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10 forgotten actors who made big comebacks

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It’s rare, but Hollywood can be a forgiving place at times. Usually, when an actor fades from public consciousness, it stays that way. Sometimes, however, an actor will land a project that brings them back to the A-list.

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Much of the success comes from when an actor finds a role that is well suited to his personality. A child star may find the perfect role as a child, and then later find the perfect role as an adult. Other times he’s an actor who has done very well in one decade, only to see his popularity drop the next. The movie industry is unpredictable, but these players have managed to come back to the top for a while, at least.


ten Neil Patrick Harris Harold and Kumar Go to the White Castle (2004)

Doogie Howser, MDChild star Neil Patrick Harris made a very successful transition to a career in the industry as an adult.

The starting point was a cannabis comedy. In Harold and Kumar go white Castle, Harris plays a hilarious fictional version himself. His retaliation for the playful biographical character in the sequels also felt organic in their absurdity. Only one year after the first Harold and KumarHarris scored big with his acclaimed roles as Barney Stinson on the hit sitcom how I Met Your MotherSince then he has played Count Olaf in NetflixA series of unfortunate eventsseries and has a role in the nextMatrix resurrections.

9 Eddie Murphy Dream Girls (2006)

Eddie Murphy’s career has had its ups and downs. He was very successful in the 1980s with films such as48 hours.andBeverly Hills cop. The ’90s weren’t so nice to Murphy, with movies likeVampire in BrooklynandMetrofailing to impress.

His return came in the form ofDream girls. He even received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his intense and focused performance as James “Thunder” Early. Along with Jennifer Hudson, Murphy was considered one of the stars of the film. Her star then faded again to bounce back once more with the biopicDolemite is my name.

8 Jason Bateman Arrested Development (2003)

Michael talks to Wayne Jarvis on Arrested Development

Jason Bateman had an admirable career as a late 1980s teenage star in a television series Little house in the meadow andSilver spoons. The 1990s weren’t so particularly prolific for the star, however.

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Bateman started to really shine when he played the role of “the right man” in a comedy.Horrible bosses,Identity thief,Game night,Christmas party in the officeandExtractall contain variations of this archetype, and these projects wouldn’t even serve as a complete list. But Bateman’s second career wind began with his role as reluctant and hilarious patriarch Michael Bluth in Development stopped. The series has shown that Bateman is the perfect foil for the freak surrounding events.

7 Burt Reynolds Boogie Nights (1997)

Burt Reynolds was and always will be a Hollywood icon. With movies likeIssuance,Smokey and the bandit, andThe longest yard, Reynolds was one of the most knowledgeable and lucrativestars of the 1970s.

The 1980s did not produce such a result. Then, in the late 90s, Reynolds made a major comeback. His interpretation in Paul Thomas Anderson Boogie eveningsis one of the best in the movie. Reynolds received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as determined pornographic director Jack Horner. WhileBoogie evenings would be his last revered film, Reynolds worked steadily until his death in 2018.

6 Drew Barrymore Scream (1996)

As a former child star known primarily for starring in HEY, Drew Barrymore reinvented his Hollywood career withPoisonous sumacin 1992. Yet it was not until 1996 that she made a splash on the big screen as an adult.

Little role inBatman forevernext to,Screamwas Barrymore’s reintroduction to audiences, and it was featured prominently in promotional material for the film. Then she dies 15 minutes later. His good-natured charm was hard to lose so early on, but audiences got a lot more of it two years later withThe wedding singer. As Casey Becker, Barrymore reminded moviegoers of her star power and has been recognized with success.

5 Mickey Rourke the Wrestler (2008)

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke did a fantastic job in the 1980s and early 1990s (i.e.angel heartandDinner) before disappearing from public consciousness. There’s an argument to be made that Mickey Rourke’s brief but astronomical return really started with the return of Robert Rodriguez.City of sin.There, however, he was wrapped in prosthetics.

At Darren Aronofsky’sWrestler, Rourke plays failed wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Her performance is so nuanced and shocking how true it is to the viewer. This is the role Rourke was born to play. The fact that his career resurgence only lasted about two years is a real shame.

4 John Travolta Pulp Fiction (1994)

Jules and Vincent in t-shirts in Pulp Fiction

John Travolta made a name for himself in the 1970s by appearing in TV series Welcome back, Kotterand become an A-lister with awesome dance moves inFatand Saturday night fever. He then faded from the limelight in the ’80s. And as Travolta’s star power once again waned, there was a time when he bounced off the A-list with a witty neo-noir.

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pulp Fictionsaved Travolta from its lull in the mid to late 1980s (culminating in theLook who’s talkingtrilogy). Quentin Tarantino’s second hit proved that Travolta can do comedy and an intimidating gangster, and he can do both simultaneously. It waspulp Fictionwhich led to the adaptation of Elmore LeonardGet Shortyand the underrated film of the Clinton era,Primary colors.

3 Marlon Brando The Godfather (1972)

Marlon Brando in The Godfather

The 1950s were essentially Brando’s decade:A streetcar named Desire, Julius Caesar, The Wild One, On The Waterfront, Guys and Dolls.

The 1960s did not produce quite the same results for the legendary actor. None of his films from the decade have become a classic. Then, in 1972, he rebounded in a big way.The Godfatheris widely regarded as one of (if not the) greatest film of all time. Brando played a big part in this reception with one of his most intimidating roles as Don Corleone. In addition, its performance inLast Tango in Paristhat same year also received praise (if not also controversy).

2 Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe (2011)

Matthew McConaughey first made a name for himself in the rom-com genre:The wedding planner,How to lose a guy in 10 days,Launch error,Fool’s gold,Ghosts of girlfriends from the pastWhile no one could deny the actor’s charm, he was considered a one-trick pony in Hollywood.

2012 Lincoln’s lawyeris credited as the launch of McConassance, but in reality, McConaughey’s epic comeback has come in the form ofKiller Joe.The film (which received very limited release due to an NC-17 rating) continued to be underrated. A decade later, he’s an example of how McConaughey can reverse his good old boy charm and take serious action. Two years laterKiller Joeupon leaving, McConaughey will win the Oscar for Best Actor for his work inDallas Buyers Club.

1 Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man (2008)

Robert Downey Jr Tony Stark Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. experienced endlessly publicized disgrace after a prolific decade in the ’80s. His troubled personal life earned him more attention than his skilled work in the’ 90s, in films likeChaplinandBow.

Iron Manwas more than a comeback; it was like the real start of Downey’s career. For viewers around the world, he truly is Iron Man, and it’s very hard to imagine anyone else in the role. This film made him known all over the world. His continued work with the character only solidified that stature.

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