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All that is needed is a rise and a fall
August 30, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered why your favourite movie star is now in straight-to-video hell? What the hell happened? is a series of articles about the career ups and (mostly) downs of contemporary actors, actresses and directors who were once Hollywood stars (but who stumbled at one point) or serious contenders for stardom (but who did not make it). While the articles are made of known material and rather-matter-of-fact ("...but it got terrible reviews and bombed at the box office"), they offer a singular perspective on what it takes to reach the A-list and stay on it. posted by elgilito (176 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd love to see the 5 word versions of these. Or one word, in Christian Slater's case. "Cocaine".
posted by Nelson at 10:32 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see the 5 word versions of these. Or one word, in Christian Slater's case. "Cocaine".

Challenge accepted.

John Travolta: Scientology.
Lindsay Lohan: Drugs.
Cuba Gooding Jr. Snow Dogs.
Jim Carrey: Jenny McCarthy.
Steven Seagal: Vladimir Putin.
Nicolas Cage: Nicolas Cage.

Ok, your turn.
posted by Fizz at 10:39 AM on August 30 [46 favorites]


Half of these actors will be in the next Expendables movie.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:39 AM on August 30 [12 favorites]


I could read this kind of thing with mingled fascination and horror for hours. Occasionally, I will spot someone in a movie and think, "Hey, it's been a while since I have seen anything with _____ in it." Then I look at IMDB and sometimes goggle. A couple of months ago I saw a DVD of the 2000 TV movie Fail Safe and did this with Richard Dreyfuss. The guy became famous when I was a kid, in American Graffiti and Jaws, and for two decades, rarely a year went past didn't see him in something or other. Then looking at his filmography, I realized we had parted ways at The American President in 1995; since then he has done 37 movies and three TV series, all of which had evaded my notice. Same thing with Virginia Madsen. Between Dune in 1984 and Sideways in 2004 she had 59 credited roles and I saw zero of them, so far as I know. I knew who she was all that time, though -- I wonder what the half-life of celebrity is.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:40 AM on August 30


Nelson: "I'd love to see the 5 word versions of these."

For most of the actresses the answer is probably: "Turned 35. Phone stopped ringing."
posted by octothorpe at 10:43 AM on August 30 [102 favorites]


This site makes me sad.
posted by mazola at 10:47 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Hang on, Arnold Schwarzenegger needs an article? Come on, these are as much about the perception of fame as anything else. Sure, a bunch of these people stuck a lot of toot up their nose. And sure, a few of the actors just got old. But a lot of these are just guesswork based on an approximation of what happened, illustrated with quotes from wikipedia.
posted by The River Ivel at 10:50 AM on August 30 [8 favorites]


I'd love to see the 5 word versions of these.

Or, y'know, a one-page version. Most of them read like a fleshed-out "and then they made" filmography, rather than any sort of "here's why you don't see them anymore" report.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:55 AM on August 30 [41 favorites]


Octothorpe, my thoughts exactly re almost ALL the women.

Also Two-Word Wesley Snipes: Bleeping IRS or (YMMV) Bad Accounting

Perusing the list, my first thought was, "Some of these [Kevin Costner] are not still A-list?" But then again, I guess I'm so "old" that when Ryan Reynolds said in an interview he liked "old-timey" movies I thought he meant Chaplin.

He meant 1960s Jack Lemmon.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:55 AM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Or, y'know, a one-page version.

Pro-Tip: There's an "OK so what happened?" summary on the last page for every actor.
posted by slater at 11:00 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Fame's a fickle beast: as much as one tries to tame it, popularity in return can end up corralling and harnessing them.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:01 AM on August 30


This is dreck. What the hell happened to Robin Williams? You mean besides the fact that some of his performances from the end of his career are considered his best? What the hell happened to Lindsay Lohan? Do we really need to rehash her story again? What the hell happened to Rick Moranis? He fucking retired.
posted by item at 11:06 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


The actor that really makes me sad is John Vernon. He's dead now, but when he was younger he was in some pretty decent movies. At the end he was reduced to being foul-mouthed in crap like Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:09 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Wesley Snipes: Bleeping IRS or (YMMV) Bad Accounting

He went full Sovereign Citizen insane. I think you might need to calibrate your odometer if you think that is YMMV country.
posted by srboisvert at 11:09 AM on August 30 [8 favorites]


Oh man, I am definitely the target audience for these, and I was prepared to spend the entire day reading through the archive, but the artless writing and the "and then this happened and then this happened" format made me abandon the first one halfway through.

I'd love to read Anne Helen Peterson's version of these articles.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:09 AM on August 30 [27 favorites]


randomly chose the Billy Zane one and found this paragraph toward the end:

As Zane pointed out, his financial situation with his large alimony payments forced him to work steadily. He wasn’t in a position to be picky about what direction his career took. Sure, committing to a crappy horror movie pays the bills. But it also means you aren’t available if a better offer comes along. Zane was jumping from one project to the next which rarely leads to good career choices.

I suspect this dynamic is all too common.
posted by philip-random at 11:11 AM on August 30 [12 favorites]




Yeah, I am with Ian A.T. on this one. My earlier enthusiasm was based on the concept. The execution is perilously close to the one-photo-per-page page-view-driven approach that costs me tooth enamel regularly. There is the occasional YouTube gem showing some actor on a soap at 23, but by and large no one needs a line-by-line recap of Tom Berenger's career.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:15 AM on August 30


As they say on The Flop House:

"This guy's in a lot of crap."
"Oh, you mean 'a working actor'."
posted by benito.strauss at 11:16 AM on August 30 [14 favorites]


There also needs to be "studios decided that someone else would be the one black actor that gets all the roles."
posted by bibliowench at 11:26 AM on August 30 [16 favorites]


I'd rather know what I have to do to drag certain people OFF the A-list so they'll never headline a film again.

ADAM SANDLER I AM LOOKING AT YOU.

INTENTLY.
posted by delfin at 11:35 AM on August 30 [39 favorites]


I'd rather know what I have to do to drag certain people OFF the A-list so they'll never headline a film again.

Easy solution: stop watching their movies.
posted by Fizz at 11:36 AM on August 30


I don't think Colin Farrell went away, so much as rebounded from his string of high profile flops by focusing on indie and genre stuff. It's as though he saw his career going down the same path that Alec Baldwin's did and decided he didn't want to wait to get paunchy and grey before becoming a character actor.

The best Colin Farrell story ever is that supposedly his full-frontal nude scene from A Home at the End of the World had to be cut because he was so well-endowed that preview audiences completely stopped watching the movie to engage in shocked holyfuckingshitdidyouseethat conversations.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:38 AM on August 30 [15 favorites]


Easy solution: stop watching their movies.

I'm doing my part.
posted by mazola at 11:38 AM on August 30 [11 favorites]


Half of these actors will be in the next Expendables movie.

If they are lucky. Usually Dancing with the Stars or local dinner theater.

What happened? Actors are cheap and disposable -- stands-ins for the audience who fantasize about being in their shoes until said stand-ins start looking rather used and have too many scandals plaguing them...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:39 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see them do Chris Tucker. There are some nasty rumors that Tucker stopped working regularly out of some combination of insane salary demands and near illiteracy, but I always found the latter of those fairly hard to believe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:41 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what Nicolas Cage is doing here. His career continues as it has for decades: a blockbuster once in a while, occasionally working with an A-list director on a serious film, and mountains of schlock that's a lot more watchable with him in it than it would be without.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:46 AM on August 30 [24 favorites]


I'd love to see the 5 word versions of these. Or one word, in Christian Slater's case. "Cocaine".

Thora Birch: creepy ex-pornstar dad
Chevy Chase: He's an asshole.
Mike Myers: Hello? The Love Guru?
posted by jonp72 at 11:51 AM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Or should I simply repeat Bill Murray's withering putdown of Chevy Chase: "Medium talent!"
posted by jonp72 at 11:52 AM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Mike Myers is also an asshole.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:53 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Reading pages 1 and 8 (or Last) is usually go enough to get the picture here. Fortunately. (Page one because I don't usually have any idea where actors got their first roles.)
posted by small_ruminant at 11:54 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Mike Myers: Hurricane Katrina
posted by notyou at 11:55 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I was expecting something more like the Lainey Gossip Career Prospectus entries than what that actually turned out to be.
posted by immlass at 11:57 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


As others have said some of these choices are odd. I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Dude was the biggest star in the world for a couple decades and then become the governor of the biggest and richest state in the United States (and 7th largest economy in the world!). And now he makes this list because it's tough to be an action star when you're pushing 70?

Jesus that's rough. But I'm pretty sure Arnold is still doing okay what with his fame and political connects and hundreds of millions of dollars.
posted by Justinian at 12:00 PM on August 30 [8 favorites]


Ralph Macchio looks nothing like he did when he was younger. I wouldn't have recognized him.

Also, now I feel the need to go watch My Cousin Vinny again.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:02 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Count me as another person who theoretically should find this type of project really interesting, but is disappointed in the "then they did this, then they did that" approach the author takes in place of any real throughtful analysis.

Also, a couple of the choices of people to include in this project have a distinct "one of these things is not like the others" feel. I'm not sure it makes sense to include Reese Witherspoon, who may have fallen slightly from her peak as the absolute "it" actress of the moment, but is still a huge star, in the same list that includes people like Mira Sorvino, Mena Suvari, or Linda Hamilton who seem to have actually fallen off the face of the Earth. If not eternally maintaining the position of biggest star in the world is enough to be included in this project, might as well throw Julia Roberts in too, since she isn't as big as she was during the height of "Pretty Woman".
posted by The Gooch at 12:04 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Apparently, what happened to all these people was a tedious slog through uninteresting facts over several needless pages.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:04 PM on August 30 [24 favorites]


Chrysostom: "Mike Myers is also an asshole."

He's also probably got enough money to never have to work again. That's probably the story with quite a few people on this list.
posted by octothorpe at 12:05 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


The Fickle Camera films; and, having filmed,
Moves on...
posted by Bromius at 12:05 PM on August 30 [11 favorites]


I feel like he really dropped the ball on the Winona Ryder shoplifting thing.
posted by newdaddy at 12:13 PM on August 30


For most of the actresses the answer is probably: "Turned 35. Phone stopped ringing."

I think Bridget Fonda retired from acting, because she's happily married to Danny Elfman, who has more money than God because of all his soundtrack work. So unless Bridget gets kidnapped by some disgruntled former members of Oingo Boingo, I think she's doing OK.
posted by jonp72 at 12:18 PM on August 30 [12 favorites]


Yeah, some of these don't make much sense in terms of the "crash and burn" gimmick. What happened to Jennifer Jason Leigh is a long career of consistently compelling performances in interesting movies. And jude law? Really?
posted by batfish at 12:20 PM on August 30 [10 favorites]


I was expecting something more like the Lainey Gossip Career Prospectus

Oh my god, thank you for that link. I was afraid that after What The Hell Happened To didn't work out for me, I'd be forced to actually go outside today.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:21 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


This is dreck. What the hell happened to Robin Williams? You mean besides the fact that some of his performances from the end of his career are considered his best? What the hell happened to Lindsay Lohan? Do we really need to rehash her story again? What the hell happened to Rick Moranis? He fucking retired.

I dunno, dude. The only thing I'd heard about Robin Williams lately is that he killed himself. I'm only vaguely aware of who Lindsay Lohan is. And I had no idea Rick Moranis was retired. Though the article actually lays it out in a sweeter manner.

It seems folks are expecting What the hell happened? to be a snarky point-and-laugh fest, and are insulted/disappointed when someone presumably undeserving shows up on the list.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:24 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Then in this year he made this movie. Then in THIS year, he made THIS movie.
Page (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) 7 (8) (9)
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:26 PM on August 30 [26 favorites]


It's disturbing how many of these stories I knew from a combination of active reading and osmosis.
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


It felt like reading a padded out book report that should have been 2 pages but the teacher demanded 8, except in this case the teacher and the kid writing it are the same person.

i feel like that is a fairly terrible analogy but i'm so mad from having slogged through 3 whole entries in search of a single defining moment of career tanking and finding fuck all instead
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 PM on August 30 [22 favorites]


It seems folks are expecting What the hell happened? to be a snarky point-and-laugh fest, and are insulted/disappointed when someone presumably undeserving shows up on the list.

No, it's more like reading a headline that suggests a reveal of insider/little-known information and then finding out it's just a bunch of stuff copied from a wikipedia article.
posted by elizardbits at 12:29 PM on August 30 [20 favorites]


It quickly becomes tedious to read. Never thought I would prefer the hypothetical Buzzfeed version of anything but now I do.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:34 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


It seems folks are expecting What the hell happened? to be a snarky point-and-laugh fest, and are insulted/disappointed when someone presumably undeserving shows up on the list.

No, actually. We expected it to be articles on what the hell happened, not boring multi-page recaps of an actor's career with no new insights into their exit from the public eye.
posted by graymouser at 12:34 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


God Damn why won't Kevin Costner's career just END already. What exactly do i have to whack with a shovel to put it terminally in the grave?
posted by edgeways at 12:38 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Suprised at lack of Harrison Ford.
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Was hoping to see Minnie Driver, who I saw recently in Good Will Hunting and went, "Oh yeah, whatever happened to her?"

Looks like she's getting consistent gigs but she's off the radar compared to the buzz she used to generate.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:42 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Half of these actors will be in the next Expendables movie.

They weren't, and as bad as Expendables III was I kind of doubt there will be a IV.
posted by localroger at 12:43 PM on August 30


Awwww.... Martin Lawrence... It's a shame he's a crazy person with questionable taste in material. I always thought he had untapped talent, like if maybe a writer/director had crafted a vehicle specifically for him, a la PT Anderson's Adam Sandler movie Punch Drunk Love, it could have been great.

Don't get me wrong: Martin Lawrence movies are terrible. But I attribute that to choices in material. Because even in garbage like Big Momma's House he had moments where he had this sort of irresistible ability to (borrowing Vonnegut's description of Laurel & Hardy) "bargain in good faith with destiny." Like he'd be dressed as his crush's grandma and in bed with her snuggling as Grandma and grandaughter, ending up with an erection. Terrible scene, awful joke. But there was something in his desperate attempts to be positive and make the best of things, even in that dumbass scenario managing a sort of frantic "If I try, I can work with this" vibe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:43 PM on August 30


I am really upset that the Steve Guttenberg entry peters out with "oh well that's it i guess" instead of pointing to his amazing appearance on Party Down, where A) he plays himself, and B) he is suddenly INSANELY jacked
posted by Greg Nog at 12:46 PM on August 30 [20 favorites]


I feel like I could do five word summaries off the top of my head due to my terrifying knowledge of trivial gossip and IMDB records
posted by The Whelk at 12:48 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


(like no mention of Dunst's public drinking issues? It was everywhere for a while, pre-rehab)
posted by The Whelk at 12:49 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Rick Moranis's is simple and sad: beloved wife died; went home to raise his kids.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:51 PM on August 30 [13 favorites]




For most of the actresses the answer is probably: "Turned 35. Phone stopped ringing."


I agree with this except I think it's more like 28.
posted by sweetkid at 1:10 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I feel like I could do five word summaries off the top of my head due to my terrifying knowledge of trivial gossip and IMDB records

Challenge accepted.

Leelee Sobieski: Read that awful 9/11 poem
posted by The Gooch at 1:12 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


The dryness of the presentation is something I do appreciate here. I often ask myself the "what the hell happened to X" question and I go to the IMDB or Wikipedia for answers, but this is the first time I've been able to visualize how a series of consecutive high profile failures can sink a movie career, which seems a common pattern. Indeed, having to browse through several pages of box office failures drives the point home... For instance, the dismal post-Working Girl career of Melanie Griffith was mysterious to me, because, as far as I was concerned, Shining through and A stranger among us were good, interesting movies: they were well received where I live (a place where critics found Griffith's acting "magnificent" in the latter movie) and I was unaware of how badly they fared in the US, both critically and at the box-office.
posted by elgilito at 1:21 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Val Kilmer: consumed with desire to make Baker Eddy biopic.
posted by The Whelk at 1:26 PM on August 30


It also seems like this blog missed some of the more interesting stories, like how Peter Weller retired from acting to become a history professor at Syracuse University.
posted by jonp72 at 1:34 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


(like no mention of Dunst's public drinking issues? It was everywhere for a while, pre-rehab)

I think I read that some high-profile indie projects ended up never getting made, because Dunst would get cold feet and back out. I heard there was a Shaggs biopic and also a potential Todd Haynes project that just never happened, because Dunst was the starpower and she backed out.
posted by jonp72 at 1:36 PM on August 30


I was under the impression that no one was really A list anymore. Something about the money drying up.

Johnny Depp, I suppose - but surely he's had his share of stinkers, no? Lone Ranger? Dark Shadows? (Even with A lister Angelina Jolie in the Tourist, which disappointed its backers.)

Mind you, the whole star thing is arguably the enemy of drama anyway. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy and admire a Val Kilmer performance as much as the next cineaste, but bravura acting (Kevin Spacey) can get a bit - intrusive. Even annoying. Like Barbara Streisand holding the damn note forever or Whitney Houston going for that pointless yodeling. The lovely Shakespeare in Love is sadly diminished for having la Paltrow sharing top billing, and made risible by having her then boyfriend along for the ride. But- the producers wanted name brands!

Tough breaks, though. Proof that all would-be artists should have a back-up plan. One of my favorite Show Biz stories is of the kid who did the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and used the proceeds to go to veterinary school. Will deliver foals for food.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:36 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure what to think about most of these when the last page of many of these articles sounds pretty successful financially and socially compared to most of my job prospects throughout my life. Except for maybe the botched plastic surgery.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:37 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Will Daniel Radcliffe become a huge star? Or will he flame out? So far he's moving forward based on momentum from Harry Potter. Will he become A-list and transcend that?

Whaddye think?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:41 PM on August 30


I do these weird deep dives from time to time on actors who fell out of the spotlights. So, far the most prurient thing I've found out is that Max Wright (Willie from ALF) was in a video smoking crack.
posted by reenum at 1:41 PM on August 30


Yeah, some of these don't make much sense in terms of the "crash and burn" gimmick.

To be fair, he does address that with some of these. After enumerating a few decades of work, multiple Emmys, an Oscar, and becoming a parent, one ends:
So what the hell happened? Helen Hunt started working as a child, paid her dues for decades, succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and then decided to raise a family. Around here, that’s what we call a happy ending.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:02 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]




And for all this guy's bland and prolix style, he makes several references to another site, notstarring.com, which is bland and terse:
Kiefer Sutherland
Roles turned down by Kiefer Sutherland:

The Age of Innocence
Kiefer Sutherland turned down the role of Newland.
Actor who got the part: Daniel Day-Lewis
I am not sure that is better.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:10 PM on August 30


Will Daniel Radcliffe become a huge star? Or will he flame out? So far he's moving forward based on momentum from Harry Potter. Will he become A-list and transcend that?

Whaddye think?


He was okay in Harry Potter and the Haunted Causeway, not got around to Harry Potter and the Beat Generation yet.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


as bad as Expendables III was I kind of doubt there will be a IV

And yet you saw it. When has how bad a movie is ever determined whether a sequel will be made? As long as enough people paid to see III, there will be a IV.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:23 PM on August 30


I actually liked Crossroads. The Ralph Macchio one, that is. So did a lot of my friends at the time, but lots of them were aspiring musicians.
posted by jonmc at 2:26 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Wesley Snipes: Bleeping IRS or (YMMV) Bad Accounting

I have long worshipped at the church of the Holy Trinity (Snipes, Seagal and Statham) and was fairly completest about each at some point (pity me). Snipes' films pretty much fell off in terms of success from 2002 while the IRS issues didn't really kick off until 2006. Even the trajectory to 2002 was somewhat lucky, the result of the first two films of the Blade franchise being better than expected, its kind of spawny to 'discover' Guillermo del Toro.
posted by biffa at 2:30 PM on August 30


As long as enough people paid to see III, there will be a IV.

It was leaked online a full month before the theatrical release. Everyone interested in seeing it saw it for free.
posted by elizardbits at 2:37 PM on August 30


There are some decent flashes of snark here and there. From Val Kilmer's entry:
Willow started as an idea George Lucas had in the early 70s. He originally called it Munchkins which probably gives you some idea of how developed the concept was at the time. I’m guessing Lucas had scribbled “Rip of Tolkein, Cast little person” on a napkin next to his other great ideas like “Rocker chick has sex with talking duck”.
But a lot of this stuff is poorly sourced (if at all). I'm pretty sure that much of the Kilmer entry comes from an old article from Premiere magazine, but who knows?

And I'm really not sure why this is even a question, since even when there's no direct evidence of self-destruction (I remember reading about Kilmer's out-of-control ego and picking fights with directors some time ago), it's just not that likely that someone will have a very long or successful career acting in the movies or TV. I think I first realized this when I was considering the post-Star Trek careers of its principal actors. Shatner and Nimoy have rarely been out of work, but the rest, not so much. Yeah, typecasting is a thing--most of DeForest Kelley's non-McCoy roles are either before TOS or very shortly thereafter--but that didn't stop Shatner or Nimoy from doing non-Trek work.

I think a lot of it simply comes down to there being so big of a supply of actors that the odds just aren't very good for someone to not be considered too old or too fat or too difficult to work with or too prone to addictions or someone who only gets work because they're buddies with Director X, if the people who make casting decisions remember you at all. Unless you've got enough fans that a sufficient number of people will come to a movie just because you're in it to at least let the film break even, there's always going to be someone of your type who's cheaper and/or easier to work with and/or less obviously damaged goods.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:43 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Inspired by Rhaomi, here's a charming film exploring the lives and working trajectories of modern character actors:

That Guy... Who Was in That Thing (2012)

Includes my celluloid love objects Bruce Davison and Zeljko Ivanek.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:56 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I'd love this site if the write-ups were a page long. I was curious whatever happened to Michael Biehn, but I clicked on the link and the article just went on and on and on. It was interesting reading, but damn, I don't care about the guy THAT much!

I had an idea for a site like this, years ago. I remember looking up Patrick Swayze's IMDB page for work (don't ask) and seeing that he had gone from being an A-lister to fading away seemingly overnight. It wasn't like he had two or three bombs, then a failed TV series, etc. It was like, hit, hit, hit, something you never ever heard of, something direct to DVD, and then a long patch of obscurity until Donnie Darko.

Look up Brad Dourif's IMDB sometime. It's fascinating to watch that guy's rise and fall and rise and fall, fame-wise. It's like every five years or so Hollywood remembers what a compelling weirdo he is and he gets a rather high-profile part, and then he gets some decent gigs for a while before the slow descent begins anew.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:01 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


as bad as Expendables III was I kind of doubt there will be a IV

And yet you saw it.


Well, I didn't really expect the series to drop in quality so quickly; the first two were good popcorn fun. I won't be seeing IV in a theatre. And it was a very expensive movie. Needlessly expensive, really, to keep flogging its central joke.
posted by localroger at 3:06 PM on August 30


He was okay in Harry Potter and the Haunted Causeway

Hey, I was late to work twice because they were filming that.
posted by localroger at 3:09 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


"But I'm pretty sure Arnold is still doing okay what with his fame and political connects and hundreds of millions of dollars."
He might be doing OK, but it doesn't necessarily remove the need for the career slide.

Some actors retire, some just fade away, and some go full-on Lost In Translation and make ads for TV down under flogging real estate websites
posted by Pinback at 3:09 PM on August 30


I mean an awful lot of these are "acting is hard so they stopped to raise a family/do chairty work/get into politics/etc."
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on August 30


And some just end up signing nerd shit for a living.
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


until an alien race bases its civilization on your show and takes you to SPACE
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on August 30 [15 favorites]


Just recently I was wondering hey whatever happened to Laura Kightlinger? and she's a producer! and writer! And Documentary filmmaker! And on twitter! And engaged to Jack Black for a while!
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


I think Seagal's fade may have less to do with his association with Putin than his association with Sheriff Arpaio.


For me, this thread is redeemed by the following remark: "...or Whitney Houston going for that pointless yodeling." Thank you, IndigoJones.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:32 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


So unless Bridget gets kidnapped by some disgruntled former members of Oingo Boingo, I think she's doing OK.

"We have your wife. Pay us ONE SNILLION DOLLARS or we will leave her body and soul at the door. Disgruntledly, the Oingo Boingo Liberation Army."

I'm more fascinated by all this than is seemly (why yes that is both volumes of Hollywood Babylon on my shelves) but if it demonstrates anything it's A) how few actors become "stars" at all; B) how hard it is to stay a star; and C) the degree to which being a star is a matter of luck.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:40 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


If you want to talk possibly surpoous Golden Age Hollywood gossip then we have to talk about Scotty Bower's book* - like I don't care if it's real, it's insane enough to be read as a RP Slashfic about 1940s Hollywood were everyone is paired with everyone.

*Gore Vidal said it was mostly true WHY WOULD HE LIE**

**I am currently reading a very catty book about Gore VIdal's sex life. So many hustlers! So. Many.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on August 30 [8 favorites]


I refuse to believe the story about Charles Laughton in The Whelk's link. REFUSE.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:06 PM on August 30


Jesus. At least 50% of these celebrities are not "fallen" -- they're just adults.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:07 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Umm? Liam Neeson?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:21 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Someone kidnapped his daughter.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:22 PM on August 30 [11 favorites]


I am currently reading a very catty book about Gore VIdal's sex life

Goooo on?
posted by Ber at 4:27 PM on August 30


Liam Neeson is getting pretty consistent work, even if it's not Oscar worthy.

Randy Quaid, though? That is a Pulitzer opportunity, and not even in a voyeuristic way.

From Wikipedia:
On October 22, 2010, Quaid and his wife sought protection under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, after being arrested in the Kerrisdale neighborhood of Vancouver. They have since applied for refugee status on the grounds that they fear for their lives in the United States, claiming that numerous actors have died under mysterious circumstances committed by the "Hollywood star whackers". They were granted bail on the condition of $10,000 bond pending further Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearings.[28] However, due to their failure to deposit the required bond with the court for several days, they remained in custody of the Canada Border Services Agency. They were released on October 27 after the discovery that Evi Quaid is a "prima facie Canadian citizen". On July 15, 2011 an attempt to extradite Randy and Evi Quaid from Canada failed when the U.S. Department of Justice turned down a request from the Santa Barbara County district attorney calling for the Quaids to be returned to California to face the felony burglary charges dating from the September 2010 incident. As a result, if Quaid and his wife re-enter the United States, they will be arrested. In January 2013, Canadian immigration officials denied Randy Quaid's request for permanent resident status in Canada while leaving open the option to challenge this decision in federal court.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:30 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Steve Guttenberg never recovered from the Stonecutters withdrawing their support.
posted by ckape at 4:30 PM on August 30 [17 favorites]




Winona Ryder has a big role in Turks and Caicos, the second installment of David Hare's (superb) spy trilogy with Bill Nighy and a lot of big names in the supporting cast. In her first couple of scenes I'm thinking, damn, she's still pretty but gaunt and high-strung and she moves her head too much and frankly I'm worried about her. Then halfway through the episode we start to understand her character and I realize that she's playing it flawlessly.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:09 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


These little bios are quite interesting, but really terrible page layout, and some "uh, I'm not quite dead yet?"

The actor that really makes me sad is John Vernon. He's dead now, but when he was younger he was in some pretty decent movies. At the end he was reduced to being foul-mouthed in crap like Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Ah, John Vernon, a classic actor. So maybe 'Killer Klowns' wasn't quite on a 'Point Blank' level, but it was reasonably entertaining as a late-nite stoner flick, and Vernon brought his unique gravitas in his role as the stoic defender of social order in a world beset by an inexplicable chaos.
posted by ovvl at 5:15 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Goooo on?

In Bed With Gore Vidal
posted by The Whelk at 5:29 PM on August 30


Jesse the K: "Includes my celluloid love objects Bruce Davison and Zeljko Ivanek."

I remember seeing Davison in The Lathe of Heaven in '80 and thinking that he'd be a big star.
posted by octothorpe at 5:37 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I think Bridget Fonda retired from acting, because she's happily married to Danny Elfman, who has more money than God because of all his soundtrack work. So unless Bridget gets kidnapped by some disgruntled former members of Oingo Boingo, I think she's doing OK

Being rich is great, but that doesn't negate the unpleasantness of being forced out of your chosen field of work because of sexism.

I don't know the specifics of Fonda's situation. Maybe she could've had a career into her middle age, like... uh...
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:57 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Maybe she could've had a career into her middle age, like... uh...

Meryl Streep? Diane Keaton? Julia Roberts? Sandra Bullock? Susan Sarandon? Glenn Close? I mean, age-casting for female roles is brutal (see Sally Field as the mother of Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump as an example) but the idea that actresses are just tossed aside like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard is as dated as the cars in that film.
posted by graymouser at 6:16 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


Maybe she could've had a career into her middle age, like... uh...

Her aunt?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:16 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Jane Fonda took a long time off. Fifteen years between Stanley and Iris and Monster-in-law
posted by octothorpe at 6:21 PM on August 30


Part of Bridget Fonda's problem is that she's not a terribly good actress.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:52 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Val Kilmer: consumed with desire to make Baker Eddy biopic.

I totally read that as "Buddy Ebsen biopic," and was surprisingly disappointed when I realized my error.
posted by scody at 7:53 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


I in turn some how entangled those two sentences and got Eddie Albert, which raises the essential question of why we haven't seen a feature film remake of "Green Acres".

I didn't know about the Mary Baker Eddy thing, and it prompted me to find and read this, and oh, how I wish I hadn't. Put it this way, the state of his career is a bit less mysterious to me now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:14 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Maybe she could've had a career into her middle age, like... uh...

Add Julianne Moore and Tilden Swinton to the list, though I do agree with the sentiment and would like to see the middle-aged actress black hole vanish.
posted by item at 8:26 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


In Bed With Gore Vidal

Well, that title is to the point. OK, found it on Amazon and eventually it'll find its way to the iPad.
posted by Ber at 8:34 PM on August 30


Man I had no idea the bloom was off the Orlando these days.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:44 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Mostly I just wanted to say that though obvi
posted by en forme de poire at 8:49 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was looking forward to an interesting examination of actors who never quite hit the big time after some early promise (e.g. the two I read, Jason Patric and Phoebe Cates, both of whom I thought I knew the answer to 'why not them?') and instead was a litany of 'then this film, which critics had [x] reaction but did poorly at the box office'. The writing has way too little personality, and the final paragraph summary at the end of several pages is devoid of anything even resembling insight.

I mean, for Jason Patric, he seems to have a fairly consistent if not particularly illustrious career, but things such as his acting mostly in only a couple of big movies, a four year gap of information on his performances, and the hint here and there that he might be too comfortable being blunt about his co-workers is boiled down to 'he doesn't seem to want to be a star, I guess?'

As suggested above, Anne Helen Petersen would have knocked these out of the park. Instead this is a good idea executed so very dully.

And yes, the list is somewhat flawed, with a lot of names I'd agree with, but also including several actors who did make it really big but just didn't stay there for decades. Fame is somewhat subjective, but no-one is wondering what happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger, or thinking he had potential that was left untapped.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:01 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Oh poire, that was both sublime and terrible. Well done :)

In Bed With Gore Vidal

Y hallo thar nitemare fuel.

I think there are probably many more actresses working in big name/mainstream films and TV who are middle aged, we just don't notice because they are so pressured to look/play younger. Goldie Hawn (whatever you think of her talents) should be added to the list. Judi Densch, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith have all had extremely steady work throughout their careers. (With, obviously, excellent reason.)

Perhaps, and I hesitate to say this, one of the reasons why we don't see so many actresses working in middle age is a different but just as insidious form of sexism: younger actresses get work based on their face and body first, and their talent second. With a certain number, once those first two are no longer seen as poster-worthy, the lack of the third is no longer excused. I want to repeat again how gross that is; in my ideal world actors would only ever be hired on the basis of talent and not on how they look in something skin-tight or low-cut. What I'm saying is I think it's sexism, but I think that maybe it starts a lot earlier; it's not "you're X age now, and you're not sexy anymore so you're done," it's more "you were hired before because you were pretty and you don't have that anymore."

Not saying that the first isn't also prevalent, at all. But I think we can all point to lots and lots of women who act brilliantly and haven't had career hiccups--I'd also need to add Madaleine Kahn, Sela Ward, Wendy Iforgetherlastname who's on Hot in Cleveland now, Julianna Margulies, Sherry Stringer, at least 2/4 of the Designing Women way back when, and obviously all four of the Golden Girls. Tina Fey, too! She has, as far as I know, never traded on sex appeal (except in those excrescent Garnier ads), and she is solidly middle-aged. Jodie Foster. Geena Davis! (Long Kiss Goodnight anyone? Criminally underrated film). Glenn Close. Anjelica Houston until (AFAIK) she basically decided to retire. Sophia Loren, who bucked the trend by being completely talent-free but still considered a sex object (which is grotesque too, don't get me wrong).

And I can't say any of that without mentioning Meryl Streep's insistence on appearing without any hair or makeup done for that one scene in Devil Wears Prada.

It's still sexist of course. Men are considered/presented as sexy for many, many more years than women are--until death, actually. See the later bits of Peter Sellers' career, for example. And that's a problem. Maybe what I'm saying is that women in film and TV are evaluated on sexy first talent second to start, and once the first isn't a guaranteed draw that's it. Men get evaluated the same way (Ryan Reynolds, Chris Pine, both the Hemsworths, Colin Farrell, etc ad nauseam), but they get to coast for a hell of a lot longer. That is Not OK.

I dunno. These are half-formed thoughts that this post made me think about, so please don't take what I am saying as "I BELIEVE THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:12 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


I just watched Dirty Dancing with my stepdaughter and was trying to explain what happened to Jennifer Grey with no luck - I was hoping to find her on the list, because yeah, she was in two huge movies in a row, got in a car accident and had the nose job and just vanished... I know she didn't look at all like herself anymore, but she still looked / looks lovely and she was so talented (I loved the sitcom in which she played herself a few years back) - what happened that no one seems to have cast her in another major movie again?
posted by Mchelly at 9:41 PM on August 30


She stopped being a sexy whateversomething she was. And if memory serves, Ferris Bueller was more of a sleeper/cult hit than a box office smash.

That's gross, of course. I think she had something significant to give, acting-wise, even if her range was pretty limited (in the same way, for example, that Brad Pitt's is limited; he's only good and/or believable when he's playing someone out on the edge, the Ocean's movies being the only exception for me).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:49 PM on August 30


Having read a few of these, and realizing I was going to do other things today, I'd rather this was just a series of checklists

[ ] terrible to work with
[ ] too many flops
[ ] got old
[ ] tastes changed
[ ] sexism
[ ] better things to do
[ ] is Steven Seagal
[ ] never that good; merely returned from form
[ ] nothing
posted by ckape at 9:53 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


Brad Pitt's is limited; he's only good and/or believable when he's playing someone out on the edge,

You take back what you said about Burn After Reading!!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:53 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


ckape. [ ] sexism accounts for many/most of the women on the list. Sadly.


yes I'll shut up now sorry
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:54 PM on August 30


I was looking forward to an interesting examination of actors who never quite hit the big time after some early promise

There's an unexamined premise to this whole discussion we should acknowledge: Anyone showing up on that list has already had 1,000 times more success than most actors will ever have in their entire careers. We're already talking about lottery winners here, so any analysis of "made it or didn't make it" is already occurring within a perverse and rarified sphere of 0.01%ism that defies sensibility.
posted by fatbird at 9:56 PM on August 30 [17 favorites]


Also, did anyone ever see Kilmer on The Daily Show? As I recall, Stewart's comment afterwards was "It's rare to see someone who's that good-looking and that crazy."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:07 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Saw an ad for this Expendables parody, a film so painfully piss-poor that the biggest washed-up actors they could get were Louis Gossett Jr and Margot Kidder.
posted by item at 10:38 PM on August 30


Ya hear that girls? You're a weathered old hag after your 29th birthday.

Now excuse me while I go fap to some "elderporn".
posted by telstar at 10:50 PM on August 30


What the hell happened to Geena Davis? Uuuh, she founded the awesome Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which does fantastic, important work. Just because she's not in a movie every year doesn't mean she's just sitting by a phone somewhere...
posted by Charity Garfein at 11:50 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


For those looking for something more analytical, the Career Prospectus articles linked to above are good reads. Thanks, immlass!
posted by Georgina at 12:40 AM on August 31


For most of the actresses the answer is probably: "Turned 35. Phone stopped ringing."

This is so true for so many actresses. One friend, now in her 50s, is wondering about a career move now that there just aren’t the roles, and a young relative is a dresser, living on minimum wage and working hugely antisocial hours. The more I hear about the theatre, the more it seems like an unenviable career for many people.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 12:49 AM on August 31


Part of Bridget Fonda's problem is that she's not a terribly good actress.

I always kind of had a fondn ... err, an appreciation for her. Doc Hollywood to Little Buddha
to Jackie Brown to The Chris Isaak Show shows a fairly impressive credible range.

(Yeah, I know, two of the movies I mentioned are your definitions of "execrable".
Well, you're wrong.)
posted by Chitownfats at 5:08 AM on August 31


Every time Jackie Brown is ever mentioned I get to think, all over again, 'holy fuck did Tarantino make an incredible movie there.' Most of the time I think Kill Bill will end up being regarded as his masterwork (Inglourious Basterds was a huge steaming cinematic turd). The rest of the time I think it should be JB. Not that his other movies aren't good, exactly, because they are. But JB has a certain je ne sais quois about it that puts it into the rarified atmosphere of Truly Great Films. Maybe it's Pam Grier, I don't know.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:28 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


(Speaking of, she should go on the list too... did a bunch of blaxploitation flicks, then a whole lot of nothing followed by JB when she was solidly middle aged, and then The L-Word which wasn't exactly an unknown TV show.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:29 AM on August 31


Most likely to one day, like for example George Segal, Beau Bridges, James Garner, Martin Sheen, end up playing a goofy grandfather on a bad to mediocre sitcom? George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Matt Dillon or Kevin Bacon? Career longevity has its downside.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:58 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Kevin Bacon content to raise horses in Connecticut until he lost like, huge chunks of money in the Madoff scandal?
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


here's an "OK so what happened?" summary on the last page for every actor.

Links to those last pages please -- don't have the time to wade through the rest.
posted by Rash at 8:51 AM on August 31


Reading the career prospectus column, I saw that the one for Kristen Stewart didn't even mention her great work in Adventureland and concluded it was speaking a language I don't really care for. But seriously, she's great in Adventureland! It's a tricky character---someone who keeps making terrible decisions even as she knows she's making terrible decisions---and Stewart makes it really human.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:17 AM on August 31


Adventureland was a modest movie but it convinced me she's The Real Deal.
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Someone please take this concept and work it into articles that aren't overlong, boring, and devoid of actual insight. (and split into 6 pages, because really?)
posted by Gordafarin at 9:35 AM on August 31


I only watched Adventureland because it was filmed at Kennywood but was suprised as how good it was.
posted by octothorpe at 9:40 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


At least for the few entries that I read, the comments sections are pretty lively and more informative than their articles. The Rick Moranis comments section includes some interesting comparisons to Christopher Lloyd and whether being typecast as a nerd was the thing that made acting unenjoyable for him. This site is better if you think of the articles as fact-laden discussion springboards rather than the main reason to visit.
posted by painquale at 9:59 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Having read a few of these, and realizing I was going to do other things today, I'd rather this was just a series of checklists

[ ] terrible to work with
[ ] too many flops
[ ] got old
[ ] tastes changed
[ ] sexism
[ ] better things to do
[ ] is Steven Seagal
[ ] never that good; merely returned from form
[ ] nothing


There have been more than a handful of people who have pretty much put the brakes on their careers by having plastic surgery that didn't go well, or changed their appearance such that audiences didn't relate to them in the same way any more. I won't name any names, as I think it's a shame. But it's true that certain traits that people connect to in others (like warmth or humor in the eyes or a whimsical smile) can be easily undone by rearranging a few facial parts.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:00 AM on August 31


Most of the time I think Kill Bill will end up being regarded as his masterwork (Inglourious Basterds was a huge steaming cinematic turd).

switch those two titles around and I'd agree with this comment wholeheartedly.

As for Jackie Brown, that remains like a glorious offering from an alt universe. The one where Tarantino gve up on cinema after the Academy ignored Pulp Fiction and instead dedicated himself to an HBO series where he adapted all of Elmore Leonard's novels.
posted by philip-random at 10:04 AM on August 31 [4 favorites]


There have been more than a handful of people who have pretty much put the brakes on their careers by having plastic surgery that didn't go well, or changed their appearance such that audiences didn't relate to them in the same way any more.

I agree, especially regarding Meg Ryan. (I know you didn't want to name names, but it's pretty much impossible to talk about her career without it.) I think the article here really overplays how much a role her fling with Russell Crowe played in ending her A-list status -- I mean, seriously, the American public was not all that traumatized by the fact that she cheated on Dennis Quaid as this makes it sound.

IRT Tarantino: Inglorious Basterds was awesome, though admittedly I was high as a kite on post-surgery Percocet when I saw it. But Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown really are forever his best.
posted by scody at 10:20 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Inglourious Basterds was a huge steaming cinematic turd

I enjoyed this movie a lot, and I think much of it has to do with Christoph Waltz. I don't know if there's ever been a scene with him that I haven't enjoyed, and I'll probably enjoy movies just because he is in it. Just thinking about the opening scene of IB with him in the farm house makes me feel nervous and makes me want to watch it again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:33 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Some people deal badly with wealth/ fame. I'll bet there are people who get a bad reputation because they screw up and/ or piss off somebody with a lot of power. Some people have stupid agents and/ or publicists. Some people have unfortunate life events or find out they hate the business. Some people have limited talent.

Some people have influential family members and get a shot, or at least a good agent. Some people people are really driven. Some people are lucky. Of those people some have talent, and it gets rewarded.

I like it when people like Steve Carrell get a shot and have a great career, because he seems like a decent person, as well as being talented. There are men like Tom Hanks, who is talented, smart, but not actually handsome, and has a terrific career. That option is generally not available to women. There are always a number of lovely young women called stars, but 10 years later, they will have been replaced, and maybe 1 or 2 is still working. I think of Hollywood as a big machine that chews up pretty people, makes movies, and lets a few people have careers. I admire someone like Drew Barrymore, who has been able to be a child star, an ingenue, and a producer. She seems to give other women opportunities.
posted by theora55 at 10:36 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I think the article here really overplays how much a role her fling with Russell Crowe played in ending her A-list status -- I mean, seriously, the American public was not all that traumatized by the fact that she cheated on Dennis Quaid as this makes it sound.

I think you are right. The article had to remind me that this was even a thing at the time. People sort of care, but for about 12 minutes and while they are standing in the check-out line at the grocery. And even then, it's often seen as par for the course in Hollywood such that most people are quick to forgive as long as the person can deliver on screen what we've come to expect from them.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:43 AM on August 31


"NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.

Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess - and, if you're lucky, an educated one."

- William Goldman, "Adventures in the Screen Trade", 1983.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:57 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


As a result, if Quaid and his wife re-enter the United States, they will be arrested. In January 2013, Canadian immigration officials denied Randy Quaid's request for permanent resident status in Canada while leaving open the option to challenge this decision in federal court.

So will Independence Day 2 be shooting in Canada then?*

*We never see the body.
posted by biffa at 11:10 AM on August 31


I enjoyed this movie a lot, and I think much of it has to do with Christoph Waltz.

He was the only shining thing about that movie. My main complaints are:

1) Asking us to believe in an alternate view of history, where nothing else changed, and isn't internally consistent.

2) Tarantino does far better work when his budgets are limited and thus so is the level of talent he can attract. He's better when he's challenged is what I'm saying; see Death Proof for the example I always end up talking about wrt him. He got Kurt bloody Russell of all people to turn in a great performance! (As a side note I've actually been curious as to what would happen if Tarantino directed Keanu Reeves... could he get something great out of a mobile piece of wood?)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:11 AM on August 31


what would happen if Tarantino directed Keanu Reeves

This is either the Best Idea In The History Of Ever or The Collapse Of Civilization As We Know It, I'm genuinely not sure which.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:16 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I mean, perhaps 'cinematic turd' was hyperbolic in comparison to big-budget film in general. But measured against the rest of Tarantino's output, it falls to the bottom by a long shot. Doesn't have the tautness of Reservoir Dogs, doesn't have the introspective slow pacing of Jackie Brown, doesn't have the overblown bazillion-cinematic-references of Kill Bill, doesn't have the freshness of Pulp Fiction, doesn't have the tension of Death Proof, and doesn't have the humour of his segments in Four Rooms or Sin City. Didn't even have the loving homage of Iron Monkey, which admittedly he produced but didn't direct, nor the grimy gangsterism of True Romance, which he wrote but didn't direct. And most definitely didn't have consistent snappy dialogue that all of his other movies have.

A smart producer who wants to make another Tarantino film would say "Your budget is only $10MM, and you are categorically not allowed to hire A-list, even if they'll work for scale." I think we'd get something lovely.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:17 AM on August 31


Reading through these, I was shocked by how many movies considered by nearly everyone I know to be "absolutely essential viewing" were described as "sleeper hits", "cult classics", or "did well on video/cable". Were our tastes really that non-mainstream at the time? Or is it just a matter that we tend to remember films like Heathers and Pump Up The Volume while forgetting about schlock like Summer Rental that make up the bulk of America's movie-watching?
posted by evil otto at 11:19 AM on August 31


After hearing about this years summer movie season flopping I went back through the last couple of decades with of top movies at the box office on Box Office Mojo. Basically you should never do that unless you want to lose all faith in art and humanity.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


> > Someone please take this concept and work it into articles that aren't overlong, boring, and devoid of actual insight.

What about taking the concept and turning it into a web-mini-series of about 6 episodes, 6 minutes long staring Illeana Douglas?
posted by K.P. at 11:24 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Didn't even have the loving homage of Iron Monkey, which admittedly he produced but didn't direct

Um, Tarantino may have had something to do with Miramax giving the film a fairly widespread distribution in the U.S. & Canada (almost a decade after it was actually made), but that movie is definitely the vision of Tsui Hark, Yuen Woo-ping, and Donnie Yen.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:30 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


What about just doing anything starring Illeana Douglas because she is awesome?

Please, Hollywood?

Or is it just a matter that we tend to remember films like Heathers and Pump Up The Volume while forgetting about schlock like Summer Rental that make up the bulk of America's movie-watching?

I think that's the nail on the head right there. The schlock hits our retinas and leaves little impression beyond that, so we forget about it and only remember the high points.

soundguy99, I was under the impression that Tarantino had exec produced the movie from the greenlight onwards. If that's not correct you can strike that phrase from my comment.

It's still a fucking awesome movie no matter who had anything to do with it
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:32 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


What, the John Candy Summer Rental? That's not that bad. Candy could make almost anything tolerable.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:34 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, fffm, I'm enough of an HK film buff that it triggered my Pedantic Mode. Plus I think Tsui Hark is one of the few people ever anywhere in film that might actually deserve the "auteur" label. But if I came across as short, I apologize.

It's still a fucking awesome movie no matter who had anything to do with it

Oh hell yes.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:40 AM on August 31


I was shocked by how many movies considered by nearly everyone I know to be "absolutely essential viewing" were described as "sleeper hits", "cult classics", or "did well on video/cable".

I also raised an eyebrow in the Winona Ryder article where Jim Jarmusch is referred to as an obscure figure known exclusively to very serious film buffs. I know he's not exactly a household name, but I don't think of him as obscure. Hmm.
posted by scody at 11:44 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


No, you weren't short. You taught me something I was completely mistaken about.

I now wish to go rent Iron Monkey again because it's been too many years. "Poison against poison! That's a brilliant treatment!" (perhaps slightly misquoted.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:45 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


It amuses me that both Helen Hunt and Leelee Sobieski are on this list.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:53 PM on August 31


One cannot mention Randy Quaid without this link.

(moderately NSFW text)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering


I have never been happier to follow the "hey, why does it say i've visited that link already?" trail.
posted by COBRA! at 1:11 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


RE: Kill Bill vs Inglorious Basterds ... I've said my piece on this before, but here it is again ...

B. I hated both Kill Bills. They had plenty of style, but ultimately no substance. And even the style wore off by the end. What a non-climax despite the forced feeding of Ennio Morricone on the soundtrack! What an utter waste of three or four hours of this film lover's life!

C. I'll go out on a limb and say Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino's best film ... and he knows it, the final line being, "I think this just might be my masterpiece." Because it manages to not just be about WW2 and having fun with reinventing the history of WW2 but it's also about cinema and propaganda and real life versus invented life, with the climactic scene in the theater being one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. (spoiler alert) German war hero and the Jewish girl are both lying dead in projection room having killed each other while out in the theater, they are both still alive on the screen, which is erupting in flames -- the last thing anyone in the theater will ever see, because they're all about to die. Meta on meta on meta.

posted by philip-random at 1:26 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


...okay, I'll give you the theatre scene and Christoph Waltz.

Everything else: total suckage because not a single element rose to the heights Tarantino had previously achieved. It's like he averaged out his previous movies, for me.

I'm not saying the movie wasn't a fun romp... but so much of Tarantino's output has been Films, it's weird and disappointing to see him do what was effectively a Summer Popcorn Flick. If that makes sense?

Also I have just realized I'm probably responsible for derailing from a discussion about how women are thrown away by Hollywood, which is a very important discussion to have, so this is my last comment about Tarantino. Apologies.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:48 PM on August 31


Oh another woman to add to the list of relatively steady work: Jamie Lee Curtis. Doubly so given the very weird trans/genderphobic rumours that have bubbled up from time to time. (I'm not saying those rumours are a good reason her career hasn't been as stellar as it should be, I'm saying that asshat Hollywood producers pay way too much attention to that sort of thing.)

Oh and Sigourney fucking Weaver. Hasn't done a lot lately, but still brilliant and definitely did some things after being Hollywood Sexy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on August 31


I miss Jamie Lee Curtis on screen. She was much better as a movie star than as a spokesperson for yogurt that helps you poop.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:30 PM on August 31 [7 favorites]


Weaver is doing theatre but also like, a victory lap in genre movies. She is the go to person for a cameo in your sci-fi/horror movie.

And I believe Jamie Lee- Curtis is a literal Countess now.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


(Weaver is the best part of the otherwise bland rom com Heartbreakers because she gets the kind of campy, "How To Marry A Millionaire" scewball character she's playing. Also that Mini-Series with Sebastian Stan playing yet another sensitive gay boy.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:21 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Oh another woman to add to the list of relatively steady work: Jamie Lee Curtis.

Amy Adams hit 40 recently (which isn't old at all, but by Hollywood standards, who knows), and she is totally coming into her stride, rather than worrying about whether she can maintain the glory days or something. She is somewhat of the opposite of this trend. She did a lot of okay movies and TV for awhile, and now she is totally hitting everything out of the park. I hope that she works forever.

There are a lot of people out there actually who didn't start to become well known until they got older, men and women. I think it's easier for men to do well later in life, which is what some of this discussion is about, but I enjoy seeing the exceptions to the trend.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:01 PM on August 31


As I cringed during the trailer for Dumb And Dumber 2 this afternoon, I thought "Why isn't Jim Carrey on this list?" Then I came back to see that he was.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:23 PM on August 31


OMG I just remembered that the condensed version of this DOES EXIST. It's the You Must Remember This podcast

It goes into ten minute or so exploration of single careers or campaigns or events and it is very well researched and Anne Helen Petersen is a frequent guest and if if this FPP intrigued you even a little then you will ADORE the Kim Novak episode, so. Go now.
posted by The Whelk at 5:19 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Oh poop the Kim Novak episode got pulled cause it used copyrighted music.
posted by The Whelk at 5:25 PM on August 31


Although Jamie Lee Curtis' husband, Christopher Guest, is a baron, apparently she herself isn't a baroness, but uses the style "Lady Haden-Guest."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 PM on August 31


Not quite. If you are a woman and you are married to an English baron, you are automatically a baroness. Choosing the style of 'Lady' isn't unusual, but it doesn't change your title. A lot of women of various noble ranks use 'Lady.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:59 PM on August 31


e.g. Lady Whatever, who is Duchess of Somewhere. Indeed, Christopher styles himself Lord Haden-Guest. wiki. Bonus points for using flaunches in their COA, which isn't terribly common.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:09 PM on August 31


yogurt that helps you poop

wait i thought it was to help you stop pooping
posted by elizardbits at 10:35 AM on September 1


Sigourney Weaver Hero Complex Q&A - she seems to be doing pretty good. Probably shouldn't be a suprise that she's on stage as she's a stage actor originally, something that might be a mitigating factor against the burnout of "stardom".
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on September 1


I loved this series. I skipped to the last page when I didn't want to read about every movie but it gave me a look at Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh - both of whom I loved since Fast Times.
posted by biggreenplant at 7:09 AM on September 3


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