Hollywood can be a fickle beast. It can chew people up and spit them out in no time at all. We have seen this time and time again when an actor or actress, who seems to be destined for greatness in the business, simply and quickly fades away into obscurity after not being able to replicate the success of their early roles in movie or TV.
Sometimes the struggle is by their own doing, such as consistently taking bad gigs or having personal problems. On the other hand, sometimes they just don’t get the roles they need, and before you know it, newer and younger talent comes up and snatches the roles that they want. There are a ton of reasons why this happens, but it has happened for years and will continue to happen going forward. The world just keeps on spinning.
While some of the actresses on this list aren’t complete nobodies in 2017, none of them are currently as famous or popular as we all thought they would have been during the prime of their career. So without any further ado, let’s meet the 15 actresses who had the potential to one day be on top of Hollywood, only for them to fail to meet those lofty expectations.
15. Mira Sorvino
Mira Sorvino has been in the business since 1985, but it was a decade later when she had her breakout role. She played a street worker with a kind heart in Woody Allen‘s Mighty Aphrodite, and this role garnered her both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to star in a few other films in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, but none could really recapture what she had with her breakout role. She was pinned as a future superstar, but sadly, that potential was never realized. She has continued to work but is not seen as the star that many thought she would one day become.
14. Rosie Perez
In the early 1990’s, Rosie Perez looked like she was primed to become a superstar in Hollywood. Her breakout role was in Do the Right Thing in 1989 and she followed that by a stellar performance in White Men Can’t Jump in 1992. However, her most memorable role was in Fearless in 1993 where she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, and many thought she would win. Despite not winning the Oscar, she won many other awards for this performance. However, she was never able to turn all of those awards and recognition into a solid career. She has appeared in many different films but never became the leading lady is looked like she was going to.
13. Judy Greer
If you have watched a movie or TV recently, then there is a good chance that you’ve seen Judy Greer’s face on the screen. Greer has been in dozens and dozens of films and was even in Jurassic World, which is one of the highest-grossing films ever. So yeah, she’s had her fair share of screen time. She is an extremely talented actress but for some reason, hasn’t been able to progress much in her career and always seems to play the supporting role of the best friend or the sister. We’re not saying that is bad, but she is skilled and talented enough to be a leading lady, but that just hasn’t happened to her yet. And might never happen.
12. Gretchen Mol
Gretchen Mol was actually discovered when a photographer saw her in Central Park and took photos of her for her portfolio. She was a model for a short period of time and then became an actress. She has been cast in dozens and dozens of feature films, with many of them coming in the 1990’s. She was cast in a number of high-profile films but could never become the star that many thought she would be after her meteoric rise from a nobody to a Hollywood actress. She has had a solid TV career with Boardwalk Empire, but she had the potential to be so much more on the big screen, but she just simply couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
11. Minnie Driver
Minnie Driver started acting in Hollywood in 1990, and a mere 7 years later, she would get the big break she was looking for. Driver had a major role in Good Will Hunting and was even nominated for an Academy Award. While she didn’t win it, many people thought that role was her coming-out party and that she was on the cusp of superstardom. However, she has since had some rough roles in films and has only appeared in very few movies over the last decade or so. Like a few others on this list, Driver has been able to hold on to a decent TV career over the years, but her movie career has been in a proverbial free fall ever since her role in Good Will Hunting.
10. Elisha Cuthbert
There is no doubt that Elisha Cuthbert is an absolute bombshell. While she was known for a couple of roles, it was her role in The Girl Next Door that got her noticed by many people. She had the look and was a “good enough” actress, so the sky was the limit. However, her acting skills never really improved over the years, so her good looks weren’t enough to get her over the hump and into superstardom. While she has had recent success on TV as part of the ensemble cast of Happy Endings, that is a far cry from the type of roles many people thought she would be taking at this point in her career. Many thought she would be the leading character in films now, not a supporting role in a TV show.
9. Keisha Castle-Hughes
Keisha Castle-Hughes rose to prominence after her role as Pai in Whale Rider. The film was successful and was nominated for many awards, and Castle-Hughes found herself as the youngest person to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination at the time. While she didn’t win the award, she had a lot of praise and many thought she would grow up and become an absolute superstar. However, most of her roles have been fairly forgettable since her debut all those years ago. While she is still relatively young and has the potential to become a major movie star, it hasn’t happened yet and it might never. Only time will tell if Castle-Hughes will become a star, but it’s already over a decade since her breakout role, and she hasn’t been able to yet.
8. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson became introduced to most people when she was a finalist on American Idol. However, she shocked the world and millions of people with her acting chops when she starred in Dreamgirls and won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. While she is no doubt well-known, she has not become the superstar actress many had hoped for. However, this isn’t due to a lack of skill but mainly because she decided to take time off after a horrific family incident in which her mother was killed and the fact she has focused more on her music. She might not be done as an actress, but we doubt she will ever be able to get back to the same level she was on with Dreamgirls.
7. Neve Campbell
In the 1990’s, Neve Campbell was on a roll. She was starring on major TV shows and in films, and life was great. She was in Party of Five and is known best on the big screen for her role in Scream. She was killing it on both the big and small screens and many thought she would soon evolve into one of the biggest and most popular actresses on the planet. However, after those two roles, Campbell’s career began to fizzle out and she was never able to get back to the form she had in the mid to late 1990’s. She still acts, but her roles are rarely large and she often just does guest roles.
6. Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone made her debut in The Crush in 1993, and this introduced her to the world and solidified her as a teen idol. She starred in a few other films and then signed a massive multimillion-dollar deal with Columbia Pictures. This deal got her a role as Batgirl in Batman and Robin, which was a huge film. Despite all of this backing and belief in her skills as an actress, Silverstone failed to become the superstar that some people felt she could have. She has continued to act but couldn’t transform her heat as a teen icon into any sort of long-lasting A-list career.
5. Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson is a fairly recognizable figure, and she has her breakout role in Almost Famous to thank for that. Releasing in 2000, that film helped launch her career, and she was nominated for a number of different awards including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. After winning the Golden Globe, Kate Hudson has all the potential in the world and was on track to become a massive star. However, she has seemingly turned into the queen of bad rom-coms and her current roles and star status in Hollywood is a far cry from what it could have been if she lived up to her potential.
4. Lindsay Lohan
Ah, Lindsay Lohan. As a child, she was primed to be a giant star. She starred in the Parent Trap and then in Freaky Friday. As she got older, the big roles just kept coming, and it looked like there was no way she wasn’t going to become the “it” girl in Hollywood. However, the roles started drying up and she started to take smaller and smaller roles. Then, her personal life blew up and she had very public issues with drinking and drugs. For the last decade, Lohan has been seen as a bit of a hot mess and not the superstar actress many thought she would be. While she is still young and has a chance to turn it around, it would be very difficult for her.
3. Linda Blair
While you might not know the name Linda Blair, flashback to 1973 and you would definitely know her face. Blair played the role of Regan, the possessed child, in the original Exorcist movie. She was outstanding in this role and was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe. Despite this red-hot start to her career, she would sadly not become a megastar like Exorcist fans would have hoped for. She has been in a ton of other film and TV roles but nothing even close to as memorable as her first major role in The Exorcist. Shame she couldn’t capitalize on all the praise and recognition from that role and was stuck being a middle of the road actress for most of her career.
2. Anna Paquin
Anna Paquin burst onto the scene in a way we have almost never seen before. Back in 1993, Paquin beat thousands of other children to get the role of Flora in The Piano. Despite having barely any experience, the 11-year-old actress shocked the world and took home an Academy Award for the role, making her the second youngest winner in history. She continued a successful run as a child actor, but once she grew up, big roles were few and far between, but she did earn a semi-successful run on TV with True Blood. So while Paquin has had a decent career, it has not lived up to what many thought it would be when they watched her act as a child. She had all the hype in the world as one of the youngest Oscars winners ever but simply couldn’t live up to it.
1. Rachel McAdams
2004 was likely the best year of Rachel McAdams‘ life. She not only rose to fame, thanks to Mean Girls, but she also starred in The Notebook, which is one of the best romance films of the last few decades. She continued this with a few other good roles over the next few years and seemed to be destined to be a leading lady in no time. However, then she suddenly left Hollywood for two years, which cooled the hot start to her career. While she has had a few smaller roles here and there and has achieved some success (even getting an Oscar nomination for Spotlight), McAdams could have been a much bigger star had she not taken time off when her star was the brightest. Still, she is a well-known and popular actress, but who knows what could have been had she stuck around.