Landing roles in movies and television can be a daunting and brutal business. No matter how talented the actor is, competition, pressure, and other factors result in many exceptional performers struggling in their careers. Users on a popular movie forum discuss those that fall under this criteria. Notably, most of these performers do land roles, but they deserve more success and recognition.
1. Guy Pearce
The handsome Australian Guy Pearce leads films such as Momento and L.A. Confidential with charisma and enthusiasm. He always gives nuanced performances and elevates his roles, such as in Iron Man 3 and The Count of Monte Cristo. And yet, he’s not on the same level of notoriety as his counterparts.
2. Josh Lucas
Josh Lucas is the first person that comes to my mind when considering actors with leading man looks and talent but a modest career. The Arkansas native’s filmography does bolster an impressive 165 acting credits, including lead roles in Sweet Home Alabama and Poseidon. And yet, many people know him best as the voice of Home Depot commercials. Lucas deserves to be the lead in more high-profile movies.
3. Clive Owen
Clive Owen has all the factors of a classic leading man. The British actor enjoyed success and acclaim in movies like Children of Men and Closer in the 2000s. His leading ladies include Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. I expected his career trajectory to skyrocket. He’s respected, but it’s a mystery why his career never reached this zenith.
4. Djimon Hounsou
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Djimon Hounsou’s star rose in prominent films like Amistad, Gladiator, and In America. He’s had steady work since but never quite what he deserves. Large films such as Guardians of the Galaxy are notable, but that is a prime example of a film failing to utilize his talent. He for sure is capable of much larger roles, and we'd love to see that talent shine. Hounsou said he often feels typecast, according to an interview with BBC Entertainment News. It speaks to the struggles that POC actors experience.
5. Hilary Swank
With two Best Actress Oscar wins, one expects Swank’s career to include countless high-profile roles akin to Meryl Streep or Katharine Hepburn. She possesses the talent and range, but the number and quality of parts since the early 2000s don’t match. I wish she did more romantic films like P.S. I Love You, a personal favorite. A few users note that it feels like she’s disappeared, wondering if it’s by choice.
6. Brandon Routh
Playing Superman has not always been the career-maker it should be. Routh’s career is respectable but much less notable. Primarily working in television, he always gives 100 percent to roles in shows like Chuck and Legends of Tomorrow. But it’s a shame such a beautiful Superman has not soared higher in his career.
7. Josh Hartnett
In the 90s and early 2000s, it felt like Josh Hartnett was everywhere. And yet his struggles to get the same number of roles from 2007 onwards explains why many do not remember him. It seems he’s come back around recently, which is terrific to see. A lot of fans were thrilled to see him in Oppenheimer this past year.
8. Paul Giamatti
We cannot deny Paul Giamatti’s talent. The multiple award-winning and nominated actor’s career in the 2000s dazzled. And yet, recently, he deserves more than he receives. The Sideways and Cinderella Man actor should be the lead in more films, not supporting cartoonish roles like in Jungle Cruise or Verizon Commercials. Any work is worthy and respectable, but an actor of high caliber should have roles that reflect that.
9. Ben Foster
Capable of goofball roles and ominous villains, Ben Foster never gets the recognition he should. He's a terrific actor and it seems that someone who manages to steal the spotlight from actors like Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, as Foster does in 3:10 to Yuma, should have more roles.
10. Billy Zane
Understanding why an actor from the juggernaut Titanic would struggle to land parts is difficult. Billy Zane gives a tour-de-force villainous performance in James Cameron’s film. But can you name another notable role since? He’s worked and remains humble- that we can admire.
11. Halle Berry
Winning Best Actress for Monsters Ball put Halle Berry on the map. It should have been the beginning of more notable projects. But that had not been the case. Berry has spoken in the past about being typecast as just a beautiful woman, but lately, she has been trying her hand at directing as well.
12. Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens won the hearts of millions as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. And he broke their hearts when he left the show for “greener pastures” and more opportunities. But few significant projects come his way except for Beauty and the Beast. Why this is the case remains a mystery.
13. Kate Beckinsale
The lovely Kate Beckinsale seems prime for a career in rom-coms and period dramas. That begs the question- why have roles like these been so few and far between? It’s not for lack of beauty and charm, two qualities that Hollywood often emphasizes. But Beckinsale is more than a pretty face and could easily have a career similar to another actress with the same first name- Kate Winslet.
14. Rahul Kohli
Charming, funny, and attractive Rahul Kohli’s role in iZombie should give him opportunities for comparable parts, at the very least. It seems like he mostly works with Mike Flanagan, which isn't a bad thing at all. Thankfully for Kohli, his career trajectory can change at any moment. Here’s hoping the Pedro Pascal effect befalls him soon.
15. Julia Stiles
Julia Stiles shares a lot in common with Josh Hartnett. She was seemingly everywhere in the 90s and 2000s but fell off the Hollywood map. That is changing recently, but producers and critics often do not give the 10 Things I Hate About You actress her due praise, recognition, and opportunities. The entertainment industry constantly evolves, so Stiles can too.
Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature from San Diego State University. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture and geek related, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency, Christianity Today, and The La Jolla Light. She writes on her own website TheGirlyNerd.com, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video. She resides in San Diego, California.