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Top 10 Comeback Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. Nobody loves you when you’re down and out – but everybody loves a good comeback. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 comeback performances. For this list, we’ve chosen actors whose careers have stalled for one reason or another, but who’ve managed to win back the love of fans with one standout performance. Special thanks to our users GenerationMonkey276 and Daniel Melchiorre who suggested the idea on our YouTube channel, and to DonovanTPS, Chance Ellison, Nicole Calleja, Mattyhull1, Srupane Kondreddy, Andy Roehl, Reuben Dahya and ethanVROOMAN for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Comeback Performances


Nobody loves you when you’re down and out – but everybody loves a good comeback. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 comeback performances.

For this list, we’ve chosen actors whose careers have stalled for one reason or another, but who’ve managed to win back the love of fans with one standout performance.

#10 – Alec Baldwin: “30 Rock” (2006-13)

Baldwin’s career peaked with 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October.” Sure, he continued working, but he fell out of favor with fans thanks to a certain voicemail, and lost his definable screen identity. Tina Fey and “30 Rock” changed all that; Jack Donaghy managed to be both manipulative and caring, and slick without being oily. For his hard work, Baldwin was awarded two Emmys and a reinvigorated career.

#9 – David Caruso: “CSI: Miami” (2002-12)

David Caruso got red-hot overnight from “NYPD Blue” – and got ice cold even faster when he walked away from the hit series. No one expected much when, years later, he was cast as the star of “CSI: Miami,” but from the moment Caruso slyly slipped on a pair of sunglasses midsentence, audiences were hooked again. Droll, dry and deliberate, Caruso’s Lt. Horatio Caine is one for the record books.

#8 – Jason Bateman: “Arrested Development” (2003-06)

Teen idol Jason Bateman drifted from job to job after “The Hogan Family” was cancelled. When he suddenly popped up as the star of the comedy “Arrested Development” in 2003, jaws dropped. Bateman had developed incredible comic chops; he’s the straight man in a family of zanies, but it’s his timing and reactions that make the laughs land. His resurgence continued with hit movies like “Horrible Bosses” and “Identity Thief.”

#7 – Kiefer Sutherland: “24” (2001-10)

His penchant for hell raising earned unwelcome headlines and sent Sutherland’s career into a nosedive in the late-‘90s. By the time he showed up on the Fox series “24,” he demonstrated a range and skill that was remarkable. More importantly, he brought a commanding presence to the part of Jack Bauer, that kept viewer’s eyes glued to the screen. A star was definitely reborn.

#6 – Neil Patrick Harris: “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

After the teen doctor sitcom “Doogie Howser, MD,” the talented Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t find a proper vehicle. He eventually made waves playing a drug-addled version of himself in the “Harold & Kumar” movies; but it’s “How I Met Your Mother”’ Barney Stinson that made Harris hot again. From his first “suit up,” Harris took over the sitcom; and his self-centered, sex-driven Barney became legen – wait for it – dary.

#5 – Ben Affleck: “The Town” (2010)

The abominable “Gigli” dealt Ben Affleck’s career a near-fatal blow. It didn’t help that the star’s simultaneous affair with Jennifer Lopez has turned him into a tabloid laughingstock. It took seven years and lotsa hard work, but Affleck’s captivating performance in the heist flick “The Town,” which he also directed, made audiences sit up and take notice. They also, finally, forgave him for making “Gigli.”

#4 – Mickey Rourke: “The Wrestler” (2008)

A reputation as a picky pain-in-the-ass, combined with laughable film choices like the trashy “9 ½ Weeks,” sent Mickey Rourke’s career down the tubes. After spending years in little-seen or direct-to-video product, Rourke finally got his second wind with a knockout performance in 2008’s “The Wrestler.” He seemed to be living the part rather than acting it, and was rewarded with an Oscar nomination – and a career resurgence.

#3 – Marlon Brando: “The Godfather” (1972)

A gigantic ego and a gigantic string of flops made this legend a has-been by the 1970s. Luckily, Francis Ford Coppola insisted on Brando as his Don Corleone, and the result was one of the most iconic performances in film history. Brando influences every frame of “The Godfather,” even when he’s not onscreen. He may have a difficult personality, but Brando’s talent brought filmmakers an offer they couldn’t refuse.

#2 – Robert Downey, Jr.: “Tropic Thunder” (2008), “Iron Man” (2008)

High-profile arrests and drug problems derailed Downey’s promising career early: he was even bounced from his acclaimed role on “Ally McBeal.” But Downey got his act together and the one-two punch of “Iron Man” and “Tropic Thunder” in 2008 put him back on top. He anchored the smash superhero flick with a galvanizing performance and showed true, Oscar-nominated comic brilliance in “Thunder.” He’s been everywhere ever since.

#1 – John Travolta: “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

“Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” made Travolta a box-office king; films like “Moment by Moment” and “Staying Alive” made him a joke. But his revelatory performance in 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” turned that reputation around; darkly comic and shifting sublimely from subtle to over-the-top at a drop of the hat, Travolta’s comeback performance led to incredible hits like “Get Shorty.” ‘Course, it also spawned “Battlefield Earth.”

Do you agree with our list? Which actors’ comebacks impressed you the most? For more top 10s about your favorite stars, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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