Breakouts that broke down

Ghostrider_lI was scanning through the armpit of my cable last night, and I came upon Ghost Rider, that very lamentable Nicolas Cage movie of last year. You remember: It came out in February and made a fortune, but no one you know will admit to have seeing it? That’s the one.

Anyway, I’m watching and who should pop on screen but Wes Bentley (pictured), who broke out so memorably as the plastic-bag-filming teen in American Beauty and then promptly fizzled away into the entertainment ether… only to pop up as a clich├ęd demonic villain in a shoddy comic book flick. And it got me thinking about other breakouts that broke down: other movie stars that made a big splash, showed incredible promise, and then ended up in bargain-bin fodder.

I’ll give you two more: Chris O’Donnell (he of Scent of a Woman and Batman & Robin, and not much since, besides some TV guest gigs) and Mira Sorvino (who won an Oscar in ’96 for Mighty Aphrodite and then slipped off the map after 1999’s Summer of Sam, popping up most recently in an episode of House).

Who else do you think fits the bill? Who lit up the sky for a brief, shining moment and promptly disappear before their true potential could be realized?

addCredit(“Ghost Rider: Jason Boland”)

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  • Nose

    Wes Bentley’s co-star Thora Birch has not been in too many mainstream projects. She is a great talent. I also never understood why Bradley Cooper from Alias/Kitchen Confidential never broke through to superstar status. He’s got the leading man looks and talent to match.

  • Winona

    Gretchen Mol pops in my head for this one.

  • Ceballos

    Actually, Nose, I’d go with another one of Bentley’s “Beauty” co-stars.
    Mena Suvari had “American Beauty” AND “American Pie” in the same year, and I thought she was very good in each (excellent in “Beauty” actually). So, although she was solid in “Six Feet Under” for a bit, to see her pretty much drop off the map since then (“Loser”, “Rumor Has it”) has been disappointing.
    I’d also add Alicia Silverstone’s name to the mix. Though her fall isn’t as precipitous as Suvari, I still don’t think she has the career she probably should have given how good she was in “Clueless” and how popular she was in the 90s.
    That just shows you it’s just tough (for actresses, especially) to keep their careers hot and relevant for an extended period.

  • amah

    Shannyn Sossamon(sp)? She was in a couple of Heath Ledger movies in the early ’00s, and then that was it. She seemed/s like a cool chick to me!

  • keiren63

    I think of the ones who got a HUGE publicity push and then never really panned out: Gretchen Mol on the cover of Vanity Fair when she’d done darned near nothing because they were convinced that she was the next big thing; waaay back when, Michael Pare had three movies in a row and everyone told us he’d be the next big star and he just fizzled into B-Movie land. And I would argue that although he works and gets magazine covers, Matthew MacConaughey has never once shown himself to be the huge talented A-list Paul Newman-like star that we’re constantly told he is. He’ll work forever…but he won’t be a star who is remembered…he’ll be the Gig Young of his generation!

  • Nose

    Yeah, Ceballos, you’re right. She sort of disappeared after American Beauty. It must be difficult to be a 20-something female actor in Hollywood these days, if for no other reason than parts in movies are being given to the likes of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson.

  • keiren63

    The thing to do is to look at the old Vanity Fair covers Annie Liebovitz shot of young Hollywood…who the mag thought was important that year. Interesting to see who is the star they thought they’d be (Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman) and who isn’t (Jada Pinkett-Smith, Brittany Murphy, Claire Forlani). A couple of the covers feature a pile of actors in the “where are they now” category.

  • kana

    Alicia Silverstone! good call Ceballos.

  • paige

    anybody remember that kid from Free Willy?

  • Sarah

    You know, I this occasionally pops up in my mind when the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue comes up. I’m going to have to go with:
    Julia Ormond: remember, everyone made such a big deal about her being in a bunch of movies with her in the central love triangle (Legends of the Fall, First Knight, Sabrina) and they all ended up sucking.
    Leelee Sobieski: “Ooh, she looks like Helen Hunt” but turned out to be insufferably annoying
    Stephen Dorff: I don’t get him. Why do I even know his name?

  • Anonymous

    Of course as already mentioned… Gretchen Mol, that was just ridiculous. She had one movie coming out and they started refering to her as the next Grace Kelly.
    Brad Rowe-Anyone.
    Who is Alison Lohman
    There is a long list of folks who have stuck around and I wish wouldn’t–Kate Bosworth, Matthew McCoughaney (however you spell it) and Kate Hudson.

  • Ron Mwangaguhunga

    Shelley Long, Skeet Ulrich …

  • Tony

    Alicia Silverstone got killed by Batman and Robin also. Excess Baggage, which came out later that year, was terrible as well.
    Luckily George Clooney made it out of that trainwreck alive (Arnold and Uma Thurman were pretty well established by then, so they were able to weather a clunker)

  • Anonymous

    Your publicist can only do so much before people starting figuring out that you have no talent.

  • Laura M

    There is a long list of “hot, young starlets” that quickly fizzle because they weren’t that talented to begin with.
    But if you want to talk about two brilliant, truly talented actors that made a splash and then inexplicably disappeared, how about F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce, who were both nominated for Oscars for their brilliant performances in “Amadeus” (Abraham won), and then after that their careers just went nowhere. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

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