasn’t hurting anyone. Good riddance to Gibson, we say, and we hope he’s getting the help he needs now.
17. Josh Hartnett
Self-sabotage is a sad, sad thing. It happens to the best of us: we stay up too late the night before a job interview, or we scream too much at a concert the day before a choir performance. These things are sometimes so unconscious it’s hard to think of them as self-sabotage. Josh Hartnett, however, was fully aware of what he was doing when he sabotaged his career. Hartnett was supposedly scared of his own potential fame and success, turning down Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman roles for a vacation away from Hollywood. Part of this was due to his desire to not be typecast, as so often happens to the superheroes of our world. Respectable choice, but it’s made it difficult for him to garner back the prized place in Hollywood he had. He’s done well for himself as a television actor, playing the lead on the hit series Penny Dreadful. Well done, Harnett! Just don’t disappear this time.
16. John Travolta
Hollywood isn’t heartless. They won’t cut someone off in the blink of an eye, despite what some people might think. Stars rise to fame for good reason, and in John Travolta’s case he did have capacity for humour and drama in his acting. Hollywood did well to cast the talented singer and actor in movies like Saturday Night Fever and Grease. He had a bit of a demise after his initial hits, but then got a leg up. Some stars seem to get chance after chance, and Travolta is one of those lucky few. Tarantino cast him in Pulp Fiction and the result was a legendary movie full of humour and well-timed effects. Still people name Pulp Fiction as one of their favorite movies, and likely for decades to come this will be the case. However, this seemed to be the end of Travolta’s magic. Scientology took hold of him; Hollywood might not really care about their stars’ personal beliefs, but when those stars begin to act in movies perpetuating Scientology, the scene becomes a little wary of them. Travolta was one of these, lending his failing talents and production credits to a movie about L. Ron Hubbard: Scientology’s leading force.
15. Eddie Murphy
We all have dear memories of watching Eddie Murphy in any of his various roles during our childhoods. Dr. Doolittle is still one of the funniest movies out there, and can arguably be considered a contemporary classic. At least, as far as comedies are concerned. What a lot of us don’t know, however, is the fact that even though Eddie Murphy had many hits, he had almost as many… Not hits. They can’t be considered flops, because people would have had to see them to be able to consider them flops. These movies, like Vampire in Brooklyn, and Norbit, resulted in Eddie Murphy never quite breaking even in terms of his star-studded street cred. He lost his swing, and he lost his popularity. Sometimes Hollywood reaches out to him with offers. Beverly Hills Cop 4 was a last ditch effort to get him back on the map, with middling success. At this point it’s Hollywood’s best option to dump Murphy and let the classics become real classics.
14. Taylor Kitsch
It’s a running theme in Hollywood that as soon as you’re dropped from leading roles, you jump into the spotlight of popular television channels. For Taylor Kitsch, he sidled up to HBO and never left. Originally a super actor, Hollywood laid claim to him after his Wolverine movie became a hit. After that and his role in Friday Night Lights, they decided he was what the Hollywood scene needed. His easy acting style and powerful presence brought him success quick, but he perhaps took too many liberties in the type of work he took. Battleship and John Carter were two movies that shouldn’t have even been made, let alone had Kitsch star in. The quality of story of both was bad, the effects were worse, and Kitsch was no longer the star ember Hollywood wanted to fan. He left the limelight before even really getting his toes wet, which is a shame. Luckily he’s gaining work with his new home channel, HBO, which is getting him slowly back into the movie game… Only time will tell if Hollywood will let him back in though!
13. Amanda Bynes
Remember The Amanda Show? Quirky, clever, and funny, this lady was tired of playing the same type of roles day in and day out. Innocent teen life hit the fan when she tried to instigate her own metamorphosis. From sexy ad campaigns to grown up movies, Bynes was beginning to get her wish. More people were paying attention to what she was becoming, but this also means the pressure she felt started to build. She pushed her reputation off the edge and went from being a model actor to being a disappointing, dangerous, argumentative case. Alleged hit and runs, DUIs, and hissy fits on set all pointed towards her dissatisfaction with her life. Eventually, she decided to make the choice to leave acting. While this wasn’t Hollywood shunning her, it certainly could have gotten that far had she not stepped away from the spotlight. Good luck, Amanda. We’re excited to see what you do next.
12. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf is actually just… Bad. From his Family channel days when we were all a little in love with him, he’s grown into a bad-mouthed, morally ambiguous ‘artist’, with a very specific plan for the demise of his career. Not only did he speak poorly about a movie he was in, but he also slandered the director and writer too. This was the first nail in his coffin. The second came when he decided to take on some awfully strange independent projects, including a movie where it’s rumored he actually got it on on camera… Not just faked it, like they usually do for Hollywood romantic scenes. What a shame he thought this was the way to grow out of his Family channel phase. He should have taken the Miley Cyrus route, shocking us with a message and growing as an artist instead of just plain shocking us. Who knows what will happen in the future for Shia LaBeouf. All we know is that we’re excited to watch.
11. Macaulay Culkin
WOW! When was the last time he was in the news?! Some people seem to age better than others, especially in show biz. Macaulay is one of the ones who didn’t age well, seeming to be stuck in an awkward no man’s land of “I never want to grow up but I’m vastly too big to be cast as the cute kid again”. He started off strong as a child, starring in the Christmas favorite, Home Alone. He didn’t, however, continue on so strong. He was in the animated movie The Pagemaster, which wasn’t received well. After that, he tried to again make a comeback with the Richie Rich movie. The poor guy just couldn’t catch a break, though, and Hollywood firmly sealed off his position of fame. Culkin is a relic now, though who knows what he’ll get up to next. Keep your eyes peeled in case he tries to revive the Home Alone series… Again!
10. John Cusack
This man has had a career longer than the length of most marriages. His movie career started back in the 80s, and grew quietly but steadily until the recent past. Pegged originally as a teen heartthrob, he was one of those actors that seemed to fit in regardless of what was going on in the story. He could take on any character and keep his wit and charm; a great talent for any actor to have. All good things come to an end, however, but he looked on the bright side and was content with his smaller roles. That is to say, until he was cast in lower and lower budget pieces. Lately he’s been getting cast in movies that haven’t been bad, just disappointing. This is maybe more damaging to his career though, as he can’t even blame the movies for the demise of his career. Our best guess is that he’s just fizzled out, even though his star continues to burn. It’s nice to see him still in the limelight, but he’s definitely not the heartthrob he once was.
9. Renee Zellweger
This talented lady was a huge hit in the Hollywood scene. Able to pull off adorable, dangerous, and hilarious, she could handle whatever movie they decided to throw at her. Doing equally well in both Chicago and Bridget Jones’s Diary, it seemed that she could do no wrong. That is until she ended up getting overwhelmed by a string of duds and dubious parts. She took herself out of stardom, citing the fact that she wanted to grow up a little. We’re impressed by her capacity for self-awareness, and it’s clear she made a good choice. Her hiatus brought her back looking healthier and happier, and she managed to regain her place in Hollywood through the third Bridget Jones installment. Bravo, Renee Zellweger! It’s a true sign of talent to be able to show compassion for yourself and your work and then come back with an out of the park hit.
8. Steven Seagal
This action man had a plan, and getting dropped from Hollywood blockbusters wasn’t it. Unfortunately for him, his action turned into boring repetition and his movies turned from exciting to… Blah. Still, with a cult following, Steven Seagal managed to continue his stream of work even after more or less dropping off the map. Directors and producers alike wanted the legend of the name, rather than the man himself. Growing less and less convincing as buff, rough, and tough action hero, Seagal took what he could get. This includes those wholesome family titles like Gutshot Straight. No wonder Hollywood won’t touch him. At least Seagal still has his martial arts training, though. He’s passing on the torch to eager young professionals in Russia, where his joke of a class gets put on. There are videos online showing off his “moves”, and we recommend you look them up the next time you need some entertainment.
7. Mickey Rourke
Fighter turned actor turned fighter turned… Actor? Rourke can’t seem to make up his mind when it comes to a career, and neither can Hollywood. He was originally brought onto the scene with his signature “sexy bad boy” look that the 80s loved so much. The 80s loved him so much that they totally went to his head; illegal substances and some scary behavior destroyed the reputation he had built up, and directors nailed his coffin shut with phrases like “difficult to work with” and “erratic”. Rourke decided to step out of the spotlight and instead go back to boxing, which was his first love. After a set of poor fights which left him with nearly permanent neurological damage, he decided to come back to the world of lights, camera, action. Hollywood did indeed give him a second chance, and is slowly trying to build his career up again. While there have been some slip-ups, the work he’s booking now is steadily growing bigger and better. Let’s hope he doesn’t slip back into his old habits… Hollywood won’t give him a third chance.
6. Sylvester Stallone
Known to many as the Italian Stallion, this once upon a time heart throb lost his seat of power sometime in the 90s. Hollywood loved him because of his capacity for both comedic acting and dramatic, action filled fights. He rose to fame with movies like Rocky and Rambo. His timing and go get ‘em style of stunts caught everyone’s attention and turned Stallone into the next big thing. And he was big! For a while. But, like all the others, his star burned out in a sizzle of lowered expectations. Judge Dredd was his worst film, and everyone started to question why Stallone was so big to start with. A steady flow of work kept pouring in, but it wasn’t the type of work Stallone should have taken. Films that were so-so didn’t do much to boost his career, though they did give him a self-confidence boost. Self-confidence doesn’t put stars back on the map, though, as Stallone found out. He’s doomed to repeat himself in Rocky and Rambo remakes. But hey, at least he found his niche!
5. Drew Barrymore
No one likes a person who blames their downfall on somebody else. Luckily Drew Barrymore is one of the people who doesn’t. We do it for her! Our theory about why her career went down the tubes is her one big flop, Big Miracle. This was the movie that happened right on the cusp of her hitting the big leagues of Hollywood, and was meant to be a testament to her star power. A weak story didn’t mean much to the producers of this movie, who thought that her name would be enough to draw people in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. No one ever really watched this movie, and it was almost impossible for her to comeback from such a spectacular flop. Barrymore is a smart woman, though and has found a revitalizing niche in Adam Sandler’s work (though he’s not exactly the golden boy he once was). Maybe we’ll see her again one day gracing the big screen; for now, she’s stuck with bit parts and off-radar movie roles.
4. Taylor Lautner
While there is lots of speculation about why Taylor Lautner is not castable anymore, the fact of the matter is that he has just lost whatever spark he had. Similar to Kristen Stewart, the Twilight franchise launched his blossoming career into fully fledged success story. If only he could continue it! After Twilight Lautner decided to dedicate himself to more of a title role. Everyone expected Abduction to be a huge hit, especially with Lautner as ringmaster. Unfortunately what we got was just the opposite. Critics destroyed Lautner, saying he had no acting ability and was relying on his looks. Combined with a not-great plot, the movie was destined for failure… And it just so happened to take down Lautner’s career too. Good riddance, we think. At least we will never have to question another one of his publicity stunt relationships! And you also get to see him on the new season of Scream Queens…maybe this role will help him to get back to where he once was!
3. Alex Pettyfer
Ever heard of him? This Magic Mike star seemed to fall flat before rising at all. Like a disappointing cake, Alex Pettyfer promised a lot and delivered very little. When we wanted sweet, sugary goodness, he gave us rude comments and a Debbie Downer attitude. He hated Hollywood, and he seemed to hate most of the people he worked with. He was vocal about it too, which is part of the reason why he was dropped so quickly. It’s one thing to speak confidentially to a friend about how much you hate someone, but it’s quite another to tell interviewers and publicists about a deeply rooted hatred of your costar or place of employment. Rumor has it they’re giving him a second chance. Despite all the harsh words and latent rage, he actually received some accolades for his acting. He was in high demand before Hollywood dropped him, and it looks like they want to bring him back. No doubt under strict confidentiality agreements though.
2. Hilary Swank
What a shame that such a talented, young woman was pushed aside by Hollywood. There are no stories out there of a bad attitude, addiction, or any uncalled for demands. Hilary Swank seemed to be nice, talented, hard-working woman Hollywood would jump all over. Unfortunately, Hollywood got a little scared of her success. She won two Oscars almost back to back, gaining fame and acclaim early on in her career. By the time she was 30 she’d achieved more than most people can even dream of, and Hollywood was finished with it. What goes up must come down, and her career started to nosedive. She got a few roles in other movies, but nothing as notable or nomination worthy as her first two. 90210, the show she’d been on for what felt like ever, dropped her as well. There seemed to be no end to the tailspin, but luckily Swank found satisfaction in other aspects of life. Her charity work and volunteer work is off the charts, and we’d give her another Oscar for that any day of the week!
1. Nicolas Cage
Some people get wrecked by a Hollywood shun, and some people turn into legends. Nicolas Cage is the latter. Star of numerous bad action films, supposed heart-wrenchers, and a lot of cheesy plot lines, Nicolas Cage has turned into an almost household name from the sheer ridiculousness of his career. While he was originally an up-and-coming star by Hollywood’s standards, they soon discovered just how much talent he had… Or should we say, didn’t have. Overblown and over dramatic, Nicolas Cage isn’t the young prodigy everyone thought he was. Quickly it became clear he really had one character, and one vaguely confused expression he used for all his roles. He’s managed to turn it into a niche look though; one in which the internet goes crazy for. Who can blame Tumblr for heralding him as the comedic photoshop fodder we all know and love? Just look at that hilarious face. And when you get right down to it, doesn’t that just mean he’s surpassed Hollywood fame?