We love movie stars, and we want everyone to be successful. Here are a few stars who may have faded to some degree, or who are on the uptick but haven’t quite broken through.
Now, keep in mind, some actors don’t go after box-office glory, opting instead for smaller indie movies to explore their craft, and many performers are solidly paid and hard-working character actors. For this list, we are looking towards formerly bankable stars who are going through a dry spell, as well as would-be A-Listers who haven’t quite made their major breakthrough yet.
Here’s 15 Actors in Desperate Need of a Box Office Hit.
15. Martin Lawrence
Martin Lawrence used to be a reliable box office draw. Coming off his hit FOX show, Martin, he starred in a string of modest box office hits, such as Blue Streak, Bad Boys, and Big Momma’s House, the last of which was a bona fide comedy blockbuster in 2000, racking up $117 million in domestic box office receipts.
However, the law of diminishing returns doomed Big Momma’s House 2 and 3 to relative underperformance, and many of his later films failed to break out, keeping Lawrence just out of reach of the A-List. His last box office hit, Wild Hogs, dropped in 2007, and he had help from an all-star cast which included William H. Macy, John Travolta, and Tim Allen.
Since then, Martin starred in a handful of moderately-performing films and tried his hand at another sitcom, the ill-advised Partners, co-starring Kelsey Grammer, which was cancelled after ten episodes. At this point, it’s quite clear that Martin Lawrence needs Bad Boys 3 a lot more than Will Smith does.
14. Jim Carrey
There was a time when Jim Carrey was among the most bankable actors on the planet. The Mask, Liar Liar, Ace Ventura, Batman Forever, The Truman Show, Bruce Almighty… His perfect understanding of comedy combined with clever premises and wild situations for him to go explore resulted in a legendary streak of hits, punctuated with dramatic acting roles in some lesser-seen films. He even won a Golden Globe for his work in the Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon.
Eventually, his fire began to cool, with his hits being more Earth-bound in scale (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Yes Man), along with a few poor career choices, such as the nonsensical (if still creepy) thriller The Number 23. Great hair, bad film. Recently, Carrey had a supporting role in Kick-Ass 2, but the action/comedy failed to hit even 30$ million at the domestic box office.
His last film, the comedy sequel Dumb and Dumber To, was a modest success, but couldn’t recapture the magic of its 22-year-old predecessor. Jim Carrey is a tremendous talent and deserves a comeback. Anybody up for a new Ace Ventura? We are!
13. Lindsay Lohan
It’s easy to forget these days, but Lindsay Lohan was once a promising newcomer. Her starring role in the remakes of The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday were an excellent start to what could have been a great career, and she followed up with such hits as Mean Girls and Herbie: Fully Loaded. Combined with a couple of pop albums, and it seemed like nothing could go wrong for LiLo.
And then things got weird. Lindsay was twice arrested for DUI, checked into rehab no less than three times, and otherwise torpedoed her own career with her bad behavior and even worse movies. I Know Who Killed Me is classic snark-bait, and she squandered the goodwill she earned in Machete with terrible reviews for her performance as Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime Original Movie, Liz & Dick.
She had small roles in the “comedies” Scary Movie V and InAppropriate Comedy, but Lindsay, we’re sorry to report, is officially a has-been. That being said, we wouldn’t rule out some sort of comeback, and we’d love to see her prove herself to the critics and audiences who’ve long dismissed her. Maybe, if Jamie Lee Curtis is game to return, they can get together and make another Freaky Friday movie!
12. Julianne Hough
Some producer or executive decided to make Julianne Hough, the most popular performer on Dancing With the Stars, a movie star. It didn’t quite work out, though not for lack of trying on Hough’s part. Julianne earned the lead roles in such high-profile duds as Rock of Ages and the Footloose remake, offering a bumpy start to her career as a would-be A-Lister. However, she also starred in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Safe Haven, which did very decent business (to the tune of 97$ million worldwide).
Hough has since retreated back to the familiar territory of DWTS, where she is now a judge, but is advancing her film career more slowly. In January 2016, she starred in the VOD thriller, Curve, and also had a supporting role in the hit comedy, Dirty Grandpa.
11. Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell is one of the most talented actors working today, but he seems to pick projects out of a hat, with no rhyme, reason, or clear trajectory. Perhaps he had attempted to balance prestige pictures with blockbusters, but this approach has been met with varying degrees of success. SWAT, Phone Booth and Daredevil were decent box office hits (for Farrell, if not for Ben Affleck), but his awful miscasting in Alexander was the first in a string of misfires for the thespian.
Michael Mann’s Miami Vice adaptation was torn between being a wordy drama and a stylish crime-thriller and failed to make waves at the box office. Farrell’s southern accent was a particularly weak point of the film. The New World was a doomed Pocahontas story which holds up surprisingly well, but was dismissed at the time. More recently, his turn in the Total Recall remake was a major dud, but a serviceable audition for Colin to maybe one day play Nathan Drake in an Uncharted movie.
Farrell’s most recent film, 2014’s Winter’s Tale, was something of a financial disaster, only earning back half of its 60 million dollar budget at the global box office. Colin will next feature in the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but time will tell if he can return to the stardom he so strongly deserves. A rumored turn in the highly anticipated Justice League Dark would be a great place to start.
10. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler doesn’t make good movies anymore. It’s often debated if he ever did, but there’s no doubt that he was a box-office megastar for many years, with a seemingly endless string of hit comedies, starting with the one-two punch of his early breakout films, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, which led to such blockbusters as The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, Click, and onwards through to the present day.
However, there’s no denying that audiences are at least partially tired of Sandler’s schtick. While a few of his older flicks underperformed (Little Nicky, the animated Eight Crazy Nights), he’s been putting out more and more bombs these days, such as That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill, Blended, and Pixels; audience reception ranged from tepid to disastrous.
Sandler and his company, Happy Madison productions, recently made a four-picture deal with Netflix to produce movies exclusively for the service. Perhaps taking a break from the big screen might allow Sandler to make different types of films to appeal to more than just the lowest common denominator… Unfortunately, The Ridiculous 6 did nothing to suggest this may ever be the case.
9. Armie Hammer
After stints on such television series as Gossip Girl and Reaper, Armie Hammer broke out in 2010 with his scene-stealing role as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. He then starred in the polarizing J. Edgar, by Clint Eastwood, as the trusted partner and subtle romantic interest to Leonardo DiCaprio’s titular character. The film was a modest awards contender but became negatively memetic for the poor makeup used on Leo and Armie towards the end of the narrative.
Armie co-starred in the moderately successful Snow White film, Mirror Mirror, but his first full-on leading role came with 2013’s notorious box office bomb, The Lone Ranger, in which he costarred with Johnny Depp under the direction of Pirates of the Caribbean mastermind Gore Verbinski. Opinions on the film are mixed, but the only thing we can all agree on is that it lost Disney a ton of money. Then, in 2015, Hammer played Illya Kuryakin in the reboot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Hammer was great as the Soviet spy opposite Henry Cavill’s suave American agent, but audiences mostly stayed away.
We’re not sure why Armie Hammer can’t headline a hit. Maybe it’s that not enough people recognize him, or it could be that the right vehicle simply hasn’t come along yet. Either way, Hammer has a whole suite of films coming up in 2016 and beyond, including Free Fire, about gang warfare in 1970s Boston, the war thriller Mine, and the hotly anticipated Birth of a Nation, the true story of Nat Turner’s rebellion against slavery in 1830s America.
8. Halle Berry
Halle Berry is still the only non-white performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, for 2002’s Monster’s Ball. Fittingly, she starred as the title character in 1999’s HBO telefilm, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, the first black woman to ever be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.
However, most of Berry’s box office hits have been as part of an ensemble (Storm in the X-Men series) or in an established franchise like The Flintstones or Die Another Day; Berry has struggled to headline a film all on her own. Catwoman is a legendary disaster, and Perfect Stranger couldn’t crack 25$ million, even with help from Bruce Willis.
2003’s Gothika was a moderate hit with a roughly 60$ million domestic performance, and 2013’s The Call also did decent business, but Berry, despite her massive success in film and television, has yet to create a truly breakout character for the masses.
7. Taylor Lautner
This might sound strange to some, but Taylor Lautner is great. He is a determined go-getter with an admirable work ethic. After playing the role of Jacob Black in the first Twilight film, the producers opted to recast the role for the sequel, as Jacob is big and strong, while Lautner’s physique was small and skinny. The little guy just couldn’t let go, however, and packed on 30 pounds of muscle, completely transforming his body to hold on to the role for Twilight’s four sequels. Sharkboy got jacked up!
Lautner then starred in the generic actioner, Abduction, which managed to gross 82$ million worldwide, based on his name alone. Not bad for a teen idol solo picture, though the massive hatedom for Twilight has hurt the careers of most of its male stars (Kristen Stewart and Ashley Greene, however, are doing just fine!) and somewhat diminished Abduction’s respectable performance.
Recently, TayLau featured in Adam Sandler’s ensemble comedies Grown Ups 2 and The Ridiculous 6, but also earned praise for his role in the BBC series Cuckoo, in which he replaced Andy Samberg as the title character’s long-lost son. He also has the drama Run the Tide coming up, which will be a true test of his acting abilities. We wish Lautner the best of luck on his journey towards the A-List.
6. Orlando Bloom
Orlando Bloom was close to the A-List for so long, but there was always something in the way, blocking his path to ascension. His presence in the ensemble of The Lord of the Rings made him an immediately precious commodity in Hollywood, but…
First, he was cast as the lead in Pirates of the Caribbean, only to be upstaged at every turn by Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Then, he scored another lead role, in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. Unfortunately, that movie bombed due to studio interference keeping it from reaching its full potential (check out the superior Director’s Cut!). Outside of Lord of the Rings and Pirates, Bloom mostly ignored franchise fare until Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers… Which promptly bombed.
Bloom is a fine actor and deserves a better fate than this. He may yet get another chance with the next Pirates film. After the critical thrashing of the Bloom-less On Stranger Tides, Captain Will Turner will appear in 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which will surely remind audiences that we still love Bloom, even without long locks of platinum blonde Legolas hair.
5. Brendan Fraser
We honestly have no clue what caused Brendan Fraser’s career to implode the way it did. He had it all. He was handsome but a little funny looking, making him the perfect Hollywood everyman, and he is a great joy to watch on the big screen. One minute he was a quirky leading actor, elevating action movies like The Mummy, family comedies like George of the Jungle, and intelligent dramas like Gods and Monsters, but then the next minute he’s gone, nowhere to be found, except for a cameo in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the occasional godawful mess like Furry Vengeance. Why, Brendan? Why?
Fraser pops up here and there in decent films like Pawn Shop Chronicles and Extraordinary Measures, but none of them are going to boost his profile the way it needs boosting. At 47 years old, Fraser needs a new agent, he needs a role in the new Mummy movie with Tom Cruise, and he needs to get back out there on the A-List where he belongs. You can do it, Brendan!
4. Taylor Kitsch
Like Armie Hammer, Taylor Kitsch is an actor who was forced upon the A-List before he was ready. After graduating from NBC’s Friday Night Lights, he landed the role of Gambit in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Reception to the film was… Let’s just say mixed. Regardless, it made a ton of money and Kitsch landed the lead roles in two of 2012’s most massively-budgeted blockbusters, John Carter and Battleship. Both are regarded as disasters of Ishtar proportions, and it was a hit to Kitsch’s career he may never recover from.
Battleship director Peter Berg had made a deal to direct that film in exchange for Universal funding his passion project, Lone Survivor, which also had a part for Kitsch. Ironically, Lone Survivor became a surprise box office hit, earning roughly twice as much money at the domestic box office as Battleship, and with a fraction of the budget.
Kitsch recently starred alongside Colin Farrell in season two of True Detective. Though the series was criticized as a jumbled mess, Kitsch received praise for his role as a highway patrol officer. We’ll have to wait and see if he’s given another shot at Hollywood superstardom.
3. Eddie Murphy
Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was the king of the world. Now he’s missing in action. From 48 Hrs and Beverly Hills Cop in the ’80s, to crowd-pleasing remakes of The Nutty Professor and Doctor Dolittle in the ’90s, Eddie Murphy has one of the most impressive lineup of smash hits of any actor. By the early 21st century, however, many found his performances to be trite, and his schtick to have worn out its welcome. High profile bombs like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Showtime, and I Spy didn’t help matters, either.
Murphy was able to earn back a lot of goodwill with his Academy Award nomination for 2006’s Dreamgirls, which he followed-up with the commercially successful, if critically reviled, Norbit, and a trilogy of box office bombs: Imagine That, Meet Dave, and A Thousand Words. Even the hotly anticipated Tower Heist failed to meet expectations. If he had won the Oscar, we’re pretty sure the Academy would have taken it back after seeing any of those films.
The great Eddie Murphy hasn’t starred in a film since 2012. There were numerous attempts to revive the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, but it has yet to come to fruition. Murphy even reprised the role of Axel Foley for a television pilot which never made it to air. Director Brett Ratner still seems determined to get Beverly Hills Cop IV made, and Murphy could certainly use the career revival which could be facilitated by such a film.
2. Nicolas Cage
We always knew that Nicolas Cage was a mad genius, but we had no idea just how insane he was. Left Behind? Stolen? Seeking Justice (With Guy Pierce?!)? Season of the Witch? These are the types of films we’d expect from someone like Steven Seagal, not the star of Leaving Las Vegas and The Weather Man!
If there’s one thing we can say about Cage, its that he’s managed to avoid typecasting. He’s a chameleon who treats all of his roles with equal respect, throwing himself headfirst into every single film in which he stars. Whether he’s Jerry Bruckheimer’s muse in films like Con Air, The Rock, and National Treasure, or he’s punching out strangers whilst wearing a bear costume in The Wicker Man, Nic Cage is a tremendous actor, no matter what role he’s playing, or how obviously terrible the movie might be.
But that’s the thing about a wildcard like Cage: one can never count him out. His noteworthy turn as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass reminded us that, no matter how bizarre his career choices may be, Nicolas Cage is still one of the greatest actors of our time. There’s surely a method to his madness, but he’s the only one who knows what it all really means.
1. Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel earns the top spot on this list for having the longest cold streak of any actor we could think of. She’s starred in dozens of films following her run on the hit TV show, 7th Heaven, and she failed to make an impression in each and every one of them. Her most successful films are masculine fare like The A-Team and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in which she plays “the girl.” She also featured in the ill-fated Total Recall remake, alongside another actor on this list, Colin Farrell.
Jessica is a talented and gorgeous actress, and she deserves better than to be known as Justin Timberlake’s wife. She has two films debuting this month, April 2016: the dark thriller A Kind of Murder, and a drama, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Unlike her string of underwhelming popcorn flicks, her roles in these films appear to be richer and more nuanced, so there’s still hope for Biel to turn things around and become the star actress we know she can be.
What do you think? Do these actors need new agents or what? Should they be more selective with the projects they choose, or are some of them just not built for Hollywood fame? Who would you like to see make a big-budget comeback? Sound off in the comments below! Or to the side, as the case may be.