Movie roles that should have made a star (but didn't)

Can you name who played the father of John Connor (Kyle Reese) in the Terminator?
Michael Biehn. Not really a house- hold name is he? That role should have made someone a huge star.
How about - who played Marty McFly’s girlfriend in ‘Back to the Future’? Claudia Wells. Yes Elizabeth Shue is well known as playing her in the next two movies.
How about who played Bill in Bill and Ted?

So is this bad casting by the movie - makers? Or were these roles not good enough.

The classic youtube clip on this topic is - Biff’s Question Song .

Biehn’s done okay. I was actually offended that the (innacurately named) movie G.I. Jane which was about Navy Seals didnt have him in it.

Claudia Wells, though, is one of those cases where somebody makes a movie, it turns out to be a huge success with sequels two and three hastily written and filmed, yet an original actor gets dropped. The same thing happened to Marcus “Tank” Chong from The Matrix.

You’re asking the wrong questions.

Michael Biehn followed The Terminator up with Aliens and The Abyss. Two pretty big movies. But as soon as the 80s ended, he faded into oblivion. His biggest problem was that he was killed off at the end of the first Terminator. If he lived and appeared in T2, we’d probably still be talking about the great Michael Biehn today.

She was in Back to the Future for five minutes. Why would she be a star from that?

Alex Winter (who played Bill) was never interested in being a movie star and has stepped behind the camera.

Michael Biehn was also the physical model for the very first incarnation of Solid Snake.

You’d think that John David Carson would have had a decent career after starring in Pretty Maids All in a Row with Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson, but he went nowhere. Last I heard he was living on the streets in Las Vegas after losing all of his money to a gambling addiction.

Why isn’t Elijah Woods, star of Lord of the Rings a huge star? He did an awesome job with a very difficult role at an extremely young age (about 18).

Why isn’t he everywhere?

I believe Chong’s problem was that he got a big head: thought he was a bigger star than he really was, asked for more money and a bigger role, and learned how expendable sidekick and “second tier” actors can be. True, I liked his role, but I liked the guy who replaced him in the subsequent Matrixes just as well.

This reference to Chong helped me remember the fate of Richard S. Castellano who was Clemenza in GF1. He got replaced by Michael V. Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli in GF2. All over money and billing and such.

How about Mark Hamil? Yes, he is well known, but he is only known for that one particular role, and he was never able to parlay it into an acting career outside that one particular franchise. Harrison Ford, by contrast, was able to build a monster career.

I know this is no help to the thread but I can’t quite remember who it was that was such a consummate villain – the essence of pure evil – in at least one good movie, but has yet to have any roles like it since. Think Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs type of sadistic and mean. All I can figure is the guy got doped out of good roles or else became too hard to deal with for other reasons. May even have died.

Does this description remind you of anybody in particular?

I can see him licking his fingers like Mickey Rourke did in Angel Heart. Maybe it’ll come to me later…

Tom Hulce. He played a main role in a monster hit (Animal House) and co-starred in another monster hit (Amadeus) for which he was Oscar-nominated. I see he’s turned to producing on Broadway.

Yea, I wondered that, but seeing Retun of the Jedi a night or so ago reminded me that he acts like he’s got a broom stuck up his arse.

Dangerous Beauty should have made Catherine McCormack a star. I’m kind of puzzled as to why it didn’t. IMDB lists a lot of subsequent credits and maybe she’s a household name in the UK (almost all the credits are British TV) but I bet very few could’ve told you who starred in it.

Maybe it wasn’t as big a movie as I thought (I’m a whore for period pieces) but she was beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and paired with Rufus Sewell in a gorgeous, sensuous, funny movie.

Maybe she just didn’t want to do what it takes to deal with the whole Hollywood system, or maybe she looked too much like Rebecca DeMornay?

One monster hit doesn’t make someone a permanent household name. All it does is give the actor a chance to make more movies. If those movies don’t do well, or reveal that the success of the first movie had nothing to do with the actor’s acting abilities, then that person will fade away.

But we have to define our terms.

Mark Hamill IS a huge star, he’s still a household name 25 years after appearing in Return of the Jedi even though he done anything notable since then, despite lots of small parts and voice acting.

Others are like Michael Biehn are still “That guy? Who was in Terminator and Aliens? Who was he again?”.

Others are those who stopped acting for various reasons.

I once met a guy who was working on helping Mark Hammil resurrect his career. I mentioned that I had last seen him in one of the Wing Commander games (this was back in the 90s), and he simply said that he’d made some “unfortunate” career moves.

Shouldn’t this thread be titled “Whatever happened to Timothy Hutton?”

He was also in Navy SEALs and The Rock, firmly cementing himself in the role of Navy SEAL Commander / Space Marine / Tech-Com Future Soldier Michael Biehn. He was also in Grindhouse and a hundred other films as a character actor.
What about Guy Pearce? He was in LA Confidential with Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Danny Devito and Kim Basinger. Then he did some smaller, interesting movies like Ravenous and Memento. Then The Count of Monte Cristo. And then he shot his career in the face with The Time Machine.
I’ve often though Peter Facinellishould have been a bigger star. He sort of started out as the douchebag ex-boyfriend of Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can’t Hardly Wait and has mostly done crappy movies and TV shows. But I thought he held his own with Danny Devito and Kevin Spacey in The Big Kahuna as their young sales protege.

I agree that Dangerous Beauty is a great movie and that Catherine McCormack is terrific in it, but most people haven’t seen or even heard of it. It wasn’t a “big” movie at all when it came out. According to, the movie’s total domestic gross was about $4.5 million. That’s tiny. Nobody saw it.

I think people are more likely to know Catherine McCormack from Braveheart, which was a HUGE movie.

And I don’t think she looks at all like Rebecca DeMornay.

Tom Laughlin of the Billy Jack movies not only had 2 big movies but the theme song was a big hit. Then practically zippo.

When I think of Michael Biehn, I think of him as Johnny Ringo in ‘Tombstone’.

In terms of just the number of roles they’ve had, Hamillhas actually had a much more successful career than Ford. The IMDB credits Harrison Ford as having acting roles in just 37 projects after the original Star Wars movie. Mark Hamill has had 169 acting roles since then. Now, Harrison Ford has mostly been appearing in Hollywood films while Hamill has been doing mostly voice work and TV guest star roles so his post Star Wars work hasn’t brought him nearly as much fame as Ford, but Hamill has been working steadily and seems to be pretty successful as a voice actor.

For some reason I spent years with the mistaken impression that Tom Hulce had been the voice of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. (It was actually Robby Benson.) I have no idea why I thought that. A few years ago I’d heard someone ask “Whatever happened to that guy from Amadeus? He was in Animal House too, wasn’t he?” and I looked him up on the IMDB and was quite surprised to learn he had nothing to do with Beauty and the Beast.

Hulce was the voice of Quasimodo in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I never even saw that movie and I think I had this wrong idea about him being the Beast before Hunchback was even released. Oh well. Anyway, that’s one post-Amadeus starring role, even if he wasn’t physically on screen.