13 Celebrities That Made It Big With Just One Role and What They Look Like Today

There are immortal characters that audiences will always remember and associate with the actors who played them. For example, think of 1985’s Michael J. Fox time-traveling in a DeLorean in Back to the Future. Since then his image has always been associated with that of Marty McFly. These are actors who made such an impact with their roles that their image will always be linked to the character that made them famous.

Bright Side wants to show you how some celebrities with iconic roles have changed over the years.

1. Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future

In the early morning of October 26, 1985, Marty McFly traveled to the past in a time machine built in a DeLorean car. This unforgettable moment from the movie Back to the Future (1985) became an icon in film history. The film made a young Michael J. Fox, 24 years old, a star. The success of the feature film led to 2 sequels, in 1989 and 1990.

Fox continued his film career, although his biggest success was the time travel trilogy. In 1991 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and years later founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organization to help people with the disease. After that, he continued to guest star in television series such as Scrubs (2004) and Designated Survivor (2018).

2. Barbara Eden as Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie

In 1965 the world met Jeannie, the beautiful genie who lived in a bottle and fell in love with Colonel Anthony Nelson. Barbara Eden was 34 years old when the series I Dream of Jeannie premiered, and for 5 years she played the adorable and mischievous Jeannie. This role earned her Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations. Today, at 90 years old, she is still active in giving interviews and connecting with her fans on her official social networks.

3. David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch

American actor and musician David Hasselhoff was already known in several countries for his role as Michael Knight in the series Knight Rider (1982-1986). His portrayal of Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch ended up making him a television star.

The series about the adventures of a group of lifeguards had its first season in 1989 on NBC. However, it was canceled. Hasselhoff agreed to lower his salary in order to relaunch the series in 1991. He remained in the series until 2000. In recent years, the actor has made cameos in films like SpongeBob SquarePants the Movie.

4. Lynda Carter as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman

At the age of 24, Lynda Carter played Diana Prince, Wonder Woman, in the eponymous series that aired from 1975 to 1979. This character marked her career. In 2005, she played a school principal in Sky High. Here, after locking up the villains, she tells them: “I can’t do anymore, I’m not Wonder Woman,” in a clear reference to her iconic character.

In 2020, at the age of 69, she made a cameo in the film Wonder Woman 1984. And she is expected to return for a possible third film sequel of the franchise.

5. Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira in Scarface

In 1983, American director Brian De Palma presented the film Scarface, starring Al Pacino. A young Michelle Pfeiffer co-starred the movie with him. She was 25 years old and played Elvira Hancock. She made an impact with her beauty and talent which, over the years, cemented her as a top actress in Hollywood.

Today, Pfeiffer is still going strong in acting. In 2018, she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Janet Van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp. In 2019, she participated in Maleficent as Queen Ingrith.

6. Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha in Bewitched

In 1964, audiences met Samantha Stephens, a friendly witch who married Darrin, a publicist. The adventures of Samantha, who used her magic in everyday situations, were the basis of the Bewitched series. The show won over audiences for 8 years (until 1972), was nominated for 32 Emmy awards, and won 13.

Elizabeth Montgomery, 31, became everyone’s favorite witch, with her signature nose movement accompanying each spell. After the series, Montgomery continued her career in television films. In 1994, a year before she died, she played journalist Edna Buchanan in Deadline for Murder.

7. Cameron Diaz as Tina in The Mask

Cameron Diaz’s was a debut in style: opposite Jim Carrey in the hit The Mask. She was 22 when she played Tina, a singer and girlfriend of the villain, who falls in love with Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey). Although the film is noted primarily for its special effects, it served to launch Diaz’s career.

It was followed by hits like There’s Something About Mary and Charlie’s Angels. In 2014, she took a career break to devote herself to her family and in 2017 she made known her definitive retirement from acting.

8. Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell in The Mummy

American actor Brendan Fraser’s breakthrough came in 1999 when he played adventurer Rick O’Connell in The Mummy. The success of the feature film led to the filming of 2 sequels, both with Fraser.

Since then, the actor has appeared in numerous films. However, some personal and health problems kept him away from the big screen. For several years he was in television series and in 2019 he returned to film. In 2021 he was linked to the new film by Martin Scorsese: Killers of the Flower Moon.

9. Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins

English actress Julie Andrews has a long resume. But one of her emblematic roles, which won her the Oscar for Best Actress, is that of the magical Mary Poppins. The film was released in 1964 when she was 29 years old. In 1997, her sweet voice, which was one of her characteristics, was affected after throat surgery.

In 2001 she starred opposite Anne Hathaway in another hit, The Princess Diaries, as Queen Clarisse Renaldi. The film had a sequel in 2004.

10. Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman

Jaime Sommers was a character who was created as the girlfriend of Steve Austin, the protagonist of the series The Nuclear Man. In one episode she died. The negative reaction of the viewers forced the directors of ABC to revive her and give her her own series. Thus The Bionic Woman was born in 1976.

This has been the most remembered role of its leading lady, Lindsay Wagner, now 72 years old. She received an Emmy in 1977 for best actress in a drama series. Between 2018 and 2019, Wagner was on Grey´s Anatomy, where she played Helen Karev.

11. Geena Davis as Thelma Dickinson in Thelma & Louise

Geena Davis is remembered for important films like The Fly and The Accidental Tourist, which won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1989. In 1991, she starred in Thelma & Louise alongside Susan Sarandon. The film won the Oscar for best original screenplay.

This film was considered a vindication of women’s rights, at a time when the film business was almost entirely run by men. In 2007, Davis created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. In recent years, she has acted mainly in television series.

12. Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

The role of Michael Corleone, the youngest son of mob boss Vito Corleone, was one of the most coveted in 1972. Actors like Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson wanted to play him. But Al Pacino was the chosen one, who at the age of 32 was just beginning his film career.

Thanks to The Godfather, Pacino was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He reprised the role in the other 2 parts of the trilogy. Today, at the age of 81, the Oscar winner for best actor for Scent of a Woman (1992) is still alive and well on the big screen.

13. Molly Ringwald as Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink

Released in 1986, Pretty in Pink, by director and screenwriter John Hughes, became a classic teen movie. Its leading lady, Molly Ringwald, was one of the best-known young actresses of the era. She also appeared in 2 iconic films of the 1980s: Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, both by Hughes.

Molly Ringwald continues to act in film and television productions. In 2018 she participated in Kissing Booth.

Which character from old movies or series is your favorite? Which film do you rewatch every chance you get?

Psst! Bright Side has real quizzes now. We publish new ones daily. Go check them out.

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