There are plenty of things that factor into an actor not hitting the stratosphere of the thespian world. There are poor choices in roles, changes in management, bad breaks, and even life changes like having a kid or altogether deciding that acting isn’t the top priority in life. From television to the big screen, there have been numerous personalities that could have or should have had a chance at being one of the bigger movie stars on the planet, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t pan out.
Let’s be clear: Being a top-tier talent in Hollywood isn’t for everyone. There’s the paparazzi hounding your every move, the pressure of shouldering a multi-million dollar production, new social responsibilities and more. But, there’s the silver lining: Awards, prestige, more money — A LOT more money — and the ability to make the world your oyster, not to mention your pick of the creme de la creme of acting roles.
Here are 10 actors who should have broken into silver-screen star status…
Cult and fanboy heroes don’t get much bigger than Bruce Campbell. Following his Evil Dead series, Campbell should have had a bigger career in cinema, but he seemed just as content playing up his cult status in films like Maniac Cop and Darkman. There’s no question that Campbell could have traded on his following to become a bigger star in film, but at least we’ll get a dose of the actor in the upcoming Ash v. Evil Dead series.
With dance moves that rival his acting chops, Sam Rockwell should be a bigger star. He’s turned in terrific performances in films like Matchstick Men, Moon, and Seven Psychopaths. Who knows, Rockwell still has time to turn into a big-screen legend, and he certainly has the talent to do so, but he seems just fine focusing on roles in lower-key films while occasionally appearing in larger projects like Iron Man 2 and this summer’s Poltergeist remake.
Some might say “What?” to this choice, but my decision to include “Rowdy” Roddy Piper on this list hinges solely on his performance in John Carpenter’s They Live. Perhaps he didn’t display the greatest thespian abilities in that film — which almost seems to work towards the favor of a Carpenter film — but who can deny the raw charisma of Piper’s performance?
Not to mention, Piper had movies star good looks in the ’80s, and he could have certainly had a run of great action roles had he applied himself to the craft. Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, Piper went back to wrestling (with some bit parts here and there), but the question will always remain about what might have been.
Okay, so maybe he’s not the most charismatic actor in the world, and charisma accounts for a lot of the top stars’ success, but this man was in two huge films: Avatar and Terminator: Salvation, and then he kind of disappeared. Sure, he had some trouble with the law, but he has that magnetic movie star quality that few have, and he definitely has the resume to be a top talent, but for some reason, the stars are just not aligning for Worthington.
This still all remains to be seen, though, because he still has three more Avatar films he’s signed on for, and if they’re all as big (in terms of gross) as the first film, we may see Worthington in the top 10 box-office stars of all-time.
Lohman is the dark horse in this race, but with meaty roles in films like Big Fish, Drag Me to Hell, and Matchstick Men, the young actress should be higher in the Hollywood food chain. She can act, she’s pretty, and she has a good resume, so why hasn’t she acted since 2009? All signs point to her devoting herself to her family: She had a child at the age of 31. Lohman still has time to make an impact (if Kristen Stewart can have a good career, then Lohman sure as hell can), but the ball seems to be in her court, and there’s no signs that she cares for a dribble.
I like Jason Schwartzman’s career. It’s perfectly fine. He’s turned in great performances in several Wes Anderson films, he was amazing in the short-lived HBO series Bored to Death, and I Heart Huckabees is one of my favorite films. Still, it would be great to see the diminutive actor in larger fare like a summer tent-pole, and while he seems keen on maintaining indie cred, there’s no doubt that his talents could take him further up the Hollywood pay scale.
The Wire introduced many to the talents of this English actor (in my opinion, one of the best American accents ever performed by an English thespian), and perhaps it’s nostalgia for that series that begs for us to see more of Dominic West. It’s not that he hasn’t had a turn in big-screen fare; he’s acted in 300, Punisher: War Zone, and he’s a voice in the upcoming Finding Dory, but West is a terrific talent who should be receiving meatier roles on the silver screen. You can catch him on TV in The Affair, and he’s great in that role. Despite it all, West has leading man quality that he hasn’t really taken advantage of yet, and the clock is ticking.
While he seems content being relegated to TV with his prominent role in TV’s Castle, there’s no denying that Firefly-era Nathan Fillion could have had Chris Pratt’s career. With charm, charisma, good looks, and fine comedic timing, Fillion could have easily been an Indiana Jones-type star.
Why Joss Whedon never pulled the trigger and had his Firefly lead pop-up in a role in one of the Marvel films is beyond me, because Fillion has all the makings of a big star, or maybe had. Whatever the case, it seems like the ship has sailed on Fillion’s chance to ascend in cinema land. Then again, he’s also tight with Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, and he did have a quick, makeup clad cameo in that film, so maybe the sequel will prove me wrong.
Clive Owen is one of those cases where it seems like he’d rather stay out of the spotlight. He has everything you could want in a leading man, and there are many who think he’d make a great James Bond, myself included. At one time, he seemed poised to become the “next big thing” with stellar turns in Sin City, Shoot ‘Em Up, and even low-key dramas like Closer.
These days, Owen is doing just fine on The Knick (and I mean that in the highest regard; he’s brilliant on that program), but it’s almost painful to see such a talent as Owen not apply himself to bigger budgeted projects because, if he wanted to, he could own a film like Jurassic World. I’ve been a fan of Owen since I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, and it’d be lovely to see his star shoot into the heavens.
Why Toni Collette hasn’t had a bigger career in Hollywood since her amazing, Oscar-nominated performance in The Sixth Sense is beyond me. Even in smaller, supporting roles, Collette constantly steals the scenes from her co-stars, but she just never seems to get that leading role that could really elevate her game. Perhaps she’ll stay in the supporting status, and maybe she’s just fine with that. I am not. Collette, I’m speaking to you: You deserve more. You’re an Oscar-nominated thespian for God’s sake (I know, so is Cuba Gooding, Jr.), so step it up and finally bring home that gold because your talent demands it. We’ll be waiting.