John Travolta was a star of the highest calibre- Saturday Night Fever in 1977, followed straight away with Grease in 1978, the highest grossing musical of all time. (Take that, Mamma Mia). For some bizarre reason, however, he dropped out of the night sky and faded (mostly) into obscurity. Now, some may argue with me here, but go along with me for the sake of this article. Then, in 1994, Quentin Tarantino cast him as Vincent Vega- pretty much the main role in Pulp Fiction. This, in Hollywood history, for me, marks the very fi rst Hollywood comeback. And although he didn’t quite cling on to stardom after that, it’s still important. This brought on the mass of comebacks that we see today.
In light of the triumphant comeback and subsequent academy award nomination of Michael Keaton in Birdman – after a large hiatus as a star (basically since Batman Returns), I’m going to look at some of the most impressive celebrity comebacks (or 180s) that actors have ever pulled.
First off we have Drew Barrymore, who, living the life of a famous actor’s daughter, succumbed to drug abuse after being in E.T. – being addicted to drugs at the age of 14. (Holy Fuck). She made a great comeback though, being in several terrible yet hilarious films with Adam Sandler, in Donnie Darko and the movie remake of Charlie’s Angels. Now she’s generally cool and was named ambassador against hunger for the U.N.’s World Food Programme, donating a million bucks to the cause.
One person I of course can’t forget is , of course, Robert Downey Jr .For years, RDJ struggled with drugs- taking heroin and cocaine, missing court mandated drug tests, and being in and out of rehab almost constantly. However, in the early 2000s he began testing the waters again, being in low-key yet awesome movies like Zodiac and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Now he’s the highest paid actor in Hollywood, taking home a fucking ridiculous $50 million from the Avengers alone. Getting the role as Tony Stark was pretty much the best career move anyone ever could have made, and he did it off the back of a decade long drug addiction.
Now, Hollywood comebacks are all the rage still, but we’ve also broken through into a different era- the era of Hollywood 180s. When an actor is fed up of taking his shirt off and showing off their glistening abs (or the exact opposite – I’m looking at you, Chris Pratt), and decides to do some worthwhile acting. The best example of this is probably our good pal Matthew McConaughey changing from the douchebag shirtless guy in Sahara, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, etc. and becoming a formidable force to be reckoned with- with insane acting range- being a psychopathic killer in Killer Joe (Unsurprisingly), drug addled and hilarious banker in Wolf of Wall Street, and winning the academy award for best actor for his incredibly believable roguish aids suff erer in Dallas Buyer’s Club. This little transformation has been dubbed the ‘McConnaissance,’ which is incredible.
Maybe actors see others doing such things and just follow suit, do whatever’s fashionable at the time – which is why Steve Carrell’s got weird prosthetics and acting an insane person in Foxcatcher. Whatever the reason, we can all be bloody happy- movies are as good as they’ve ever been, and they just keep getting better.