8 Famous ’90s Stars Who Became A-Listers (And 7 Whose Careers Flopped)

As an actor, making it to the so-called “A-list” is no easy task. A-listers are Hollywood's elite and if you make it, a world of power, money, and influence is yours.

It's ludicrously hard to make it to that level in the first place but it's even more difficult to maintain it. Fame can be a fickle thing and you could have your face plastered on billboards and magazine covers worldwide one minute only to find yourself in low-budget direct-to-DVD features the next.Nostalgia is a huge business and while we still have many properties and movies that harken back to the awesome '80s, there are an increasing number of things that want to try and recapture the heyday of the 1990s.

Not only that, but thanks to the wide availability of DVDs/Blu-rays and streaming services, we can dip into our favorite nostalgic classics at the touch of a button.

With that in mind, we decided to revisit some of the 1990s' biggest stars and see where their careers have gone. Some have become even more famous, while others... not so much.

Here are the 8 Famous '90s Stars Who Became A-Listers (And 7 Whose Careers Flopped).

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Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands
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14 A-Lister: Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands

While Johnny Depp first rose to prominence in the late '80s, it was the '90s that were the making of him.

After finishing a four season stint on 21 Jump Street, Depp became a big star after playing the title character in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands

He worked solidly throughout the '90s, but when 2001 Alan Moore adaptation From Hell disappointed, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Depp's star power was on the wane.

Then came along Captain Jack Sparrow. Despite looking like a terrible idea on paper, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl surprised everyone by being awesome.

Depp's performance as Captain Jack earned him an Oscar nomination and a tasty franchise that to date has earned a staggering 4.5 billion at the box office.

13 Flopped: Macualay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin, Kevin, Home Alone

Macualay Culkin was one of the biggest child stars ever, second only to the legendary Shirley Temple. John Hughes' Home Alone catapulted him to stardom and his stock shot way up as a result.

Home Alone sequel soon followed and Culkin headlined a bunch of movies with diminishing returns, such as Getting Even With Dad (a mighty 3% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Richie Rich. Culkin's meteoric rise came to a rather abrupt stop as he grew up and he took a nine-year break from the business.

Macaulay has worked infrequently since then. He and his friends formed a parody band called The Pizza Underground and recorded several albums before splitting up in 2016.

He's mostly kept low key since, but was most recently seen interrupting a pro-wrestling match in Los Angeles while the crowd chanted “Home Alone!” You couldn't make it up.

12 A-Lister: Sandra Bullock

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed

Throughout the '90s, Sandra Bullock was America's favorite girl next door. Some mainstream recognition came after a role in Demolition Man, but 1994's mega-hit Speed was the moment Bullock managed to get her foot in the door.

While You Were Sleeping and The Net became solid hits and whilst she also starred in the awful Speed 2: Cruise Control, we're not going to hold that against her.

Sandra found romcom success in the early 2000s before taking on more serious roles in movies like Infamous and CrashThe Blind Side before big mainstream successes with The Heat and Gravity.

Bullock was most recently heard as Scarlet Overkill in Minions. a movie that, lest we forget, earned $1.1 billion dollars worldwide. Sandra's next appearing as Debbie Ocean, Danny Ocean's estranged sister in the all-female Ocean's Eleven spin-off Ocean's 8.

11 Flopped: Andie MacDowell

four weddings and a funeral andie macdowell hugh grant

Model turned actress Andie MacDowell was a big name back in the '90s. She kicked off the decade fresh from a role in Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape before roles in two instantly iconic movies, Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Considering that she was practically everywhere at one point, MacDowell could never seem to recapture the same level of fame. Even re-teaming with Harold Ramis for Michael Keaton clone comedy Multiplicity failed to garner much attention, with the movie becoming a critical and commercial dud.

Since then, MacDowell has worked on significantly lower profile projects. She's acted fairly consistently over the years, with the most notable roles being Nancy in Magic Mike XXL and the lead role in TV series Cedar Cove, which ran for three seasons.

Most recently, MacDowell turned up in Netflix movie Christmas Inheritance< and as a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race.

10 A-Lister: Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt was mostly a jobbing actor in the '80s, but roles in movies like Thelma & Louise and Interview With a Vampire got his name known.

A three hit combo of Legends of the FallSeven, and 12 Monkeys cemented him as one of the '90s biggest rising stars. It wasn't all plain sailing but Pitt went into the new millennium strongly with a defining performance as Tyler Durden in cult classic Fight Club.

During the 2000s, he appeared in all three movies in the Ocean's trilogy and married Angelina Jolie, which meant that he was never far away from the public eye.

Pitt moved into more awards worthy movies and started working with directors like the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Brad seems to like working with the same people, so it should be no surprise that he's working with Fincher and Tarantino again in the near future.

9 Flopped: Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy and Stacey Dash in Clueless

Alicia Silverstone was once known as “the Aerosmith chick,” having been cast in three of their music videos. Amy Heckerling cast her in 1995's Clueless based on this, and the movie ended up being huge.

Columbia Tri-Star offered her a big money deal to work for them, giving her the power to pick and choose her roles. These choices didn't turn out well, though.

Hideaway and The Babysitters were critically slated, but that didn't compare to acting in Batman & Robin, a movie that managed to not only ruin careers, but came close to ending the entire Batman franchise.

She appeared in a speight of movies and TV shows after, but her highest profile role, as the lead in comedy-drama Miss Match was cut short after only eleven of the seventeen filmed episodes were broadcast.

Silverstone prefers stage acting these days, with most of her recent credits being for theater productions.

8 A-Lister: Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.

Jeff Goldblum has come a long way from playing Freak #1 in 1974's Death Wish. He hit the big time after a starring role in David Croenenberg's The Fly, but the '90s locked his stardom in after he appeared in two of the decade's biggest movies, Jurassic Park and Independence Day. Let's not talk about the sequels, but he starred in them too.

Goldblum's IMDb page since is as odd and unique as the man himself. He's been in everything from kids' movie Cats & Dogs, absurdist comedies like Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and quirky pictures like The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Most recently, Goldblum starred as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok and lent his voice to Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs. He's also set to reprise his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm once more in this year's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. You can practically taste the memes already.

7 Flopped: Freddie Prinze Jr.

Slasher flick I Know What You Did Last Summer was kind of a big deal back in 1997 and it made teen idols of the cast in the process. Freddie's appearance in the movie and the sequel led to being cast in She's All That, which turned out to be one of the biggest teen movies of the decade.

Next, Freddie picked several duds like Head Over Heels< and Summer Catch before playing Fred in the two live-action Scooby Doo movies.

Weirdly, he left and ended up working as part of the WWE creative team on and off until 2012. Since then, Prinze has moved into voice acting, playing James Vega in Mass Effect 3 and Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

He also joined the Star Wars universe with a role as Jedi knight Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars: Rebels.

6 A-Lister: Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth

Cate Blanchett has had more awards thrown at her than most of us have had hot dinners. While already famous in her native Australia, it was Elizabeth in 1998 that gave her global attention.

From then onward, she chose movies like Pushing Tin and  before being cast in Peter Jackson's game-changing Lord of the Rings trilogy.

She won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. She played Elizabeth I again in the sequel The Golden Age, played Bob Dylan in I'm Not There and even became an Indiana Jones villain.

 Blanchett made her Broadway debut in 2017 and found time to join the MCU as the Goddess of Death Hela in Thor: RagnarokOcean's 8 will mark Cate's next big role, but she'll also voice Kaa the python in Andy Serkis' Jungle Book movie, Mowgli.

5 Flopped: Sarah Michelle Gellar

Innocence - Best Buffy Episodes

Sarah Michelle Gellar appeared in long running soap All My Children before making the jump to teen idol status in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

After a career in television, she looked ready to take movies by storm too, appearing in I Know What You Did Last SummerScream 2, and especially .

Gellar played Daphne in the two live-action Scooby Doo movies (alongside husband Freddie Prinze Jr.) and horror remake The Grudge before concentrating on smaller projects.

She took time off after the birth of her daughter but returned to TV a few years later. Rather cruelly, her two biggest TV shows, The Ringer and The Crazy Ones both started with strong figures, but were cancelled by the end of the season.

Sarah's been pretty quiet since, although she did join Freddie in a galaxy far, far away by voicing masked inquisitor the Seventh Sister in Star Wars: Rebels.

4 A-Lister: Will Smith

Will Smith in Independence Day

Willard Carroll Smith Jr., aka Will Smith, aka The Fresh Prince, made his name as part of a duo with DJ Jazzy Jeff. By 1990, Smith was nearly broke.

He signed on to do a sitcom based around him and the rest is history. He showed his range in Six Degrees of Separation and followed it with Michael Bay's Bad Boys.

Then Independence Day, and then Men in Black. Will sure knew how to pick 'em. All were big box office hits and with the successful launch of his solo music career, Smith was pretty much unstoppable.

Even with a bunch of disappointing movies and sequels under his belt, people seem to love Will no matter what.

Smith joined the DCEU as Deadshot in Suicide Squad and starred in Bright, Netflix's most expensive movie to date. Next, Smith will play the Genie in Disney's upcoming live-action Aladdin.

3 Flopped: Yasmine Bleeth

Yasmine Bleeth in a promotional photo for Baywatch

Few things typify the '90s better than Baywatch. The global smash TV show was originally canceled after one season, but was revived by David Hasselhoff and the creative team.

Suddenly, Baywatch became a monster hit and was reportedly one of the most watched TV shows in the world. Bleeth repeatedly appeared on various magazines' "Most Beautiful" lists and many had her tipped for superstardom.

She had a recurring role on Nash Bridges before leaving to headline her own series Titans.

Unfortunately, Titans didn't do well. Only eleven episodes of the filmed thirteen were aired, and despite some reviewers rating her performance, it was canned pretty quickly.

Bleeth's personal life and substance abuse took over and it ruined any remaining career momentum. After several run-ins with the law, Bleeth cleaned up her act and has stayed out of the public eye for the most part.

<h2">3. A-Lister: Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett in Titanic

You may be too young to remember “Leo-Mania” in the late '90s, but it was a very real (and loud) phenomenon surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio and his army of teenage fangirls.

Leo started the decade in Critters 3 in 1991 and ended it having starred in >Titanic, the second highest grossing movie ever made. DiCaprio went on to work with industry legends like Steven Spielberg and started a long-running collaboration with Martin Scorsese.

After years of giving great performances in awards worthy movies, DiCaprio finally got the Best Actor Oscar for The Revenant.

His next project is an English language adaptation of The Black Hand, which he'll star and produce. After that, Leo's set to rejoin with both Scorsese and Tarantino with Roosevelt and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood respectively.

2 Flopped: Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser in The Mummy

We miss seeing Brendan Fraser in movies. Fraser's first big role was as a recently thawed-out caveman in Encino Man but Fraser became well known after starring in a live-action  movie.

It was his turn as Rick O'Connell in 1999's The Mummy that made people see him as a legitimate leading man. Sequel The Mummy Returns was an even bigger hit and people were eager to see where he went next.

Things petered out after several high-profile flops like Inkheart and Furry Vengeance, and Fraser eventually moved into smaller scale movies and TV.

He had a notable guest role in medical comedy Scrubs and made appearances in TV shows like Texas Rising and The Affair. It's possible that Brendan may still return to a higher profile, with a role in the imminent FX series rust, a show that already has decent reviews in its favor.

1 A-Lister:  Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr as Charlie Chaplin

It's tough to imagine that there was a time when Robert Downey Jr. was pretty much blacklisted. Downey started with roles in coming-of-age dramas in the '80s before taking on more complex characters as time went on.

In '92, he played Charlie Chaplin in the movie Chaplin, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He soon became notorious for his hard partying lifestyle and it's fair to say that during this period, he was more infamous than anything else.

Downey eventually cleaned up and got back to work. Roles in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Zodiac reminded audiences how talented he was, but 2008 ended up being the banner year.

RDJ started a career-defining role as Tony Stark/Iron Man and earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Tropic Thunder. Stark's future may be uncertain after Avengers: Infinity War, but RDJ is going to be around for a long time to come.


Can you think of any other '90s stars who went on to great success? Can you think of any who flopped? Sound off in the comment section!

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