Disney has a habit of creating some of Hollywood’s biggest (and longest-lasting) stars. Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez– the list of superstars who began their careers as fresh-faced, mouse-eared child actors is seemingly endless.
The studio has been responsible for everything from megastar actors to high-powered producers. However, not every Mouseketeer is guaranteed such a bright future.
Some actors have a rough time finding quality work after their Disney Channel (or Marvel or Star Wars) franchises come to an end, either from being unfairly stereotyped or due to backlash aimed at Disney’s frequent over-saturation of their biggest stars.
Others rebel against the House of Mouse’s squeaky-clean image and unbearable rules and end up quitting acting altogether. Sadly, at least a couple former Disney stars went on to suffer from seemingly endless personal issues.
From Hayden Christenson’s faded career after the universally maligned The Phantom Menace to Topher Grace’s Spider-Man 3 misstep to reemergence of only one of the Sprouse twins, here are the 19 Stars Whose Careers Flopped After They Left Disney Properties.
19. Tiffany Thornton – Sonny With Chance/So, Random
Tiffany Thornton played bratty blonde teen diva Tawni Hart in the Disney Channel’s Sonny With a Chance for three years. She then went on to star in the “show-within-a-show” spinoff So Random! after the sketch comedy became its own series.
Sadly, Random lasted only a single year. Thornton, who was pregnant at the time, admitted that the cancelation wasn’t much of a surprise, as nobody expected the series to last without original star Demi Lovato.
Since the end of her Disney Channel run, Thornton has continued to act, but her performances have been largely offscreen. Thornton has switched to voice acting, appearing in one episode of Doc McStuffins and co-starring as Lupita in the Day-of-the-Dead-themed animated series Muertoons, produced by That ’70s Show‘s Wilmer Valderrama.
18. Jennifer Stone – Wizards of Waverly Place
Jennifer Stone continued to act long after Wizards of Waverly Place left the airwaves, but it’s the sort of projects she was landing before and after her time as a Mouseketeer that lands her on this list. There seems to have been a clear shift in the quality of the projects themselves.
Before becoming Harper Anna Finkle, Muggle Extraordinaire, Stone was picking up roles in major projects such as House and Mean Girls 2. While she wasn’t necessarily the star in these projects, she showed a lot of promise in the types of work she was able to land.
After Waverly Place ended, Stone began to pick up a few lead roles, albeit of much more questionable quality. Her work following Disney consists of titles like Grave Secrets and Deadtime Stories. This seems like quite a difference.
17. Hayden Christensen – Star Wars
All eyes were on Hayden Christiansen in 2002 when he was chosen to play Queen Amidala’s sudden grown-up love interest, Anakin Skywalker, in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Everyone thought that the young actor would soon be a Hollywood force to be reckoned with. However, the constant mocking of Clones‘ love story, along with ruthless critiques of Christiansen’s acting abilities, proved to be too much for the young star.
He admitted that he hadn’t felt like he had earned his sudden fame at the young age of 19. So Christiansen quit the movie industry and went to live on a farm for a while.
Christiansen knew full-well that he may have been damaging his career by removing himself from the spotlight so quickly. However, he thought that if he could repair that damage and succeed in show business a second time, it would prove that he had really deserved his success.
16. Rondell Sheridan – Cory in the House
In the That’s So Raven spinoff, Cory in the House, Cory and Victor Baxter move to Washington DC to live in the White House after Victor is hired as the personal chef to the president. Following the end of Cory, Rondell Sheridan, the actor who brought Victor to life, basically disappeared.
Sheridan picked up a handful of projects for a couple of years following the end of the Disney Channel series. However, the actor/comedian seemed to have fallen off the map in 2012 and hasn’t been heard from since.
15. Amy Bruckner – Phil of the Future
Amy Bruckner played Pim Diffy, Phil’s adorable, trouble-making sister in Phil of the Future. Diffy’s bubbly personality mixed with her passion for being the worst sister ever, easily made Bruckner a stand-out star, but she quickly disappeared from the public eye following her two-year stint on the family-friendly show.
Bruckner continued to land leading roles for a short while after the end of Phil. She appeared in 2007’s Nancy Drew as Nancy’s sundae-loving best friend Bess and picked up a voice acting role in American Dragon: Jake Long before taking a seven year break from performing.
She appeared in a TV movie in 2014 before taking yet another three years off. Bruckner’s working résumé has been spotty at best since her Disney days. She recently admitted that she’s changed so much since her child acting days, that even people she knows no longer recognize her.
14. Edward Norton – The Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton is still a huge star, but he’s also a terribly controversial one. Norton has long been known as a control freak behind-the-scenes.
He’s infamous for demanding creative control and steamrolling directors in order to see his creative vision come to fruition. It was this behavior on the set of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.
Word got out that Marvel was unhappy with Norton’s demands on the set of Hulk including his insistence on creating an entire role for The Wire‘s Michael K. William, whom Norton was reportedly a fan of.
13. Lalaine – Lizzy McGuire
Once well-known for playing Lizzy’s best friend Miranda Sanchez on Lizzie McGuire, Lalaine was poised to become a household name. Though she continued working for years after her Disney Channel stint ended and was in several big projects, she was never really a lead actress and her name has become forgotten by many.
Lalaine revised her McGuire character in a Disney Channel video in 2005 and again in 2007. Other than that, many of her credits appear to be bit parts, with titles like “gossipy girl,” “bass player,” and “drinking woman.”
12. Orlando Brown – That’s So Raven
Orlando Brown has been busy since his role as Raven’s best friend, Eddie Thomas, came to an end. The former That’s So Raven star has managed to keep himself a steady presence in the media… for all the wrong reasons.
Brown continued to work, mainly putting in bit appearances here and there. He doesn’t seem to mind the steep drop off in lead roles, however, as he created a short video in 2016 entitled F**k My Fame, a strong message to be sure.
That same year, Brown was arrested on charges of battery and drug possession. Brown was arrested again in January of this year on similar charges. Allegations accused the former child actor of battery following a family argument. The warrant for his 2016 arrest was still active at the time.
11. Phill Lewis – Suite Life
Phill Lewis needed a break after playing the perpetually harried and constantly frustrated Mr. Moseby in the Suite Life with Zack and Cody and the following spinoff The Suite Life on Deck.
He has continued to act, but mostly in bit parts and offscreen voice acting work. Who could blame Lewis for needing a break after dealing with the Martin brothers’ antics?
Lewis provided the voice for Total Drama‘s loveable bunny fan, DJay, and recently appeared in several seasons of American Dad. However, Lewis is most notable for his continued support of Cole and Dylan Sprouse.
10. David Prowse – Star Wars
David Prowse has been angry about his apparent shunning by George Lucas for decades. Legend has it that Prowse had no idea his higher-pitched Dark Lord performance would be redubbed with the baritone tones of James Earl Jones.
When he discovered that his voice had been edited out of the Star Wars franchise, Prowse allegedly made up ridiculous lines while filming and pulled out of Star Wars-related appearances. Yet, he wouldn’t really have a résumé if it weren’t for the lightsaber-swinging series.
Prowse has a handful of credits that don’t involve his stint as the Sith Lord. The majority of his projects are all related to Star Wars in some way. Prowse’s work schedule seems to slow to a crawl when he isn’t involved with a Star Wars project.
9. Billy Ray Cyrus – Hannah Montana
Before his daughter was twerking with Robin Thicke and capturing the heart of Liam Hemsworth, Billy Ray Cyrus was breaking hearts and taking names as a bona fide country music star. His huge hit single “Achy Breaky Heart” catapulted him to the height of fame… and then Hannah Montana happened.
By the time Cyrus took on the role of Hannah’s father in the series that would make Miley a superstar, he had already been out of the public eye for a little while.
The role drew attention to the singer, seemingly promising a revitalized career. Yet, when Montana ended in 2011, Cyrus’s career seemed to go with it. The two biggest projects on Cyrus’s résumé following his daughter’s Disney channel show are a canceled CMT series and Sharknado 2.
8. Jason Dolley – Good Luck Charlie
Good Luck Charlie may be one of the most notable Disney Channel series ever. The 2011 TV movie, Good Luck Charlie, It’s Christmas, was an incredible success, becoming the most watched live-action cable movie for that year.
Bridgit Mendler (Teddy) became a successful singing star, and the series broke another important record by becoming the first ever Disney Channel series to feature a lesbian couple. Despite all the notoriety and success, the series came to a close after only four seasons thanks to Disney’s habit of a pulling a series once it reaches its 65th episode.
Jason Dolley, who played Charlie and Teddy’s brother, PJ, should have been set up for a successful post-Disney career. The notoriety of the series certainly could have aided in his continued success. Yet, Dolley has not added a single credit to his résumé since 2014, the same year that the series ended.
7. Topher Grace – Spider-Man 3
Topher Grace was supposed to be a megastar. His That ’70s Show co-stars all went on to enjoy massive Hollywood success, and that’s exactly what Grace thought he had to look forward to when he left the role of Eric Foreman to pursue blockbuster movies.
He did manage to land an impressive role as Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 3, only to watch his career wither away immediately following the release of the universally mocked sequel.
Grace became the butt of a lot of jokes following his turn as Eddie Brock. Most Venom fans felt that he wasn’t the right fit. Grace would inevitably be mocked for his perceived hubris in thinking that he could become a star.
6. Ben Savage – Boy Meets World
America fell in love with the adorably awkward Fred Savage (before the harassment allegations, of course) in The Wonder Years, only to become even more smitten with his even more adorably awkward younger brother, Ben, in Boy Meets World.
Ben Savage should have had a long-lasting career thanks to his teen dreamboat status, but it wasn’t meant to be.
After his popular series ended, Savage pretty much just put in guest appearances on other TV shows. One episode at a time, a couple shows per year. His work schedule drastically slowed down until the long-awaited sequel, Girl Meets World, came back around.
5. Adam Lamberg – Lizzy McGuire
Adam Lamberg does not regret giving up fame. He had a burgeoning career in the ’90s that culminated with the beloved role of Gordo in the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire.
After his three-year stint, Lamberg appeared in a couple more independent projects before disappearing from Hollywood altogether. He didn’t even put in an appearance at the 2015 McGuire cast reunion. However, things aren’t all bad for the former child star.
Lamberg moved to New York (on the other side of the country from the Los Angelos-based reunion) and became a developmental associate for the Irish Arts Center.
He revealed that he loved his time as an actor but wanted to escape being “constantly judged on something from the past.” As MTV pointed out, Lamberg missing the bowling alley reunion was only fitting, given his character’s awful track record with the sport.
4. Jake Lloyd – Star Wars
Jake Lloyd was only eight-years-old when he was chosen to portray baby Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
His portrayal of the future Sith Lord did not go over well with viewers, though, who felt that Lloyd lacked talent (again, at 8-years-old) and the poor boy was mocked ruthlessly for his performance.
Even his peers proved to be a cruel reminder of his most famous role, as other kids would make lightsaber noises at him whenever they were around.
Lloyd admitted that he had come to hate it whenever a mobir camera was pointing his way and almost completely removed himself from the public eye. Sadly, Lloyd continued to be a presence in the media due to his legal and mental health issues.
3. Kevin Jonas – Jonas
Two of the three Jonas brothers continued their performing careers after Jonas ended with only three seasons. All except Kevin, who ended up leaving Hollywood completely.
Kevin went on to become a successful CEO The Blue Market, so it’s not exactly as if he’s done nothing with his “normal” life. Unfortunately, Kevin did find himself back in the public eye last year when he testified in the FIFA bribery trial.
Ironically, Kevin seems to be the only brother who doesn’t consistently blast his time with Disney in the media. Both Nick and Joe have expressed regret over their time as the Jonas Brothers and have been more than willing to air the dirty secrets behind the House of Mouse.
2. PewDiePie – Various Projects
You may not have been aware that PewDiePie had any connections to Disney– he didn’t exactly star in any bubbly Disney Channel franchises– but he was backed by the company nonetheless.
PewDiePie became a millionaire through his hugely popular YouTube channel, and Disney owns a firm that ran the star’s business.
When The Wall Street Journal inquired about an offensive and controversial video featuring anti-semitism, both Disney and Google severed ties with the streamer. PewDiePie has recently been accused of attempting to use the controversy surrounding fellow YouTuber Logan Paul to try to repair the damage caused to his own image.
1. Dylan Sprouse – Suite Life
For a long time, Cole and Dylan Sprouse seemed inseparable. The twin brothers starred on two of Disney’s most successful series ever: The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck. Then, when their time as child stars was over, they both disappeared from the public eye together, perfectly in synch.
However, Cole went on to land the iconic role of Jughead Jones on The CW’s smash hit teen soap Riverdale and everyone began to wonder what had happened to Dylan.
After taking a prolonged break, Dylan picked up acting again with independent projects and video game voiceover work. However, he seems to be making more of a name for himself through his rocky personal life and partying ways.
Of course, fans have also been wondering whether or not Dylan will appear alongside Cole in Riverdale, but the brothers swear that that isn’t a real possibility.
Can you think of any other stars whose careers flopped after they left Disney properties? Sound off in the comment section!
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