"One Hit" Actors

Plenty. I think he might even be on American Horror Story now or something. He quit for many years, but even as a kid he had many hits outside Home Alone. None as big as that, but some big ones.

Growing up, my Dad always told me Mark Hamill was kind of a one-hit actor after Luke Skywalker, but we all know now he has had a huge career in voice work.

Malcolm McDowell. Apart from A Clockwork Orange, I’d wager he’s now best known as A British Person.

I was going to say Anna Paquin, but looking at her bio it seems she has had steady success, albeit not quite as famously as her role in The Piano.

It’s not about being in a hit. It’s about turning in a performance that makes everyone think you will be a star, whether or not the movie you did it in was a hit. I remember a lot of gushing over Robin Wright after Princess Bride, but I don’t recall people being dazzled by her in Forrest Gump. She was good, but not standout-awesome.

Here’s an example: Bronson Pinchot. He stole the scenes he was in with Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop and there was a lot of buzz about him afterwards. But nothing really happened for him after that.

Indeed. Between playing Rogue in several X-Men films, and starring in the TV series True Blood, among other roles, she’s built a good career.

I think she counts. She definitely had a star-making role in The Piano, but she didn’t really become a star - just a working actress who is good. Like Gary Sinise.

It was Ann Heche in Donnie Brasco :wink:. But I do agree Gretchen Moll did seem to get an unusual amount of press attention early on. She’s had a perfectly solid career, but I’m not sure I’d call her a “hit” actress at any point. She just was very briefly sort of talked about like she was, probably based more on her looks.

Hmmm…I dunno about any of them. It becomes an issue of the hazy line between undeniable high point and “one hit wonder” I suppose. Wright, Patinkin and Elwes have all had major exposure, a few awards and a boatload of nominations. Afterall you did say actor not film actor :slight_smile: .

Gary Busey. Wonderful as Buddy Holly, then…

He starred in no fewer than eight “Mr. Moto” features.

I always think of Cuba Gooding Jr. when this subject comes up. Apologies if he’s already been mentioned.

They were both in Donnie Brasco – Gretchen played Sonny’s girlfriend. I agree though that she never was a “hit” actress, and the Vanity Fair cover ended up being more of a curse than a career boost.

Aha! Well, there you go - I literally can’t even picture her in that movie and I’ve seen it multiple times.

Yikes. He’s not only been mentioned, it was right after the post I responded to. OK, how about Sally Kellerman? Was anybody expecting things from her after MASH?

Ray Liotta

Princess Bride was never that big a hit. Just a moderate box office, more of a cult movie. So expecting people to make it big out of a cult movie I feel is mistaken.

Wright’s had a great career. Big role in Wonder Woman, that’s huge for a woman over 50. House Of Cards, many other big roles including Gump. To look at her as some sort of disappointment doesn’t match the facts.

Gooding Jr. won an Oscar on a much bigger film. Wright was a young soap actress with an “And Introducing” credit. That’s not particularly close.

How about Ally Sheedy. She was in a couple of Brat Pack films, but while working fairly steadily since, she’s certainly not been a big name. Same for Judd Nelson.

Also in WarGames and Short Circuit. She had a pretty good career until her personal life fell apart.

I’m not quite sure the term One Hit perfectly fits what’s being asked for, but I can agree Cuba Gooding Jr falls into that category where he seemed to have tremendous indications he was about to blast off, then it’s like he just stopped on the launch pad and never really went anywhere. I don’t think Cuba had any personal demons that I’m aware of, he just had the misfortune of taking or being cast in a number of not great roles in a row, and his steam went away. Sometimes in Hollywood you have your moment, and you never get a second one. He’s worked consistently ever since but he was like clearly getting hype like a Tom Cruise tier star and he just didn’t go in that direction.

Might Eric Stoltz qualify? Maybe not quite one-hit he had Mask and Some Kind of Wonderful, both considered seminal teenager 80s movies, he had tons of prestige and fame, and he’s largely gone nowhere since Some Kind of Wonderful which was his big pay day following the attention he got for Mask. Note he doesn’t fall into the child actor category–despite playing teenagers he was in his mid-20s during those films, he was 24 in Mask and 26 in Some Kind of Wonderful. He also famously was the original Marty McFly in Back to the Future; they even had done scenes with him before deciding he just wasn’t working out as Marty. Perhaps his career would have had a different trajectory if he hadn’t gotten fired from that movie.

The first name I thought was Mena Suvari. Was touted as being The Next Big Thing after both American Beauty and American Pie (so maybe not a true “one hit” wonder but both films came out a few months apart) in 1999 and then… didn’t really do much else. Looking at her IMDb since then she’s done a bunch of bit parts on TV shows or films I’ve never heard of.

Maybe I misunderstood the OP. I was thinking of actors that had that certain ummph in a particular role. Not just someone who had a starring role in a popular movie and then fizzled out.

I don’t think anyone ever compared Ally Sheedy to Meryl Streep.

Who is the next Meryl Streep? Pacino? Deniro? (im showing my age). I can’t think of too many current actors that bring that gravitas to a role.

Mira Sorvino should have had a fantastic career after getting an Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite, and following it up with a few other good film roles, but faded into near-obscurity after being blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein for spurning his advances.