Actors that should have been bigger stars

nelsonmuntz

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#1
Rules: Actor has to be at least 30 and still hasn't broken out.

The criteria for success is repeated critically and/or commercially successful TV shows or movies as lead, co lead, or major character. I would add that if an actor had a long stretch where they were rocking, they probably don't qualify. 10 years at the top is a long time in Hollywood. Make the case if you have a character actor you really like.

I am re-watching Mad Men, which gave me the idea for this thread.

For example, most of the Game of Thrones actors have done about what I would have expected them to do. Emelia Clarke can pull off syrupy dramas based on her looks, but is not capable of any more than that because she is not particularly talented or charismatic. Harrington's height is going to be a problem for him, and he needs to do something different than period piece badass. Maisie Williams has potential to be the biggest and longest term star of the bunch. That said, none of the cast has done particularly better or worse than you would expect given their talent, looks and subsequent movie and TV roles.

I kind of feel the same way about the Mad Men cast, with an exception or two.

Two examples that do fit:

Mary Tyler Moore - beautiful, funny, starred in one of the biggest TV hit comedies in history, and was nominated for an Oscar. Yet she was doing cheesy TV movies and reunion shows by her late 50's, and her career was basically over by 2000.

Tim Matheson - had major roles in two of the biggest movie comedy hits of all time (Fletch and Animal House), good looking, good actor, got a mid career reprieve with a recurring role on the West Wing, and he is now guest starring on middle of the pack network TV shows.


Younger actors:

Jessica Pare - I think she is a really good actress, as shown by a very complex role on Mad Men. Playing stupid but not too stupid is not easy, and every twist in her character's development was completely credible in a large part because of her. I think she is stunning to look at, but in a very distinctive way that makes her memorable. The huge overbite makes her more vulnerable and approachable, so she doesn't have to just play the hot babe all the time. She basically got no roles out of Mad Men, and while I haven't seen Seal Team and its ratings are solid, it doesn't look like a career maker for Pare.
 

Husky25

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#2
Fitting that you are re-watching Mad Men, because I think John Slattery fits the bill to a T. Before Mad Men (After which he popped up all over the place), I only remember him in a bit part in The Eraser, Again that is only because I saw it on TNT or something during the course of watching Mad Men and I recognized Roger Sterling with darker hair.

Slattery's issue seems to be he plays every part with the same personality.
 

nelsonmuntz

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#3
Slattery doesn't really have leading man looks or stature. He is a good character actor, and he has been getting a solid amount of work for a guy like him. If you look at Pare's IMDB page, you wonder if she took a break from acting at various times. It is light.
 

storrsroars

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#4
Linda Fiorentino (sexy and solid comic actress, labeled "difficult" by Kevin Smith)
Annabella Sciorra (Hand that Rocks the Cradle, then Jungle Fever, then poof until Sopranos...no idea why not working more)
Edward Furlong (trouble with law)
Leelee Sobieski (didn't like celebrity trappings)
Penelope Ann Miller (solid and very hot in The Freshman, I suppose peaked with Carlito's Way, 1993)
Natasha Lyonne (hit it big early with Slums of Beverly Hills, had some issues. I forgot all about her until watching Handsome on Netflix, where she is hysterically funny)
 
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#5
Timothy Bottoms, seemed to be on his way to major stardom with "The Last Picture Show" and "The Paper Chase", then made several disastrous films and disappeared.

Lindsay Crouse, burst upon the scene after her Oscar nominated performance in Places in the Heart, made a couple noteworthy films after that then faded away.

Veronica Cartright....a terrific actress who never hit it big with a major starring role...won over many film critics with supporting roles in Alien and in the Right Stuff playing Mrs Gus Grissom.

Elizabeth Perkins... I thought she was on her way after starring with Tom Hanks in "Big" and then her critically acclaimed performance in "Avalon". Also was listed as one of the top newcomers in films in the late 80's. Then poof.
 

nelsonmuntz

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Timothy Bottoms, seemed to be on his way to major stardom with "The Last Picture Show" and "The Paper Chase", then made several disastrous films and disappeared.

Lindsay Crouse, burst upon the scene after her Oscar nominated performance in Places in the Heart, made a couple noteworthy films after that then faded away.

Veronica Cartright....a terrific actress who never hit it big with a major starring role...won over many film critics with supporting roles in Alien and in the Right Stuff playing Mrs Gus Grissom.

Elizabeth Perkins... I thought she was on her way after starring with Tom Hanks in "Big" and then her critically acclaimed performance in "Avalon". Also was listed as one of the top newcomers in films in the late 80's. Then poof.
Agree on Perkins.

I thought Crouse sucked in Slap Shot despite having a great part and some good lines.
 
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#8
So his own choices precluded him from such, even though he most definitely has the acting chops and I'd argue star power, but Viggo Mortensen never really capitalized on the fame bestowed upon him from the juggernaut that was LOTR. He's made some fine films since and probably been able to pick and choose projects that he's felt were interesting to him, but he likely could've parlayed his name value into quite a string of commercial hits had he been so inclined. His Cronenberg collaborations, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, were great movies. The Road, A Dangerous Method, The Two Faces of January, Captain Fantastic... all interesting to good or great, but he really kind of went indie and spurned the spotlight. Again, probably by his choosing.
 

nelsonmuntz

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So his own choices precluded him from such, even though he most definitely has the acting chops and I'd argue star power, but Viggo Mortensen never really capitalized on the fame bestowed upon him from the juggernaut that was LOTR. He's made some fine films since and probably been able to pick and choose projects that he's felt were interesting to him, but he likely could've parlayed his name value into quite a string of commercial hits had he been so inclined. His Cronenberg collaborations, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, were great movies. The Road, A Dangerous Method, The Two Faces of January, Captain Fantastic... all interesting to good or great, but he really kind of went indie and spurned the spotlight. Again, probably by his choosing.
I agree completely. It does appear to be by choice though.
 
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#10
Agree on Perkins.

I thought Crouse sucked in Slap Shot despite having a great part and some good lines.
I'll give you another one that stands out ....

Edward Burns, after Saving Private Ryan he had the motion picture industry at his feet, as did Matt Damon and Vin Diesel (who gets killed off halfway through the movie) but Burns didn't care. Had his heart set on being a great director, which didn't really pan out. Married Christy Turlington.
 
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#11
Agree on Perkins.

I thought Crouse sucked in Slap Shot despite having a great part and some good lines.
On Veronica Cartright, one little known tidbit, she actually was chosen to play the role of "Ripley" in Alien and Sigourney Weaver was signed to play "Lambert", the role Cartright eventually played. Just prior to shooting director Ridley Scott, switched roles for the two actresses, for whatever reason.
 

nelsonmuntz

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#12
I'll give you another one that stands out ....

Edward Burns, after Saving Private Ryan he had the motion picture industry at his feet, as did Matt Damon and Vin Diesel (who gets killed off halfway through the movie) but Burns didn't care. Had his heart set on being a great director, which didn't really pan out. Married Christy Turlington.
That is a good one. He is still barely important enough to be a lead on b-level TV shows, when he is working at all.
 

8893

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#13
Annabella Sciorra is a perfect example. Always thought she should have been bigger.

Ed Burns was annoying AF as an actor imo. Perfect for his role in Brothers McMullen but tiring to see him play essentially the same guy in everything else after that. I do think he had a nice, distinctly New York style as a director, and particularly enjoyed his short film set to Bill Withers's "Lovely Day," which he did for one of the 9/11 tributes iirc.

Was Anne Baxter, the actress who played Nefertiti in The Ten Commandments, a big time actress? I loved her and every time I see the movie I wonder why I never saw her in anything else, but I don't watch many other movies from that era so maybe that's off.

Marisa Tomei is someone I thought should have been bigger. Always loved her.
 
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#14
Annabella Sciorra is a perfect example. Always thought she should have been bigger.

Ed Burns was annoying AF as an actor imo. Perfect for his role in Brothers McMullen but tiring to see him play essentially the same guy in everything else after that. I do think he had a nice, distinctly New York style as a director, and particularly enjoyed his short film set to Bill Withers's "Lovely Day," which he did for one of the 9/11 tributes iirc.

Was Anne Baxter, the actress who played Nefertiti in The Ten Commandments, a big time actress? I loved her and every time I see the movie I wonder why I never saw her in anything else, but I don't watch many other movies from that era so maybe that's off.

Marisa Tomei is someone I thought should have been bigger. Always loved her.
Anne Baxter had a very nice career starting in the early 1940's. Aside from Ten Commandments, her best movie has to be All About Eve, an all time great movie that also provides Bette Davis with one of her best roles. Baxter plays the title character Eve, an aspiring actress who will stop at nothing in her climb to stardom.
 

nwhoopfan

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#15
I'll try one: Chiwetel Ejiofor. Looking at IMDB he's kept busy in the film world. I think he's a fantastic actor. He's versatile, he can do action, he can do drama, a little bit of comedy. He's been in Oscar bait films and blockbusters. Mostly supporting roles but sometimes a lead. Probably more people recognize his face than know his name. I think he deserves to be more well known.
 

nwhoopfan

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#16
Taylor Kitsch rose to prominence on the tv show Friday Night Lights. He was promoted to leading man status in Hollywood, but a pair of box office bombs in 2012 took him well off the A list. Since then he's been in a supporting role in some decent films. Maybe he'll rise back up again eventually, I think he was judged too harshly in '12.
 

Dove

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#17
No sex symbol but I wondered why Emilio Estevez never made it bigger. He's funny, Hollywood-connected and kinda talented. He had a good run but barely the #1 star in anything. But he doesn't seem to be churning much acting work. Maybe he is more successful behind the camera?
 

nelsonmuntz

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No sex symbol but I wondered why Emilio Estevez never made it bigger. He's funny, Hollywood-connected and kinda talented. He had a good run but barely the #1 star in anything. But he doesn't seem to be churning much acting work. Maybe he is more successful behind the camera?
I think he retired, like several of the other Brat Pack like Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda.
 
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#19
Henry Winkler- As big as it got growing up as the Fonz. Good in Night Shift. Couple decent support roles like that principal in Scream. But nothing really else.

Jane Curtain- Very good on SNL as original member. Unlike so many others, she never parlayed it into anything.

Tom Hulce- Oscar nomination for Amadeus. Pinto in Animal House. Poof.
 
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#20
Henry Winkler- As big as it got growing up as the Fonz. Good in Night Shift. Couple decent support roles like that principal in Scream. But nothing really else.

Jane Curtain- Very good on SNL as original member. Unlike so many others, she never parlayed it into anything.

Tom Hulce- Oscar nomination for Amadeus. Pinto in Animal House. Poof.
Good one on all three, especially Hulce. Sean Young was another real flash in the pan, Stripes, Blade Runner, Wall Street, Dune, No Way Out....all within two or three years.
 

Husky25

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#21
Sean Young and Linda Florintino have stigmas of being difficult to work with. In this day and age, that could be a euphemism for what is happening in Hollywood and in high powered corporate environments, but Sean Young also has the distinction of providing bad, over-the-top, melodramatic performances. Ever see Fire Birds with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones? It's a tour de force of badness...enjoyable enough, but bad nonetheless.
 

nelsonmuntz

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#22
Sean Young and Linda Florintino have stigmas of being difficult to work with. In this day and age, that could be a euphemism for what is happening in Hollywood and in high powered corporate environments, but Sean Young also has the distinction of providing bad, over-the-top, melodramatic performances. Ever see Fire Birds with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones? It's a tour de force of badness...enjoyable enough, but bad nonetheless.
Sean Young's career flameout was 100% self-inflicted. She is nuts.
 

nelsonmuntz

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#23
Hulce retired, so he doesn't really count for this. Would have been a great pick if he hadn't done that.
 
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#24
Sean Young and Linda Florintino have stigmas of being difficult to work with. In this day and age, that could be a euphemism for what is happening in Hollywood and in high powered corporate environments, but Sean Young also has the distinction of providing bad, over-the-top, melodramatic performances. Ever see Fire Birds with Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones? It's a tour de force of badness...enjoyable enough, but bad nonetheless.
Sean Young was more than difficult to work with, was also known as a wacko around Hollywood. IIRC she was arrested for stalking another actor and his wife, can't remember his name.
 

storrsroars

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#25
Sean Young was more than difficult to work with, was also known as a wacko around Hollywood. IIRC she was arrested for stalking another actor and his wife, can't remember his name.
James Woods. A model of stability himself.
 


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