Being cast in an adaptation of a sci-fi/fantasy YA novel like Harry Potter is a huge win for any actor. It could potentially mean fame and tons of money.
But they don’t cast just anyone. To win the honor, you must have the potential to become a big star. Franchises like these have built-in fanbase that are waiting with bated breath to until they can see their beloved books on the big screen, and those fans are poised to fall in love with the cast. Even if the movie ends up being a flop, the sheer buzz around it is usually enough for the actors to make a name for themselves.
So it’s frustrating that an actor who is such a big component in a franchise doesn’t live up to their potential after it’s over, but it happens all too often. Sometimes you have to wonder: were these actors actually talented or were they just good at playing a hot hero in a splashy fantasy series? Were they genuinely talented or just “teen fantasy film” good?
Here, we’re talking about films based on sci-fi/fantasy Young Adult novels. The franchise had to have multiple books in the series to adapt, regardless of whether they were successful enough to get more than one movie.
Here are 15 Actors Whose Careers Flopped After Their YA Movie Franchise Ended.
15. Rupert Grint – Harry Potter
In Harry Potter‘s trio of stars, Rupert Grint stands out as the one who didn’t really make it in Hollywood after the final movie.
Daniel Radcliffe has been tearing it up in indie films, as well as starring in big box office hits. Emma Watson, in addition to becoming one of our most outspoken feminists, already has two iconic roles under her belt post-Potter: Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Grint, on the other hand, has been pretty lifeless. He’s been in a series of indie films that attracted barely any attention upon release and garnered bad reviews: Charlie Countryman (with Shia LaBeouf), CBGB, and Moonwalkers.
14. Liam Hemsworth – The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is another instance in which one actor in the main trio of stars got way less famous than the other two. Liam Hemsworth (Gale) got the short end of the stick here.
Although Gale is part of the Katniss/Peeta love triangle, he gets the least screen time. He never competes in the Hunger Games, and Katniss chooses Peeta in the end.
Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) became a mega-star after the first Hunger Games film. Josh Hutcherson is no A-lister, but he’s still doing pretty well: he’s become a James Franco indie film staple (The Disaster Artist, In Dubious Battle) and will lead a Seth Rogen show, Future Man, on Hulu.
Being a Hemsworth, Liam is certainly hot enough to be a heartthrob. But although dating Miley Cyrus put him on the tabloids’ radar, his biggest role since the Hunger Games ended in 2015 has been Independence Day: Resurgence, which everyone already forgot.
13. Ashley Greene – Twilight
In the Twilight series, Ashley Greene played Alice, adopted sister of Edward and friend and confidant of Bella. However, outside of Twilight, her career hasn’t amounted to much.
In 2012, five years after the first Twilight movie, she was in the terrible Miley Cyrus movie LOL. She scored a win when she was cast as the replacement for Anna Kendrick in Zach Braff’s Garden State follow-up Wish I Was Here. Although the film didn’t live up to Garden State, it’ll still live on in the hearts of Zach Braff fans. She played a small role in the James Franco helmed John Steinbeck adaptation In Dubious Battle (which Josh Hutcherson also starred in).
12. Skandar Keynes – The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia did pretty well as a fantasy series, although there is the glaring fact that it was never finished. There are seven novels in C. S. Lewis’ series, and as of now, only three have been made, although a fourth film has been in the works for years.
Although the actors who played the four Pevensie siblings were all promising talents, one of them turned out to be a one-hit wonder. Skandar Keynes, who played the young brother Edmund, didn’t work as an actor after the most recent Chronicles of Narnia movie in 2010. Besides his work on the fantasy series, he only has two minor credits to his name, both before he was cast as Edmund.
In 2016, Keynes announced that he had quit acting. He got a degree in Middle East Studies from Pembroke College, Cambridge in 2014 and is now working in England. Not much is known about his current career, but in 2015 he completed an internship at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
11. Bonnie Wright – Harry Potter
It’s really messed up that Bonnie Wright, the actress who played Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter, didn’t become more famous.
After all, she’s the one that Harry ends up with. They get married and have three kids. Along with Ron and Hermione’s kids, they make up the next generation of this story.
Wright was discovered and cast in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; her first acting project. But after the series concluded, she fell off the map as an actress. In 2012, one year after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, she began directing and writing short films. She also models in England.
10. Taylor Lautner – Twilight
From when the first Twilight movie came out in 2008 to when the series concluded in 2012, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson had millions of teenage girls at their feet.
Fast forward to 2017: Pattinson has transitioned into an indie/arthouse star and Lautner’s career has taken a hit. Post-Twilight, Lautner is mostly know for being in season two of Ryan Murphy’s campy show Scream Queens, which was canceled after that season. He made the unfortunate choice to be in Adam Sandler’s terrible Netflix movie The Ridiculous 6 (2015), which caused controversy for being racist. He also made headlines for being one of Taylor Swift’s many boyfriends.
With the third member of the Twilight trinity, Kristen Stewart, also finding success in indie film, this leaves Lautner as the only one who didn’t use Twilight as a springboard to a successful career.
9. Dakota Blue Richards – The Golden Compass
Hollywood’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy… did not go well.
The Golden Compass (2007) was a $180 million dollar project, and although it made lots of money outside the U.S., it was viewed as a disaster on the part of New Line Cinema. The studio was absorbed into Warner Bros. Pictures following the debacle. Needless to say, the trilogy was never finished.
The film’s young star Dakota Blue Richards didn’t exactly become a box office mainstay. Her career was lifeless until 2011, by which time she had grown up and found success on TV in season five of the popular British teen drama Skins. She was on the show until 2012.
8. Alex Pettyfer – I Am Number Four, Beastly
Alex Pettyfer is the king of YA film flops.
He had all the trappings of a potential teen fantasy heartthrob: hot, British, great cheekbones, but he failed to become the next Robert Pattinson. His first major film was also his first flop: I Am Number Four, based on the first book of the series in the Lorien Legacies series. While it did well at the box office, it got terrible reviews and the franchise was abandoned. Things only went downhill from there.
Next, there was the awful Beauty and the Beast retelling Beastly, in which Pettyfer plays a “beast” with lots of tattoos and scars on his face opposite Vanessa Hudgens’ beauty.
In 2012, he booked a lead role in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, which could have been his second chance. However, by then, he had gotten a reputation as being difficult to work with, and wasn’t asked back for Magic Mike XXL because he feuded with star Channing Tatum.
7. Evanna Lynch – Harry Potter
Acting newbie Evanna Lynch was tapped to play fan-favorite character Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007.
Her casting is an interesting story: she was a Harry Potter super fan and wrote fan mail to J.K. Rowling. Despite her adorable story, there was no favoritism involved in her casting, since Rowling didn’t know she won the part until after it happened. Lynch, who didn’t have any professional acting experience, went to an open casting call after reading about it on a fan site and ultimately beat out 15,000 other girls for the role.
6. Kellan Lutz – Twilight
Twilight put Kellan Lutz (aka Emmett Cullen) in the spotlight and gave him the opportunity to become a bankable teen fantasy star. But although there were a lot of projects after Twilight that could have sent him on his way to stardom, they fizzled out.
The same year that the first Twilight film came out, Lutz booked a role in the first season of The CW’s 90210 reboot. Although it ran for five seasons, the revival ultimately didn’t click with a new generation. In 2014, he won the title role in The Legend of Hercules. However, the movie failed to distinguish itself from the many other Hercules films that Hollywood keeps trying to make. Don’t they know that nothing will ever be better than the animated Disney movie?
5. Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Hollywood has tried two times so far to turn Asa Butterfield into the next big sci-fi/fantasy star. It hasn’t gone as planned.
After earning praise as a child actor for starring in Hugo in 2011, he was cast in the 2013 adaptation of the sci-fi series Ender’s Game. However, it didn’t turn out to be the blockbuster the studio was expecting. It did make him famous enough to be put in the running to play Marvel’s next Spider-Man, but the role that eventually went to Tom Holland.
In 2016, he fronted the Tim Burton adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But despite a lot of buzz and a cast including Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench, the film didn’t fare very well.
4. Jamie Campbell Bower – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Harry Potter, and Twilight
When Jamie Campbell Bower won the role of romantic lead Anthony in the film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, it seemed like he was poised to do great things.
What actually happened, though, was that he got stuck with an incredibly underdeveloped role in the Twilight franchise. He plays Caius, one of bad guy Aro’s (Michael Sheen) two lackeys. Honestly, all he does is sit to one side of Aro and look creepy and menacing.
In 2010, he broke into the Harry Potter films with a more important part in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: young Gellert Grindelwald.
In 2013, he finally got the chance to star in his own YA franchise, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. But it failed miserably; another YA adaptation that was abandoned after adapting the first book.
3. Matthew Lewis – Harry Potter
Matthew Lewis made a very important contribution to the world: inventing Longbottoming.
Longbottoming is when a gawky, nerdy child actor unexpectedly blossoms into a total hottie. The term was named for Lewis’s character in the Harry Potter films, Neville Longbottom. In the first movie, Neville is a dorky, slightly pudgy wallflower. By the end, Lewis had grown up and Neville became smokin’ hot, not to mention heroic.
But besides Harry Potter, Longbottoming is what Lewis is most famous for. His post-Potter career hasn’t gotten him a ton of recognition so far. Lewis did great work on some good but little-watched British TV shows: The Syndicate, Happy Valley, and Ripper Street. He got a little more exposure with a supporting role as Emilia Clarke’s horrible boyfriend in the 2016 weepy Me Before You.
2. Jackson Rathbone – Twilight
Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson) is one of five kids in the Cullen family: there’s also Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, and Alice.
Their characters were fairly important and, being sexy vampires, they each became the subject of lots of fan obsession. There were people who were on “Team Jasper” and “Team Emmett”, although it was nowhere near the levels that Team Edward or Team Jacob reached.
For Jackson Rathbone, who played Jasper, getting cast in Twilight wasn’t the breakout moment that it should have been. The most high-profile role that he’s had after the first Twilight movie was playing Sokka in M. Night Shyamalan’s failed live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
1. Robert Sheehan – The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Did anyone escape from The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones unscathed?
Robert Sheehan is another actor who joined the cast of this fantasy movie hoping it would be his ticket to becoming the next big thing in blockbuster YA movies.
He was actually doing better before he was cast as Simon in the 2013 film. He starred on cult-favorite British show Misfits, about a group of young criminals who develop superpowers. It seemed like a no-brainer to join the adaptation of a popular fantasy series.
Sheehan went on to appear in Moonwalkers with fellow former teen star Rupert Grint. He’s also in the upcoming Geostorm.
Sheehan’s now set to star in a second YA adaptation with “Mortal” in the title: Mortal Engines, based on first novel in a series by Philip Reeve. Better luck this time!
Are you a fan of any of these actors? Which other teen stars haven’t lived up to their potential? Let us know in the comments!
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