In a time when movies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce and gross another billion at the box office worldwide, actors have become the most sought after entertainers in the world.
While producers, directors, and writers each play a pivotal role in bringing films to life, the actors are always front and center. They’re the ones with whom audiences connect, and therefore, they have the biggest impact on a film’s box office success. The right actor can be the difference between a blockbuster and a bomb.
Hollywood’s A-listers are the cream of the acting crop. Whether it be their talent, good looks, or some other “it” factor, today’s A-listers possess intrinsic qualities that allow them to connect with audiences and, more importantly, boost ticket sales in a way other actors can only dream.
Becoming an A-lister is anything but easy. It takes a charming personality, a series of highly successful films and/or performances, and the approval of audiences around the world just to get the opportunity to join the elite group.
Even then only some actors actually rise to the occasion, others miss the opportunity and will never get it back.
Here are the 7 Actors Who Lost Their Chance To Become A-Listers (And 8 Who Rose To Stardom).
15. ROSE: Scarlett Johansson
This may come as a surprise to those more familiar with her performances as Natasha Romanoff in the MCU and Major in Ghost in the Shell, but Scarlett Johansson actually began her acting career as a child. She first appeared in North in 1994 and followed that up with a series of films in the ’90s before really hitting her stride in the mid-2000s.
Three consecutive Golden Globe nominations in 2003, 2004, and 2005 proved she had the acting chops to be a big star, and then her appearance in the MCU pushed her into the A-lister conversation.
Her performances in critically acclaimed films like Don Jon and Under the Skin furthered this discussion before Lucy sealed the deal. The film was made on a modest $40 million budget and grossed $463 million worldwide because Johansson was front and center on all of the marketing.
14. LOST: Taylor Kitsch
Taylor Kitsch had all of the makings of a bonafide A-lister. He slowly rose to prominence in the mid-2000s, appearing as Tim Riggins in TV’s Friday Night Lights before jumping to the big screen with roles in The Covenant and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
His performance as Remy LeBeau (aka Gambit) in the latter suggested that he might be ready to handle a starring role of his own and he was given the opportunity in 2012’s John Carter.
Unfortunately, the film was a massive bomb at the box office– grossing $284 million worldwide on a $250 million budget. Just two months later, Kitsch would star in Battleship, which had a similar problem resonating with audiences– earning $300 million at the box office on a $200 million budget.
13. ROSE: Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie burst onto the Hollywood scene in 2013 following her appearance alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Robbie had appeared in several films and television series by this time but it was her performance here (and one scene in particular) that put her on the map.
Her fame skyrocketed seemingly overnight and she channeled that success into a starring role in Focus (alongside Will Smith) and a brief but hilarious cameo in The Big Short.
Then came the performance that pushed Robbie’s stock even higher– Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. Despite poor reviews from critics, the film was a box office success and Robbie’s portrayal of Quinn was lauded by critics and fans alike.
12. LOST: Kristen Stewart
The Twilight series was a massive success for all parties involved. They earned a combined $3.3 billion at the global box office and made stars out of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Stewart had a formidable filmography before appearing in the series, but Twilight made her a household name across the globe.
Unfortunately, Stewart failed to cash in on her newly-found fame. Between outings as Bella Swan, Stewart starred in features like Welcome to the Rileys and The Runaways, and while her performance in the latter garnered her much praise from critics, both bombed at the box office thereby diminishing her star power.
Stewart’s star fell further following Snow White and the Huntsman. Despite the film’s success at the box office, Stewart’s rumored affair with director Rupert Sanders hurt her image in the eyes of audiences. She was subsequently booted from the sequel and her career hasn’t been the same since.
11. ROSE: Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds has been a relatively-major Hollywood player for the better part of fifteen years ever since his starring role in 2002’s Van Wilder. A likable actor with plenty of charisma, Reynolds starred in a series of films throughout the 2000s but never quite broke into the A-lister group.
Then came 2011’s Green Lantern, which failed with critics and (more importantly) at the box office, dropped Reynolds’ stock significantly.
Reynolds made a comeback in 2016 with Deadpool, however, which was hailed by critics and audiences and crushed the box office on its way to becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of the year.
As the driving force behind Deadpool both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, the film’s success proved Reynolds as one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.
10. LOST: Shia LaBeaouf
As a child actor since the late ’90s, Shia LaBeouf rose to prominence following his role in the Disney television series Even Stevens. Following the show’s end in 2003, LaBeouf moved on to films appearing in I, Robot, followed by a starring role in Disturbia, and then the massively successful Transformers.
LaBeouf was a star on the rise and was quickly tapped to play Mutt Williams in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with rumors circulating that his character would eventually become the focal point of the franchise going forward.
However, the film disappointed audiences who rejected LaBeouf in the role. Then he was booted from the Transformers franchise following Dark of the Moon and his career hasn’t been the same since.
9. ROSE: Emma Stone
Emma Stone had been knocking on the A-lister door for quite some time before she finally kicked it in in 2016. Stone steadily rose to prominence in the late 2000s with roles in Zombieland, Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and The Help before really gaining the attention of audiences with her Oscar-nominated role in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
Stone followed up her Oscar nomination with a Best Actress win for her role in 2016’s La La Land. The film was a hit with critics and audiences, crushed the box office to the tune of $445 million worldwide (on a $30 million budget), and showed that Stone not only had the acting chops to be a leading lady, but also had a strong following as well.
8. LOST: Amanda Bynes
Believe it or not, there was a time when Amanda Bynes was on the rise to becoming an A-lister. Bynes started her career on Nickelodeon’s All That and eventually became popular enough to receive her own show (aptly named The Amanda Show). Bynes then seamlessly transitioned into film with starring roles in What a Girl Wants, She’s the Man, and Sydney White.
Bynes seemed primed to break out and become one of Hollywood’s hottest starlets… before a series of personal issues derailed her career.
She was charged with DUI in 2012 and was hospitalized under a 72-hour mental-health evaluation after starting a fire in a stranger’s driveway in 2013. Bynes has kept largely quiet since then.
7. ROSE: Kevin Hart
If you take a look through Kevin Hart’s filmography, you’ll see that it’s filled with plenty of movies going back to the early 2000s. The roles weren’t major, but he built up a respectable resumé nonetheless. Then his hilarious stand-up specials launched him to superstardom.
Hart’s stand-up pushed him from supporting character to leading man, as he would go on to star in a series of hits starting in 2014. Ride Along, Get Hard, Ride Along 2, and Central Intelligence are just a few of Hart’s hits that each made more than $100 million at the worldwide box office, sometimes grossing more than six times the production’s budget.
Hart proved himself fully capable of being a box office draw, thereby cementing his A-lister status, which he’ll likely hold for the foreseeable future with hits like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ride Along 3 on the horizon.
6. LOST: Taylor Lautner
If the Twilight series was going to launch anyone into superstardom (other than Kristen Stewart), it was Taylor Lautner. Though Robert Pattinson was the star opposite Stewart, Lautner had the good looks (not to mention the abs) of a star, and using the series to turn himself into an A-lister seemed not just possible but entirely probable.
Between appearances as the eternally friend-zoned Jacob, Lautner was given a starring role in 2011’s action-thriller Abduction. Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics and met with a lukewarm reception by audiences, pulling in a modest $82 million at the box office on a $35 million budget.
Lautner was given another starring role in 2015’s Tracers. The film made less than $3 million on a $10 million budget and made it clear that Lautner didn’t have the star power to sell a film on his own, thus officially ousting him from the A-lister conversation.
5. ROSE: Dwayne Johnson
Of everyone on this list, Dwayne Johnson has had the most fascinating career by far. Johnson began his career as a professional wrestler in the WWF (now WWE) before transitioning into acting full-time.
Johnson’s first role (more of a cameo really) came in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. He would go on to star in a series of moderately successful action films throughout the early-to-mid 2000s.
Then Johnson’s career took a bit of a downturn in the late 2000s when he starred in a series of family comedies, most notably Tooth Fairy. He turned things around yet again in 2011, though, following his debut in The Fast and the Furious franchise.
Since then, Johnson has become one of the few actors in the world who can boost ticket sales based on name alone. Even films completely panned by critics tend to do well financially if Johnson is the star.
4. LOST: Shailene Woodley
In 2014, Shailene Woodley seemed primed to follow in the footsteps of Jennifer Lawrence and use her own young adult blockbuster franchise to launch herself to superstardom.
Woodley was coming off of back-to-back critically praised performance for The Descendants and The Spectacular Now when she was tapped to play Tris in Divergent, a franchise expected to be the next Hunger Games in terms of reviews and box office success.
Unfortunately for Woodley, the series underperformed financially and was largely panned by critics. In fact, the franchise did so poorly that Ascendant (originally scheduled to be the final film in the franchise) was bumped from theaters and scheduled to be a TV movie. Earlier this year, Woodley backed out of the project entirely.
3. ROSE: Chris Pratt
Long before he was Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord), Chris Pratt was best known for his role as Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Then came 2014, which was the year that launched Pratt from being a relatively-known TV star with a few movie roles under his belt to megastar.
First came his starring role as Emmet Brickowski in The Lego Movie (which grossed $469 million worldwide), and then his aforementioned performance in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Pratt followed up Guardians with another starring role in Jurassic World, which grossed $1.6 billion worldwide and was the second-highest grossing film of the year (trailing only Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Three movies in two years that grossed nearly $3 billion combined worldwide solidified Pratt’s A-lister status.
2. LOST: Lindsay Lohan
Although she’s been relegated to little more than a punchline in the last decade, there was once a time when Lindsay Lohan seemed not just primed but destined to become one of the biggest actors in the world.
Following her critically-praised performance in 1998’s The Parent Trap, Lohan took a step back from the big screen for five years before returning in 2003.
Then 2004’s Mean Girls became a huge hit and once again put Lohan on the map. She was young, beautiful, talented, and seemed poised to breakout. Unfortunately, her next few films underwhelmed, and then a series of personal issues dampened her image in the eyes of audiences.
Lohan’s personal problems only intensified from there, as she became more known for her behavior behind the scenes than for her acting in front of the camera. A comeback may be in her future, but A-lister status almost definitely is not.
1. ROSE: Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is arguably the biggest A-lister in the world today, and with good reason. Her resumé is filled with blockbuster franchises and incredible performances, and her personality has endeared her to audiences all across the world.
Lawrence’s career began to blossom following her performance in Winter’s Bone (which earned her an Academy Award nomination), before X-Men: First Class introduced her to general audiences and The Hunger Games made her a global star.
She built on her newly-found fame with an Academy Award-winning performance in The Silver Linings Playbook and her ascension to A-lister status was nearly complete.
Since then, Lawrence has built a well-rounded filmography that includes both blockbusters (like the Hunger Games and X-Men movies) and Oscar contenders (like American Hustle and Joy). Even the occasional misfire (like Serena or Mother!) can’t slow her down.
She’s a bonafide A-lister and isn’t likely to give up the title any time soon.
Can you think of any other actors who lost their chance to become A-listers? Are there any other A-listers who deserve a place on the list? Let us know in the comments!
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