Total success in Hollywood never lasts, even for our favorite actors and filmmakers. The cool and cutting edge inevitably become out-of-touch and boring as time passes. Rising stars fade (often quickly) and hit actors inevitably start bleeding money. Staying on top of Hollywood is an uphill battle for these actors, yet it isn’t an impossible one to win. Here are 15 stars desperately trying to cling to relevancy, some of which may very well succeed… if they play their cards right.
An easy target, sure, but setting aside Lindsay’s multitude of problems she was once a talented and bankable star. Unfortunately that status was completely blindsided by an endless deluge of legal issues and personal meltdowns, but the days of Mean Girls and Freaky Friday weren’t that long ago. Most recently Lohan has been brokering her sobriety plan with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. While we don’t relish witnessing that desperate spectacle (and the huge ratings we’re sure that will come with it), there is hope that the upcoming Paul Schrader thriller The Canyons will remind audiences that Lohan was once a legitimate talent. Despite negative buzz, the film’s trailer suggests there may be more to Lohan than anyone gives her credit for.
Total success in Hollywood never lasts, even for our favorite actors and filmmakers. The cool and cutting edge inevitably become out-of-touch and boring as time passes. Rising stars fade (often quickly) and hit actors inevitably start bleeding money. Staying on top of Hollywood is an uphill battle for these actors, yet it isn't an impossible one to win. Here are 15 stars desperately trying to cling to relevancy, some of which may very well succeed... if they play their cards right.
An easy target, sure, but setting aside Lindsay’s multitude of problems she was once a talented and bankable star. Unfortunately that status was completely blindsided by an endless deluge of legal issues and personal meltdowns, but the days of Mean Girls and Freaky Friday weren't that long ago. Most recently Lohan has been brokering her sobriety plan with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. While we don’t relish witnessing that desperate spectacle (and the huge ratings we’re sure that will come with it), there is hope that the upcoming Paul Schrader thriller The Canyons will remind audiences that Lohan was once a legitimate talent. Despite negative buzz, the film's trailer suggests there may be more to Lohan than anyone gives her credit for.
Taylor Kitsch is one of those actors who should be a legitimate star by now. Despite gaining a following via Friday Night Lights, the actor has failed to catch on with major mainstream audiences. 2012 brought three Kitsch-fronted flops-- Disney’s John Carter, Battleship and the Oliver Stone crime bonanza The Savages. The actor won’t be seen onscreen at all in 2013, though a second collaboration with Battleship-director Peter Berg, Lone Survivor, is set for a January 2014 release with Mark Wahlberg in the lead. Though we doubt Kitsch will ever become the star that Hollywood previously pushed, the actor should get to sidestep his failed projects if Lone Survivor turns out a hit.
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While his leading man winning streak has been stronger than the aforementioned Kitsch, Ryan Reynolds has experienced his share of box office burns over the past two or three years. This summer alone has seen Reynolds lead the massive bomb R.I.P.D. and the summer’s most disappointing children’s film, Turbo. Despite enjoying some hits with Safe House and The Change-Up, the pall of Green Lantern’s failure also continues to hang around its star. Reynolds biggest success as an actor to date remains his indie Buried, an edgy Hitchcockian thriller that showed audiences Reynolds was more than just the cocky, quippy, good looking hero type. With his next big vehicle, Deadpool, in a never-ending state of development hell, Reynolds has a series of indie-style vehicles on the horizon that may emphasize his talents as an actor, rather than a Hollywood star.
Will Smith has been the king of Hollywood’s box office since 1996. Unfortunately you can’t stay on top forever-- the actor experienced a major blow with the recent After Earth. The Smith vehicle was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (will Hollywood ever learn?) and unwisely tried to push Jaden Smith on audiences as Will Smith 2.0. Unfortunatley Will Smith 1.0 seems to be falling out of favor-- the actor has gotten more attention for dropping out of Django Unchained than he has for his typically tepid recent efforts like Men In Black III. Audiences appear to be tired of seeing Smith play it safe, cracking wise, and blowing stuff up. Unfortunately Smith’s next projects are going to be directed by Akiva Goldsman and Edward Zwick, two guys who couldn’t find edge in a knife factory. Don’t expect Smith’s After Earth streak to end unless a lack of M. Night Shyamalan’s involvement happens to sway audiences back into the multi-hyphenate's fold.
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Much like Will Smith, Jim Carrey’s recent flop can be blamed on the actor playing it too safe. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone would have been a huge hit for the actor... in 1998. True to form, Carry will likely be bouncing back from the debacle with what appears to be a chameleon-like performance in Kick-A$$ 2. Unfortunately, the actor will reap little benefits of it thanks to having pulled his support for the film due to the high level of gun violence the sequel contains. Instead the rubber-faced performer will be throwing himself into Dumb and Dumber To, a sequel that will be arriving almost two decades too late but could very well capitalize on the cult success of the original. That is, if it's actually good...
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Fool audiences once with Grown Ups, shame on you. Fool audiences twice, well-- actually, audiences didn’t quite buy it wholesale the second time around. Grown Ups brought in close to $300 million worldwide and while the sequel trounced competition like Pacific Rim, it has barley made $8 million in profits to date. With the film entering its third weekend, Grown Ups 2 will likely drop-off in the $100 million range. Not bad for a comedy, but for an $80 million sequel? Between it and last summer’s flop, That’s My Boy, Sandler may want to start relying less on crude humor and cameos from his friends and instead try to be funny again. The actor will soon be reuniting with The Wedding Singer co-star Drew Barrymore for Blended. Said film that will either be a desperate bid at re-conjuring the duo's romantic comedy chemistry or may force Sandler shows his wittier and warmer side for once. Fingers crossed we get the latter...
Robert De Niro
Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com
Robert De Niro has had an awful run of movies that was only broken up with an Academy Award nomination for Silver Linings Playbook. What sort of projects does the Raging Bull actor turn to when his popularity is on the upswing? Cringe-inducing projects like The Killing Season and The Big Wedding. De Niro’s choices as an actor boggle the mind-- the actor seems content taking whatever work comes his way regardless of quality. Thankfully his post-Killing Season set of films are poised to bring De Niro back to form. He’ll be reuniting with David O. Russell for American Hustle and will take on the classic De Niro mob archetype with Michelle Pfeiffer in The Family later this year. Also, a new project with Martin Scorsese-- The Irishman-- is still on the horizon, a film that may very well erase all of De Niro's past sins.
Middle age has not been kind to John Cusack. The handsome actor has always been perfectly suited for quirky comedies, romances, and the odd action film or two. Unfortunately Cusack has seemed to have a hard time moving past those niche roles. More theatrical turns in films like The Raven, The Paperboy, and The Frozen Ground have failed to resonate with audiences or critics, making us wonder what the future holds for Cusack. At the age of 47, the star can’t quite return to the sorts of lovelorn man-boy archetypes he played in High Fidelity, Grosse Point Blank or Say Anything. This may be why he’s dodging Hot Tub Time Machine 2 in favor of projects like Lee Daniel’s The Butler and the upcoming David Cronenberg feature Maps To the Stars. Said projects reek of Oscar-bait, but also the sort of quirkiness we've come to love the actor for. Perhaps the two elements will combine to create a legitimate Cusack comeback.
Speaking of legitimate actors, Nicolas Cage has certainly stretched the limitations of that term as far as an Academy Award winner can. In recent years the Leaving Las Vegas star has practically murdered his credibility as a serious actor by starring in a series of increasingly ridiculous films. We won’t trot them all out here-- anyone who has avoided them in recent years (all but the most devoted Rage Cagers) knows which films we’re talking about. Yet with his latest profile in The Guardian, Cage has assured fans that he’s in on the joke that his brand name has become. Also in the interview Cage reiterated that he sees himself as a performer, rather than an actor, one with an against-the-grain sensibility. True to form, Cage will next collaborate with David Gordon Green for the Southern drama Joe... before segueing into Russian mob dramas and the Christian epic Left Behind next year. Will Cage experience a comeback? He seems to be enjoying his status as a internet joke too much to actually care.
John Travolta's career received a shot of adrenaline to the chest with Pulp Fiction in 1994. He's seemed to remain in high demand since then though, like Nicolas Cage, some odd career moves have conspired against him. Recent sex and Scientology scandals surrounding the star haven't helped matters, either. After sharing the burden of The Killing Season with the aforementioned De Niro and recovering from that awful Christmas album he did with Olivia Newton John, will Travolta see another Pulp Fiction style comeback? Probably not, but Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father is an upcoming project that holds promise. The mafia biopic from Captain America director Joe Johnston is a strong contender for Travolta to show audiences he still carries dramatic talent. Standing alongside heavy hitters like co-star Anthony Hopkins, Travolta better blow the roof off as John Gotti Senior.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is done with politics and has come back to Hollywood for good. Hooray! The only problem is that audiences don’t seem that interested in seeing the 65-year-old bust heads like he used to. The Last Stand flopped, Schwarzenegger’s appearance in The Expendables 2 was derided as the worst aspect of the sequel, and the action star's upcoming collaboration with Sylvester Stallone, The Escape Plan, may receive a similarly flat reception. Is it time for the action star to hang up his machine gun? Probably, but Schwarzenegger has been prolific enough to insure we’ll be seeing him in up to nine new films from 2013 to 2015. Of these The Expendables 3 and The Terminator 5 look like surefire hits, whereas The Legend of Conan is being conceived as a swan song for the aging hero's iconic character.
While Arnold Schwarzenegger may be getting a little worse for wear as an action hero, he at least seems to care about the films he’s been making. We can’t say the same for Bruce Willis, an actor who has been sleepwalking through his projects since Cop Out in 2010. Fans haven’t been blind to the attitude-- RED 2 recently tanked in the U.S. box office, likely thanks to Willis recent spate of half-hearted efforts. The jump in quality between A Good Day To Die Hard and the original Die Hard is strong evidence of the Willis' creative and financial decline. Thankfully last year’s Looper gave fans a bit of the Willis of old-- charismatic, invested, and committed-- though more mindless upcoming action projects suggests the actor won't be changing his ways anytime soon. Fingers crossed John McTiernan gets released from prison before Die Hardest makes its way into production, or else Willis’ relevance may be doomed.
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Superman Returns, Valkyrie, Jack the Giant Killer-- it’s easy to see why director Bryan Singer has returned to the X-Men fold for the upcoming sequel Days of Future’s Past. While his latter day films have failed to hit like The Usual Suspects or his first two X-Men, Singer does possess an uncanny knack for assembling ensembles-- even if its for a superhero movie. Based on the success of the film’s San Diego Comic Con panel, Singer is poised to return from the fold of mediocrity. Unfortunately the film will face stiff competition in 2014's superhero heavy summer lineup, but we have confidence Singer will show the competition at Marvel and Sony how it's done.
Spike Lee gets more headlines for putting down other films (see his Django Unchained comments from last year) and haphazardly rallying behind political causes (see his ill-conceived tweet of the wrong George Zimmerman’s address, also last year) than he does for his movie making. What happened, Spike? The filmmaker behind such seminal classics as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X has found success with TV documentaries but seems to have ruined his theatrical brand. Critical and financial flops like Miracle at St. Anna and Red Hook Summer suggest Lee's storytelling has grown antiquated and preachy. Most recently Lee has signed on to remake the Korean thriller Old Boy and, despite some fan derision, recently turned out a very buzzworthy trailer for the project. So Lee’s directorial star is rising right? Not quite-- the director recently announced he would be turning to Kickstarter for his next project, a move that seems to signify the director is grasping at straws in Hollywood. Here’s to hoping Old Boy makes good on the promise of its trailer for the sake of Lee’s big budget future.
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Which brings us to Oliver Stone. The director was once the political voice of his generation, yet these days he’s content trotting out pale imitations of his previous successes. The Savages and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps have been accused of being on-the-nose takes on Scarface and Wall Street. And let us not forget the disappointment of W., an ambitious, if sitcom shallow take on the infamous presidency of George W. Bush. So what is Stone doing to turn the tide of his diminishing importance? He’s producing another cut of Alexander... his third or fourth to date. He’s also just released Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, a Showtime documentary series no one seemed to pay any attention to. And not too long ago he derided Zero Dark Thirty for its objectivity in depicting the conflict in the Middle East. Needless to say, Stone is continuing to make any bid for relevance an uphill battle. Classic Oliver Stone...