Fame is a fickle mistress. You never know when she will bestow her blessings upon you, and you don’t know when she’ll take it away — although starring in really crappy scifi and fantasy movies is a pretty good way to make the latter happen. Here are 15 poor souls whose movie careers ended rather abruptly.
1) Kristen Kreuk, Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li
When Kristen Kreuk left the CW’s hit series Smallville, it was because she was gonna be a big-time movie star. Or so she thought when she was cast as fan favorite Chun Li in the Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li movie. But it was terrible, and she was terrible in it, even for the Street Fighter fanboys who were really only looking to see her kick things. She’s now back on The CW in Beauty in the Beast, which is the best for all concerned.
2) Jake Lloyd, Star Wars: Episode I
Jake Lloyd was already a precocious star before George Lucas cast him as the wee Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace; he starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the quite popular Jingle All the Way. Of course, we all know how this went. Regardless of Lloyd’s acting talent or lack thereof, I think we can all agree that George Lucas is a terrible writer of dialogue and director of actors — even Ewan McGregor was bad in those — and the role was terrible to begin with. Poor Lloyd never stood a chance.
3) Lori Petty, Tank Girl
Lori Petty was going to be a star. She was in three major hits in a row — Point Break, Free Willy and A League of Their Own — and was singled out for praise in all of them. So what did she pick for her first starring role? A terrible adaptation of the nearly unadaptable indie comic Tank Girl. Here’s a hint for all you aspiring actors: When you get your big break, don’t waste it on a movie where you have to make out with Ice-T while he’s in a anthropomorphic kangaroo costume. Petty has made several movies since Tank Girl, and you’ve heard of none of them.
4) Justin Chatwin, Dragonball: Evolution
Admittedly, Justin Chatwin didn’t have the biggest career going when he was cast as Goku in Fox’s well-we-paid-a-goddamn-fortune-for-the-rights-so-we-might-as-well-crap-something-out adaptation of the hit anime Dragonball Z (or more precisely, its less popular origin, Dragonball). But he had been in Tom Cruise’s blockbuster War of the Worlds remake, and he could have gone on to bigger and better things. Instead, he’s co-starred in one little Canadian movie and guest-starred in Showtime’s Shameless alongside fellow Evolution victim Emmy Rossum.
5) Michael Keaton, Batman
It might not be fair to say Batman and Batman Returns killed Michael Keaton’s career, but it did mortally wound it. You have to understand, Keaton was one of the biggest stars of the ‘80s, starring in a ton of hits like Clean and Sober, Beetlejuice, Mr. Mom, and more. And Batman and Batman Returns were hits, and Keaton did well in both of them… and then he had a clone comedy called Multiplicitly that went nowhere… and a bit part in Jackie Brown… and then he was a talking snowman in the sub-straight-to-video movie Jack Frost, a mere six years later. He’s done a little bit of work here and there, but for some reason Batman Returns remains his last major role and hit.
6) Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone, Batman and Robin
And while we’re on the subject of Batman! Chris O’ Donnell was a hot up-and-comer when he was cast as Robin in Batman Forever, which wasn’t exactly loved but made a lot of money. Alicia Silverstone was more or less a star after Clueless. Then Batman and Robin came out and just destroyed them. It was a terrible movie, and they were amazingly horrible in it, and they both slunk to TV afterwards (where O’Donnell is currently having far more success than Silverstone). What’s most amazing is that George Clooney, who played Batman, survived unscathed, because he was just as awful as his young sidekicks.
7) Sean Connery, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
After a vast career of popular hits and undisputed cinematic masterpieces, Sean Connery had such a terrible time making the execrable League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that he immediately retired from acting when it was over, and despite countless offers, he hasn’t acted since. If LXG didn’t technically kill Sean Connery's career, it’s only because it made Connery put it out of its misery himself.
8) Denise Richards, The World Is Not Enough
Denise Richards is not a good actress. Her beauty carried her through movies like Wild Things and Drop Dead Gorgeous, but when she was actually required to act — just a little — in the already wretched James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, it all went to hell. To be fair, the role — a nuclear physicist named Christmas Jones — was never going to be in her wheelhouse, and her casting was like a cruel prank. She’s stuck around Hollywood, but she’s never starred in anything again, and I think everyone’s okay with that.
9) Hayden Christensen, Star Wars: Episode III
Goerge Lucas destroyed many a promising career while making the prequel trilogy. After crushing Jake Lloyd’s dreams of stardom, he plucked young Hayden Christensen out of nowhere to play the older Anakin Skywalker in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Again, Christensen’s questionable talents, coupled with Lucas’ mind-bogglingly bad dialogue and direction, combined to destroy Christensen’s career as quickly as it began. He did manage to make Shattered Glass on his way down, at least.
10) Brandon Routh, Superman Returns
Much like George Lucas and Hayden Christianson, Bryan Singer discovered Brandon Routh and cast him as Superman in Superman Returns. Unlike Christianson, Routh actually did a great job playing what Singer wanted him to — an older, more somber version of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from the original movies. It’s not Routh’s fault that no one wanted to see Bryan Singer’s particular Superman movie other than Bryan Singer. Routh managed to get a recurring role on Chuck for a bit, as well as the lead in the direct-to-video Dylan Dog movie, but not much else. And it’s a damn shame.
11) Joe Piscopo, Dead Heat
Joe Piscopo was a member of Saturday Night Live during the dark years in the early ‘80s, where he was upstaged by Eddie Murphy (admittedly, so was everybody else). When Eddie Murphy left to make action-comedies like 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop, Piscopo decided to do the same. This career began and ended with Dead Heat, where he played a police officer with a zombie for a partner. If you like bad movies, it is absolutely one of the greatest, most entertaining bad movies you could ever hope to see. Honestly, it deserves to be a cult classic even more that it deserved to stop Piscopo’s movie career.
12) Kevin Costner, Waterworld
After making Hollywood jillions of dollars with Dances with Wolves, The Untouchables, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Kevin Costner could do anything. What he chose to do was make a $200 million scifi movie where he was a fish-man who drank his own urine, which was called Waterworld. This was not a success. Hollywood, still technically ahead from his previous successes, gave Costner another blank check, which he used to make The Postman, another post-apocalyptic epic no one wanted to see. This effectively put Costner’s career in a medically-induced coma, in which it was brain-dead but artificially kept alive, until he miraculously recovered 10 years later in the suspense movie Mr. Brooks. He’s bounced around since then, but he hasn’t headlined anything since. You can currently see him in Man of Steel, explaining the importance of letting children die to young Clark Kent.
13) Kristanna Loken, BloodRayne
Kristanna Loken was the hot new action girl after playing the new, sexy Termanatrix in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. And then she immediately squandered that momentum by starring in BloodRayne, Uwe Boll’s movie adaptation of the mildly popular sexy-vampire action videogame. To the surprise of no one, this was a complete box office failure, and her next movie was Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which pretty much went straight to video and still bombed. Whether or not you believe Dungeon Siege was the movie that killed her career, it’s safe to say she wouldn’t have bothered with the role if her career hadn’t been bleeding out after being stabbed repeatedly by BloodRayne.
14) Mark Hamill, Return of the Jedi
Mark Hamill has had an amazing career as a voice actor, one that rivals the great Mel Blanc. He’s voiced incredible characters, he’ll be the defining voice of the Joker for the next 50 years at least, and his list of credits is insanely enormous. And yet, in 1983 he was one of the biggest movie stars in the entire world, a career that essentially ended the minute Return of the Jedi came out. Why? I don’t know. He wasn’t the strongest actor next to Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, but he managed better than Ewan McGregor did in the prequels (having directors that weren’t George Lucas certainly helped). Well, at least he — and we — can take comfort in that whatever the movie world lost, the world of animation gained.