Actors Hollywood Dumped After One Hit Role

The history of pop music is littered with the corpse-like careers of hundreds of once promising and fresh-faced singers and bands ultimately remembered as "one-hit wonders." These are acts who shone brightly for a few months, producing a hit so infectious that nothing they released afterward could come close to capturing that magic again. We're talking about performers such as Dexy's Midnight Runners ("Come on Eileen"), Sir Mix-a-Lot ("Baby Got Back"), and the Baha Men ("Who Let the Dogs Out?")

It's a vaguely heartbreaking phenomenon, and it's one that strikes actors, too. Nobody knows that better than these stars. They struggled for years to find their breakout role, hone their talent, and garner fame, fortune, and affection among the movie-going masses, but then ... they never got much of a chance to replicate that success. These actors give new meaning to the term "15 minutes of fame" because Hollywood dumped them after one hit role.

Maybe he's got a big movie coming out on October 3rd

Mean Girls had the potential to turn Jonathan Bennett, who plays Lindsay Lohan's high school crush, into a bona fide star. The hugely popular 2004 teen movie made many members of the female cast very famous — particularly Lohan, Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried — and spawned on annual "Mean Girls" day on October 3. Why Bennett never rose to John Travolta post-Grease or even Ryan Phillippe post-Cruel Intentions levels of dreamboat remains one of Hollywood's weirdest mysteries. 

In the decade and change since Mean Girls hit theaters, Bennett has starred in about 20 forgettable projects, some of which didn't even make it to the multiplex, including the likes of Bachelor Party Vegas, a direct-to-video Van Wilder prequel in which he takes over for Ryan Reynolds, and Christmas Crush. His most notable appearance probably came via Dancing with the Stars, during which judge Julianne Hough accidentally kind-of-sort-of outed him as gay on Extra. (That is so not fetch, Julianne.) But hey, he at least landed that fun and steady job hosting Cake Wars on Food Network. 

Unfortunately, we only see Alicia Silverstone sporadically

Fresh from star-making turns in the Aerosmith videos "Cryin'" and "Crazy," Alicia Silverstone landed a starring role in 1995's Clueless, launching her to "Hollywood's Next 'It' Girl" status. Twenty years later, we're still wondering what went wrong. Maybe she did permanent damage to her career with her next big movie, 1997's Batman & Robin, a flick so poorly-received that star George Clooney apologized for it. Silverstone was just along for the ill-fated ride, co-starring as Batgirl. 

Maybe movie viewers only wanted to see Silverstone play a rebellious music video teen, or a sweet, ditzy, and spoiled teen, because her next movies bombed, including Blast from the Past with Brendan Fraser and Excess Baggage with Benicio Del Toro. Either way, it's been a real bummer to see her quickly go from MTV Movie Award-winning actress to playing the mom in the reboot of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise.

The star of Almost Famous was...well, you know

After a long career of writing and/or directing poignant romantic dramedies such as Jerry Maguire and Say Anything, Cameron Crowe took the old dictum to "write what you know" to heart in 2000 and made Almost Famous, a film based on his own experiences as a teenage rock journalist embedded with bands on tour. The actor Crowe picked to play "William Miller," the fictionalized version of his younger self, was Patrick Fugit, who had just a few TV credits to his name at the time. Still, Fugit ably anchors the movie and plays the part beautifully. 

Yet for some reason after Almost Famous, Fugit struggled to find work, appearing mostly in interesting but low-profile movies such as the meth comedy Spun, the searing family drama White Oleander, and the religious satire Saved! He more recently popped up in David Fincher's Gone Girl and starred on the short-lived Cinemax supernatural thriller Outcast, so maybe he's not quite done.

His big-screen run wasn't so super, man

Just before the Marvel Cinematic Universe blew the genre wide open, Warner Bros. released Superman Returns in 2006, the first movie featuring the Man of Steel since 1987's abysmal Superman IV: A Quest for Peace. After years of different concepts and assorted stars and filmmakers (including Tim Burton, J.J. Abrams, and Kevin Smith), eventual director Bryan Singer selected Brandon Routh to wear the ol' cape and tights. 

Brandon who? He was an up-and-coming actor who'd played small roles on shows such as One Life to Live and Gilmore Girls. While the square-jawed brunette certainly looked the part, he couldn't quite compete with the memory of previous movie Superman Christopher Reeve. Superman Returns brought in $200 million at the U.S. box office, which would be good except for the fact that it had a $270 million budget. The film's middling acceptance dragged Routh right down with it. Henry Cavill replaced him when Superman was rebooted again in 2012. 

Routh parlayed Superman Returns into a steady career of less visible work in similar material — comic and comic-esque projects such as Chuck, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the CW's Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

Linda Blair's trajectory will make your head spin

How can anybody follow-up a role that requires vomiting pea soup, spinning your head all the way around, and being possessed by a demon? Thirteen-year-old Linda Blair's Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated performance in 1973's The Exorcist was so instantly iconic that the rest of her career was inevitably going to pale in comparison. 

Blair peaked too early, and with the exception of Exorcist II: The Heretic, released four years after The Exorcist, she was reduced to starring in the most definitively 1970s dreck that came her way. She headlined a lot of sensationalistic made-for-TV movies, such as Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, Born Innocent, and Sweet Hostage. Then in 1979, she starred in Roller Boogie, definitely the Citizen Kane of roller disco movies. 

Blair kept working into the '80s and beyond, mostly in schlocky B-movies such as Chained Heat, Savage Streets, and Silent Assassins. The only recognizable titles on her filmography are forgettable guest spots on TV shows like Murder, She Wrote, Married...With Children, and Renegade. Chilling!

Goodbye, nurse

Winning an Oscar can — and should — do wonderful things for an actor's career. After all, it's the highest honor a performer in American film can receive — tangible proof that one's acting work is considered among the best of all time. It can also tear a career apart, looming over an actor's subsequent work like some kind of curse. Emblematic of this strange fate is Louise Fletcher, a character actress whose face you might recognize from her appearances on shows as varied as ER, Heroes, The Practice, Private Practice, 7th Heaven, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Shameless. 

But Fletcher is the rare guest star extraordinaire who can go home to her Academy Award each night, bestowed upon her for her role as one of the all-time most terrifying movie villains: Nurse Ratched in 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Perhaps she was too good or too scary in the best picture winner, because afterward, she couldn't find much top shelf work. (Her follow-up movie was Exorcist II, opposite the aforementioned one-hit wonder Linda Blair.)

What a croc!

Before playing the proudly Australian Outback manly man Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan was a huge star Down Under, starring on the long-running sketch comedy series The Paul Hogan Show from 1973 to 1984. His 1986 fish-out-of-water comedy (but with more violence), Crocodile Dundee, became a massive international hit. It was the second-highest-grossing film in the United States that year, edged out by Top Gun. 

hit sequel followed in 1988, and Hollywood clearly wanted to be in the Paul Hogan business, but Hogan, who was also a writer and director, wanted more control over his projects. To wit: He turned down the starring role in Ghost — a massive hit and best picture nominee — to write and star in the flop Almost an Angel. Still admirably adamant about doing things his way, he established a publicly-traded trust in to finance his 1994 cowboy comedy Lightning Jack. That movie bombed, too. By 2001, Hogan was back to playing Mick Dundee again in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeleswhich earned a Razzie Award nomination for "worst remake or sequel." Crikey.

A big fat Greek disappointment for Nia Vardalos

In 1997, Vardalos performed her one-woman show My Big Fat Greek Wedding at the tiny Hudson Backstage Theatre in Hollywood. The play was a loose adaptation of the story of how she met and married actor Ian Gomez and how he somehow fit into her zany Greek-Canadian family. The project attracted a lot of Greek-Americans and Hollywood big shots. Among them: Rita Wilson, who saw it and loved it, and convinced her husband, Tom Hanks, to see it, too. Vardalos worked with Hanks' production company on a movie version, which quietly hit theaters in 2002. The sweet and gentle romantic comedy, starring the little-known Vardalos, became a massive cultural hit, earning $241 million at the box office — that makes it the top-grossing romcom to date.

The success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as well as its specificity, likely overshadowed Vardalos' future work. A CBS sitcom version of the movie was canceled after seven episodes, and her follow-up films Connie and Carla (in which she stars as a woman pretending to be a drag performer) and My Life in Ruins (Vardalos plays a bumbling tour guide in Greece) both flopped. By 2016, she was back to doing what she did best: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 earned about $60 million at the box office. More recently, Vardalos has popped up as a host of ABC's The Great American Baking Show alongside her now-former husband.

Jake Lloyd skywalked right out of Hollywood

Jake Lloyd had a lot to carry on his shoulders. At only 10 years old, he became the face of the Star Wars franchise, starring as Anakin Skywalker — the child version of the man who would grow up to be Darth Vader — in the hotly anticipated 1999 prequel Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. While the film was a massive box office success (it earned $431 million), fans wide and far decried it for not measuring up to the original Star Wars trilogy. Many levied their criticisms at Lloyd, who was ill-equipped for the backlash, being both a little kid and an actor with only a handful of projects to his name (most notably Jingle All the Way).

According to the Daily Beast, Lloyd straight up quit the movie business, choosing to focus on school and the non-Hollywood life. With the exception of the sports drama Madison, all of Lloyd's post-Phantom Menace projects are Phantom Menace-related, such as voicing Anakin Skywalker in various tie-in video games and educational software titles.

Lloyd has made the news in recent years, but for non-movie reasons. According to the New York Daily News, he was arrested in June 2015 after leading South Carolina police on a high-speed pursuit. After ten months in jail and a schizophrenia diagnosis, he was transferred to a psychiatric facility.

Shannon Elizabeth couldn't get a piece of the pie

After the release of American Pie in 1999, Shannon Elizabeth became an overnight sex symbol. She plays Nadia, an attractive foreign exchange student who becomes the object of Jason Biggs' teenage desires, and certainly those of a few audience members, too, what with her nude scenes in the raunchy teen sex comedy. But America moved on from the Texas-born actress almost as quickly as it had embraced her as the big ingénue of the moment. 

Elizabeth booked a couple more high-profile movies over the years, but those happened to be reprisals of the role of Nadia in American Pie 2 in 2001, and American Reunion in 2012. She never quite got to capitalize on her star-making performance in the late '90s. Among her most notable duds: the romantic 2011 comedy A Novel Romance, opposite fellow victim of the Hollywood machine Steve Guttenberg; the 2012 puppy Christmas movie Golden Winter, opposite Haylie Duff (aka the less famous Duff); and 2015's Marshall's Miracle, another movie about a very special dog.