It’s impressive when somebody makes a career out of entertaining people once, but it’s absolutely amazing if they can do it twice. Most people get one shot, and if they blow it, they don’t get to be famous anymore. The fear of being has-been is probably what motivated these celebrities to get their careers back on track. Whether they had to fix their personal life or make better business decisions, these celebs had fame, lost it, and then got it back again. And just what have you done today?
Robert Downey Jr.
Today he’s the highest-paid Avenger, but there was a time when Robert Downey Jr. couldn’t even get on TV. Downey saw early success after a string of roles about good-looking guys finding their place in life before moving onto more adult subject matter with roles in Natural Born Killers and Chaplin. After some drug problems, Downey landed a gig on Ally McBeal as the main character’s love interest. He was fired, however, when he kept getting in trouble for drugs. Downey hit what was probably his lowest point when he played the villain in Tim Allen’s The Shaggy Dog. Luckily, he landed the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man, which means he won’t have to star in the direct to DVD Shaggy Dog sequel they’re probably planning.
If a studio needs to cast an eccentric-yet-likable weirdo, Johnny Depp is the go-to guy. He started off as a heartthrob in A Nightmare on Elm St. and 21 Jump St, but Depp soon decided he only wanted to pursue interesting roles. Unfortunately, a lot of those role weren’t big hits. Movies like Dead Man and Nick of Time failed, and even the critically acclaimed Ed Wood bombed at the box office. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas might be a cult hit now, but it was considered a box office swing-and-miss when it came out. It wasn’t until Pirates of the Caribbean that Hollywood changed their mind about Johnny Depp, although, based on some of his recent movies, they might be reconsidering that decision.
Mickey Mouse is Disney’s most popular creation, but he was almost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. That cartoon was one of Disney’s biggest hits in the 1920s, but unfortunately, Walt Disney lost the rights and most of his animation staff due to some bad business decisions. Disney created Mickey out of desperation, but it wasn’t until Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that things fully turned around. Disney (the company) eventually regained the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 2006, but only because they were bored and needed something to do.
Like many child actors, Drew Barrymore struggled during her teen years. Starring in a few high profile movies during her childhood, most notably E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Drew had already been in rehab by the time she was seventeen. By 1995, she was appearing as one of Two-Face’s girlfriends in Batman Forever, which is as low as it goes. But Drew slowly built her career back up by appearing in movies like Boys on the Side and a notable cameo in Scream. These days, she’s often seen playing Adam Sandler’s girlfriend, but at least it’s a step up from offering Two-Face some “sugar”.
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris was famous for playing Doogie Howser, M.D. on Doogie Howser, M.D., but that was all he was know for. Typecasting kept Harris from achieving any real success, and for a long time he toiled away making made-for-TV movies (the lowest rung on the Hollywood ladder). Luckily, Harris had a sense of humor about his childhood fame and agreed to play a fictionalized version of himself in the movie Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. The appearance became one of the most memorable moments of the movie, and his increased exposure eventually led to his role on How I Met Your Mother. Harris also appeared in David Fincher’s Gone Girl in a role that hopefully made audiences forget he was ever a child doctor.
After a few years of dominating the pop music scene, it looked like Britney Spears was going to become another cautionary tale about success. After breaking up with Justin Timberlake, Spears started behaving erratically. eventually ending up married to the embodiment of lame, Kevin Federline. After a messy divorce, people began to suspect drug use. Eventually, her family stepped in and got her help, and she started releasing music again. Britney’s currently one of the top performers in the country, while K-Fed is off somewhere trying to convince people to listen to him rap.
Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Ben Affleck was one of Hollywood’s biggest leading men and also one of its biggest punchlines. After a very public relationship with Jennifer Lopez ended, Affleck’s career began to fall apart. Movies like Daredevil, Gigli, Surviving Christmas, and several other bombs all but ended his film career. Affleck laid low for a few years, talking smaller roles in smaller movies, until he decided to try directing. His debut, Gone Baby Gone reignited his career. He followed it up with The Town and Argo, cementing his place as a successful director. Affleck eventually landed the role of Batman in the new DC Cinematic Universe, so he’s achieved the highest honor possible for any actor.
7 Celebrities Who Rebuilt Failed Careers