Shannon Elizabeth became an overnight sex symbol after the release of American Pie (1999), in which she played a foreign exchange student who becomes the object of Jason Biggs’ teenage desires. But America’s love affair with the Texas-born actress ended almost as quickly as it began. Although appearances in two of the franchise’s sequels (American Pie 2 in 2001 and American Reunion in 2012) have kept her name in the spotlight, Elizabeth never quite capitalized on her star-making performance back in the late ’90s. Among her most recent bombs: the disastrous romantic comedy, A Novel Romance (2011), opposite Steve Guttenberg of all people, and the puppy Christmas movie Golden Winter, opposite Haylie Duff (aka Hilary’s less-famous sister).
When Clueless came out in 1995, everyone predicted that Alicia Silverstone would become Hollywood’s next “It” girl. Twenty years later, we’re still wondering what went wrong. Maybe it was her follow-up performance in Batman & Robin (1997) that did her in. Lord knows we’re still trying to erase it from our memories. Maybe it was that equally awful Brendan Frasier romcom, Blast from the Past (1999). Either way, it’s been a real bummer to see her quickly go from Golden Globe-nominated actress to direct-to-DVD starlet. Though, considering she made headlines in 2012 for feeding her son, Bear, mouth-to-mouth, perhaps it was for the best? Talk about clueless.
Not even the biggest movie franchise ever is enough to make you a star. Just ask Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, who was never able to find his big-screen footing after the release of Star Wars. (Remember the 1991 sci-fi epic, Guyver? Of course you don’t.) On the bright side: Hamill has found considerable success as a voice actor, voicing characters on numerous popular kids’ shows over the last three decades, particularly his iconic role as the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Despite his vocal-centric career these days, he’s also in JJ Abrams’ Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, much to the excitement of every nerd who ever lived.
Winning an Oscar can do wonderful things for an actor’s career. It can also tear a cereer apart. Nobody knows that quite as well as Louise Fletcher, who to this day is known almost exclusively for her Oscar-winning performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (Ironically, her follow-up movie was Exorcist II, opposite Linda Blair.) Finding no luck on the big screen, Fletcher eventually turned to television, where she found better, if more relevant success. Over the years, she’s appeared on everything from ER, to Heroes, toPrivate Practice, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Shameless.
CUBA GOODING, JR.
Wes Bentley became the poster child for every emo teenager who thought there was beauty to be found in a floating plastic bag in the Oscar-winning contemporary drama, American Beauty (1999). His career floundered almost immediately after, due in great part to a nine-year addiction to drugs, including cocaine and heroin. After getting his life back in order, Bentley has recently landed bit parts in hugely popular movies, among them The Hunger Games (2012) and Interstellar (2014). He also appears on Ryan Murphy’s ever-evolving anthology series, American Horror Story.