What happened to Thora Birch?--and other actors that seemed to disappear for no reason...

Sometimes I wonder what happened to a particular actor. Thora Birch was ruling the world after* American Beauty* (1999) and Ghost World (2001). Sure if you look at IMDb, she’s done stuff since then. That’s true of most actors you look up on there. The question is why she didn’t go on to be the big star but Scarlett Johansen did (her costar in Ghost World, whom I really didn’t notice at the time).

Also, to expand the topic a bit, do you have an actor that you’re surprised (more or less) disappeared after big success?

Chris Tucker

Rush Hour came out in 1998. Since then he’s appeared in only 2 movies: the sequels. I’m not a big fan, but that always struck me as being a bit peculiar.

I wonder the same about Haley Joel Osment.

He outgrew his childhood cuteness and became a very everyday looking adult.

The one actor that really puzzles me is Christian Slater. He seems to have gone from big name to almost exclusively starring in direct-to-video western movies these days.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Okay, he hasn’t disappeared and continues to work but none of his roles post-Jerry Maguire ever came close to his award winning role in that movie.

He needs to fire his agent or something.

Thora Birch - daddy issues.

Christian Slater - drink and drugs.

Slater has actually been quite busy last few years. Currently the re-tooled and not nearly as funny Breaking in

Here’s a discussion, with a picture of her looking horrifying as a blonde.

Haley has been working. In between (and now after) spending four years at college. And I’d call him odd-looking rather than ordinary looking. Which may be bad for a movie star, but good for an actor.

(Interesting Mad Men connection, BTW. Alison Brie is in Montana Amazon; they play brother and sister. And “Red” was about the creation of Mark Rothko’s painting of the same name – the painting Bert Cooper had in his office, that everyone thought was so weird.)

Whoa. Creepy.

I read somewhere that Chris Tucker decided he had enough money and he wasn’t going to do anything but the sequels he’s done.

This happens a lot with actresses. My example is Demi Moore. One day, she’s on top of the A-list. Then the very next day she’s completely gone. When I saw the second Charlie’s Angels movie, I kept thinking, hey I’ve seen that woman before. I realized looking at the credits that it was Demi Moore.

Somewhat less famous, but Elizabeth Shue also suddenly vanished. Sean Young looked like she was going to be really big in the early 80s, and then there was a whole lot of nothing.

Sean Young is also utterly insane.

Holy flurking schnit! I’d never heard any of that before. The only thing I remember reading, and now it has a whole new extra creepy light, was how she was able to appear nude (topless anyway) in *American Beauty *at only 17 because her parents said it was ok and were on set. Eeeeek! Fucking greek tragedy! Has no one tried to rescue her from this clearly unhealthy situation?!

Aye, she is. And her career continued until the mid-90s, with a string of hit movies: No Way Out (1987), Wall Street (1987), A Kiss Before Dying (1991), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994). It was only post-1995 that she (mercifully) faded.

Elisabeth Shue is back in action on CSI, but yeah, she did lay low for awhile there. With actresses, I sort of assume they drop out to raise some kids, then come back to it when the kids are old enough.

Meg Tilly was in a lot of movies from the early 80s until 1994. Then she suddenly disappeared entirely. I see on IMDB that she has come back into some TV roles just recently.

Huh? She’s a 30 year old adult! As both parents were adult film actors, neither had any problem with nudity, so they approved it and, as she was underage, they had to be on the set. As for the Dracula thing, that is over the top - stage parents do NOT try to over-rule the director. Perhaps that was the final straw, and she’ll take control of her own career. But there is no “rescue” needed.

She’s a writer who occasionally acts.

Patrick Swayze. Huge as the 1980s became the 1990s, but after Ghost and Point Break I guess he decided to spend more time living his life than appearing in films.

Juliette Lewis? The 1990s? Juliette Lewis seemed to be all over the place in the 1990s, but she evaporated into thin air thereafter. Not necessarily a bad thing. Not strictly speaking on-topic, though, because you can tell why the roles dried up; she become famous playing teenage ne’er do wells, which she couldn’t continue doing as she got older.

Most of the cast of Young Guns (1988). Lou Diamond Phillips and Emilio Estevez were hot young stars at the time. Phillips’ career immediately tanked - it looks as if he was only given Latin / Native American roles - and Estevez seemed to stagger on for a while before giving up in 2000, probably decided to retire on the money he made the Mighty Ducks.

Moving back, Steve Guttenberg. Major a-list star of Police Academy, Cocoon, Short Circuit, 3 Men and a Baby. Bigger than Tom Hanks. And then nothing of note, in fact he became a kind of anti-star, a bad joke. In fact Tom Hanks is a kind of inverse of this topic, he prevailed where Guttenberg and Reinhold and Feldman and Galligan and Broderick failed. He beat them all.

Heath Ledger. Massive hit as the Joker in The Dark Knight, critical respect with Brokeback Mountain, but apart from a short part in some Terry Gilliam movie, nothing. And yet the producers of The Dark Knight didn’t make the same mistake Tim Burton made when he killed off Jack Nicholson’s Joker in his version of Batman.

Mind you, you can see why Scarlett Johansson became a star; she looks like one. She attractions attention on the red carpet; newspapers put her on the cover; free publicity.