Success in the film industry is not limited to big movie careers, as actors can find acclaim in TV series or other smaller roles.
From Liam Hemsworth to Shailene Woodley, several A-list movie careers have been short-lived, regardless of the actors’ talent.
Movie stars constantly come and go in Hollywood, with some that showed great promise never really meeting their full career potential. In the bigger picture of the film industry machine, film actors are a small piece, and can often be cast out of starring roles to no fault of their own. Whether a movie flops financially or the actor’s performance is not well received, an actor with tons of potential can quickly run out of chances to prove themselves to Hollywood.
Of course, there is success beyond a movie career. Different actors have different goals, and plenty of actors who were prospective movie stars went on to find great supporting roles or amazing TV careers. Regardless of what they went on to do after their stint in the spotlight, some A-list movie careers just didn’t last very long.
10 Liam Hemsworth
Liam Hemsworth, along with his brother Chris, began to find huge success in Hollywood in the early 2010s. While Chris Hemsworth carried on with his role of Thor, and other popular action movies, Liam Hemsworth didn’t end up finding much success outside The Hunger Games franchise. While Liam may still not have a theatrical movie franchise to succeed The Hunger Games he could find some new popularity as the new Geralt of Rivia actor in The Witcher season 4.
9 Minnie Driver
Minnie Driver had her breakout role in 1995 with Circle of Friends, then made her biggest movie in 1997 with Good Will Hunting. The actor is incredibly charismatic and funny in the latter, with Good Will Hunting’s great dialogue truly showcasing her talents. Since that role, Driver has had the most success on TV series like Speechless and has also become an author with a 2022 memoir.
8 Jaden Smith
Most known as the son of Will Smith, Jaden Smith had a few chances at big roles in Hollywood with films like The Pursuit of Happiness and the Karate Kid reboot. While the Will Smith-led, The Pursuit of Happiness, was met with acclaim, most of Jaden Smith’s leading roles were met with mixed to poor reviews. The 25-year-old actor and musician has had much better success with his hip-hop and pop career. While recent years have seen Jaden lean further into his music, it’s not out of the realm of possibility he could return to films with something special in time.
7 Liv Tyler
In the late ’90s and 2000s, Liv Tyler seemed to have all the potential in the world to be a leading actress in Hollywood. After starring in small films like Empire Records and Stealing Beauty, Liv Tyler had her first chance in a major film franchise with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She’s particularly memorable as Arwen, specifically in Fellowship of the Ring, where she’s truly given a chance to shine. Liv Tyler had a large role in The Incredible Hulk, which was unfortunately one of the worst-received MCU movies, as well as a role in The Leftovers HBO series.
6 Cara Delevingne
Starting her career as a model, Cara Delevingne pivoted to acting in the 2010s. While she was given the opportunity to appear in some big-budget film projects like Suicide Squad and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, both of them were major box office bombs. She also played a leading role in Carnival Row, an Amazon Prime series that saw two seasons with mixed reception, before cancelation. Her most successful work so far has been as part of the Only Murders in the Building cast in season 2, alongside Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.
5 Alicia Silverstone
Starring in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone puts on one of the best comedic performances of the 1990s. While this could have propelled her into a long career in movie star roles, her prospective career as a leading woman seemed to be halted shortly after the failure of Batman & Robin. Infamously known as one of the worst superhero films ever, the project was a let-down for everyone involved, including Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. On the bright side, the film is known as one of the best so-bad-its-good movies. Alicia Silverstone’s upcoming projects include Reptile on Netflix.
4 Taylor Kitsch
After an amazing role as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights, Taylor Kitsch was prepped to become one of Hollywood’s next big movie stars. Kitsch portrays one of the football drama’s most complicated characters, known as one of the most beloved in the whole show. In 2012, he immediately went from TV star to leading two of the most expensive movies of the year. Unfortunately, both films, Battleship and John Carter, were met with poor reviews and were colossal bombs at the box office. While Kitsch can’t be blamed for the blockbusters’ failures, those films surely had an impact on the actor’s career.
3 Brandon Routh
Playing Superman is a massive step for a Hollywood actor. Unfortunately for Brandon Routh, Superman Returns wasn’t the most successful film, and he didn’t get a chance to return for a sequel. Replaced by Henry Cavill for Man of Steel, Brandon Routh didn’t find much success in leading roles in movies. The actor got his chance to return to the world of DC Comics as the Atom in Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Then, in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, he even got to portray Superman again on TV, with it being heavily implied he was the same Superman from Superman Returns and the Christopher Reeve films.
2 Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley is an excellent actress, as demonstrated by her role in Big Little Lies. However, the early 2010s saw her hyped up to be a major movie star with The Fault in Our Stars, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and the Divergent franchise. While these films put her in the spotlight, The Amazing Spider-Man series was concluded with just two films, plus her scene in it was cut. In addition, the Divergent movies completely fell apart, and the franchise was never concluded. Shailene Woodley still has some exciting movies like Ferrari and Dumb Money coming up, despite not being leading roles for her.
1 Sam Worthington
By all accounts, Sam Worthington has had an extremely successful career, as his starring films have grossed over $6 billion at the box office. But, while he may be the lead in Avatar and its sequels, he hasn’t had many other opportunities to showcase his skills. The Clash of the Titans films received mixed reviews, and while he was in Hacksaw Ridge, he was in a supporting role. In the long gap between the two Avatar films, Worthington’s leading roles were pretty limited. With more Avatar sequels on the way, Sam Worthington could end up back in the mainstream as a movie star.
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