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Top 10 Movie Stars Who Dropped Off the Map

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Matthew Thomas. Now you see them, now you don’t. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 movie stars who dropped off the map. For this list, we’re focusing on actors who seemed to be heading in the right direction, and then for one reason or another – be it early retirement, critically panned missteps or bad behavior – they left the limelight. Where did these guys go? Special thanks to our users MikeyP and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
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Script written by Matthew Thomas.

Top 10 Movie Stars Who Dropped Off the Map


Now you see them, now you don’t. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie stars who dropped off the map.

For this list, we’re focusing on actors who seemed to be heading in the right direction, and then for one reason or another – be it early retirement, critically panned missteps or bad behavior – they left the limelight. We’re not saying these actors haven’t done ANY work since, but their profiles are definitely not as high as they once were.

#10: Cuba Gooding, Jr.

It may be hard to believe now but during the ‘90s, Cuba Gooding Jr. was set to become one of the world’s biggest stars. When he won an Academy Award for “Jerry Maguire,” it seemed improbable that the freight train that was his career would ever lose steam. But they call it the Oscar curse for a reason, and soon a slate of horrible comedies and bland action flicks began populating his résumé, evaporating most of the goodwill he’d earned. Roles in “American Gangster” and “The Butler” were the sole oases in a wasteland of mediocre films.

#9: Christian Slater

At one time an idol tapped by the Hollywood machine as the next big box-office thing, Slater filled his early years with roles as a brooding heartthrob-type. The huge hits came next, but so did the bad behavior, arrests and rehab. By the time of the abysmal performance of “Hard Rain,” a unique but poorly received action film set during a flood, the love affair he once had with audiences was over. Opting to use his acting prowess for meatier roles and more nuanced characters than in blockbusters, Slater slid under the radar.

#8: Macaulay Culkin

First garnering the attention of mainstream audiences with a pitch perfect performance in “Uncle Buck,” Culkin’s true star-making turn took place when he starred in the surprise mega-mega-megahit “Home Alone.” After moving on to a series of mediocre comedies, while also flexing his acting muscles in more dramatic roles like “The Good Son,” his star began to fade. Between 1994-2003 he stayed away from the film industry pretty much entirely, and even now he basically eschews the mainstream, instead preferring to stick to indie-type flicks and eating pizza.

#7: Josh Hartnett

Another former heartthrob, when Josh Hartnett was cast as Laurie Strode’s son in the “Halloween” franchise, he parlayed that role into a lasting career. Starring in acclaimed movies like “Black Hawk Down” as well as cash cows like “Pearl Harbor,” he was everywhere between 2001-03 – then he was gone. Realizing stardom might not be for him, Hartnett chose to step back from fame. He may be the best positioned to reclaim his former stature if he ever desires it, and his role on Showtime’s horror series “Penny Dreadful” is a step in that direction.

#6: Geena Davis

An Oscar-winning actress known for strong female characters, Geena Davis is equally adept in dramas like “Thelma and Louise,” and comedies like “Beetlejuice.” Ms. Davis may have been an even a bigger success than many realize, which is what makes hers a cautionary tale about what can happen to the star of a movie that’s credited with taking down a film production company after 20-years of existence. After the fame she once enjoyed receded, Davis turned to activism, tried out for the U.S. Olympic archery team and took a short-lived Golden Globe-winning TV role.

#5: Rick Moranis

Disarming and hilarious, Rick Moranis was a perfect fit for child-friendly comedies like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” a hilarious addition to sci-fi comedies like “Spaceballs,” and had a biting enough sense of humor to create classics like “Strange Brew.” Perhaps the best tribute to just how fantastic he is was his ability to steal focus in “Ghostbusters” from some of the best comedic actors ever. Unfortunately, he chose to leave filmmaking to take care of his children after his wife died of cancer. We certainly respect his decision, but we miss him.

#4: Chris Tucker

Five-years after making his Hollywood debut and with just a handful of films under his belt, Chris Tucker stepped into a multi-movie and multi-million dollar franchise. By the time he was paid $25-million for “Rush Hour 3” in 2007, he was on fire – despite the fact that he hadn’t appeared on a movie screen since 2001 and the previous “Rush Hour” flick. In fact, aside from a celebrated supporting role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Tucker has only appeared in movies called “Rush Hour” since 1998, and has basically dropped off the map.

#3: Mike Myers

First coming to prominence on “Saturday Night Live,” this Canadian funny man took the comedy world by storm with creations like Wayne Campbell, Austin Powers and Dr. Evil. But then he starred in a much-reviled adaptation of a classic children’s book and created an annoying and borderline racist caricature of an Indian religious leader. Perhaps sensing the public’s dwindling desire for that particular brand of humor, Myers hasn’t starred onscreen since “The Love Guru,” not counting his supporting role in “Inglourious Basterds” or his voice-work in the “Shrek” films, of course.

#2: Meg Ryan

Once one of the world’s most beloved actresses, Meg Ryan’s movies have grossed over $870-million around the globe. But nothing on her most recent list of accomplishments contributes much to that sum. After a highly publicized affair with Russell Crowe while still married to Dennis Quaid began to erode her girl-next-door persona, Ryan did herself no favors by starring in the gritty film, “In The Cut” and the abysmal performer “Against The Ropes.” Perhaps the final nail in the coffin of Ryan’s career is the fact that she, uh, doesn’t look quite like the girl we once knew anymore.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Freddie Prinze, Jr.
- Alicia Silverstone
- Dana Carvey
- Gene Wilder
- Joe Pesci
- Dave Chappelle

#1: Emilio Estevez

Son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie, Emilio Estevez has received the most coverage over the last few years for his directing work, or when discussing the insane antics of his more famous sibling. First coming to prominence alongside his fellow Brat Packers in dramatic roles before trying his hand at other things, he went on to land comedic parts in films like “Loaded Weapon 1” and the “Mighty Ducks” series. Eventually maturing into an accomplished director, Estevez now appears happy to spend his time behind the camera – until the acting bug bites him once again.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie star’s disappearing act surprised you the most? For more acting Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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