Why Hollywood Won't Cast Shane West Anymore

Shane West stole the hearts of millions when he appeared in 2002's A Walk To Remember as Landon Carter, a high school screw up turned sweetheart when he develops feelings for the school nerd Jamie Sullivan, played by Mandy Moore. It was a landmark film for the millennial generation and the two stars are still friends to this day (he even gave a speech at Moore's 2019 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony).

"Mandy was phenomenal and my best friend when we were working on that," West told E! News."We hadn't had anything that had been a success like that, so that will probably be one of my favorite memories." Since then he has appeared in dozens of television shows and films but none have made the same impression on fans or critics, leaving many to wonder what he's been up to these days.

West was a heartthrob on the rise in the early 2000s, with the potential of becoming a major Hollywood actor, but for some reason, he has since disappeared from the spotlight. Is it Hollywood who has turned its back on him or is it purely bad luck? Let's find out why Hollywood won't cast Shane West anymore.

Shane West got his start on television

Shane West moved to Los Angeles when he was just a teenager to pursue an acting career, and like most actors, he struggled at first. According to an interview with Lindzi.com in 2002, he never even considered a career in acting until he moved to California with his family and many of his classmates were acting and appearing in commercials. In the interview he claimed, "I got the bug. It started working for me so I kept going."

West had guest appearances on a few major television shows when he was just starting out, including Boy Meets World and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and landed his first major role in 1999 on a show called Once and Again (cast photo above). He played Eli, one of two children who are products of divorce, in this TV drama that didn't pick up much of a following. While it was noted for being controversial and being one of the first shows to introduce a gay relationship between two characters, it was cancelled after just three seasons. He went on to make his first movie appearance with a small role in Liberty Heights soon after, which was received well by critics.

Being a teen idol got old for Shane West

Even though Shane West had entered his twenties, his characters seemed to be stuck in high school. In the 2000 film Whatever It Takes, West played a high school nerd who falls for the most popular girl in school. Although the flick had a big cast, including James Franco and Aaron Paul, it didn't connect with audiences or critics — Rotten Tomatoes gave it just a 16 percent rating. On top of that, the movie reportedly had a $32 million budget, but didn't manage to even make a third of that back

West apparently saw the writing on the wall. After shooting on the teen rom-com wrapped, he told The New York Times, "[Whatever It Takes] will probably be my last teen movie. I don't think I want to do another one. I don't want to get stuck.” That might have been smart thinking, but he wasn't being offered many parts that allowed him to play more diverse characters. In his next film, Get Over It, West played a foreign exchange student who claimed to have been the lead singer of a boy band abroad. With a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film fared slightly better than Whatever It Takes, but it was another financial dud, raking in just two million more than it cost to make

Even Sean Connery couldn't save Shane West's film career

Before A Walk To Remember was filmed, West appeared in the film A Time For Dancing as a DJ that begins dating one of the main characters, but it never appeared in theaters in the U.S. The movie gained a small following in Italy and was eventually released years later on DVD for Americans to enjoy, but few people are aware the movie even exists.

Right after he filmed A Walk To Remember, West was finally presented with the opportunity to break away from these teenage roles, playing Tom Sawyer in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Based on a mini comic book series created by writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill, the story follows popular fictional characters from classic novels who were chosen to form a group of evil-fighting heroes set on a secret mission for Queen Victoria circa 1900. It was expected to do well, but even with Sean Connery playing the lead, critics felt the movie was a flop, receiving only a 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

From there, West put teenage romantic dramas and comedies to the side while he pursued darker roles in horror movies. Unfortunately, these movies didn't attract much of an audience either, and West made the right decision by accepting more television acting roles.

Moving behind the camera wasn't a great move for Shane West

Moving behind the camera is a natural progression for many actors, and Shane West is no different. Shortly after his pivot away from being a teen heartthrob, West took a stab at producing some of the films in which he starred. First, he served as executive producer for the biopic What We Do Is Secret, a film based on the legendary LA punk band Germs — but he didn't exactly have beginner's luck. "We had a solid year of having shot half the movie but then we ran out of finance," he told Rolling Stone, adding, "We had a year before we started again." According to Box Offie Mojo, the punk rock flick made just over $58,000 worldwide. 

Not long after producing What We Do Is Secret, West went on to co-produce and star in the horror movie Red Sands where he played one of several U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who accidentally unleash deadly creatures. It was received with mixed reviews, but didn't reach many viewers as it went straight to DVD. 

As of this writing, What We Do Is Secret and Red Sands remain West's only credits at a producer, so even his behind-the-scenes track record hasn't been a smashing success. 

Why did Shane West walk away from ER?

Shane West got his next big break after A Walk To Remember when he was offered the part of Dr. Ray Barnett on ER, joining the list of some of the sexiest men in Hollywood who've played doctors on the show, including George Clooney and John Stamos. Even though he started on ER in it's 11th season, the show still had a huge following and his appearance certainly helped boost his career, but he left after just three seasons.

West left ER to take a role in the anticipated pilot Supreme Courtships, which depicted the professional and personal lives of six members of the Supreme Court. The show cast some pretty big names including Kate Burton, best known for her role as Ellis Grey in Grey's Anatomy, and Kurtwood Smith who played Red Forman in That 70's Show, but the pilot wasn't picked up by Fox. This sent West back to the set of ER, making a few small appearances as Dr. Ray Barnett to wrap up a few storylines until the end of the series.

Shane West spends a lot of time playing music

If you can picture a young Shane West then you can probably imagine him on stage in head-to-toe punk rock getup, belting out his band's latest hit in front of hundreds of people. That's because he was in several bands, including Average Jo, Johnny Was, and Twilight Creeps. During a 2017 interview with BUILD, West explained how he and his band got a song on the A Walk To Remember Soundtrack.

"Mandy was a well-known singer at the time and she was getting a song on the soundtrack. I don't think I knew what the song was going to be but I knew she would," West explained. Then he hatched a plan. "And I was like, 'Well I got a band. If I don't write it too nasty punk rock, maybe ... more bubble gum-like, I think this might work. And we wrote — me and my old band Johnny Was — wrote a song and they liked it." The track, "So What Does It All Mean?" made it on the album and needless to say, West was stoked. "We got paid, the album went gold," West gushed. "To be able to say that is pretty cool."

During the interview, West said he is always "in and out of bands" and spoke extensively about his new band, Twilight Creeps. "It's fun, it's horror film based," he explained. "Misfits kinda sounding," he continued. "It's punky, but always catchy."

Punk power

While Shane West never made it big with any of his own bands, he did get a feel for stardom playing with punk rock legends, Germs. West spent a lot of time with the group when he was preparing to appear in a biopic about the band called What We Do Is Secret. In the film, he played the band's lead singer, Darby Crash. Filming was done on and off for four years to accommodate West's schedule for ER, and during that time West actually started performing with the band and eventually went on tour.

In an interview with Rogue, West explained how this developed by saying, "We played a gig where the actor Germs played first, and then the real Germs came on stage." Since the Germs' lead singer Darby Crash had passed away, West had to perform with both groups. "There were actually a lot of Germs fans at that party. And they just ate it up. They really enjoyed the performance, and all we did was play five songs. And people started kind of asking us to play gigs."

While his time spent performing with Germs has come to an end, for now, he continues to work toward a career in music and performing with his latest band Twilight Creeps. Unfortunately, that could mean he's spending less time acting and auditioning for parts.

Shane West starred in Nikita...but it was canceled

Nikita, a show about an assassin who gets revenge on those who trained her, aired on the CW for four short seasons. However, things took a turn during the show's second season, when it was considered the lowest rating drama on the network, according to Forbes. Many were surprised when the show was renewed for a third season, but the reasoning was simple.

The CW needed the show to reach a "true conclusion" as one of the stipulations in their newly-minted $1 billion deal with Netflix. After the third season with no conclusion, the series was renewed for a six-episode fourth season for that simple reason. Business is business. Even though the series didn't end with a full season as West had hoped, he was thankful for the opportunity. 

 "We're very blessed to be able to get this season, even if it's a half-season because we do get to tell this story," Shane West told IGN. "The hardest thing about it has been really, I think, for the writers. I think they've had the hardest job this year. I think we were expecting 13 [episodes] at some point, so to get it in six has been very difficult."

Shane West's current projects aren't exactly blockbusters

After Nikita ended, Shane West tried to get back into movies with the Top Gun-themed thriller Red Sky and a horror film called Here Alone. Unfortunately, Red Sky wasn't well-received by critics and went straight to DVD and Here Alone came and went without much fanfare. In 2018, he joined the cast of Gossamer Folds, playing the father of "a boy with an unhappy home life striking up an unexpected friendship with a trans woman" (via Women and Hollywood). The film is post-production at the time of this writing.

Prior to that, West starred in the WGN series Salem, a fantasy drama that reimagines a world where those 17th century witches were real. Despite being the network's highest-rated show in seven years, it was ultimately canceled in 2016 after three seasons (via Deadline). In 2018, West scored his highest-profile television gig to date — a recurring role on Gotham as the villainous Eduardo Dorrance, who later becomes the iconic Batman enemy, Bane.

In an interview with E! News West called it a "bucket list" role since Bane was his "favorite DC villain." He drew inspiration for Bane's iconic voice from Batman: The Animated Series and The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy, but made the role his own. "I had my own ideas and then I just kinda spliced it in with a couple of other interesting perspectives," West explained. Fun fact: West auditioned to play Mr. Freeze.

Is there a Mandy Moore reunion in the works?

Post-A Walk To Remember, Mandy Moore's career was a series of modest hits and big misses until she nabbed the role of Rebecca Pearson in NBC's mega-smash, This Is Us. So could there be a reunion between Shane West and Moore on her new show? Folks, there's a possibility.

Speaking with ET, West revealed that he and Moore have discussed a potential guest spot for him on the hit series. "I feel like if it was right [I would do it]... it would have to be the right way to do it. I'm 100 percent interested," West said. "We've talked about it, actually, but you'd want it to be something special."

However, West doesn't just want to be a cameo for the sake of nostalgia, telling the outlet, "[I want] something that goes somewhere." A spot on the show would also let him hang with his "old friend," Moore's on-screen husband, Milo Ventimiglia. "[Milo] and I started around the same time," West said, adding, "I'm very happy for him as well. He's a great guy." Make it happen, NBC!

How can Shane West turn it around?

Let's not write the obituary on Shane West's career just yet. He's been a steadily employed actor for most of his career but has yet to find lasting success. However, things are looking up for the former teen idol.

Deadline reports that he is starring in the upcoming sci-fi thriller No Running, alongside Orange Is The New Black's Taryn Manning and True Blood's Rutina Wesley. The film, which is post-production at the time of this writing, "follows a young black teen who is wrongfully blamed for the mysterious disappearance of his biracial girlfriend" only to discover supernatural forces at work while she flees from authorities. We can dig it.

In a 2016 interview with Harper's Bazaar, West reflected on his career and the changes in the industry since his breakout role in A Walk To Remember. He stated that when he was younger, studios pumped out modest budget films and cable and network television was the place actors made real money. Now with Hollywood funding only blockbusters, and an influx of series due to streaming, most actors don't have a chance to breakout. "I don't know if that's a good thing," he said. "I don't think it is — I miss it — but we all as actors don't have the chance to play a Wolverine in the next movie. We'd love to, but they're not looking at us at all. They're looking at whatever might be the hottest thing at that exact moment."