30 Has-Been Actors You No Longer Hear About

OMG November 21, 2018 By Hugo

Famous actors don't always have it easy- just ask Taylor Lautner, the Twilight hunk once destined for superstardom. Or the obnoxious British actor Alex Pettyfer, who made a name for himself in Magic Mike and then quickly irritated half of Hollywood.

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While they may have already made sizeable fortunes, they could have achieved a whole lot more had their careers panned out the way they expected, and after going through our list, you'll soon realize that for every Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, there are countless Shailene Woodleys and Taylor Lautners lurking in Hollywood jail, pleading for another chance.

Here are 30 sorry examples. 

1. Mischa Barton

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After her breakout role on The O.C. following a successful career as a child actress, Entertainment Weekly piled on the pressured and named Mischa Barton the "It Girl" of 2003. Of course, Barton's career was soon jinxed, and instead of becoming the next Jenifer Aniston, a host of personal problems came her way.

Today, Barton's career as an actress is all-but-finished, with the star making the tabloids for her personal and legal issues as opposed to any upcoming roles.

2. Taylor Kitsch

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Taylor Kitsch may look like a star, but not even his chiseled face could take away the fact that his acting wasn't very good. Despite this, his team managed to convince casting directors to place him in a series of high-profile films following his breakout role in ABC's Friday Night Lights. He was the lead in many awful films, however, including John Carter, Battleship, HBO's True Detective (season 2) and Oliver Stone's Savages. 

Nowadays, Kitsch is taking his ailing career into his own hands, having recently announced that he is both starring, writing and directing a movie called Pieces.

3. Megan Fox

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Megan Fox was the dreamboat in those awful Transformers movies, but after realizing Hollywood is nothing more than a shallow cesspit of arriviste bigwigs, she compared Michael Bay to Hitler and didn't return for the third installment.

Fox's career has since taken a major backseat, and aside from a supporting role in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, her career prospects have gone down the toilet.

4. Shailene Woodley

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Following her breakthrough role alongside George Clooney in The Descendants, Shailene Woodley appeared destined to become the next Jennifer Lawrence. However, after landing a leading role in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, the film's tanked, so much so that part three, Allegiant, was to end as a tv show.

Naturally, Woodley refused to be downgraded to TV and took on a more classy kind of tv role in HBO's Big Little Lies. Woodley is also noted for her political activism, which saw her arrested for an illegal protest against the Dakota pipeline. 

5. Alex Pettyfer

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We recently profiled Alex Pettyfer on our sister site in an article profiling Hollywood's biggest douchebags. While it was known in industry circles that the Brit was a tricky person to deal with, his behavior on the set of Magic Mike proved intolerable for Channing Tatum, who refused to have him back for the film's follow-up, Magic Mike XXL.

While Tatum didn't have a role in blacklisting Pettyfer, his rude behavior was well reported in Hollywood, and it's likely casting directors soon realized that casting him wasn't worthwhile. especially after his other major movie, I Am Number Four, proved a global flop. 

6. Minne Driver

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Minnie Driver was lauded for her standout performance as Matt Damon's girlfriend in Good Will Hunting, but after the Oscar buzz of the film wore off, her stardom proved ephemeral. 

Today, Driver doesn't have much going on, and rarely makes the headlines unless she's calling out her former co-star Matt Damon on Twitter for being ill-informed about the #Mmovementiement after he said some sexual crimes are much worse than others. 

7. Sam Worthington

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Remember him? The brawny Aussie was the face of James Cameron's Avatar movie, which was once the highest grossing movie of all time.

Still, despite filming the second one, Worthington's career hasn't had much else to shout about, but with those Avatar cheques, we're sure Worthington will retire a happy man.

8. Dakota Fanning

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Dakota Fanning was once the world's most famous child actress, but her career as a leading lady hasn't gone as planned. While she impressed in the rock biopic, The Runaways, and as a cancer sufferer in Now is Good, her career hasn't taken off in the way other child actors' careers have.

9. Emile Hirsch

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In bizarre circumstances, American actor Emile Hirsch, known for his roles in films such as 'Into the Wild' and 'Alpha Dog' was arrested and booked by Utah police after he allegedly choked Paramount Pictures executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub during the Sundance Film Festival.

Hirsch would later be found guilty of the charges and was ordered to serve 15 days in county jail. Sadly for Hirsch, it appears as though he left behind his acting career when he was released as he hasn't appeared in anything credible since. 

10. Eric Bana

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Eric Bana's performance in The Time Traveller's Wife made millions of women swoon for the handsome Aussie, but Bana's career as a heartthrob wasn't enough to save him from appearing in a host of flops, most notably in The Hulk.

Bana has since offered up supporting roles in movies such as Star Trek and Hanna, but after the promise of The Time Traveller's Wife, Bana will probably regret that he is now starring in Netflix movies alongside Rick Gervais.

11. Garrett Hedlund

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Garret Hedlund looked certain to be one of the coolest actors in Hollywood when he first hit screens in films such as Tron: Legacy and On The Road, but not even his rugged good looks and Clint Eastwood-like coolness could save his career tanking.

12. Lindsay Lohan 

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After various stints in rehab, Lohan would serve 14 days of a 90-day sentence at a Los Angeles County jail for violating her parole conditions after she drove home from a nightclub intoxicated. Describing her time behind bars, Lohan said, "As terrified as I was and as scared as I was, I finally felt like I didn’t have to answer to anyone and I didn’t have to do anything for anyone. That was the weirdest part of it.'

While we are by no means criticizing Lohan's struggles with addiction, the troubled actress already had a reputation for turning up late on set and being a diva to cast and crew members, and after years of heavy partying, Lohan threw away a career that much better actresses could only dream of.

13. Chad Michael Murray

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Tween girls went wild for Chad Michael Murray every time he appeared on screen in the hit teen series, One Tree Hill. Set in North Carolina, the 9-series-show followed a group of high schoolers facing a variety of issues, from college applications and parental arguments to romantic liaisons and brushes with the law.

While Chad Michael Murray departed the show before the end of its run, he did land roles in many films, including A Cinderella Story alongside Hillary Duff in 2004. Now just a pretty face, Murray's acting career seems to be coming to an end, with his last role coming in the awful tv movie, The Beach House.

14. Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Sarah Michelle Gellar was one of Hollywood's most successful tv actresses in the 90s and early 00s. She also starred in nine films that did well enough at the box office to keep the Gellar train alive, the most famous of which was the cult classic Cruel Intentions (1999). She also appeared in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Scooby Doo (2002), and The Grudge (2004). Of course, the show that made her name was the wildly successful series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The WB show lasted seven seasons and spawned Emmy and Golden Globes nominations. Since 2004's The Grudge, however, Gellar has struggled to see the same success- both at the box office and on tv. Her shows since Buffy haven't lasted more than one season, while her last movie role was a tv movie adaptation of Cruel Intentions. 

15. Taylor Lautner 

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After Twilight fever had swept the world, photos of Taylor Lautner's tanned torso became a mainstay fixture on the walls of many teenage girls, and his heartthrob status appeared sure to elevate him from Twilight hunk to a bonafide leading man.

However, unlike co-stars Robert Pattinson and Kirstin Stewart, Lautner hasn't had the same cinematic success post-Twilight, and though he initially got away with asking for a cool $5m upfront for his first leading role in the movie Abduction, Lautner's career soon tanked after the film took a measly $28m from a $35m budget.

His last notable role in Hollywood came in the critically-bashed Adam Sandler frat movie, Grown Ups 2 and he went as far as to film a BBC show in England due to having so few offers. 

16. Mandy Moore

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Remember Nicholas Sparks's romantic tearjerker A Walk to Remember? Mandy Moore was its lead and appeared destined for A-list status when the movie became an unexpected hit, yet Moore is yet another actress who failed to build on their initial teen promise. Starting out in the music industry, Moore would quickly garner a series of Billboard hits, with her first album So Real even going platinum.

But her crossover into the movies appeared to make Moore even more of a star. However, despite going onto star alongside Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries, Moore's film career- much like her music- fell by the wayside. Things got so bad for Moore that she was even asked to play herself in the HBO drama Entourage! In fairness, Moore has booked a pretty decent gig on the hit drama, This is Us, but her chances of A-list film stardom are long gone.

17. Ashley Greene


It isn't only poor old Twilight has-been Taylor Lautner who's been chewed and spat onto the Hollywood conveyor belt. Another is Ashley Greene, the pretty face who always fancied Edward and was super jel when Bella waltzed in and dazzled him straight away with her beautiful green eyes.

While she has been involved in a succession of projects post-Twilight, most of her films have tanked just like The Apparition, which barely made a dime at the box office.  She’s also done the TV show Pan Am, which only survived on the air for one season, and the film CBGB in 2013, which shockingly only made $4,000 on its opening weekend, after close to $5 million was spent making it. She did a few more films in 2016, including Shangri-La Suite in which she played Priscilla Presley, and In Dubious Battle where she starred alongside Selena Gomez, but nothing huge.

18. Michael Cera 

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Micahel Cera's work on Arrested Development seemed to open up the Hollywood gates for Cera, who soon cemented himself as Hollywood's go-to nerd with high-profile roles in both  Superbad and Juno.

However, once he was deemed ready enough to lead a movie, his chance to do this in the obscure film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World left cinema-goers less than impressed, so much so that it became a turkey at the box office altogether. Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist and Year One also didn't help Cera's cause in his bid for leading man status, but nowadays, Cera would be lucky enough to get so much as a minor role in Hollywood, let alone a leading one. Thus, Cera has pretty much gravitated to the world of indie movies and theatre, all credible stuff, but not very lucrative for a star who could have been earning millions by now if things had gone his way. 

19. Drew Barrymore

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Drew Barrymore didn't have it easy growing up. As a child star plucked from obscurity, Barrymore never fully recovered from her days as a tearaway star, despite promisingly starting her adult career in Wes Craven's horror classic Scream. However, many stinkers brought her back down to reality.

Big Miracle was just one of many bad films Barrymore would wish we rather forget. 

20. Sylvester Stallone

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Yes, Sylvester Stallone's career, particularly in the '70s and '80s, saw the Italian Stallion achieve a level of fame that no other star on this list has matched, but in reality, Stallone's star power has been dwindling since the late '90s.  His iconic, mean, lean fighting machine characters Rambo and Rocky will forever be etched into the Hollywood film archives, but Stallone is very much a two-hit wonder in that sesnse. Can you even name a credible movie Stallone has been in aside from the Rock and Rambo franchises? Creed, perhaps. But you'll be hard-pressed to pick many others.

Just look at Judge Dredd, certainly a nadir moment in Stallone's varied, but often sell-out career. Still, for a man who can't actually act, Stallone is very much a genius in the sense that he has made a living out of a profession that most trained actors will never match.

21. Charlie Sheen

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Despite Charlie Sheen earning a mammoth $2m an episode at the peak of the Two and a Half Men's success, Sheen regularly insulted the series creator Chuck Lorre in interviews which may have been the motivating factor behind his dismissal.

What followed was a short-lived stint on Anger Managment before its cancellation in 2014, and four years on, Sheen's career looks all but over. On the plus side, as well as his brave decision to admit to the world he was HIV positive, his mental health appears to be under more control, and we can only wish him the best going forward.

22. Tobey Maguire

Tobey Maguire made friends with Leonardo DiCaprio when they were child actors auditioning in Hollywood, and while both would go on to have movie careers, Tobey's soon faltered after the Spiderman franchise. On the other hand, Leo's career skyrocketed the moment he got his big break in This Boy's Life.


The last serious role Tobey Maguire had was in the Baz Lurhman movie, The Great Gatsby, where best friend Leo played the lead role. Maguire also starred alongside Michael Caine in the Cider House Rules, but it appears parts such as those are now a distant memory for an actor many have forgotten.

23. Adrien Grenier


Based loosely on producer Mark Wahlberg's experiences as an up-and-coming actor in Hollywood, the HBO series Entourage was undoubtedly a tour de force in escapist porn and was perhaps summarized best by a British journalist, who compared the 'teenage fantasy' to the male equivalent of Sex in the City, another long-running HBO show.

Chronicling the lives of fictional movie star Vincent Chase (centre), played cooly by Adrien Grenier, the series followed him, his not-so-famous half-brother and close cohort of friends as they lived out the male fantasy. That being said, Entourage certainly pandered to a braggadocious male utopia, but with excellent writing and countless A-list cameos, it was well received by both critics and viewers during the show's 8-season run, but the movie tanked and was criticized for being misogynistic and outdated.

Grenier's career subsequently followed a similar fate, and while his only movie credit in the Entourage era was playing Anne Hathaway's boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada, Grenier's post-Entourage career sunk so low he was forced to appear in a B-movie alongside fellow has-been thespians Nicholas Cage and John Cusack in the 2017 straight-to-DVD flick, Arsenal. 

24Katherine Heigl

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While Katherine Heigl never quit Grey's Anatomy, her candid views on the writing suggested she wanted to be shown the door. After all, when an actor receives an Emmy nomination, their typical response is one of gratitude, but Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl made the unusual decision to withdraw her Emmy nomination in 2008 because the writing wasn't up to scratch.

In her very own words, she stated, "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination."  Unsuprinslgly, the insulted writers gave her character skin cancer, and Dr. Stevens was no more.

Heigl has struggled to find any meaningful work since her departure from the hospital drama, though after the cancellation of her last show ( ABC's Doubt) she has since been offered a leading role in the faltering tv series, Suits. 

25. John Cusack

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In a dream career spanning more than 20 years, John Cusack really has done it all. He's been in everything, from 80's comedies to riveting thrillers and romantic comedies, John Cusack's acting oeuvre is certainly varied and special. But following on from an A-list career which was launched from his role in Better Off Dead in 1985, his status as a leading man has all-but gone. In many ways, Cusack is a B-list actor.

While casting directors occasionally throw him a bone with minor roles in Lee Daniels's The Butler and David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, he is now most accustomed to starring alongside the likes of tv actors such as Adrien Grenier in the straight-to-DVD movie Arsenal. However, Cusack does appear to have a lifeline, nabbing himself the leading role in an eagerly awaited Stephen King adaptation called Cell but only time will tell if anything comes of this.

26. Nicolas Cage

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Nicolas Cage's career used to be the stuff of dreams and in many ways it still is. No one can take away his famous roles in Con-Air, Leaving Las Vegas and Face/Off, roles that are already iconic. A two-time Academy Award winner, Cage is a master at his craft, but he's also good at spending a lot of his earnings, so much so that he barely has a penny left, especially after his recent divorce. A unique persona in the world of Hollywood, Cage cultivated a niche image that allowed him to greatly diversify his roles, but once he began starring in films like National Treasure and the much-maligned The Wicker Man, Cage's golden career soon started falling like a pack of cards.

Today, Cage can't even take those $10m cheques in popcorn flicks. Instead, he has to take on a series of B-movies just to keep up his extravagant lifestyle, with starring roles in The Croods 2 and National Treasure 3 two of many pitiful examples. 

27. Marcia Cross

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Marcia Cross (second right) had been working in tv for more than 20 years before being cast in her award-winning role as Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives. She was Bree Van de Kamp in the ABC hit show Desperate Housewives; an 8-season bemouth that spawned multiple awards and million-dollar pay packets for her and fellow actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, and Felicity Huffman.

One of the most engrossing and compelling characters, Marcia's career never quite lived up to the global success of Desperate Housewives, but she has landed a recurring role in the ABC action-thriller, Quantico.

28. Matthew Fox

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Matthew Fox (pictured next to best-selling author James Patterson) declared in an interview with TV Guide back in 2010 that he would not be doing tv after appearing in a total of 255 episodes thanks to his two hit shows, Five (Fox) and Lost (ABC).

A major tv celebrity in the noughties, Fox shifted gears and went onto star in London's West End theatre scene and many films including Speed Racer, Alex Cross, Vantage Point, and We Are Marshall. However, his last film role was in 2015. Sadly for Fox, it appears he might have to go back to doing tv if he wants to reignite a career.

29. Michael C. Hall

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Showtime's Dexter was one of the most original and thrilling tv shows, and it rightly enjoyed an 8-season-run. Fronting the show was the namesake's protagonist, Dexter, a laconic, socially awkward forensic scientist who also happens to be a serial killer. However, his one redeeming feature was the kind of people he kills, all of whom are vile criminals. This vigilantism had viewers enthralled and just a few shows in, you find yourself supporting Dexter's horrific, but many would argue, morally just- murders. 

Sadly for Hall, his gifts as an actor haven't been utilized as much as he would have hoped post-Dexter, and despite starring alongside Harry Potter megastar Daniel Radcliff in the 2013 indie movie Kill Your Darlings, his career hasn't really taken off the way many might have predicted.

30. Zac Braff

Everyone watched Scrubs when they were teens. It was the go-to programme you put on first thing in the morning before school, and with Zac Braff's brilliant, comic, and sometimes pathos-heavy acting, it was hard to turn your head away from the screen. While a lighthearted show, the series also had its drama, and it was this unusual combination that made the show a hit, especially thanks to the bromance between Braff's character J.D. and co-star John Michael Dorian's character, Turk.

Before Scrubs, Braff wrote, directed and starred in the 2004 indie hit, Garden State, another well-received piece of art. However, subsequent endeavors in Hollywood haven't proved as successful for the multi-talented actor, with his last notable role coming on the ABC show Alex, Inc., cancelled after just one season.

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