Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't Call it a Comeback...Okay, Fine, Call it a Comeback: 80s and 90s Stars who Made it Big the Second Time Around

Many celebrities--or at least their skillful publicists--have the uncanny knack for reinventing themselves many times over. Just when we've grown to accept the notion that they're washed up and irrelevant, they manage to claw their way back to the top again.

It's enough to give hope to currently disgraced public figures like Tiger Woods. Many of these celebrities also dealt with the influx of late night monologue jokes and Saturday Night Live digs at their poor life choices. Generally, there are a few ways to stage an effective comeback after either fading into relative obscurity or committing some heinous act that serves as an affront for even the most lenient rungs on the moral ladder. These means include but are not limited to:

1. Lay low for some period of time and allow your tarnished or dwindling fame public image to fade into the background. As soon as you no longer qualify as legitimate fodder for juicy tabloid stories, stage a comeback in a role completely disparate from your former typecast image. For example, if you were a serious dramatic actor, consider a starkly contrasted comedic cameo or sitcom role. If you were a comic actor, try your hand at a villainous role.

2. Variation: Lay low for some period time and allow your public image to fade into the background. Make a comeback in the exact same role that made you famous. This method works best for reconvening pop music acts.

3. Completely reinvent yourself with little to no grace period between your former "bad" self and the new "good" one. See Spears, Britney. This one requires an especially adept personal management team and potential surrender of your rights.

Robert Downey Jr

You may Remember Him as: Member of Brat Pack, star of films like Less than Zero, Weird Science, The Pick-Up Artist and Johnny Be Good. Also recipient of some cushy industry ins via famous father, Robert Downey, Sr.
And then:
Several brushes with law in re: drugs
And then:
Brief stint on Ally McBeal as lead male romantic interest. Generates buzz; nominated for numerous awards.
And then:
Gets axe in the wake of multiple highly public drug arrests and resultant court-ordered treatment
Now: Rolling in offers and acclaim after monumental success of Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, Sherlock Holmes, and forthcoming Iron Man 2

Britney Spears
You May Remember Her as: Mouseketeer, racy jailbait schoolgirl who hit it big with single "Hit me Baby One More Time," smokin' hot ab-baring performer with python
And then: Quickie marriage/annulment of marriage to high school sweetheart
And then: Chaotic reality show with trashy husband; children ensue
And then: Head-shaving, can't-keep-legs-crossed-while-exiting-car trainwreck stage
Now: Under lock and key by conservator father and stellar management team; hit CD and sold-out tour, MTV "documentary" re: sanity, all rejoice

Patrick Dempsey

You May Remember Him as: Teen comedy hearthrob in cheesy late-80s films like Can't Buy Me Love and Loverboy
Now: Iconic McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy. Co-stars in a few questionable chick flicks (Sweet Home Alabama, Made of Honor) but I'm willing to excuse it because I love Enchanted so much. Kind of a wash.

Teri Hatcher
You May Remember Her as: Lois from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, and that chick in the sauna with disputably real boobs on Seinfeld
And then: A few less than notable bit parts. I mean, Spy Kids? Really?
Now: Cast in 2004 as Susan Mayer on the hit show Desperate Housewives; makes bags and bags of money. Can only assume said bags are delivered to her residence marked inconspicuously like a big dollar sign. You know, like in the cartoons.

Ed O'Neill

You May Remember Him as: Al Bundy on envelope-pushing anti-Cosby-style family sitcom Married with Children
Now: Hilariously misguided patriarch Jay on Modern Family

Rob Lowe

You May Remember Him as:
Member of 80s Brat Pack, rises to fame with movies like St. Elmo's Fire and The Outsiders.
And Then: Reputation-incinerating sex tape leaks. Tape stars incriminatingly underage girl. Yikes.
And Then: Rehab. Before it was cool.
Now: Cements legitimate comeback with roles in The West Wing and Brothers and Sisters

Mickey Rourke

You May Remember Him as:
Sex icon from 9 1/2 Weeks
And then: Boxes. Messes up face. A lot.
And then: Several smaller roles; Films Another 9 1/2 Weeks, several direct-to-video movies. Cries.
And then: Randomly appears as bad guy in Enrique Iglesias "Hero" music video
Now: Stages major comeback with impressive performance in The Wrestler. Plays villain in Iron Man 2. How much do you bet they saw that "Hero" video and thought, "Hey, we should get us some of that"?

The Spice Girls

You May Remember Them as:
Grrrl Power-promoting, Union Jack-wearing girl pop act from the 90s. Stars of Spiceworld. Proceed to spice up our lives.
Now(ish): Play sold-out reunion tour in 2007. Promote selves to proponents of wommmmen-power as fans age considerably.

Kiefer Sutherland

Before he was born:
Grandfather brings universal health care to Canada. Wait, what? It's in Wikipedia. It must be true.
You May Remember Him as: That guy from Stand by Me and The Lost Boys, among others.
And then: Also those guys from A Time to Kill and A Few Good Men respectively
Now: Incredibly famous for role as world-saver Jack Bauer on 24
Oh Yeah: Serves brief jail time for DUI; head-butts one of the designers of Prouenza Schouler. Yep. Head-butts. Public image miraculously pulls through.

Neil Patrick Harris

You May Remember Him as: Doogie Howser, MD. Boy Genius and retro-computer diarist extraordinaire
And Then: The star of many made for TV movies
And Then: Made us laugh with his comeback-grade unexpected cameo in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Now: Generally hilarious on How I Met Your Mother and in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along. Comes out publicly as a gay celebrity in 2006; conveniently already Broadway star. Opens 2010 Oscars because he can.

New Kids on the Block

You May Remember Them as: Having a bunch of hits. At least that's what I hear from LFO.
Now: Stage epic comeback tour in the summa-summa-summertime of 2008. Yours truly failed to procure tickets. Much crying occurrs. Suspect ticket brokers didn't believe I had the "Right Stuff." Proceed to cry much, much more

Alec Baldwin

You May Remember Him as: That guy from Beetlejuice and The Hunt for Red October. Gives stellar performance in Glengary Glen Ross. Marries Kim Basinger.
And then: Divorces Kim Basinger. Raging custody battle ensues.
And then: Narrator of Thomas and Friends? Okay. If George Carlin can do it, why can't Baldwin?
And then: Smaller roles in major films like Pearl Harbor and The Aviator
Actually: You know what? Turns out he's been famous all along. It just took us awhile to realize he's so funny. Call it a comedic comeback. Yeah, we'll go with that.
Now: Comc actor on sitcom 30 Rock with beyond brilliant timing and delivery. Gains some weight and morphs into a significantly cuddlier version of his former self.
Oh Yeah: Threatens aforementioned cuddly reputation with leaked voicemail to his daughter. Uses word "pig" repeatedly. Remarkably manages to retain popularity.

John Cryer

You May Remember Him as:
Irritating nerd and frequent dorky hat-wearer Duckie from Pretty in Pink
Now: Alan Harper on equally irritating CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. Wears significantly fewer hats. Still Dorky.


Sadako said...

Britney Spears is going on tour again? Did not know that. Wow. Hope she makes it through without what happened on South Park occurring.

Children of the 90s said...

@Sadako I was referring to her 2009 Circus which I failed to obtain tickets. I'm still a little bitter she canceled her Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004, actually. Still not over it.

Anna Jane said...

Damn, I forgot that Alec Baldwin used to be hot.

And, just...poor Mickey Rourke..

-Anna Jane

Melanie's Randomness said...

I'm still shocked when I see a New Kid on the Block in something, especailly the SAW movies. Alec Baldwin was hot in Beetlejuice!! Ed O'Neil is soo funny & Neil Patrick harris! I'm glad these people made a comeback, they are definitely famous for a reason!!

Melissa Blake said...

Doooooogie!!! I still love him! And he's hilarious on HIMYM! xoxo

Sadako said...

Ah, 2009--I'm so behind in pop culture of today. Pop culture of the 90s...that's another story. :)

I was confused about the SAW/New Kids thing but then I realized Donnie wasn't in the first one...

I miss when Alec was hot. I had a crush on him in Beetlejuice, but then he got so bloated and slimy looking. When I see him now it's hard to imagine he was ever Adam Maitland!

RAY J said...

Don't forget about Anthony Michael Hall (Brat Pack, star of USA's The Dead Zone) and Bret Michaels - he owes VH1 big time for his comeback =)

tvgirl48 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tvgirl48 said...

I laughed so hard at the New Kids on the Block thing because the second I read the headline, I automatically thought "...had a bunch of hits."

Heather Taylor said...

Wow, Alec Baldwin was pretty hot back in the day.

Anonymous said...

I was just telling my mom the other night, while watching 30 Rock, that I really want to hate Alec Baldwin for the whole daughter-pig thing, but he's just so darn charming! And attractive. I don't care that he's 'bloated'. He's a good looking old dude. :)

Adam's Clayton said...

Ha. Alec Baldwin got funnier, and his head got jealous or something and got larger... Seriously. Alec Baldwin's got a giganta-head.

Miss Kitty Boo said...

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Jen said...

I feel like Mickey Rourke started his comeback in Sin City. He's awesome in that!

I also love old school Alec Baldwin, especially in Malice. "I AM GOD!" good.

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