Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big

7 min read

Not too long ago the world celebrated the 100th birthday of the late Charles Addams, who created the Addams Family. But while attempting to write something about this, I realised that my only cultural connection was to the movies.

That led to a different path – whatever happened to all of those actors? But it’s a simple quiz: Raul Julia is dead, Angelica Huston still stars in stuff every now and then, Christopher Lloyd tends to do b-grade cameos (so nothing’s changed) and I don’t know who the fat kid and butler were.

And then there is Christina Ricci, which led to a different topic: hot movie actresses who never made it big, but could have…

Christina Ricci

She was the Hermoine Granger of the Nineties as a generation got to see Christina Ricci transition from girl to hot woman in the Addams Family films.

Okay, she wasn’t quite a woman yet by the second movie, but the potential was there for a blind man to see. Later she met expectations quite nicely with films like Black Snake Moan and a stint on Ally McBeal.

And yet those are among the few highlights of Ricci’s career, alongside a small role in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, co-starring with Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow and fearing Charlize Theron in Monster. Along the way she managed to shine in the TV drama Pan Am and fan-divided Speed Racer.

Yet Christina simply can’t seem to crack through to proper A-list status. Maybe because she also stars in crap like Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star.

Christina Applegate

Do you want irony? The actors who played the parents in Married… With Children have had the most luck career-wise. Ed O. Neil weathered a few flops before landing Modern Family, while Katey Sagal’s recent CV includes Sons of Anarchy, Lost and Futurama.

The kids not so much: David Faustino seems to mainly be doing voice acting, while the lovely Christina Applegate appears to have taken to bit roles in anything that won’t impress you.

Her career highlights, overall, appear to be Anchorman, playing someone’s wife in Hall Pass and playing someone’s mom in The Rocker. Yes, someone’s MOM.

Who thought Kelly would grow up to be a dull, responsible adult?

Alyssa Milano

Another beauty that we got to see grow up in front of us as Samantha in Eighties sitcom Who’s The Boss, there was no doubt that Alyssa Milano would become a knockout.

Sadly her career did not go the same way – its high-water marks are the original Melrose Place and Charmed, that cute witchy show that doubled as sanctuary for b-list actresses.

There was also a brief, but funny stint in the twilight years of My Name Is Earl. Alyssa did try to make us love her sultry side and many fans are thankful that she made stuff like Embrace Of The Vampire, but everyone just watched the nude bits.

Other than that there is little worth remembering. Alyssa has been trying – don’t doubt her ambition – but she has really been collecting the duds.

Shannon Elizabeth

You know who – her lovely assets were on display as the foreign exchange student in American Pie. Cute as a button, but her career has not been as impressive.

Other than another stint in the American Pie sequel, she was in the tepid Thirteen Ghosts and featured as one of the sexy animal liberators in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. Sure, those pay the bills, but didn’t usher her onto the A-list.

That said, she apparently plays a really mean game of poker, so perhaps she doesn’t need the movie money.

Mira Sorvino

Mira made her name fairly early in her career, not only starring in a Woody Allen movie, but netting both a golden Globe and Oscar as well. After that her list of accomplishments peak at Romy and Michele”s High School Reunion, Mimic and dating Quentin Tarantino.

But judging by her sheet on IMDB, it’s not so much that Ms. Sorvino could not get a break. Instead, it would seem she was not that interested in the big name side of Hollywood.

She has appeared in quite a few low budget movies and TV dramas and she has a bug named after her.

Milla Jovovich

No, not Milla! But yes, as visible as this star has been over the years, she doesn’t have that much to show for it. If you remove the Resident Evil films (and for the sake of this list we can only count the first one), all she has left is The Fifth Element and The Messenger, her take on Joan Of Arc.

Apart from that it’s been a mix of low-budget stuff, bombs (A Perfect Getaway, Stone, The Three Musketeers) and TV appearances. Interesting, though, is that one of her early TV roles include an episode of Married… With Children.

While Milla still has a lot of fans, she really needs a couple more blockbusters (and not stuff made by her husband, Paul W. S. Anderson and definitely not something like Ultraviolet).

Claire Danes

A generation of teenagers had a crush on Claire when she appeared to us in My So-Called Life and later in Romeo Juliet. Claire certainly took a stab at it with a list of more movies, but she would only return to blockbuster land – kinda – with the third Terminator movie.

The next highlight is the underrated Stardust. Claire’s star might be on the rise again with the successful Showtime thriller Homeland, but fortunately her filmography does not tell the whole story.

Claire took time off in the last decade to complete her Yale education and she has been spending a lot of time on the stage in theatre productions. A prominent Harvard theatre group also named her Woman Of The Year, so Claire has not been resting on any laurels.

Gabrielle Anwar

You cannot deny that Gabrielle Anwar needs to do very little to add class and spice to any scene. This is arguably why her roles tend to be memorable.

Sadly she managed to appear in very little that anyone would remember. Her first scene of cinematic fire involved the tango with Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman.

A few years later she’d appear along quite the ensemble cast in the cult-loved Noir Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. Her career then descended into lots and lots of bit roles, TV cameos and lots of stuff that seemed to pay the bills more than anything else.

Finally she arrived on Burn Notice and Anwar, then in her mid thirties, showed she still had what it takes. Yes, we all watch it for Bruce Campbell, but Gabrielle adds the spark.

Jeanne Tripplehorn

One name that tempted inclusion into this list was Elizabeth Berkley, who starred in the Verhoeven bomb Showgirls. But Jeanne Tripplehorn is more significant.

First, she was the crazy psychologist in Basic Instinct, Paul Verhoeven’s controversial movie that made Sharon Stone a star. One particular scene with Michael Douglas shot this hypnotic actress to fame.

She would go on to appear in The Firm, a modest success for her, and Waterworld, one of cinema’s biggest box-office failures. From there she mainly starred on TV, eventually finding a stable orbit with Big Love.

But the biggest thing she ever starred in was Basic Instinct, a film that is not remotely as good as you once thought it was.


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A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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