Contact Us

Actors Whose Careers Were Killed With One Movie

Career Killers
Warner Bros. / United Artists

A great movie can make an actor’s career and propel them onto a whole new level of stardom. On the other hand, a horrible, steaming pile of a movie can do exactly the opposite. Sure, almost every actor has at least one clunker on their resume, but sometimes a movie is so lackluster that it does nothing less than kick a star off the A-list.

Let’s put it this way — when was the last time you heard of John Gilbert or Klinton Spilsbury? We didn’t think so. Each was an actor whose once-promising career was sunk by a single movie. And, as it turns out, they’re not alone. Here are 14 more actors who were handed a one-way ticket to the B and C-list thanks to one cinematic stinker.


1

Chris O'Donnell, 'Batman & Robin'

 
 
 
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Joel Schumacher's film 'Batman & Robin' didn't just bring Chris O'Donnell's career to a screeching halt -- it also, some argued, effectively killed the Batman franchise for nearly a decade. Fortunately, both rebounded, but it took several years to recover from this 1997 travesty.

O'Donnell never again headlined a major motion picture, but he did bounce back on the small screen thanks to roles on 'NCIS: Los Angeles' and 'Grey's Anatomy.' While he's doing fine today, 'Batman & Robin' caused O'Donnell to go from being the bright young star of flicks like 'Scent of a Woman' and 'Mad Love' to a "Hey, isn't that...?" TV actor.

2

Geena Davis, 'Cutthroat Island'

 
 
 
MGM
MGM

With hits like 'Beetlejuice,' 'Thelma and Louise' and 'A League of Their Own,' Geena Davis was once one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. But then husband Renny Harlin's 1995 failure 'Cutthroat Island' undid all of that while helping to bring about the financial collapse of production company Carolco Pictures at the same time. Like O'Donnell, Davis eventually found a second home on TV many years later, but she's yet to mount a big screen comeback.

3

Kevin Costner, 'Waterworld'/'The Postman'

 
 
 
Universal
Universal

Kevin Costner can blame not one, but two post-apocalyptic yawns, er, yarns for killing his movie career for a time. 1995's 'Waterworld' would become the most expensive film ever made at the time and one of the most notable flops in cinematic history. 'The Postman' was released in theaters two years later and didn't fare much better. If there's one genre Costner should stay away from, it's definitely sci-fi.

Costner did, however, receive acclaim for his 2012 TV miniseries 'Hatfields & McCoys' and he also had a supporting role in the recent Superman reboot 'Man of Steel.' Just don't let him anywhere near a horse or a jar of urine.

4

Jake Lloyd, 'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace'

 
 
 
Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

Appearing in a 'Star Wars' film seems like a dream job for a child actor, but Jake Lloyd, who starred as Anakin Skywalker in 'Star Wars Episode I,' found the experience so distasteful that he swore off acting forever.

According to Lloyd, children teased him relentlessly and he found it difficult to fit in at school after the movie premiered. Plus, endless promotional interviews left him harried and exhausted until one day he destroyed all his 'Star Wars' memorabilia in a fit of anger. We're surprised he didn't go for the terrible reviews he got first.

5

Elizabeth Berkley, 'Showgirls'

 
 
 
United Artists
United Artists

Although Paul Verhoeven's tacky, trashy 1995 film has become something of a cult classic, it was a huge bomb at the time of its release and squashed the big screen hopes of former 'Saved by the Bell' star Elizabeth Berkley. And it's no wonder -- it's hard to live down licking a dirty pole in 35MM.

6

Lori Petty, 'Tank Girl'

 
 
 
United Artists
United Artists

Right now you're probably going "Who??," but Lori Petty was a hot prospect during the early '90s thanks to her spunky turn in 'A League of Their Own." But after 'Tank Girl,' not so much.

The movie, which was based on a comic by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, tanked (pardon the pun) at the box office and tossed Petty into relative obscurity. She's made a few sporadic TV appearances, but hasn't headlined a movie since 1995.

7

Jamie Kennedy, 'Son of the Mask'

 
 
 
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

A sequel to a Jim Carrey movie that doesn't star Carrey himself just seems like a bad idea, and 2005's 'Son of the Mask' proves it definitely is. The movie was heavy on visual bombast but light on actual laughs and made only $57 million of its $84 million budget. Coming off the equally terrible 'Malibu's Most Wanted,' 'Son of the Mask' made Jamie Kennedy the most hated comedy star since Pauly Shore.

8

Brandon Routh, 'Superman Returns'

 
 
 
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. was banking on Bryan Singer's 'Superman Returns' to reinvigorate the superhero franchise, but it failed in a big way and star Brandon Routh got the worst of it. Honestly, Routh was by no means terrible in the movie, but he's had a difficult time bouncing back as an actor ever since despite a fun turn in 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.' His second starring vehicle, 'Dead of Night,' barely made an impression. Recently he's retreated to TV, with roles on 'Chuck' and 'Partners.' Perhaps comedy will be Routh's ticket back to the big screen.

9

'Boat Trip,' Cuba Gooding, Jr.

 
 
 
Artisan Entertainment
Artisan Entertainment

Cuba Gooding, Jr. was on top of the world after his Oscar win as hotshot wide receiver Rod Tidwell in 'Jerry Maguire,' but his career took a nosedive after starring in a slew of terrible comedies including 'Boat Trip.'

In the film, Gooding, Jr. stars as a man mistakenly booked on a gay cruise along with 'SNL' alum Horatio Sanz. What follows is a career-killing movie of staggering proportions. While he's bounced back somewhat, for a time Cuba Gooding Jr. was known for basically signing on to any project, no matter how dubious.

10

'I Know Who Killed Me,' Lindsay Lohan

 
 
 
TriStar Pictures
TriStar Pictures

It's debatable whether her reputation as a bad girl or her poor movies ultimately doomed Lindsay Lohan's career, but the psychological horror flick 'I Know Who Killed Me' certainly didn't help. At one point after its release in 2007, the movie held the record for the most Razzie wins in a single year, beating out 'Showgirls' and John Travolta's sci-fi stinker 'Battlefield Earth.' Now that's saying something.

11

'Swept Away,' Madonna

 
 
 
Screen Gems
Screen Gems

Madonna's career in movies has had its ups and downs, but 2002's 'Swept Away,' which was directed by then-husband Guy Ritchie, made its downward trajectory all but certain.

The movie, which is a remake of Lina Wertmüller's 1974 film of the same name, was described as a "cinematic shipwreck" by one critic and "an utter piece of flotsam" by another. Ouch. Aside from a documentary, voiceover work and a cameo in the James Bond flick 'Die Another Day,' Her Madgesty hasn't appeared in a movie since. In 2011, Madonna retreated behind the camera for her directorial debut 'W.E.,' so perhaps that will be the next phase in her constantly evolving career.

12

'The Love Guru,' Mike Myers

 
 
 
Paramount
Paramount

After achieving major commercial success with both the Austin Powers and Shrek movies, it seemed like Mike Myers could do no wrong. But after 'The Love Guru' was released in 2008, we suddenly realized that wasn't true. The film was slammed by critics as unfunny, needlessly vulgar and racist. And Myers? It appears that live-action comedies may be over for him. He's been threatening us with an 'Austin Powers 4,' so we'll see if that kickstarts a comeback.

13

'Battlefield Earth,' John Travolta

 
 
 
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

John Travolta enjoyed a resurgence in 1994 with 'Pulp Fiction,' but his career took a major hit in 2000 with a laughable big screen adaptation of 'Battlefield Earth,' a sci-fi novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Since then, the movie has gone down in history as one of the worst of all time.

Still, Travolta's career isn't completely dead -- see 'Wild Hogs,' 'Hairspray' and 'Bolt,' for example -- but he definitely doesn't have the clout in Hollywood that he used to. (See his recent flop 'Killing Season,' which was barely released in theaters.)

14

'Striptease,' Demi Moore

 
 
 
Columbia
Columbia

We didn't know it at the time, but 1996's 'Striptease' was the beginning of a downturn in Demi Moore's career that she would never recover from. The film was meant to be the perfect showcase for Moore's star power and beauty. (She earned a them record $12.5 million payday for the role.) Instead, it was a critically reviled flop. Her following movie -- 1997's 'G.I. Jane' -- barely broke even and Moore starred in barely seen movies until 2003's 'Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.' Can you name a Moore flick since then? Yeah, we can't either.

Best of the Web

More From Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://screencrush.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on ScreenCrush quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Register on ScreenCrush quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!