Andy Warhol once predicted that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. With social media as a way for your next-door neighbor to make the big time, he’s probably right about that! Unfortunately, when everyone gets to be famous for 15 minutes, no one ever lasts all that long.
Certain characteristics, like the perfect role, the right look, or the ideal connection can all contribute to an actor hitting it big, but all of those things can be taken away in an instant. Once that perfect role ends, they might learn that they can’t be cast in anything else – they and their character are forever linked. Or, if they’re trading on their looks, as they get older, what was once cute or sexy doesn’t fare so well 20 years down the road. Or, perhaps they mess up their connections, burn their bridges, and earn a reputation for being impossible to work with, stopping their professional rise in its tracks. One could overcome almost any of these issues if they had enough talent. Too bad for these 15 celebs, whatever modicum of talent they once possessed wasn’t enough to land them on a celebrity list – unless you call them “has-beens”!
15 Jennifer Love-Hewitt: Lost Her Looks, Lost Her Career
The ‘90s and early ‘00s spat out a lot of forgettable and awful actors, not the least of which was Jennifer Love-Hewitt. Love-Hewitt got her start catering to the teen demographic, in films like Can’t Hardly Wait and the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise. Unfortunately, with those being her most notable credits, it’s easy to see why Love-Hewitt doesn’t land anywhere on Hollywood’s radar any longer: she just isn’t good enough!
Tinseltown has had its fair share of mediocrity – and Love-Hewitt will find a couple of her peers on this list – but with recent so-so TV acting credits to her filmography and the unfortunate distinction of having a petition launched to have her written OFF of a show, we don’t see her returning to silver- or small-screen stardom any time soon.
14 Brendan Fraser: Age Wasn't His Friend
Brendan Fraser was a bonafide hunk during his heyday, with films like The Mummy and George of the Jungle under his belt, proving that he was as deft at comedy as he was at action. Too bad for Fraser, though, his silly expressions and good looks didn’t give him the staying power he needed to keep it up.
While he had a couple hits with critical and commercial successes like Gods and Monsters and The Quiet American, everyone agreed that it was easy to see how his acting skills failed to stack up next to his more talented costars, like Ian McKellen and Michael Caine. In all fairness, Fraser does have a couple TV projects lined up, but it’s nothing compared to the massive blockbusters that put him on the map in the first place.
13 Ashton Kutcher: His Netflix Show Is A Bust
It’s a rare moment when a male actor in Hollywood ends up making the tabloids more for his personal life than his professional career, but that’s what happened to Ashton Kutcher! Like others on this list, Kutcher got his start on TV, playing the dorky dreamboat Kelso on That 70s Show. What came next was a slew of middling movie rom-coms like Just Married, My Boss’s Daughter, What Happens in Vegas, and No Strings Attached, but it was really his marriage – and eventual divorce from – Demi Moore, who was 16 years his senior that kept him in the public eye.
Since then, Kutcher hasn’t exactly lost out on work per se, but his goofy frat boy schtick hasn’t aged well. Instead, he’s created a happy domestic life with wife (and former costar) Mila Kunis and does a lot of good work with his human rights organization, Thorn.
12 Billy Zane: His Career Sunk With The Titanic
Oh, poor Billy Zane! The most hated dude from Titanic hasn’t done nearly as well for himself as he probably hoped, and despite the fact that the blockbuster took home a then-record of 10 Academy Awards, Zane found himself always in the shadow of his snooty character Cal.
Perhaps because he played the part TOO well, Zane couldn’t shake his image of the rich villain and he never landed a better gig than that one, way back in 1997. Sure, in 2000 he had a cameo as himself in Zoolander and he hasn’t stopped working since – it’s just that he’s mostly popped up in things no one has ever heard of and even fewer have seen! Cal may have not gotten his comeuppance, but Billy Zane took enough of it for the both of them!
11 Jessica Biel: Can't Find Work After Becoming A Mom
In all fairness to Jessica Biel – whose most noteworthy accomplishment is marrying Justin Timberlake – she does have the lead role in the series The Sinner, which is boasting an impressive 8.0 score on IMDb. However, with that very recent acting credit aside, it seems that a career in show business just wasn’t in the cards for Biel after she shook off some of youthful sexiness that made her so bankable in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
After finding success with the TV series 7th Heaven for a decade, Biel transitioned to films, but soon complained about her inability to find good roles – something she credited with being “too pretty” to cast, rather than having the personality and range of a dish towel. She popped up in forgettable remakes and rom-coms before delving into voiceover work, but her repertoire isn’t nearly what we expected from the actress.
10 Taylor Lautner: One Hit Wonder
Of the three stars of the Twilight franchise, it seems that only Taylor Lautner has been unable to break out from underneath the series’ massive success while costars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart went on to critical and commercial success past their vampire alter-egos. His role as werewolf Jacob Black required little talent, a buff bod, and an ability to smolder, which Lautner had in spades. Outside of the Stephenie Meyer series, though, Lautner fell flat.
A combination of typecasting, mediocre abilities, and an overestimated value spelled disaster for the actor, who is determined to be thought of as more than just a pretty face. His recent appearance on the second season of the now-cancelled Scream Queens is his most recent acting credit, with nothing new on the horizon and honestly, we don’t feel that worse off for it!
9 Nicolas Cage: Too Creepy To Cast
It might shock you to learn this, but Nicolas Cage is actually an Academy Award winner! Yes, the guy who has accumulated a slew of terrible movies and vowed to steal the Declaration of Independence has Oscar gold to his name! To be totally fair to Cage, it’s not that he’s not being cast anymore – it’s that he’s not being cast in anything GOOD. Going critical and commercial smash hits like Adaptation and Face/Off to what he’s doing now is just sad, and most likely a result of Cage’s bankruptcy. When you’re taking roles just to pay the bills, you can’t be too picky!
You might think that, with an upcoming SIX movies to his name, Cage doesn’t belong on this list, but we’re looking at quality as well as quantity, and while he still gets cast, it’s a far cry from the work he was doing in his heyday!
8 Katherine Heigl: Should Have Stayed On Grey's Anatomy
Proof that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you, we have Katherine Heigl. After a successful stint on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Heigl decided to publicly pull her name from Emmy contention, citing her belief that she wasn’t given good enough material to work with that year, and so didn’t deserve to be considered. Then, she badmouthed the surprise hit Knocked Up, calling it sexist. Combined, she shot herself in the foot and her career hasn’t ever recovered.
As a result of opening her big mouth, Heigl has churned out lame, tired romantic-comedies ones after the other (see: Killers, Life As We Know It, and The Big Wedding) and tried her hand at TV again, only to have both of her projects axed after just a few episodes, despite having full seasons produced. Hey, when it comes to Hollywood, it’s all about who you know!
7 Alex Pettyfer: Burned Way Too Many Bridges
They say that to make it Hollywood, you need good looks, luck, talent, and connections. Well, Alex Pettyfer had the first two, failed to impress on the third, and burned all the bridges he had for the fourth!
When we were first introduced to Pettyfer, he was the hunky lead in Magic Mike, opposite the more seasoned Channing Tatum. We expected big things from the gorgeous Brit, but then he decided not to play nice with costar and producer Tatum, leading to one of the biggest feuds on-set in recent film history. Simply put, Pettyfer was spoiled, and believed that he should be treated as though he were more than a young actor getting his first big break. He ended up not being asked back for the massively successful sequel and has only had a few minor acting credits to his name since Magic Mike’s 2012 release.
6 Dane Cook: Funny Man Downward Spiral
Remember Dane Cook? He was the biggest thing in comedy in the mid-2000s, which shows how terrible our collective taste was. While comedians don’t always transition well into film or TV – and may in fact prefer it that way – Cook seemed to want to soak up as much airtime as he could get, which translated into forgettable flicks like Employee of the Month and My Best Friend’s Girl. Then, trying to capture some small-screen success, Cook had a series set to go on NBC – until they cancelled it before it even aired!
Adding insult to injury, Cook’s success as a comic dried up, as rumours of joke theft abounded, his comedy album sales stalled, and he made a bad joke about the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting so yeah, we don’t feel all that bad for him.
5 Hugh Grant: Rom-Com King Has Been Replaced
With his own strange brand of blinky British charm, Hugh Grant managed to rack up a bunch of major successes in the rom-com department, playing both the object of the protagonist’s affections (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) and the bad boy (Bridget Jones’s Diary, About a Boy). From the early ‘90s to the early ‘00s, he had a pretty good run of things, until he decided that the whole romantic comedy scene bored him and he wanted to try his talents elsewhere.
Big mistake. Huge.
While Grant popped up in a couple of things that were set to be big blockbusters, like Cloud Atlas and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., both didn’t do nearly as well as expected. While this might be his own decision, having said he might be “too old” for show business, he’s certainly not having directors beating down his door, either!
4 Eva Mendes: Forever Living In Her Husband's Shadow
Similar to Jessica Biel, Eva Mendes did okay when she first started out in movies, but nothing terribly noteworthy. She was beautiful and sexy, but only appeared in “okay” movies. Then, she got married to someone whose star eclipsed hers, settled down into domestic life, and hasn’t really left much of a ripple since!
Playing mom and wife to husband Ryan Gosling, Mendes was once expected to be the next big Latina star, someone whose star was to rise as high as Jennifer Lopez’s. She could do action and comedy, as well as drama, like in The Place Beyond the Pines in 2012, where she met Gosling. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and it seems that the sultry screen siren has chosen a simpler life instead of the one of Hollywood – her last acting credit was in 2014 with no new ones in sight!
3 Meg Ryan: Botched Face = No Casting Calls
The quirky-cute star of ‘90s rom-coms, we have Meg Ryan, whose adorable girl-next-door good looks and klutzy-cute antics didn’t age well, as one would expect when the actress is in her 50s and not her 20s. With classics like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle solidifying her golden girl status, the future was bright for Ryan – until it wasn’t.
Hollywood is a cruel mistress to women, especially those who dare to age. Ryan’s unfortunate decision to go under the knife and alter her face erased any resemblance to the girl from those ‘80s and ‘90s flicks. Her “trout pout” as it was called, was ridiculed all over the tabloids as she sought to surgically recapture her youth, which led to her being removed from casting directors’ must-haves and remaining only when we rewatch the classics.
2 Freddie Prinze Jr: This 90s Heartthrob is Totally MIA
Another casualty of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, we have perennial heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr. Do you remember that his success in everything was such a guarantee that the guy even had his own eponymous sitcom from 2005 to 2006? The decade was a crazy time! Unfortunately for Prinze Jr., though, being an “It Guy” is a tough gig and one that isn’t prone to lasting once you get older.
In 2010, after a string of teen hits in the 1990s, he turned to TV again with a role on 24, which caused the actor to turn away from his career entirely, saying the experience made him want to quite the business! Well, luckily for him, he wasn’t in as much demand any longer, and has turned his attention to cooking and cookbook-writing, a favourite among failed former stars.
1 Sarah Michelle Gellar: Buffy No More
Wife of our last entry Freddie Prinze Jr., we have Buffy Summers herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar! Like her hubby, Gellar was an “It Girl”, taking Hollywood by storm on the small screen and the big screen, with starring roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I Know What You Did Last Summer. She proved that she could turn the blonde girl stereotype on its head and kick some major butt, but after the show ended in 2003, Gellar found it difficult to get more work. She tried to get back into TV, but both attempts – Ringer and The Crazy Ones – were forgettable and ditched after one season. Like Prinze Jr., Gellar has since gone on to starting a “food and lifestyle brand” and does get voiceover work, but it’s not the meteoric success we expected from our favourite vampire slayer.