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

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 10

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 11

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 12

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 13

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 14

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 15

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 16

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 17

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
Hot but no cigar,Several actresses who never made it big 18

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.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: January 25, 2012


  1. The list pretty much nailed it, although I was gonna ask… didn’t Christina Applegate’s own TV show that she did a couple of years back do really, really well? I seem to remember it even winning some awards. Could be wrong though.

    Gabriella Anwar, still so sexy even though we grew up with her as kids… hot.

    • Avatar

      James Francis

      January 26, 2012 at 08:20

      If it’s not on HBO, Showtime or AMC, it doesn’t exist to me.

      • Avatar

        Nick de Bruyne

        January 26, 2012 at 09:50

        Ok then, I’ll just err… consider the whole list invalid then!

        • Avatar

          James Francis

          January 26, 2012 at 11:11

          Your comment does not appear on HBO, Showtime or AMC. It is invalid to me. 

  2. Avatar

    Geoffrey Tim

    January 25, 2012 at 13:36

    Believe me…a couple of those women definitely made *ahem* it *ahem* big. *fap fap fap fap*

  3. Avatar

    Gavin Mannion

    January 25, 2012 at 13:59

    All lies, Basic Instinct was one of the defining moments of my childhood… also the ‘follow up’ Sliver is one of the best soft porn movies I’ve ever seen

    • Avatar

      Kervyn Cloete

      January 25, 2012 at 15:22

      Watching Basic Instinct was basically a rite of passage for young teenage boys in the 90’s.

      • Avatar

        Justin Hess

        January 30, 2012 at 18:24

        Yip. Even at the tender age of 12, I could appreciate its Post-Modernist take on the Hitchcokian formula and its witty play on 90s feminism as it alluded to the writings of Simone de Beauvoir.

        Actually, that’s bullshit.

        • Avatar

          Kervyn Cloete

          January 30, 2012 at 22:40

          Yeah, you watched it for the vagina.

  4. Avatar


    January 25, 2012 at 15:13

    CHristina Applegate had a pretty succesful show a couple of years back  She played a psychiatrist or somesuch that lost her memory and rediscovered everything.

    As for Gabrielle Anwar, she was classy in Scent of a Woman, but in Burn Notice she just comes off as skanky.  

  5. Avatar

    James Francis

    January 26, 2012 at 08:10

    True, Applegate has Up All Night, but it involves babies, so that’s probably why I blocked it. 

  6. Avatar

    Lourens Corleone

    January 30, 2012 at 12:37

    Well, to be fair, Claire Danes did quite well in 2010/2011 with Temple Grandin.

  7. Avatar


    March 20, 2012 at 18:02

    Basic instinct is the reason man invented ice-cube trays, negating the need to have ice picks around the house.

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