Home Acting Typecast and Trapped: Roles That Ruined Actors’ Careers

Typecast and Trapped: Roles That Ruined Actors’ Careers

Darren December 14, 2023

Many people think Hollywood actors are living the dream. But the reality is often different because it’s such a high-pressure industry. Every time an actor or actress takes a movie role, they must be careful because bad decisions change the course of their entire careers. Some actors even disappear completely after failed movies.

The following stars fell off the face of the earth after their movie roles flopped. One bad performance or poor box office result altered their careers. Some of them also had bad experiences on set or with executives. Check out these roles that ruined actors’ careers now.

After Earth – Jaden Smith

Will Smith was happy when his son Jaden wanted to follow in his footsteps. First, he directed him in The Karate Kid remake before casting him in After Earth. M. Night Shyamalan directed a sci-fi flop that didn’t resonate with audiences and attracted a mixed critical response. The father and son duo played the lead characters in the dystopian thriller.


It was one of those movies that can make or break careers. Jaden’s father hoped that it would ignite a franchise with his son at the center but that’s not what happened. In the end, Jaden walked away from the movie industry and focused on his music as well as being a nepo baby (via Slash Film).

Harry Potter – Rupert Grint

Franchise success can be a blessing and a curse. Grint became one of the most recognizable stars on the planet after his performances as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series. Many critics also believed that he was more technically gifted than his co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.


However, there’s no accounting for Hollywood careers because Grint’s fizzled out. He didn’t get big roles or opportunities after the series finished and stepped back for a while. Grint flirted with theater and the small screen but he’s not the huge star that many expected (via People).

John Carter – Taylor Kitsch

Kitsch rose to prominence after his brilliant performances as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights. He played the brooding bad boy with a heart of gold and earned a cult following across the nation. His charisma and good looks convinced studios that he could move onto the next level in Hollywood.


Some of Kitsch’s co-stars like Jesse Plemons and Michael B. Jordan have had great movie careers. But Kitsch chose the wrong franchise to kick off his after he played the titular role in John Carter. The movie wasn’t bad but it was a box office flop and severely impacted his future (via Fox News).

Kill Bill Vol. II – Uma Thurman

Many people think that the Kill Bill series changed Thurman’s life. They’re brilliant and entertaining movies but there’s a darkness to them that is uncomfortable in hindsight. Thurman played the Bride in the hit movies as Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to the samurai genre (via MTV).


However, she endured Harvey Weinstein’s wretched antics as he attempted to sexually assault her. Meanwhile, she also suffered injuries after Tarantino forced her to drive an unsafe vehicle at high speeds. She wanted a stunt artist to do it but he insisted and it changed the course of her career.

Batman & Robin – Alicia Silverstone

The Batman franchise became almost untouchable for a decade after this major critical flop. On paper, it had the right pieces with George Clooney playing Bruce Wayne and Silverstone starring as Batgirl. Clooney and his male co-stars moved on with their careers after this failure but Silverstone had a nightmare experience.


She faced extreme body-shaming during the post-production period as she gained weight. It was horrific and took her years to recover from it. Women face many double standards in this brutal industry and Silverstone discovered this the hard way. These days she openly speaks about her turmoil as she inspires younger actresses (via People).

Boat Trip – Cuba Gooding Jr.

We’ve seen many actors who took unfortunate roles throughout their careers. However, rarely do we see them bomb like Gooding Jr. did after this shocking choice. He starred in Boat Trip and instantly regretted it because it was a terrible choice. The movie was about two straight friends who mistakenly booked a cruise for gay men.

TV Insider

There are so many things wrong with this already that we don’t need to talk much about it. Critics unanimously panned it and audiences didn’t enjoy it. Gooding Jr. showed promising signs of being a big deal in Hollywood before this. But it only takes one bad choice to ruin careers (via Roger Egbert).

Solo – Alden Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich’s career isn’t over but it hasn’t reached the heights many expected. It was always going to be a risk to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes and play the iconic Han Solo. Many diehard Star Wars resented the idea of recasting the legendary character but Ehrenreich gave it his best shot.


However, there’s no disguising the reality that it was a very average movie. Ehrenreich delivered an earnest performance but didn’t stand out. Meanwhile, he failed to convince studios that he had the chops to be a leading man. That’s why he’s had supporting roles in Oppenheimer and Cocaine Bear (via CBR).

Spiderman 3 – Topher Grace

Nobody would blame anybody for forgetting that Grace exists. That’s because he’s done effectively nothing since he starred in Spiderman 3. He played Venom in the superhero movie but didn’t win over fans’ hearts. Many of them thought that he didn’t fit the role and it’s easy to see why now after Tom Hardy made the character his own.


Raimi cast him because of his passing similarity to Tobey McGuire but it wasn’t a good idea. It didn’t help that there were three villains in the movie. Nonetheless, it gave Grace a big spot but he didn’t make the most of it. He’s had some movie roles since but only in minor supporting roles (via TMZ).

Game of Thrones – Jack Gleeson

Gleeson played one of the most iconic TV villains ever in Game of Thrones. He starred as the vile King Joffrey Baratheon with such conviction that he attracted hate mail. Many people struggled to separate him from his character and this exhausted the young man. In the end, he stepped away from acting because it exhausted him.

Vanity Fair

Acting careers are very strange because it seemed like Gleeson was on course to become a superstar. He has re-entered the acting world but hasn’t taken any big roles since the iconic HBO show. The Irish star favors quiet indie hits because he doesn’t want the same vitriol he once attracted (via Screen Rant).

The Great Dictator – Charlie Chaplin

This is the oldest entry on this list but also one of the most interesting. The Great Dictator is probably Chaplin’s most famous movie so it may seem strange that we’ve included it. Most critics agree that it’s a masterpiece and one of Chaplin’s greatest performances. However, it also ended his Hollywood career before it properly started.

Vanity Fair

The U.S. government feared that he was spreading communism and blacklisted him from the country. This prevented him from having the transatlantic success that he deserved. It’s a wild story but shows where America was at this time (via Criterion). Maybe it was for the best but it’s a big what if?

Jumper – Hayden Christiansen

Christiansen is one of three actors on this list who ruined their careers due to Star Wars. Many critics questioned his talent as he played Anakin Skywalker in the iconic franchise. However, George Lucas’ clunky dialogue and commercial success earned him the benefit of the doubt (via Mercury News).


Then he left everybody in no doubt that he was a better model than an actor after he starred in Jumper. This tedious sci-fi thriller showed Christiansen at his worst. That’s the last time he had a major Hollywood role other than cameos in the Star Wars franchise. But he made his fortune so he won’t worry too much.

Norbit – Eddie Murphy

Sometimes careers run out of gas and that’s what happened with Murphy. The actor enjoyed a couple of decades of success with movies like Beverley Hills Cop and Dr. Dolittle. He successfully transitioned from a comedy career to become one of Hollywood’s leading men but then the roles decreased in quality.


Norbit was the tipping point for Murphy, who quit acting soon after. This crude, fat-shaming comedy was one of the worst movies he ever made and it destroyed his motivation. Murphy returned in the 2020s and achieved critical success. Sometimes a long hiatus is necessary to revive careers (via Far Out).

Fantastic Four – Kate Mara

On paper, Mara has everything to be a big star because she is beautiful and charismatic. But the House of Cards star has never enjoyed massive success on the big screen. Fantastic Four was one of the main reasons why it didn’t work for her. The film was a disaster and she didn’t have enough credit in the bank to get a second chance.


Failures like this force actors to reassess their careers. Mara has focused on TV work and it’s proved to be the right decision because she’s enjoyed critical acclaim. The actress received numerous nominations for her performance and work in A Teacher. She’s found her niche and she’s sticking to it (via E! Online).

Catwoman – Halle Berry

Berry’s career downturn is one of the most shocking of the past couple of decades. For a while, it seemed that she could do no wrong. She won the Best Actress Oscar for a brilliant performance in Monster’s Ball. Then she played Jinx in Die Another Day as she arguably peaked.


However, Hollywood careers are very vulnerable as Berry proved. She infamously starred in Catwoman and this killed her in the eyes of movie studios. Berry spent the next days trudging through supporting roles like Storm in the X-Men series. But she’s never reached the same level since (via Nicki Swift).

Don Jon – Joseph Gordon Levitt

There was a period where Levitt appeared to be in everything. We saw him in movies like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Looper. The latter saw him take the step into a leading role and it seemed like he had a bright future. Then he starred and directed in Don Jon and everything went wrong.

Roger Egbert

This saw him play a pornography addict who also dated Scarlett Johanssen, Julianne Moore, and a bevy of beauties. Many people thought that it was an uncomfortable, cringey movie and didn’t enjoy it. Levitt stepped back from the mainstream after this because it burnt him out (via Empire).

Speed Racer – Emile Hirsch

This movie wasn’t the only reason why Hirsch’s career went into freefall. But it didn’t help the star who was at a turning point in his career. He won acclaim after he played the leading role in Into The Wild. However, news broke of Hirsch’s violence toward women and this instantly stained his career.

Hollywood Reporter

We’ve seen other problematic stars like Casey Affleck and Mel Gibson bounce back. But Hirsch’s final movie before the scandal was the garbage Speed Racer and this stained his filmography. Careers depend on so many factors but too many negatives happened at once in Hirsch’s case (via Slash Film).

Bulletproof Monk – Seann William Scott

Scott became a cult star after he played the irrepressible Steve Stifler in the American Pie series. The obnoxious party animal was one of the most hilarious characters of the 2000s. Scott had a supporting role in the movies but studios thought he had the charisma to be a bigger star.


Unfortunately, it didn’t work out after he flopped in 2003’s Bulletproof Monk. Choosing the right or wrong movies can change the course of actors’ careers. Scott starred opposite Chow Yun Fat but the pair failed to elevate the ridiculous material. In the end, it was a massive failure and Scott’s career never rebounded (via WION).

The Lord of the Rings – Stuart Townsend

Movies ruin actors’ careers in different ways. Townsend is an outlier on this list because he didn’t star in the film that destroyed his future. He was Peter Jackson’s original choice to play Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Townsend was set to fly to New Zealand and take the role of a lifetime.


However, Jackson had doubts at the last minute and finally concluded that Townsend was too young for the part. He replaced the crestfallen star with Viggo Mortensen, who made the character his own. It was the right decision for the movie but Townsend’s career went into freefall after Jackson’s decision (via Pop Sugar).

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Sean Connery

It says a lot about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that Connery decided to retire after it. He couldn’t face the negativity and draining criticism of the movie industry after it. The movie should have had everything to connect with audiences but it didn’t resonate and this rocked the former James Bond star.


Connery believed that it was in line for the franchise treatment but it was a box office flop. Sometimes there’s no accounting for what succeeds and what doesn’t. The movie has average reviews so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But that didn’t help Connery, who hung up his acting cleats (via Joe).

Striptease – Demi Moore

It’s amazing how vulnerable acting careers are. Moore’s situation is a perfect example because one bad role changed everything for her. She had huge popularity before she made the fateful decision to star in Striptease. The studio offered her a record deal to play the leading role in the erotic comedy.


In the end, it was a terrible decision but nobody could have predicted how bad things would be. She instantly entered a rut as she featured in a stream of flops that ruined her trajectory. Finally, she became more famous to modern audiences because of her messy relationship than her acting talent (via Far Out Magazine).

Scooby-Doo – Freddie Prinze Jr.

Scooby-Doo was a commercial success but critics panned it. This drained the motivation out of Prinze Jr. who was one of the hottest commodities in the acting world. He had a huge future ahead of him after he emerged as a 1990s heartthrob. Now it was time for him to take the next step and become a leading man.

Warner Bros

But that’s not what happened as he lost faith in Hollywood and walked away. Many acting careers end before we know what happened and he disappeared without a trace. Prinze Jr. preferred to focus on his family instead of dealing with the exhausting paparazzi and stress of Hollywood (via The Things).

I Know Who Killed Me – Lindsay Lohan

Many actors face personal challenges throughout their careers. We’ve seen the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams deliver iconic performances despite having horrendous demons. Lohan didn’t make the same great choices as these stars when it came to the movies she signed up for.


This meant that people lost respect for the former child star and she became a parody figure. I Know Who Killed Me was a 2007 movie that bombed critically and at the box office. It severely impacted Lohan’s career for the next decade because she was expensive and volatile (via The Guardian).

Abduction – Taylor Lautner

The box office success of the Twilight series convinced studios that Lautner was on track to become a massive star. He became a teen heartthrob because he spent most of the time with his shirt off. That’s also why he won a role in the 2011 thriller Abduction. But there was one big problem with this.


He isn’t a great actor and didn’t have the chops to lead a movie by himself. Meanwhile, the script was silly and it seemed like an excuse to make him run around shirtless again. Moments like these can change careers and that’s what happened here. Lautner never did anything brilliant after this failure (via The Things).

Showgirls – Elizabeth Berkley

Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls was one of the most-panned movies of 1995. It received massive criticism for the amount of nudity and lewd content it contained. Meanwhile, Berkley took the brunt of the abuse because viewers thought she was dead-eyed and uninspiring. It was one of those moments that changed the course of actors’ careers.


Berkley also lost her contract with her modeling agency so she found herself in the wilderness. It was a difficult time for the star but she rebounded and spoke openly about the toll it took on her. She also wrote a book about the challenges that young actresses face in this cruel industry (via Vanity Fair).

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – Jake Lloyd

Some movies ruin lives as well as careers. Lloyd scooped up the dream role of Anakin Skywalker after George Lucas revived the Star Wars franchise. However, the new movie underwhelmed fans and many of them hated Lloyd’s performance. They thought that he was annoying and lowered the tone of the film.


This had a profound impact on Lloyd’s mental health. Later, it emerged that he was living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder which didn’t help. The world can be a cruel place and Lloyd discovered this the hard way. He has experienced a tough life with time in and out of jail too (via Unilad).