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Why Aren’t These Actors More Popular?

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What makes someone popular? They were supposed to be the future of Hollywood. Today, you’d have to think hard about when you saw last them. There were a few times when actors and actresses were on their way to leading their own franchises – seemingly unstoppable in the eyes of moviegoers everywhere.

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For these unfortunate few, success never quite stayed around. Why does this happen and could it have been avoided? We take a look back on some of the most overhyped actors who were supposed to be the ‘Next Big Thing’ – but never quite made it.


Shailene Woodley

Woodley first attracted a buzz from her performance in The Descendants opposite George Clooney, but things never quite worked after that. Even though she was the star if the Divergent series, box office numbers started to dwindle and it was finished as a TV special.

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Woodley had been cast in the 2014 summer hit The Amazing Spider-Man 2 only to have her part completely cut. Today, her career has stayed in television – a medium she used to scoff at.

Carrie-Anne Moss

Even after 20 years, it appears that Carrie-Anne Moss will always be known as Trinity in the Matrix trilogy. Even though she has had a few appearances in Netflix’s Marvel Universe, notably in Jessica Jones, it looks as though that’s all coming to an end.

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We’re not sure why Moss never had a brighter career – she seemed like the perfect woman to lead a sci-fi or action franchise. With her age against her, it doesn’t look like we will see her leading anything soon.

Taylor Kitsch

Has anyone tried harder to be a star than Taylor Kitsch? He has been the lead in four different movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, Battleship, True Detective, Savages, and John Carter didn’t garner the attention or praise anticipated.

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In fact, John Carter was one of the biggest Hollywood flops in history: losing hundreds of millions for Disney. Since then, Kitsch appears to be taking far smaller roles and clearly isn’t the bankable star Hollywood was expecting, despite its efforts.

Alex Pettyfer

Alex Pettyfer had a few roles that promised a strong career, but none seemed to stick. He was seen in Magic Mike and the failed franchise start, I Am Number 4. Pettyfer even starred in the spy film Stormbreaker, which couldn’t make a profit and perhaps got his career off to a bad start.

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Today, the British actor stays to smaller, more independent movies that have reduced his star credibility. In 2011, he spoke about Hollywood in a rude and crass manner – perhaps keeping him stalled.

Minnie Driver

After appearing alongside Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, Minnie Driver was hyped in Hollywood as the next leading lady. However, it never quite worked out and she was often sidelined by filmmakers to small supporting roles.

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Today, she can be seen Speechless, but we won’t be seeing her leading a franchise anytime soon. It’s unclear why Minnie Driver wasn’t more of a star, but it’s strange to see the hype die down after such a promising start.

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer has everything you need to be a leading man: chiseled good looks, charm, and strong acting ability. However, it appears that his roles in The Lone Ranger and The Man From U.N.C.L.E weren’t enough to keep him at the top.

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In 2017, he starred in the acclaimed move Call Me By Your Name which won him critical acclaim, but the smaller indie film is no match for the Hollywood blockbusters everyone wants to star in.

Brandon Routh

What’s bigger than Superman? In 2006, Routh had certainly large shoes to fill when he was cast as Superman in the Bryan Singer sequel. Unfortunately, fans weren’t impressed with the film as a whole and the additional sequels were shelved.

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Of course, Superman came back a few years later but it was Brandon Routh who was left behind. Today, he plays Atom – another hero on TV’s Legends of Tomorrow. While still acting today, it appears Routh won’t be the film star he thought he would be.

Leelee Sobieski

In the 1990s, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that Leelee Sobieski wasn’t in. She had appearances in Deep Impact, Eyes Wide Shut, and starred in TV’s Joan of Arc. Strangely, it all dried up after a Razzie nomination and a few box office failures.

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Today, her name remains largely unknown to people younger than 25, which shows just how fickle the movie business can be. Many audiences today will struggle to find her working today. Do you miss her?

Sam Worthington

Where do you go after the biggest film in the world? Sam Worthington starred in Avatar, quickly blowing him up into one of the world’s biggest stars. Weirdly, his career has slowed down since 2009 and he hasn’t appeared in much.

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Aside from the inconsequential Terminator: Salvation, he has taken a back seat in Hollywood. He needn’t worry, however, since he will be appearing in Avatar’s three sequels which are sure to be huge hits for years to come.

Chad Michael Murray

Chad Michael Murray starred in one of the biggest shows for most of the 2000s – so where is he now? The star of One Tree Hill was a heartthrob for millions of viewers from 2003-2012 and then seemingly vanished without a trace.

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Aside from guest appearances on shows like Scream Queens and Agent Carter, his success hasn’t been as predicted. He was last nominated for an award in 2008 – a Teen Choice Award – and probably laments the fact his fans grew out of his boyish appeal.

Dakota Fanning

There was no question that Dakota Fanning was a talented child star. She starred in massive Hollywood movies such as War of the Worlds and The Secret Life of Bees. In 2004, she even appeared in an episode of Friends – a pinnacle of stardom at the time.

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Today, the 24-year-old seems to have taken time away from acting, but is coming back strong. She can next be seen in Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Does this mean that she can hold up a future career as a leading lady? We will have to wait and see.

Emile Hirsch

After appearing in 2007’s Into The Wild, Emile Hirsch became somewhat of a hipster star. Although never appreciated by the mainstream, he promised strong performances in drama and had enough screen presence to lead the film on his own.

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Unfortunately, his jump into blockbusters was lackluster – Speed Racer was ahead of its time and never appreciated when it was released. Ironically, it has become a cult classic and he’s once again a hipster icon. Do you think he deserves to kick off another franchise?

Eric Bana

There was nothing wrong with Bana’s performance in 2003’s Hulk, but comic book fans all agreed that the tone was too creative for what should have been an action film. His career appeared to slow down after that and has only been seen in smaller, independent, films.

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Despite roles in Star Trek and The Time Traveler’s Wife, Eric Bana never reached the same heights of success as he did as a superhero. Would you like him to lead another film?

Garrett Hedlund

Garrett Hedlund was the lead in Tron: Legacy, a film widely expected to kick off a franchise. It garnered a bit of attention but failed to reach the same acclaim as other franchises in the space at the time.

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Today, Hedlund has worked on indie projects just as Inside Llewyn Davis and Lullaby, but his time as a blockbuster hero seems to be over. He might continue working in the future, but we think his time as a leading man might be behind him.

Jai Courtney

Jai Courtney is one of those actors who appears in a lot of popular films but fails to leave much of an impression. He has been in A Good Day To Die Hard, Jack Reacher, Terminator Genisys, and Suicide Squad.

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It’s an impressive portfolio but shows that he has yet to earn the praise he might feel is overdue. Although a Suicide Squad sequel is in the works, it appears he won’t be in the new Terminator franchise.

Ione Skye

Everyone remembers the iconic moment in Say Anything when John Cusack holds the speaker over his head. So why can’t we remember the woman he did it for? Ione Sykes was on her way to being an iconic actress after her role in the 1980s classic.

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However, her career failed to take off as quickly as others and she was quickly forgotten. She has appeared in small roles in shows like Arrested Development and Awkward although Syke won’t reach the same success again.

Kate Bosworth

You might just start believing in ‘The Superman Curse’ after this. Bosworth had a promising career ahead of her after being cast as Lois Lane in 2006’s Superman Returns. Unfortunately, as already discussed, the film wasn’t successful and Hollywood has largely forgotten about this co-star.

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Despite a constant flow of supporting and guest roles to keep her busy, Kate Bosworth has not held onto her leading lady reputation. That might change this year since she has recently been cast in Netflix’s The I-Land.

Mischa Barton

Mischa Barton was named Entertainment Weekly’s Number 1 IT girl in 2003. Her role as Marissa on The O.C won the hearts and minds of millions of people for three seasons, making it one of the most popular shows at the time.

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Unfortunately, she was fired at the end of the show’s third season for constant erratic behavior and legal problems. News travels fast in Hollywood and she was quickly blacklisted from future projects. The show never recovered from her loss and was canceled the following year.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox had a promising start to her career when she starred in the first two Transformers films. Unfortunately, you should never bite the hand that feeds you: she compared director Michael Bay to Hitler and was quickly fired.

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Fox had a supporting role in Ninja Turtles but her career never quite recovered. Today, she is a full-time mom and appears in a few projects – but has definitely moved on from the ‘Hot Girl’ persona that made her famous.

Josh Holloway

Cast your mind back to 2004. ABC’s Lost was the biggest show on television, and Josh Holloway was one of its biggest stars. After playing James Sawyer for six seasons, audiences fell in love with Holloway’s effortless charm and screen presence.

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So what happened? After a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Josh Holloway has practically disappeared from Hollywood. There’s no reason why he couldn’t have become an action star – he definitely has the talent for it. 

Nathan Fillion

You’ll recognize Nathan Fillion from quite a few shows – but he’s hardly ever the lead in anything. After starring in Castle and having small roles in shows like A Series of Unfortunate Events, Fillion has never managed to transition from TV to film.

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There’s no reason why he can’t hold our attention on the big screen. Even though he had a small part in the MCU, he seems to be stuck on television. Get this man a movie franchise! 

Gina Torres

If we look back to the 2000s, film fans were certain they were about to see Gina Torres become a bonafide star. The actress had just appeared as Cas in The Matrix franchise and proved to audiences that she could definitely hold her own on screen.

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Therefore, it’s a bit of a surprise that her career slowed down. Her last big film role came in 2007 when she starred in I Think I Love My Wife opposite Chris Rock. Since then, she’s been staying on TV in shows like Suits and Hannibal.

Ben Foster

It’s hard to find a Ben Foster performance that isn’t pretty amazing. Even his time in the X-Men franchise didn’t show off his entire ability as an actor. In the 2000s, his roles in 3:10 To Yuma and The Messenger set him up for Hollywood success.

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So why didn’t it pan out? While all the films were ok, they kind of all passed by without much fanfare. He’s only a few more flops away before agents might deem him completely unbankable – something he definitely doesn’t deserve.

Adam Pally

Adam Pally rose to fame on the wildly underrated Happy Endings as Max. Partnering this with his time on The Mindy Project and audiences were shown just how funny Pally could be. Surely, it was time for him to star in a Hollywood comedy franchise?

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Yes, he’s been in a few low budget comedies over the last few years, but he really deserves more recognition for his comedic talent. His biggest blockbuster role came as the cameraman in Iron Man 3 – but where’s he been since then?

Toby Kebbell

Toby Kebbell hasn’t had much luck at the box office, but that’s nothing to do with his talent as an actor. The British star earned recognition for his work on the first season of Black Mirror and went on to star in 2015’s doomed Fantastic Four as, well, Dr. Doom.

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It wasn’t his fault the film was a critical failure – but it might have slowed down his career a bit. While he has appearances set up in a few more films, he should certainly have the chance to shine soon. 

David Koechner

2004’s Anchorman showed the world just how funny Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, and Paul Rudd could be. However, there’s one actor who hasn’t quite managed to reach the same level of success as his co-stars: David Koechner.

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Over the years, Koechner has proven that he has the comedic chops to be center stage in a Hollywood film. It just hasn’t worked out for the actor, who appears to have vanished from our screens in recent years. News team: ASSEMBLE!

Evanna Lynch

British Actress Evanna Lynch impressed critics and fans with her portrayal of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter franchise. The actress had never taken acting classes and had no prior experience, yet she proved she had what it took to make audiences laugh and cry.

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So where is she now? Lynch didn’t expand her portfolio much after her last appearance more than 10 years ago. Unlike other alum from the Potterverse, Lynch has vanished without a trace. Would you like to see her back on the big screen?

Jonathan Hyde

If you’ve seen a film from the 1990s, then you’ve probably seen Jonathan Hyde in action. He had beloved roles in films like Richie Rich, Titanic, and Jumanji. Appearing in some of the most successful films of the decade would surely set him up for success in future years?

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Well, aside from a part on TV’s The Strain, it appears that the 71-year-old has been keeping rather quiet. Perhaps he decided to retire and enjoy his later years relaxing. Either way, it’s a shame we didn’t see him in more leading parts.

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan’s career hasn’t been unsuccessful by any stretch. The English actress has had parts in massive blockbusters, including The Great Gatsby and Drive. Mulligan has also gained acclaim for her work in indie films like Shame and Inside Llewyn Davis.

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That’s why it’s strange she hasn’t evolved into more of a leading lady in cinema. Even after 13 years, the 34-year-old hasn’t played more than supporting characters. We know she has the talent – so let’s see it!

Christopher McDonald

Mcdonald is one of those actors who appears in several projects but still has a hard time being remembered by audiences. He is perhaps most known for his work in the 1990s, appearing as the villain in films like Flubber, Happy Gilmore, and Requiem for a Dream.

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It’s interesting as to why the 64-year-old never quite became a household name. Even though he was in seven episodes of Boardwalk Empire, his portfolio has been quite thin recently. We wonder why he never quite took off as famous name. 

Larry Hankin

Hankin is one of the most successful character actors ever. You’ve seen him come and go in shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and Breaking Bad. His film roles include small – but memorable – parts in Home Alone and Billy Madison.

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Why didn’t Larry Hankin become more popular as time went on? It seems that everyone can place him somewhere, but no one can even remember his name. Well, now you know it – let’s hope he gets a truly remarkable part soon!

Liev Schreiber

Eager eyes will spot a Liev Schreiber performance – and never forget it. Schreiber has been in iconic and popular films like Spotlight, X-Men: Origins and lent his voice in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

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Aside from leading the Showtime show Ray Donovan until this year, the actor has never managed to become a leading name on the big screen. Perhaps that will change now he has some free time on his hands? Let’s see what projects come his way in the next few years.

Michael C. Hall

Weirdly enough, Michael C. Hall was on our screens for 12 consecutive years on two popular TV shows, Six Feet Under and Dexter. Aside from a few more television projects under his belt, Hall has never quite managed to transfer on to the big screen.

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Recently, he starred in Netflix’s Safe. Looking at his IMDb page, the actor doesn’t have any film projects in the pipeline aside from lending his voice. Would you like to see Michael C. Hall run a film franchise? 

Rebecca Ferguson

Even though she’s made a name for herself as Ilsa Faust in the Mission Impossible franchise, you’ll be hard pressed to find Rebecca Ferguson anywhere else. She’s had a few supporting roles on film and on TV, but nothing as prominent as her work as an agent. 

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We don’t know why Ferguson doesn’t have more of a career behind her, especially since she’s proven how talented she is. Perhaps we will see a Isla spin-off franchise where she finally gets a chance to appear in center stage. 

Karen Gillan

You’ve definitely seen KAren Gillan on screen, you probably just don’t know it. The Scottish star actually plays Nebula in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and in this year’s Avengers: Endgame

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Recently, Karen Gillan is leading a Hollywood franchise (with her face on display) in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Let’s hope this allows her to earn more global and name recognition for her work on the big screen. Gillan is currently filming Gunpowder Milkshake, out next year.

Daisy Ridley

We know what you’re thinking: this 27-year-old is leading the most popular film franchise in history! While Daisy Ridley plays Rey in the newest Star Wars trilogy, you’ll be hard-pressed to find her anywhere else.

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With her first trilogy coming to an end this year, we can expect the young star to work on more projects in the future. After all, Ridley has many years ahead of her in the acting world and already has quite the portfolio for such a young star. 

Linda Cardellini

Linda Cardellini has been in the background of some of the biggest films in recent years. After her breakout role as a child in Freaks and Geeks, Cardellini went on to star in huge hits including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scooby Doo, and Netflix’s Bloodline.

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Therefore, it’s surprising that she isn’t more of an A-list celebrity. We hope she manages to find her footing in Hollywood and garners a healthy level of recognition for her work. After all, she’s been on our screens for 20 years!

Joel Edgerton

This Australian actor and filmmaker has more than 70 acting credits to his name – so why is it you can hardly recognize him? Aside from his breakout role in The Gift, (which he also wrote and directed), you can’t find him anywhere else.

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Edgerton has proven that he can certainly act. So the fact that he’s seemingly stuck on supporting roles for his career is a shame. He can also direct, too, so let’s make sure we see more of him in the future!

Ben Mendelsohn

Ben Mendelsohn has appeared in Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and The Dark Knight trilogy – so why can’t you recognize him? Mendelsohn has made a name for himself in Hollywood playing villains. Isn’t it about time that he had a chance to shine center screen?

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The actor has proven that he can command the stage and convey genuinely compelling characters. So why isn’t he given more of a chance? We would love to see this happen one day!

Taylor Lautner

You could hear audiences squeal with joy when Taylor Lautner would remove his shirt in The Twilight Saga. It appeared he was an unstoppable force leading the biggest teen franchise since Harry Potter – so what happened?

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Lautner’s career appears to have quietened down since its peak in the late 2000s. He was last seen in Fox’s Scream Queens but wasn’t met with the same enthusiasm. Perhaps we’ve seen the end for this werewolf? We hope to see him on our screens soon.

Read More: Love At First Sight: These Actors Fell In Love On Set

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