Hollywood loves a good comeback story. Actors fall out of the spotlight often, and few make the climb back to their top spot. Fortunately for those who love underdog stories, some Hollywood stars not only make the climb back, but also surpass their previous fame to reach new heights. Here are a few of the most notable:
Neil Patrick Harris
NPH initially gained fame as the memorable boy genius, Doogie Howser, in 1989. The show was a hit and he attained child star status. Following the end of the show in 1993, though, NPH faded out of the spotlight, like most child stars. Aside from a supporting role in the cult-hit Starship Troopers, his career was unremarkable. In 2004, he found himself in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and things began to pick up with his stints on Broadway also becoming more frequent. He regained his household name status in 2005 as Barney on How I Met Your Mother and his stardom has only increased from there.
For most, it seems impossible that Betty White was ever not the famous Betty White. While she might be one of the most beloved actresses of today, she faded out for a few years following the end of The Golden Girls in 1992. Although her career didn’t stop, the fame fizzled until 2009 when she starred opposite Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. Shortly after, she won the hearts of millions in a Superbowl commercial and roles began pouring in. At 92-years-old, Betty White is busier than ever and has legions of fans at her command.
Drew Barrymore’s comeback story is one of the most well known, and for the right reasons. She gained fame as a child and fell into severe drug and alcohol problems as a teenager. She was in and out of rehab twice before she was even sixteen years old. Nobody had any faith in the young woman, but then the ‘90s happened. Throughout the ‘90s Barrymore starred in various romantic comedies like Never Been Kissed. In 2000, she solidified her comeback when she co-starred in Charlie’s Angels and its sequels. Today she continues to act, but is also an accomplished director and producer.
In A Streetcar Named Desire,Brando found his initial fame. He was regarded as hugely talented, and equally as attractive. In 1954 he won an Oscar for his performance in On The Waterfront and his fame seemed to only be rising, culminating in his next Oscar nomination for Sayonara in 1957. The 1960s didn’t bring much for Brando, but this was rectified by his most recognizable role in The Godfather in 1972, for which he won another Oscar. The end of the ‘70s brought forth another tough spell for Brando, though, as his horrible reputation on Apocalypse Now and his sell-out price for Superman tarnished his reputation as a serious actor. A decade later he made a small comeback and received his last Oscar nomination. Although his fame for recent films is debatable, the multiple comebacks for the once-great Marlon Brando earned him a place on this list.
Robert Downey Jr.
Not too long ago Robert Downey Jr. had been written-off as a has-been. In 1985, at the age of twenty he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Soon after, he starred in the acclaimed Less Than Zero before earning an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. That was where the fame-high ended and RDJ turned towards new highs. Between 1996 and 2001 he was frequently arrested for drug-related charges and struggled to find work. After those dark years, he found sobriety and came back with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Soon after, he was cast as Tony Stark in Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes in a Sherlock Holmes reboot. Both roles rocketed him back to fame and renewed his status as a household name for all the right reasons.
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