For anyone that is above a certain age, it can sometimes feel like the 2000s took place not that long ago. However, in reality, that decade started 19 years ago! Given that lengthy timeframe, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that many of the most successful actors from the 2000s have seen their career hit the skids since then.
As the decade in which many big action stars from the '80s and '90s took a backseat, during the 2000s moviegoers got to see many talented female actors come to the forefront. With all of that in mind, it is time to take a look at this list of 20 actresses from the 2000s that Hollywood needs to embrace yet again.
In order for an actor to be considered for this list, she first and foremost must have been famous during the 2000s. That said, it is perfectly fine if she’d already attained some success in the previous decades, as long as she is best known for work she did in the '90s. Finally, the actress needs to have largely disappeared from the limelight since then and be so good at her job that it is a shame that she no longer receives the highest-quality roles.
20 Eva Mendes
Formerly a pretty big movie star, Eva Mendes appeared in a long list of films including the likes of Training Day, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Hitch, Ghost Rider, The Other Guys, and many more. On top of that, considering how stellar her performances were in films like We Own the Night and The Place Beyond the Pines, Mendes clearly could have been great in several other films.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t acted since 2014. In fact, the only reason Mendes didn’t top this list is that she seems to have chosen to take a step back from acting but we’re sure Hollywood could convince her to act again if they offered her the right roles.
19 Monica Bellucci
An Italian actor who carries herself with such a high level of grace that she stands out in virtually every group, even in the world of Hollywood Monica Bellucci is in a class of her own. Best known for her roles in the Matrix franchise, Spectre, and The Passion of the Christ among others, she no longer seems to be taking over the English-speaking acting world.
Although she's still regularly cast in movies that don’t get mainstream releases in North America, we can’t help but wish that the powers that be in Hollywood continued to recruit Bellucci for more English-speaking projects.
18 Elisha Cuthbert
In truth, when Elisha Cuthbert first appeared in the hit show 24 she was okay in her role but she wasn’t exactly going to impress the socks off anyone with her acting chops. However, in the years since then, she has proven that her real forte is starring in comedic projects.
For instance, she was solid in movies like Old School and the often underrated movie The Girl Next Door. However, she has never been better than when she starred in the cult classic show Happy Endings. Currently a part of a forgettable Netflix series, it is about time Cuthbert was cast in another comedy series in which she can truly excel.
17 AnnaSophia Robb
When it comes to the career of the former child and teen star AnnaSophia Robb, the best word to describe it is baffling. Able to stand out early on due to her roles in movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Bridge to Terabithia, it was clear that Hollywood producers liked her skills a lot. In fact, she was even chosen to play Carrie Bradshaw in a highly anticipated but short-lived spin-off series in the early 2010s.
However, even though she was wonderful in several 2010s movies like Soul Surfer and The Way, Way Back, Robb has largely disappeared from the acting scene of late, which is a crying shame.
16 Joan Allen
If you have ever questioned how accurate claims are that female actors are often ignored by Hollywood as they age, then we point you to the infuriating recent treatment of the veteran actor Joan Allen. First seen on screen in the early '80s, Allen went on to be nominated for a long list of accolades for roles in '90s movies like Nixon, The Crucible, The Ice Storm, and Pleasantville.
However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that moviegoers got to see her in the role of a lifetime when she played The Contender’s main character. A 3-time Oscar nominee whose career deserves to be called legendary, despite her incredible resume and skills Allen hasn’t appeared on the big screen since 2015.
15 Shannyn Sossamon
For anyone who doesn’t pay attention to the acting world, it really can be a pretty wild business. For instance, for several years in the 2000s, it was abundantly clear that producers thought that Shannyn Sossamon was poised to be the next big star. Seen in movies like A Knight’s Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Rules of Attraction, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Holiday among others, she managed to entertain audiences in each of her notable roles.
Despite that, Hollywood seemed to fall out of love with Sossamon just as quickly as they pushed her into the spotlight. For several years now she has been in search of her next big role, which makes no sense.
14 Kirsten Dunst
First able to make her mark when she was still a child, in 1994 the world got to see a hint of what Kirsten Dunst is capable of due to her stunning performance in the movie Interview with the Vampire. From there, Dunst would become a movie star after starring in the Spider-Man trilogy, and she also became an indie darling due to her work in movies like Melancholia.
Most recently able to impress audiences with her work in 2015’s second season of the show Fargo, that fact alone should have led to a career renaissance for Dunst. Unfortunately, her career has only gone downhill since then and so far in 2019, she is only set to be a part of a YouTube Premium series.
13 Schuyler Fisk
Someone who has worked consistently since the early '70s and managed to make everything she was a part of better, to say that we respect Sissy Spacek as an actor is a massive understatement. The eldest daughter of acting royalty, Spacek’s child Schuyler Fisk grew up to be an artist in her own right. Seen in movies like Snow Day and Orange County in the early 2000s, Fisk was simply lovable in both films but after that, she stopped getting notable roles so she focused on her singing career instead.
While Fisk may be happy performing her music, we remember how delightful she was on the big screen and want Hollywood to give us more of her!
12 Lindsay Lohan
During Lindsay Lohan’s time in the public eye, she has enjoyed the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Previously a massive multimedia star who headlined a series of movies and released hit music at the same time, after a while Lohan’s career hit the skids. After several years appearing in lambasted movies, in 2012 Lohan attempted an acting comeback but her performance in the critically decimated movie Liz & Dick did nothing to help her career.
However, remembering how good she was in movies like The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls, we have a hard time believing that she couldn’t be a reliable actor again if given the right opportunities.
11 Virginia Madsen
Previously a teen movie star from the '80s, during the '90s Virginia Madsen starred in films like Candyman, The Prophecy, and Ghosts of Mississippi. Always bubbling under the surface during the first two decades of her career, Madsen then landed a lead role in the critically acclaimed movie Sideways.
Immediately after that, her career was given a short-term boost but in recent years she has only managed to land minor roles in large projects or lead parts in little-seen ones. Given the fact that Sideways only became a sensation because Madsen was so relatable in her role, that is very disappointing.
10 Rachel Bilson
Definitely, one of the biggest shows of the 2000s, when The O.C. first began airing it was such a huge deal that a lot of people enjoyed weekly viewing parties. As a result, all of the show’s actors became pretty big stars at the time and it could be argued that Rachel Bilson was the most popular of them all.
Cast as Summer Roberts on the show, before long Bilson was able to take a popular female character and turn her into a lovable young woman who millions of fans cared deeply about. Despite that proven track record, it seems like Hollywood doesn’t have confidence in her abilities as she has become forgotten in recent years. If you ask us, that needs to change very soon.
9 Catherine Zeta-Jones
One of those select few actors who seem like they were born for the job, Catherine Zeta-Jones appears to be fantastic at every aspect of being a movie star. For instance, she won an Oscar for her role in a musical, she has starred in blockbuster films like The Mask of Zorro and Ocean’s Twelve, and she instantly makes any project she is a part of seem glamorous.
Given all of that, it is surprising that Zeta-Jones isn’t a big part of the Hollywood machine these days. Instead, she hasn’t really starred in a high-profile role since the mid-2000s.
8 Jennifer Garner
First made famous when she starred in the early 2000s TV spy series Alias, during her time on that show it seemed like Jennifer Garner would become a huge movie star as soon as it came to an end. Unfortunately, she went on to star in the much-criticized superhero movie Daredevil and since then it has been pretty obvious that many movie producers don’t take her seriously.
However, she has been quietly proving that she is a great actor who deserves another Hollywood push with her work in movies like Dallas Buyers Club, Wakefield, Danny Collins, and Love, Simon among others.
7 Selma Blair
Turned into a star when she played an innocent person who gets corrupted by a pair of half-siblings in the movie Cruel Intentions, that film only hinted at what Selma Blair was capable of. Since then she's been seen in movies like the Hellboy series, Legally Blonde, The Sweetest Thing, and several others. Blair also found success on TV when she starred in the sitcom Anger Management.
Eventually let go from that show due to her strained relationship with series lead Charlie Sheen, she deserves another role that is worthy of her obvious skills. Blair has recently gone public with the fact that she has Multiple Sclerosis and people with diseases like that deserve more onscreen representation.
6 Jena Malone
Another former child star who has made this list, Jena Malone first stood out during the late '90s when she shared the screen with screen legends in movies like Contact, Stepmom, and For Love of the Game. After that, she became an indie darling with her work in movies like Donnie Darko and Saved! before she found her most famous role to date, Johanna Mason from the Hunger Games film franchise.
An extremely talented young actor who emits inner strength in one film and true vulnerability in the next, there doesn’t seem to be anything she can’t do. Of course, it would help a lot if Hollywood producers noticed that too.
5 Julia Stiles
An early 2000s teen star for people who saw themselves as more of an outsider, it was great to see Julia Stiles play a young woman whose walls got broken down in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Able to take advantage of the momentum that role brought to her career for a while, Stiles went on to star in movies like the Bourne series, Save the Last Dance, O, and Mona Lisa Smile.
However, since the 2010s began Stiles has obviously been in search of a role to get her back on track but despite a solid performance in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, that hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully, her role in the upcoming film Hustlers will put her back on top again.
4 Jenna Fischer
Easily one of the most popular sitcoms of the modern era, The Office is so beloved to this day that at any given time you can rest assured that loads of people are in the midst of re-watching or discovering it. One of the key figures in that show’s enduring success, Jenna Fischer was so delightful as Pam Beesly that it is hard to imagine anyone else bringing that character to life.
The kind of actor that viewers relate to, there is something about Fischer’s energy onscreen that makes people invest in the happiness of whatever character she is playing. If only she could be cast in a series that could take full advantage of her as a talented star.
3 Ashley Judd
At one time in the past, Ashley Judd was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars due to her roles in successful movies like Double Jeopardy, Kiss the Girls, and the Divergent series. However, seemingly out of nowhere her once very high-profile career seemed to be on a steady decline which now has taken on a whole new dimension due to a recent lawsuit she has filed.
Only able to land roles in forgettable films in recent years, Judd has the ability to be doing so much more. This is especially galling when you keep in mind that her career seems to have been torpedoed by Harvey Weinstein.
2 Hilary Swank
It might be hard to remember it now, but at one time it seemed like Hilary Swank was destined to become a Hollywood legend. Nominated for so many awards that we can’t list them all here, Swank even won 2 Academy Awards early in her career and there is every reason to think she could have taken home more.
However, despite all of her accomplishments, Swank’s career seems to have been entirely ruined because she starred in Amelia, a movie that flopped at the box office and with critics. Far from the first actor with a cinematic misfire under her belt, it is surprising that Swank’s career has never truly recovered since then.
If you ask us, Mo'Nique’s career is downright infuriating. Made famous when she starred in The Parkers on TV for five years, she went on to appear in several films that took advantage of her ability to make people laugh. Already a successful actor at that point, Mo'Nique then took a big risk when she played a stressed-out mother in the movie Precious.
Fortunately, her gamble paid off as her fearless performance in that role was so good that it deserves to go down in the annals of film history. Despite that, it wasn’t until five years later that Mo'Nique appeared onscreen again, and she has never been given the chance to repeat a performance of that caliber.