What Happened to These Famous Actors?

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
June 11th, 2014

On the hit reality competition show "Project Runway," host Heidi Klum regularly uses the show's catchphrase "One day you're in, the next day you're out" to warn contestants about how easy it is to get cut from the competition. Similarly, the fickle nature of Hollywood means that actors who are on top of the world one day can hit the career equivalent of rock bottom the next day. Here are a few actors who know the feeling of falling from grace all too well.


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Nicolas Cage

Cage had what every actor dreams of – the respect of his peers, an Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas," and household name recognition. He was even a part of Hollywood royalty, being the nephew of famed director Francis Ford Coppola. He seemed to be on top of the world, until he ran into some very embarrassing and public financial problems. Soon, Cage had to take any and all projects just to make a quick buck, diluting his talent and turning him into a punch line.



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Val Kilmer

When Kilmer took to the screen as Iceman in "Top Gun," he nearly stole the show from star Tom Cruise. So good is his talent that he was universally praised as Jim Morrison in "The Doors" and did a good job taking over the mantle for Michael Keaton in "Batman Forever." It was soon after his stint in the famous superhero cowl that his career took a turn. There were widespread reports that he had a huge ego and was difficult to work with. True or not, those reports hurt his career, and he hasn't been the same since.



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Eddie Murphy

Murphy shot to stardom as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" in the 1980s before leaving the show to do stand-up comedy and hit films like the "Beverly Hills Cop." He faded a bit, then made a huge comeback doing family-friendly films like "Dr. Doolittle" and taking on dramatic parts like his Oscar-nominated turn in "Dreamgirls." Then he began playing multiple characters in films, like the whopping eight parts in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." Audiences burned out from so much Eddie, and his career dipped.



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Mel Gibson

Gibson lit up the screen in hits like "Lethal Weapon" and proved his dramatic mettle in "Braveheart." He even directed several films, proving himself to be a double threat. Then he was arrested for driving drunk and was recorded hurling several epithets towards the arresting officers. He became poison in Hollywood and could barely find a job save for those given to him by friends like Jodie Foster.



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Mike Myers

Like Murphy, Myers became famous for his hilarious skits on "Saturday Night Live," a show he eventually left to pursue a career in film. He had great success at first, starring opposite SNL costar Dana Carvey in "Wayne's World" before creating the Austin Powers franchise. Instead of capitalizing on his fame, Myers seemed to go back to the same comedy well too many times, and his films became stale.



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Christian Slater

After gaining public attention in cult classic films like "Heathers" and "Pump Up the Volume," many in Hollywood expected Slater to become the next Jack Nicholson. He was young and had dynamic range as an actor, but he also had a nearly unquenchable thirst for partying and trouble. Even getting arrested a few times didn't affect his ability to get roles, but it did make it harder for him to find good roles. Eventually, the arrests piled up, and he was mostly shunned from the film industry.


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Adam Sandler

Sandler became a household name with big hits like "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore." Soon, audiences tired of his stock character of a man-boy in a perpetual state of arrested development. He received good reviews for his dramatic takes in "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Funny People," but he has yet to capitalize on that. He is still a big box office draw, but not as big as during his heyday.


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Michael Keaton

Keaton had a steady career all throughout the 1980s, starring in hits like "Mr. Mom," "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" as the titular superhero. He picked his parts according to what interested him, rather than what would be a box office hit. He has gone on record as saying that he believes that studio executives didn't know what to do with him, since he would rather be in good movies than be famous. He is still working in films, but most of them are independent ones that play to art house cinemas rather than mainstream theaters.



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John Travolta

Travolta may be just as famous for his dancing as his acting skills. He became a movie sensation with "Grease" and then went onto disco infamy in "Saturday Night Fever." After a few ill-advised movies in the 1980s, he fell into obscurity until director Quentin Tarantino cast him in "Pulp Fiction." He had an unlikely career resurgence but squandered it with films like "Battlefield Earth" and "Killing Season." He is still working steadily, but Travolta has yet to find that career-redefining role again like he did in "Pulp Fiction."

Hollywood is notorious for loving a good comeback story, so it is entirely possible that any or all of these actors can become hot again. Whether they can or will climb back to the top of the Hollywood heap is anyone's guess. The even bigger question is whether or not they can maintain that lofty perch should they achieve it, considering the fickle nature of Hollywood.