’80s and ’90s Stars Who Made Successful Career Comebacks
Stars may come and go, but there are some actors who can beat the odds and stage a victorious comeback. It’s a rare moment of triumph in an industry that’s usually unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Bright Side compiled a list of the celebrities who were given a second chance to prove that they still have the acting chops to shine even brighter.
1. Robert Downey Jr.
Before he played Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. shot to fame in the ’80s and early ’90s with movies such as Chances Are and Chaplin, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. However, RDJ hit rock bottom in 1996 when he spent more time in courtrooms and rehabilitation facilities than on stage as an actor. Fast-forward to 2008 when he was given a second chance to take on the role of Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man. The Marvel stint proved to be his saving grace, as it catapulted his career to greater heights and let him be named the world’s highest-paid actor for 3 consecutive years.
2. Winona Ryder
Dubbed the ’90s “It Girl,” Winona Ryder starred in a handful of blockbuster films, such as Beetle Juice and Edward Scissorhands. But her shine quickly faded when Ryder got involved in a scandal, which prompted her to take a big break from Hollywood. She made her long-awaited comeback by starring as an aging ballerina in Black Swan and most recently as Joyce Byers in Stranger Things, which was wildly successful.
3. Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum starred in top-grossing films in the ’90s, like Jurassic Park and Independence Day. He made a major comeback in 2014 by co-starring in The Grand Budapest Hotel, which earned him a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award. Since then, he has appeared in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder.
4. Kevin Costner
One of the most prominent actors of the ’90s was Kevin Costner, who worked on blockbuster films such as Waterworld and The Bodyguard. He also became an Oscar-winning actor for his performance in Dances With Wolves. Beginning in 2000, he laid low on film projects and came back with a bang in 2014 in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Draft Day.
5. Paula Abdul
Pop star and choreographer Paula Abdul had several number 1 hits on the Billboard charts during the 1980s and 1990s. However, her music career eventually took a turn for the worse after she suffered from an injury. She made her greatest comeback in 2002 by appearing as a judge in American Idol and has since appeared in several reality shows.
6. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris started out as a child star in Doogie Howser, M.D. and enjoyed tremendous success. But once the show concluded, Harris no longer had any projects to work on. However, after a hilarious appearance in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harris landed the role of Barney in How I Met Your Mother. This role has since become one of the most prominent on the show and made him the A-list celebrity he is today.
7. Drew Barrymore
When celebrities grow up in the limelight, they have a special place in the hearts of their fans. Drew Barrymore was a child star in the 1980s, most notably for her role in E.T., but her future didn’t look so bright when she became an “unemployable disaster” at 14. Years later, she managed to get herself back on track and continued working on some of our favorite movies, like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates.
8. Natasha Lyonne
If you’re a teen movie fan from the 1990s, you’ve probably seen Natasha Lyonne in films like Dennis the Menace and American Pie. She was a funny and lovable actress, but she also struggled with various personal issues that caused her to step away from the limelight. She managed to overcome her demons and landed her biggest role yet in Orange Is the New Black. Her most recent achievement is her work on the comedy-drama series, which earned her 3 Emmy nominations.
Which comeback is your favorite? Do you think these actors deserved their career resurrections? If there’s someone you think should be on this list, feel free to let us know in the comments.