Related Videos

Top 10 Acting One-Hit Wonders

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Matthew Thomas. Sometimes actors have a breakthrough but are never able to reach that zenith again. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 acting one-hit wonders. For this list, we’re looking at the times actors hit it big with one or two roles and but were never able to recapture that glory. In other words, even if they continued to act, they were not widely viewed or heard from, and/or lost much of their former popularity and success. Special thanks to our users JosephT, Andrew A. Dennison, Bareforo and Óli Gunnar Gunnarss for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Share
WatchMojo

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Transcript
Script written by Matthew Thomas.

Top 10 Acting One-Hit Wonders


Sometimes actors have a breakthrough but are never able to reach that zenith again. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 acting one-hit wonders.

For this list, we’re looking at the times actors hit it big with one or two roles and but were never able to recapture that glory. In other words, even if they continued to act, they were not widely viewed or heard from, and/or lost much of their former popularity and success. However, we’re excluding voice acting and voice over roles.

#10: Alicia Silverstone
“Clueless” (1995)


Unlike most of the people on this list, Ms. Silverstone was steadily building her acting career until she practically became an overnight success. First gaining notoriety for her appearances in a series of Aerosmith music videos, making a more permanent transition to film following her MTV award-winning turn in “The Crush” seemed like a no-brainer. Surprisingly, she appeared in the lead role of a comedy, a genre she was entirely unproven in – but as the success of “Clueless” proved, she knocked it out of the park. Her career appeared to be on an ascent until the tidal wave that was “Batman & Robin” decimated it all. While she’s appeared in some films, she also removed herself from the public eye for several years and things have never really been the same.

#9: Brandon Routh
“Superman Returns” (2006)


When Bryan Singer took over the reigns as the driving force behind “Superman Returns,” he insisted that the role go to an unknown instead of an actor like Nic Cage or Will Smith. After he saw the audition tape of an unknown kid from Iowa, one of the most coveted roles in the world was no longer up for grabs. Given the opportunity to anchor a film as one of the most recognizable figures in pop culture history, Brandon Routh may never reach those heights again, especially considering other actors have been cast as Superman in subsequent films, but he will undoubtedly go down in the annals of film history for his 2006 turn.

#8: Shannon Elizabeth
“American Pie” (1999)


Every teen sex comedy that has captured the cash and minds of audiences has had one thing in common: a sex symbol which has teens in theaters squirming and salivating simultaneously. When “American Pie” became the surprise hit of the summer, it was partially on the back and well… other things of Ms. Elizabeth. The problem was that she just lacked the acting skills to take advantage of the opportunity she had created for herself thereafter, so any roles she’s taken on have never even come close to measuring up.

#7: Paul Hogan
“‘Crocodile’ Dundee” (1986)


It may seem like just a dream, but there was a time in the mid-‘80s when much of America was fascinated with Australia and embraced the culture like it had just been discovered. Despite remaining relevant in his homeland, abroad Paul Hogan was never able to recapture the sensation that his breakthrough role earned him. Perhaps if he hadn’t passed on the starring role in a huge success like “Ghost” for a bomb like “Almost an Angel,” or the pitched Crocodile Dundee crossover with Beverly Hills Cop had materialized, he may have fared better.

#6: Peter Billingsley
“A Christmas Story” (1983)

There are a handful of true Christmas cinema classics, such as “It’s a Wonderful World,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and some would even argue “Die Hard.” This Christmas tale certainly makes the cut. Thanks to this comedy, Ralphie, the child who almost shot his eye out, as portrayed by the then-unknown Peter Billingsley, has a place in the heart of our combined world consciousness. Billingsley never had another role of any real note, but we’re happy to be able to say he is not another child actor sob story. Still working in the industry as a producer, Peter even helped bring the movie “Elf” to life.

#5: Jaye Davidson
“The Crying Game” (1992)


In the summer of 1992, long before the likes of M. Night Shyamalan had turned the movie plot twist into a tired cliché, there was an independent movie that shocked the world and demanded you discover its secrets. At the heart of it all was an unknown actor who left the acting world as quickly as he took it by storm. Only pretty much starring in “Stargate” afterwards, which garnered him far less acclaim, Jaye Davidson was an actor who seemed to be created specifically for this role – which earned him an Oscar nod - and he subsequently failed to transfer those skills elsewhere. So it’s no surprise he also retired from the biz.

#4: Peter Ostrum
“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971)


The stories behind Charlie Bucket getting a chance to enter the madcap candy inventor’s factory and Peter Ostrum entering the cutthroat world of professional acting are not all that different. Both were lucky to enter a world that was foreign to them and both of them lived happily ever after in a way. After declining a 3-film contract, Ostrum was never able to land another film role, and he decided to leave acting for what seems to be a good life for him and his family. Regardless, there is little question that he made his mark in a competitive world that few get the chance to.

#3: Mark Hamill
“Star Wars” original trilogy (1977-83)

When Mark Hamill got the role of Luke Skywalker, he never could have had any idea that he was basically giving up any ownership of his likeness for the rest of his life. Perhaps that is why he and co-star Carrie Fisher were never able to move past their roles as the twins that saved the rebellion. Finding a niche that he is incredible at, Mark has wholeheartedly delved into the world of voice acting, but will never be able to resist an opportunity to use more than his vocals to bring characters to life.

#2: Roberto Benigni
“Life Is Beautiful” (1997)


World War 2 has been a subject brought to cinema screens on multiple occasions for decades. When this Italian actor and director made a film about a father trying to shield his son from the horrors of the concentration camps, he pulled off the improbable; he made filmgoers see the war all in a different way. Following up the Best Actor Oscar he won for this film with a Razzie in 2002 for “Pinocchio,” Roberto was quickly forgotten, even if “Life Is Beautiful” wasn’t.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Quinton Aaron
“The Blind Side” (2009)
- Tyrin Turner
“Menace II Society” (1993)
- Jeff Cohen
“The Goonies” (1985)
- Leelee Sobieski
“The Glass House” (2001)
- Mira Sorvino
“Mighty Aphrodite” (1995)

#1: Macaulay Culkin
“Home Alone” (1990)


If nobody else is going to say it, we will: at the beginning of “Home Alone,” Kevin McCallister is an absolute brat. Maybe he’s getting picked on, but that’s no excuse to be such a jerk to everyone, especially his mother who’s done nothing wrong. By the end of the movie though, many of us love this kid and his antics and feel sincerely concerned when the Wet Bandits capture him, which is a testament to the acting skill this child actor possessed. Despite making us even more emotional in the following year’s “My Girl,” Mac never got to audiences the same way again - the “Home Alone” sequel notwithstanding, of course.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite acting one-hit wonder? For more acting Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
Comments

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs