John TravoltaGrease, Saturday Night Fever, Blow Out....these are the films that made John Travolta one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood back in the late 70s/early 80s. Like so many before him though, the actor struggled to maintain his spot on the A-list and soon began making one too many poor career choices.
Efforts like Staying Alive, Perfect and Two of a Kind quickly sank Travolta's stock and before he knew it, he had all but fallen off the map. That is, until, a director named Quentin Tarantino took a chance on him by casting Travolta in Pulp Fiction in 1994.
The role led to an Academy Award nomination and several high-profile gigs including, but not limited to, Face/Off, Get Shorty and A Civil Action.
As successful as his resurgence was, however, he once again headed in the wrong direction with 2000's dreadful Battlefield Earth, which is widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. Things still haven't picked up for Travolta, either, though many are hoping that his role on television's American Crime Story might be the spark he needs.
Johnny DeppStarting off his career with a string of promising projects, it wasn't long before Johnny Depp became Hollywood's new IT boy. However, the success didn't last forever, as he experienced a bit of a slump after what was arguably his best film to date, Fear and Loathing in Las vegas.
For a couple years after that, he made dud after dud, with efforts like The Ninth Gate, Sleepy Hallow and Chocolat all failing to do much for the actor's career. But then came along Pirates of the Caribbean, and Disney turned the actor into an A-lister once again, making him the face of their new mega franchise and allowing him to earn back the goodwill that he previously lost.
Unfortunately, Depp's hot streak didn't last too long, as he's now once again in a slump, putting out garbage like Transcendence, Mortdecai and The Lone Ranger. He's not down and out just yet, and he still might stage another comeback, but as it stands, he's hardly the bankable box office name that he once was.
Eddie MurphyThough he's since fallen off the radar again, there was a brief moment in time where, believe it or not, Eddie Murphy was a serious dramatic actor up for an Academy Award. Coming off a string of box office bombs and quite frankly, embarrassing films, Murphy did a complete 180 and showcased, to great effect, his dramatic chops in Bill Condon's Dreamgirls.
Earning widespread acclaim and much audience love for his work, the Academy even acknowledged him with a nomination. It seemed, for a moment, that the actor could do no wrong, riding high on a wave of extremely positive reviews, with most critics claiming that Murphy was back on point.
And then, for reasons that nobody will ever know, he decided to make Norbit.
Marlon BrandoEven the greatest actors of all-time experience slumps.
Despite being one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, there was a good ten year period where Marlon Brando just couldn't catch a break. While A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront made him an icon in the 50s, the 60s weren't too kind to the actor. Not only did most of his films flop, but he started to earn a bad reputation on set, leading to many directors not wanting to work with him.
Thankfully, Francis Ford Coppola took a chance on the once great talent by casting him in The Godfather. And we all know how that worked out, right?
Mickey RourkeBack in the 80s, Mickey Rourke was a hot commodity in Hollywood. From 9½ Weeks to Angel Heart, he was a strong screen presence and a very bankable leading man. In 1991, however, he left acting to become a professional boxer. Though he then quit boxing in 1994 and returned to the silver screen, it was a good 11 years before he truly did anything noteworthy, staging his comeback with Sin City in 2005.
Shortly after that film, he gave an Academy Award nominated performance in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler before returning to more action-oriented fare like The Expendables and Iron Man 2. Admittedly, it's been a good 4 or 5 years since he's done anything worth watching, as he's mostly been starring in low-budget and direct to DVD flicks. But, for a time, Rourke did return from relative obscurity to make a name for himself. It's just a shame he couldn't keep the comeback going.
Robert Downey Jr. One of the greatest comeback stories of all time belongs to Robert Downey Jr. He may be one of the highest paid actors in the world right now, but there was a time, not too long ago, when no one would even give him a job, due to his drug abuse and constant trouble with the law. After a couple rounds in rehab, the actor finally got clean and it was in 2003 that he started to stage his comeback.
Beginning with the little seen but enjoyable The Singing Detective, followed by the underrated Gothika, Downey Jr. started to earn some goodwill back, slowly but surely. It wasn't until 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang however, that he showed Hollywood that he was back in full force.
From there came notable performances in high-profile films like A Scanner Darkly and Zodiac, which, of course, led to the role that changed his life forever: Iron Man.
Michael KeatonThroughout awards season, Michael Keaton was the talk of the town. Nominated for seemingly every award he was eligible for, the actor had everyone's attention thanks to his tremendous performance in Birdman. However, if one year ago you had told me, or anyone really, that Keaton would be the man to beat during awards season for Best Actor, you would have been laughed out the door.
Despite playing Batman, twice, and starring in the beloved Bettlejuice, the actor faded into obscurity for quite a while. In fact, it was only about a year ago that Keaton started to mount his comeback. Films like Toy Story 3 and The Other Guys showed his desire to be thrust into the spotlight again, but it wasn't until RoboCop and Need For Speed that he really became a bankable name. Then, of course, came Birdman. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Joaquin Phoenix This one isn't so much of a comeback as it is a "what the heck happened to Joaquin Phoenix?"
Following critically acclaimed turns in films like Gladiator and Walk The Line, the actor went a bit off the rails, pulling a major publicity stunt which saw him seemingly go crazy. The whole thing resulted in a documentary called I'm Not Here and when we found out that it was all a hoax, people kind of wrote the actor off.
But then came The Master, followed by Her and Inherent Vice, and now Phoenix is one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood.
Ben AffleckTalk about going from zero to hero (literally). After films like Gigi and Daredevil, most people counted the once promising Ben Affleck down and out. And nobody, and I mean nobody, thought he would ever get the chance to play a superhero again.
It looks like we doubted Big Ben too soon, though, as the actor has managed to pull himself together in recent years and after the one-two-three punch of Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, he's now reached even higher heights than he had before his near fade to obscurity.
With an upcoming starring role in arguably one of the biggest films of the last decade (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice), and several other projects in development that could very well be popular with the Academy, things are looking brighter than ever for Ben.