What Really Happened To Geena Davis?

Geena Davis was celebrated for her iconic feminist movies and Oscar-winning performance in the '90s, but these days, she's linked only to a disappointing TV comeback and a random attempt at making the Olympics. What's kept Davis out of the spotlight for so long? Here's a look at what happened and the exciting projects that may finally bring her back.

Her TV comeback failed

Davis staged a full-fledged comeback in 2005 when she landed the lead role on the ABC political drama Commander in Chief, playing America's first female President. Although the show debuted to strong ratings and won Davis a slew of awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe, its success was relatively short-lived. Amid sagging ratings, ABC pulled the series after just one season.

Speaking to Vulture in 2016, Davis admitted she was "devastated" by the show's cancellation. "I still haven't gotten over it. I really wanted it to work," she said. "It was on Tuesday nights opposite House, which wasn't ideal. But we were the best new show that fall. Then, in January, we were opposite American Idol. They said, 'The ratings are going to suffer, so we should take you off the air for the entire run of Idol, and bring it back in May.'" she continued. "I put a lot of time and effort into getting it on another network, too, but it didn't work."

Davis' previous attempt at television, The Geena Davis Show, was also canceled by ABC after one season.

Her career has stalled in the past

Davis' attempts to salvage her career on the small screen may have been prompted by a disastrous run at the box office during the mid-and-late '90s. After a string of successful hits, including The Accidental Tourist (for which she won an Oscar in 1988), Thelma & Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992), Davis' success unexpectedly plummeted when she made two back-to-back movies with her then-husband, Renny Harlin. The first was the jaw-droppingly bad Cutthroat Island (1995), which bombed so hard at the box office, it remains one of Hollywood's most unsuccessful movies. Then came another underwhelming action thriller, The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), which recovered less than half its budget domestically, amid mixed-to-positive reviews.

Whether a direct result or not, the one-two punch preceded a series of blows in Davis' personal life. She divorced Harlin in 1998, then took an "unusually long" two years off to reflect on her career, according to The New York Times.

She became more selective

Although a 1998 profile published in The New York Times described Davis as willing to play almost any movie role, she told Vulture in 2016 that she actually got much more selective once she hit her 40s. "Film roles really did start to dry up when I got into my 40s. If you look at IMDB, up until that age, I made roughly one film a year. In my entire 40s, I made one movie, Stuart Little," she said. "I was getting offers, but for nothing meaty or interesting like in my 30s. I'd been completely ruined and spoiled. I mean, I got to play a pirate captain [in Cutthroat Island]! I got to do every type of role, even if the movie failed." Well, at least somebody liked Cutthroat Island.

Did parenthood get in the way?

After what the The New York Times described as a "difficult divorce" from Harlin, Davis' personal life bounced back in a really positive way. In 2001, she married neurosurgeon Reza Jarrahy. Less than three years later, by age 48, she had given birth to three children, including twin boys. For most actors in Hollywood, having three kids that quickly would be enough to take some much-deserved time off. However, in her interview with Vulture, Davis insisted the two things were never related. "One thing I always want to clear up was the notion that I 'took time off to have a baby.'" she said. "A lot people leapt to that conclusion because becoming a parent happened to coincide with film roles tapering off. When I made Commander in Chief, I had three children under 3 years old. If I was really going to take time off from working, I think it would have been then."

She took up archery

Davis shocked everyone in 1999 when it was revealed that she was competing for a spot on the U.S. archery team for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Davis—who took up the sport about two years prior—did not make the team, but she finished in 24th place in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials. "I was ill prepared for this onslaught,” she told the The New York Times after the competition concluded. ”It was like being at a premiere, which I'm used to. I mean, that doesn't make me nervous anymore. But to do a sport with this kind of attention was kind of unsettling. And also, one wants to do well at the Olympic Trials, so there was a level of stress."

Despite not making the team, Davis still considers her training to be a positive experience. "It was the most out-of-body experience I've ever had," she said during a Television Critics Association panel discussion in 2016 (via Entertainment Tonight). "It was fabulous. I will never forget about it."

She started her own institute

You may see less of Davis on the big screen these days, but that doesn't mean she's less involved in the movie industry. In fact, it's been quite the opposite. In 2004, Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which its website says is a "researched-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under."

According to the Observer, Davis created the institute after noticing the lack of female roles in children's TV shows and movies she watched with her daughter. The organization has been a huge success thus far, launching numerous studies and even its own film festival. "The whole point of having the research is so, because I'm in the industry, I can go directly to the premieres of children's media and share the research in a colloquial and private way, and its reception has been remarkable," Davis told the Observer. "I had no idea from the very first meeting what their reactions would be. Their jaws were on the floor; they absolutely cannot believe how many female characters they are leaving out. The worlds they are creating are nearly bereft of a female presence."

She's in the midst of a comeback

For Davis and television, the third time is proving to be the charm. In the fall of 2016, the actress starred in a TV reboot of the classic horror movie The Exorcist on Fox. On the show, Davis plays Angela Rance, a similar role to the one Ellen Burstyn played in the film. "This is such a cool take on [the original movie], because it acknowledges that that actually happened," she told Comic-Con (via Entertainment Weekly). "So this is now, 40 years later, 40-plus years later, and, uh-oh, something starts happening again ..."

Despite pretty dismal ratings, Fox wound up renewing the show for a second season, reportedly because executives are big fans of the show.

If that wasn't enough to pique your interest, she's also got two movies in the pipeline, including Marjorie Prime, in which she co-stars alongside Jon Hamm and Tim Robbins. Will the combined effect of these projects lead to the Geena Davis revival fans have been craving for years? Whatever happens, we're just happy to have her back in action.