Hollywood is fickle. One minute an A-list actor is walking down the shiny red carpet at the Oscars, and the next they are – well, who knows where they are? That’s the point! But they’re rich, so who actually cares?
One terrible movie can mark a turning point in the career of even the greatest actor. Whether it comes down to the editing, the acting, or even the script, if people don’t like it, everyone will know about it.
If a less-known actor stars in a bad movie, it’s very unlikely that it will tarnish their reputation, because, let’s face it, no-one really knows who they are.
However, if an A-list actor stars in a bad movie, there will be consequences, usually involving a lack of good roles and, if things get really bad, the penalty of A-list ostracization.
Although many of these actors have managed to climb their way back up that A-list mountain to be even bigger stars than before, some are still just hovering on the slopes with all the wealthy B-listers. Alas, such is the tragic life of multi-millionaire actors.
So now, without further ado, it’s time to look at the 15 Actors Who Were Knocked Off The A-list After Just One Movie.
15 JAKE GYLLENHAAL - PRINCE OF PERSIA
After kicking off his career in the highly successful yet unabashedly strange film, Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal became Hollywood’s favourite weirdo.
His doe-eyed performance landed him roles in a bunch of arty movies, including A Good Girl and Moonlight Mile. Later, he gained huge acclaim for his role in cowboy romance flick, Brokeback Mountain, which secured him multiple nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
But despite doing some relatively good films after this, his fame seemed to wane a little and reached an all-time low when he took on the role of Dastan in Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Many of his fans were shocked to see him take on such a commercially driven film, but it took him just four years to claw back his A-list status with the critically acclaimed films, Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals.
14 JOHN TRAVOLTA - TWO OF A KIND
After gaining an enormous fan base with hit musicals Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Urban Cowboy, John Travolta became one of the most famous faces on the planet. Yet somehow his overwhelming success was short-lived.
This lapse in his career was down to some terrible decision making; Travolta famously turned down roles in American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman (he was replaced by Richard Gere in both), both of which ended up being very well-received movies.
But this wouldn’t have mattered had he not had a string of bad movies also, which started with his abysmal rom-com, Two of a Kind. It seemed like Travolta was a lost cause until he was cast in the successful Look Who’s Talking movies, but his renewed stardom didn’t cement itself until he appeared in Tarantino’s cult classic, Pulp Fiction.
13 JULIA STILES - A GUY THING
Julia Stiles was everybody’s favourite teen star in the late 90s and early 00s with hit films like 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, but for some reason she wasn’t cast in any stand-out movies after that.
When the actress acquired the part of Paige Morgan in the romantic comedy, A Guy Thing, her career took a nose-dive because of it. While this shouldn’t have been a terrible career move, considering she was cast alongside Selma Blair and Jason Lee, the film was a box-office bomb and her performance in it was worse than average.
Nevertheless, Stiles still appears in countless movies and TV shows, and she is now the lead actress in British TV drama Riviera. Plus, she will always remain a teen icon of her generation.
12 MEG RYAN - IN THE CUT
The actress blamed her wholesome leading-lady roles for the lack of offers she received after divorcing her husband, Dennis Quaid.
There were cheating allegations made on both sides, but Meg Ryan got the brunt end of the deal when Hollywood decided her virtuous image had been tarnished and stopped casting her in big rom-com movies.
Ryan took this opportunity to star in the dark thriller, In The Cut, but unfortunately the movie was poorly received and its negative reviews outshone the good ones.
Arguably, people just weren’t ready to see Meg Ryan take on this type of movie, especially considering the level of nudity and violence involved. This has made some people question the fairness of its reception. To more than a few critics, it’s one of the best thrillers ever made.
11 KATIE HOLMES - BATMAN BEGINS
Katie Holmes has even admitted that she doesn’t like to take her profession too seriously, which is probably why she dropped out of The Dark Knight franchise -- after starring in Batman Begins -- to pursue a less conventional acting career.
However, had she remained in the franchise, she may have made up for her poor performance as Rachel Dawes in the first film, which was probably the biggest hindrance to her career. After that, a series of substandard movies followed.
Today, her career is back on track. Holmes was recently cast as Jackie Kennedy in the mini-series The Kennedys: Decline and Fall and she will also be appearing in the yet to be released comedy, Dear Dictator.
Nevertheless, it’s evident that her movie career takes a back seat where life is concerned.
10 HALLE BERRY - CATWOMAN
Everyone and their grandma thought Halle Berry had finally hit the jackpot when she won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her film Monster’s Ball. So, it’s unfortunate that none of her follow-up films managed to have the same impact on the movie world.
Undoubtedly, her biggest flop remains Catwoman, which even landed her a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. Upon its release, Catwoman was a major disappointment to comic-book fans everywhere. In all fairness to Berry, the script pretty much killed the movie to begin with.
But despite acting in a few mediocre films, Berry continues to garner low-key success (as she had done before winning the Oscar) with some remarkable performances in movies like Their Eyes Were Watching God and Frankie and Alice.
9 JENNIFER HUDSON - SEX AND THE CITY
Jennifer Hudson won an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress after starring in her very first movie, Dreamgirls. During an interview, she called this immediate success both a blessing and a curse as she felt that everything she did from then on would be compared to this role. Unfortunately, she wasn’t wrong.
Her second role in the highly anticipated Sex and the City movie was a badly written one, even if you exclude the fact that her acting just wasn’t that good, and despite having more success with her fourth film, The Secret Life of Bees, it seemed like Hollywood had already given up on her.
Although her on-screen roles dwindled, her success as a singer and Broadway performer prove she is an undeniable talent.
8 DEMI MOORE - STRIPTEASE
Moore became an 80s sensation with popular films like St Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night. And her success continued well into the 90s when she was given the part of Molly Jensen in Ghost.
However, after taking on the role of Erin Grant in Striptease, her acting credibility took a major hit. This film did well financially but failed miserably from a critical standpoint. Most of the attention it garnered was due to Moore dancing topless in one of the scenes, and to some, it seemed like the movie was marketed on this fact alone.
After Striptease, Moore stopped appearing in noteworthy flicks and although Moore did get a whopping $12.5 million to appear in the movie, Hollywood prejudices concerning leading ladies being overtly revealing and the poor quality of the film ultimately led to her demise as an A-lister.
7 RUSSELL CROWE - ROBIN HOOD
Russell Crowe has certainly had his fair share of ups and downs where his acting career’s concerned, but by the 00s, it seemed like nothing could stop him from being Hollywood’s most beloved leading man.
After playing Maximus in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, the man became an international sensation and was given leading roles in various big-budget movies, including A Beautiful Man (for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor), Cinderella Man and American Gangster.
However, then his movie Robin Hood (also directed by Ridley Scott) came along and ruined everything. Okay, so it didn’t ruin everything (Crowe is still in demand), but it lowered his chances of winning any future awards.
Many claimed the movie was ruined by Russell Crowe’s awful East Midlands accent which sounded ever so slightly Irish for some reason.
6 ERIC BANA - LUCKY YOU
Bana had a blossoming career during the early 00s. After appearing as a side character in Black Hawk Down, he was picked up to play Bruce Banner in Ang Lee’s adaptation of Hulk and its commercial success was enough to shove him into the spotlight.
He was later cast as Hector in Troy (which became the highest grossing film of 2004), after which he played the lead in Spielberg’s historical film, Munich. So far, so good.
But when Bana bizarrely took on the role of Drew Barrymore’s love interest in Lucky You, people were left mystified by his poor career move.
If you’ve already got a lot of good movies up your sleeve, a bad romantic movie isn’t going to destroy you, but Bana was just getting started. Consequently, his career hit a wall, and the majority of his biggest films after that were lacklustre at best.
5 ORLANDO BLOOM - ELIZABETHTOWN
Orlando Bloom stole people’s hearts after appearing as the bleach-blonde elf, Legolas, in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It goes without saying that this role suited him perfectly; Bloom was great at depicting the mellow and collected demeanour of Legolas and his good looks didn’t do the franchise any harm either.
However, it’s fair to say that after LOTR, his acting skills didn’t quite match up to his movie roles and Legolas fans were left in a haze of immense disappointment. Strangely, he got away with it and was cast in some big-budget movies anyway, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Troy.
This continued for a few years until the actor decided to tread on more serious ground with Cameron Crowe’s Elisabethtown, but his ghastly American accent and mediocre performance swept him to B-list town in a matter of days.
4 ADRIEN BRODY - KING KONG
Adrien Brody had already been acting for 14 years when he eventually won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2002 for The Pianist. This movie made him the centre of attention for years to come, and he was offered leads in various big-budget movies, including The Village and King Kong.
While the latter movie did well, both commercially and critically, Brody’s performance in it suffered due to the enormous pressures of starring in such a financially driven movie.
Yet despite his temporary A-list membership, the actor remains a valuable asset to the movie industry and prefers to work on film sets that steer away from special effects. He’s worked with renowned director, Wes Anderson, on several occasions and bagged himself a part in the popular gangster show, Peaky Blinders.
3 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY - THE WEDDING PLANNER
After his strong performance as lawyer Jake Brigance in the John Grisham book-to-movie adaptation, A Time to Kill, McConaughey became an instant star. He was then cast in large scale movies such as Contact and Amistad.
But in the 00s, his acting timeline became riddled with rom-coms, coincidentally after starring in The Wedding Planner (alongside Jennifer Lopez). Although this movie didn’t do badly as far as rom-coms are concerned, the roles he was offered afterwards tended to be for romantic comedies.
Matthew McConaughey turned things around when he decided to stop taking up rom-com offers for a few years so as to cleanse his wholesome image.
Pretty soon other types of offers were coming in, including a lead role in Dallas Buyers Club (for which he won an Academy Award).
2 CHRIS O'DONNELL - BATMAN & ROBIN
In the early 90s, O’Donnell was appearing in quality flicks like Scent of a Woman and Circle of Friends. However, in 1997, O’Donnell’s career took a punch to the gut with Batman & Robin.
Critics absolutely hated the movie, although it did make a lot of money internationally. Some blame the director of the film, Joel Schumacher, who wanted to give the movie a cartoon-like quality and scrap some of the seriousness seen in its predecessor, Batman Forever.
Weirdly, Leonardo DiCaprio was set to get the part of Robin before losing out to O’Donnell, so one can only wonder how this would have affected the career progression of both actors.
Of course, O’Donnell may have been able to redeem himself had he taken on the role of Jack in Titanic, but once again, fate wasn’t on the actor’s side and the part was given to DiCaprio.
1 BEN AFFLECK - GIGLI
Ben Affleck is a man of many talents. It seems he can do anything on set except hold up a camera. The actor got his big break after starring in and co-writing Good Will Hunting, which gained him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, alongside his partner in crime, Matt Damon.
Not long after, he was given the lead role in a number of successful films, including Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. And Affleck even proved he had some comedic talent with roles like Bartleby in Dogma.
However, 2003 was a very bad year for the actor. While his movie Daredevil was harshly criticized, he may have gotten away with it had he not partaken in one of the worst films ever made, Gigli.
Hollywood quickly forgot about Affleck’s former achievements and stopped giving him interesting roles. However, Affleck didn’t let that hold him back because just a few years later, he was directing his own movies, most notably Argo, and was later cast as the one and only Batman.
Can you think of any other actors who were kicked off the A-list after only one money? Let us know in the comments!