It's surprising how the entertainment industry can be both a launchpad for overnight success and also a minefield. Sometimes, a star vanishes almost as quickly as they rose to stardom. Some entertainment enthusiasts talk about stars everyone thought were the next big deal but somehow faded away. Buckle up as we share a few of them with you.
1. Sara Paxton
Sara had her moments. She started as a child actress, stealing scenes and hearts with her adorable charm. But as time passed, it seemed like her career trajectory took a detour onto a bumpy road of forgettable movies and missed opportunities.
2. Sam Worthington
Who could forget Sam Worthington's role as the brooding hero in that fantasy epic, Clash of the Titans? Well, probably everyone, considering it didn't leave a lasting impression. Someone suggests his disappearance was because he was too generic.
3. Cuba Gooding Jr.
At first, everyone thought Cuba was destined for greatness. With his charismatic smile and undeniable talent, he had the potential to be the next big Hollywood sensation. Remember when he won that shiny golden statue for Best Supporting Actor? But somewhere along the way, he disappeared like a magician's assistant in a box.
4. Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment was that little bundle of talent who stole many hearts with his adorable face and uncanny ability to see dead people. He was also Tinseltown's talk and brought that sizzling hot vibe with him. Well, all that seems like a distant memory now. We're sure most people barely recall what his prime acting years felt like. It's a forgotten childhood toy shoved in the back of a closet scenario.
5. Taylor Momsen
Remember when Momsen starred as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl? She was an aspiring fashionista with dreams of ruling the Upper East Side. We all thought she was destined for stardom, but she misplaced her fashion sense and filter. Maybe she got caught up in her smoky eyeliner fumes or mistook her microphone for a megaphone.
While she may not be making movies anymore, Momsen has a sizzling music career as the founder and lead singer of the band The Pretty Reckless.
6. Bridget Fonda
Fonda's downfall must have come from her habit of choosing lackluster roles. She went from playing interesting characters to disappearing into forgettable films. Everyone thought that was it for her when she played the lovable Janet. We all eagerly awaited her meteoric rise to fame, but she bowed out when the applause was loudest.
7. Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Thomas seems to have gotten caught up in a time warp. Since he was the '90s heartthrob, who made fans swoon with his floppy hair and boyish charm, or did he decide to take a sabbatical on a remote island, far away from Hollywood? Whatever the reason, it's a shame that his star burned out quicker than a faulty light bulb.
8. Emma Watson
Although Emma Watson probably made enough revenue off the Harry Potter franchise to never work another day in her life, everyone expected her to be one of Hollywood's sweethearts in between and after the movie series ended. But there's barely been any word or appearance from her on and off the screen since.
9. Tara Reid
Tara Reid's career went downhill for a while. In Hollywood, succeeding is like taking a big risk with your career. People might forget about you if you make a mistake or your movie doesn't do well. But it's not her fault! At least we can still remember her from American Pie, the good times.
10. Freddie Prinze Jr.
He was popular back then, acting in famous movies like She's All That and I Know What You Did Last Summer. But after those great times, things changed, and Freddie's fame started declining. He tried hard to stay popular by doing more romantic comedies and movies for teenagers, but it looked like people were ready for something new.
11. Frankie Muniz
It could have been the curse of being a child star, where transitioning into adult roles can be tricky. Frankie didn't find the right projects to showcase his abilities. Whatever the case, we're sure he's still out there, living his life. And maybe he'll surprise us all one day with a comeback that will surprise everyone.
12. Matthew Modine
Modine's charm and good looks were undeniable. With his boyish charm, he had the potential to become the ultimate heartthrob, the George Clooney of his time. But instead of conquering Tinseltown, he seemed to get lost in its glittering maze. He took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in a B-movie swamp.
13. Meg Ryan
Ryan had the perfect recipe for success: a dash of wit, a sprinkle of cuteness, and a whole lot of chemistry with her leading men. Who could forget her iconic performance in When Harry Met Sally? She had everyone convinced that true love was just a heartbeat away. But then, something happened, and it drowned every memory of her on the big screen.
14. Lindsay Wagner
Wagner burst onto the scene as the incredible Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman, and made us think we, too, could have superpowers and rock a killer '70s hairstyle. But after her bionic adventures came to an end, she vanished. She could have decided to retire to a secret lair; the possibilities are as endless as her bionic abilities.
15. Rick Moranis
Rick Moranis always played the underdog perfectly, much to everyone's enjoyment. Watching him on screen would make you want to relive every moment after you stood up from your sofa. But he somewhere didn't make it past the fourth wall. Hollywood seemed to have forgotten about him, like that half-eaten bag of chips you left in the back of your pantry.
16. Tom Hiddleston
Many people who love Marvel movies know Tom Hiddleston. He did a great job as Loki, Thor's tricky brother. After playing this important role, people thought they would see him in more big Hollywood movies. But that didn't happen, which was disappointing.
17. Josh Holloway
We bet you all remember what you were doing when Lost came out and had critics and fans in a chokehold, itching to see who would die next. Josh Holloway shone in his role as Sawyer. He received numerous nominations and awards, and fans expected to see more of him, but that never really happened.
18. Orlando Bloom
One look at Orlando strutting around with his bow and arrows as Legolas in Lord of the Rings, everybody and their mama were pretty confident he would be one of Hollywood's golden boys. You know, like the way Leonardo DiCaprio took off. Despite all the fanfare, it was just crickets for Orlando afterward.
19. Theo James
Thanks to good looks, eyes you'd want to get lost in, and a healthy dose of obvious talent, fans, and even Hollywood insiders expected to see more of Theo James over the years after Divergent. Maybe it's his knack for quitting roles or something beyond us, but his career didn't take off like we all expected.
20. Kit Harington
Every year, a new show comes, breaks the internet, and millions of adoring fans expect to see more of their favorite actors like Kit Harington from Game of Thrones, but often that's not the case. Although Kit is a phenomenal actor, it seems like we have to accept that Jon Snow is the best the industry will allow us to get out of him.
21. Taylor Lautner
Taylor Lautner was one of the most exciting things to look forward to when considering Twilight‘s cast after you're done cooking at Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart's relationship. Even if he was a lousy actor, just put him on the screen, please; all that muscle flexing is enough to distract viewers, but he vanished after the Twilight Saga.
22. Katherine Heigl
You can admit that Katherine Heigl is a great actress. She bodied her roles in Grey's Anatomy, Roswell, Firefly, and 27 Dresses. However, she was also pretty outspoken about certain things going on with BTS in the industry, and that got her blacklisted, which hit the nail on the coffin of her career.
23. Zayn Malik
Maybe fans expected more, but the fact that Zayn fell off after opting to go solo and leaving the boy band One Direction shouldn't exactly be a surprise. Or maybe fans assumed he'd be the Beyonce of the group because of his exquisite voice and looks. “Pillow Talk,” “Dusk Till Dawn,” “No Candle No Light” featuring Nicki Minaj, and a couple of other songs did well, but he didn't become a household name as many expected.
When Normani left Fifth Harmony, she was expected to have the same kind of breakthrough Camilla Cabello had. Still, sadly, she's just off the radar, only showing up to put out yearly records in time to perform at the Award shows and dip. Still, either way, her star continues to dim.
25. Heather Graham
Heather had a few more notable roles here and there, like in The Hangover, but let's be honest, those were more like supporting gigs than leading lady material. It's almost as if Hollywood couldn't quite figure out how to utilize her talents properly. Maybe she was too sweet or quirky to play the vixen to fit the mainstream mold. Who knows?
Nicole Tommasulo is a travel writer and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts. For almost a decade, Nicole has been covering the lifestyle beat, writing about mental health, physical health, nutrition, food, travel, and books.
She has an MFA in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design and has been previously published by The List, Explore, MSN, AP, Heels Down Magazine, Hello Giggles, xoJane, Femsplain, and more.
Besides working at Wealth of Geeks, Nicole founded a travel and food magazine, savor+roam. You can follow Nicole on Instagram (@nicoletommasulo or @savor_roam) for more.