Everybody knows that Hollywood can be a rough town for actresses who want long-term careers. Some starlets of the 1990s can continue to endure. Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, and Charlize Theron are all great cases of stars who are just as big (if not bigger) now then they were in the ‘90s. Sadly, they’re the exceptions as scores of ladies who were big deals in that decade have seen their fortunes fade. Much of it is because of how they age with some doing it badly. Others are hit by personal issues that harm their careers while others just got overwhelmed by flops.
It’s not helped by the stories that have come up regarding major studio heads who crushed actresses who resisted their advances. It may not be fair as many of these ladies had very promising careers that never lasted as long as they should have. Even a few Oscar winners aren’t immune to this. Here are 20 big starlets of the '90s that Hollywood doesn’t seem to want to cast anymore despite their past fame.
20 Denise Richards
Denise Richards’ striking looks made her a standout in the infamous flop Starship Troopers. She followed it up with the crime hit Wild Things where she showed off in many ways. She even became a Bond girl as Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough. Almost as soon as her star was rising, Richards was hitting the skids with too many flop films. Her trouble-filled marriage to Charlie Sheen didn’t help. Today, Richards is known for reality TV show fare, including being one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to make it unlikely she’s a movie star again.
19 Meg Ryan
In the 1990s, Meg Ryan was the undisputed queen of the rom-com. Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, You've Got Mail and more were box office hits with audiences loving her. Ryan could also have dramas like Courage Under Fire to make her one of the most in-demand actresses around. But it all came apart in 2000 when Ryan’s affair with Russell Crowe ruined her “good girl” image with moviegoers. Combined with bad plastic surgery, studios dropped Ryan fast for one of the most amazing collapses of an A-list career Hollywood has seen.
18 Christina Ricci
It took a lot to steal a movie with a cast like The Addams Family. But Christina Ricci did it as her turn as the twisted Wednesday won over critics and audiences. Ricci was soon a much in demand child actress with hits like Casper and Now and Again. In 1997, she took on more mature roles such as The Ice Storm and became an indie film darling. Ricci has acknowledged that between her short height and her independent spirit, she just doesn’t fit into the Hollywood scene. Many studios figure she’s too small (literally and commercially) to cast in a blockbuster.
17 Thora Birch
In the early part of the 1990s, Thora Birch was a notable child actress with roles in Hocus Pocus and Now and Again. Her turn in the Oscar-winning American Beauty boosted her up and indicated she was ready for more adult roles such as Ghost World. Sadly, a series of flops hurt her drive. There was also how Birch’s stage manager father had too much control of her career, including turning down roles without her knowledge. After a long break, Birch has returned in indie movies and The Walking Dead but nowhere near the star she could have been.
16 Tia Carrere
Wayne’s World remains the most successful movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch. It also made an instant star out of Tia Carrere as the feisty Cassandra. Carrere was filling up her schedule with other films such as True Lies and her own TV series, Relic Hunter. In the 2000s, her star faded as her best role was a voice in the Disney hit Lilo & Stitch. Carrere is more interested in a singing career as she has two Grammy Awards. She’s still a gorgeous woman, just not as in demand by Hollywood anymore.
15 Linda Fiorentino
In 1994, Linda Fiorentino won over critics with her turn as a femme fatale in The Last Seduction. There was controversy as many felt she should have been nominated for an Oscar but it was declared that since the movie premiered on HBO first, she was ineligible. Fiorentino followed it up with successes like Men in Black and Dogma. But word soon came that Fiorentino was one of the biggest divas in Hollywood with terrible behavior on sets. She hasn’t acted in a decade and astounding how a woman on the verge of stardom appears to have completely vanished off the face of the Earth.
14 Ashley Judd
While her mother and sister were famous country music stars, Ashley Judd went into acting instead. She was soon a highlight in films like Heat and A Time To Kill before the hit Double Jeopardy enhanced her stardom. While a few flops hurt her standing, Judd has claimed the true reason for her fall in Hollywood was a run-in with Harvey Weinstein who vowed to ruin her career. Judd has become better known for her activism and given her harsh attitude on studios, it’s unlikely they’d be casting her anytime soon.
13 Pamela Anderson
In the 1990s, no one was a hotter blonde bombshell than Pamela Anderson. Besides gracing a record 14 Playboy covers, Anderson was also the key reason people tuned into Baywatch to make it the most-viewed TV show on the planet. She also had movies like Barb Wire and her later TV hit, VIP. While still beautiful, Hollywood ageism hit Anderson and her infamous personal life doesn’t help. Nowadays, she’s mainly busy with activism.
12 Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt was rising up big time in the ‘90s thanks to her starring role on the NBC comedy Mad About You. She saw her star shine more with the hit thriller Twister. In 1998, Hunt pulled off the feat of winning an Emmy for Mad and the Oscar for As Good As It Gets. She was busy afterward with numerous Hollywood films, like Cast Away. In the 2000s, Hunt took a break from the business to recharge herself. She earned an Oscar nom for The Sessions, but (aside from a Mad revival) Hunt is busier behind the camera than in front these days.
11 Madeleine Stowe
With her stunningly gorgeous features, Madeleine Stowe had a good career going in the early 1990s. Her turn in The Last of the Mohicans was terrific and she earned praise for Short Cuts, Bad Girls, and the sci-fi classic 12 Monkeys. At the height of her career, Stowe took a long break to concentrate on her family. She made a notable comeback in the ABC series, Revenge, but hasn’t made a movie since 2003. It shows even beauty doesn’t make for a long-lasting Hollywood career.
10 Neve Campbell
Few expected Party of Five to be a success in 1994, but it turned into a major hit and Neve Campbell became a star. Campbell’s fame rose even further in 1996 with The Craft and the huge success of Scream subsequently made her an A-lister. Campbell explained to Stephen Colbert that she felt overwhelmed by so much success and so, after Party ended, took a long pause from things. She’s had a few roles like in Skyscraper and TV shows, but Campbell seems fine not being cast in major films.
9 Cameron Diaz
The moment she sauntered into a bank in a hot red dress in The Mask, Cameron Diaz was a star with her very first role. Diaz could have a comedy hit like There’s Something About Mary while also showing her dramatic chops with Being John Malkovich and Any Given Sunday.
The 2000s kicked things up with Charlies’ Angels and Shrek keeping her on the A-list, but her appearances started to slow down. By 2014’s Annie, Diaz retired from acting, claiming she'd lost the passion for it. It’s an odd case where Hollywood would love to have her back, but Diaz is perfectly happy leaving her mega-fame behind her.
8 Sarah Michelle Gellar
While she’d won an Emmy for All My Children, Sarah Michelle Gellar still wasn’t a big-name actress. That all changed when Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a surprise smash for the WB and made Gellar an instant pin-up girl. She followed it up with movie hits like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions and looked ready to step up to the A-list. Yet after Buffy ended, Gellar took a step back to raise her family. Her last major role was the short-lived comedy The Crazy Ones as Gellar isn’t eager to get back into the grind.
7 Yasmine Bleeth
Yasmine Bleeth stood out from the other actresses on Baywatch. Not only was she a brunette, but she was just about the only cast member who didn’t doff it all for Playboy. Bleeth was still a gorgeous lady who got major attention on Baywatch and later Nash Bridges. But a double-blow occurred in 2000 when, shortly after her big nighttime soap Titans was cancelled, Bleeth was arrested for a DUI. It added to her already poor reputation of being difficult to work with and Bleeth has seldom acted since. She seems better out of the spotlight, but it's a shame such a talent quit Hollywood.
6 Alicia Silverstone
The '90s began with Alicia Silverstone rising up in popularity thanks to some Aerosmith music videos. She got attention in the dark thriller The Crush, but it was Clueless that launched Silverstone to mega-stardom as her role as Cher is still beloved today. But then Batman & Robin ruined her momentum and far too many flop movies followed. Even her attempts at TV– Miss Match and American Woman– have failed as Silverstone's career was wrecked by a comic book movie.
5 Mira Sorvino
Winning an Academy Award should be the highlight of any actor’s career. In Mira Sorvino’s case, it was an albatross she could never escape. After just a few movies, Sorvino won an Oscar for her turn in Mighty Aphrodite to make her a star. She followed it up with the beloved comedy Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, but then hit a major slump. Sorvino has gone on record claiming some studio heads blocked her career. She’s had some minor movie and TV roles, but Sorvino is one Oscar-winner Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in using.
4 Kim Basinger
The ‘90s were an up and down period for Kim Basinger. Hot off the success of Batman, she was being pushed as a gorgeous star but suffered some box office flops, such as The Marrying Man. She also got into an ugly legal battle with a studio that forced her to file for bankruptcy. Basinger made a great comeback by winning the Oscar for her role in L.A. Confidential but her career hasn’t matched that success since. Basinger told Elle magazine that she was “tired of all the mom roles” and admitted to anxiety issues that make it harder for her to star in any films today.
3 Bridget Fonda
It appeared as if Bridget Fonda would follow in the footsteps of her famous family. Grandfather Henry and aunt Jane were Oscar winners, and her father Peter was solid, too. Fonda was doing well in the ‘90s with hits like Single White Female, Point of No Return, and Singles. But after 2001’s Kiss of the Dragon, Fonda basically quit the entire business. She’s settled into raising a family with husband Danny Elfman and seems happy being the one Fonda who left acting behind.
2 Heather Locklear
While she’d started out in the ‘80s, it was in the ‘90s that Heather Locklear truly boosted to stardom. The key was her role as the conniving Amanda on Melrose Place which made the show a smash hit. Locklear graced magazine covers while also starring in numerous movies and serving as a sex symbol for the decade. Her career declined in the 2000s with fewer roles and some rather infamous run-ins with the law over her personal addictions. It’s a shame the one-time knockout is considered persona non grata in Hollywood circles.
1 Demi Moore
The ‘90s had barely begun when Ghost turned into a huge worldwide box office hit. Demi Moore was an instant star thanks to its success and her marriage to Bruce Willis certainly helped. She had further hits like A Few Good Men, but suffered when Striptease (where she earned a then-unheard-of $12 million) flopped. G.I. Jane was good, but Moore’s stardom faded by the 2000s and she’s settled into her charity work rather than being the huge star she once was.
Sources: Ranker.com, imdb.com, buzzfeed.com, looper.com