Actors Who Experienced Underwhelming Endings to Their Careers

By Krystal Brown

The world is full of talented individuals who have graced the stage and screen with their brilliance. But even the most gifted artists can have a misstep, and sometimes their final acts fail to live up to the expectations of their fans.

Marlon Brando

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Despite being widely regarded as the greatest actor of all time, Marlon Brando’s career featured more disappointments than triumphs. It’s argued that Brando’s performance declined in his later years. According to one moviegoer, Brando seemed to lose his motivation in the early ’70s. Evidence of this decline includes his weight gain in Apocalypse Now (1979) and reported struggles with mastering lines in The Godfather (1972).

Meg Ryan

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The queen of romantic comedies in the 1990s, Meg Ryan charmed audiences with her roles in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. However, her career took a downturn in the 2000s, as she faced negative publicity for her affair with Russell Crowe and her plastic surgery. She also starred in several flops, such as The Women and Ithaca. Her last major role was in the 2016 TV series Picture Paris, which was never picked up by a network.

Rick Moranis

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The comedic actor who made us laugh in Ghostbusters, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Spaceballs decided to step away from acting in 1997 after his wife died of cancer. He wanted to focus on raising his two children as a single father and only took occasional voice roles in animated films. He has recently announced his return to acting, with a role in the upcoming sequel to Honey I Shrunk the Kids, titled Shrunk.

Cameron Diaz

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The bubbly blonde who rose to fame with her roles in There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels, and Shrek surprised everyone when she announced her retirement from acting in 2018. She said she wanted to focus on her personal life and has since married musician Benji Madden and welcomed a daughter named Raddix. She has also launched a wellness brand called Avaline, which produces organic wines.

Sean Connery

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The iconic actor who played James Bond and won an Oscar for The Untouchables had a long and illustrious career that spanned six decades. However, his last film was the 2003 flop The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which he reportedly hated so much that he quit acting altogether. He also turned down several lucrative offers, such as playing Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Dumbledore in Harry Potter. He lived a secluded life in the Bahamas until he died in 2020 at the age of 90.

Robin Williams

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Williams was an American actor, comedian, and singer who is considered one of the greatest entertainers of all time. He had a long and successful career in film and television, but his later years were marred by personal problems. He died by suicide in 2014.

Jack Nicholson

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The three-time Oscar winner who gave memorable performances in films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, and As Good as It Gets has not appeared on screen since 2010’s How Do You Know. He has reportedly retired from acting due to memory loss and health issues, although he has not officially confirmed this. He still attends basketball games of his favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and occasionally makes public appearances at award shows.

Renee Zellweger

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The actress who won an Oscar for Cold Mountain and charmed audiences with her role as Bridget Jones went on a six-year hiatus from acting after starring in the 2010 film My Own Love Song. She said she needed a break from the pressure and scrutiny of Hollywood and wanted to live a normal life. She made a comeback in 2016 with Bridget Jones’s Baby and won another Oscar for playing Judy Garland in 2019’s Judy.

Eddie Murphy

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The comedian and actor who rose to fame with his roles in Saturday Night Live, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America had a string of box office hits in the 1980s and 1990s. However, his career declined in the 2000s, as he starred in several critically derided films such as Norbit, Meet Dave, and A Thousand Words. He also received a Razzie Award for Worst Actor of the Decade. He made a comeback in 2019 with Dolemite Is My Name, which earned him critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination.

Cuba Gooding Jr

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Cuba Gooding Jr. enjoyed critical acclaim and success after his Academy Award-winning performance in “Jerry Maguire.” However, despite his early triumphs, Gooding Jr.’s career failed to maintain its momentum. He appeared in a series of forgettable films, often struggling to find projects that showcased his talent. Despite occasional glimmers of brilliance, Gooding Jr.’s later career has been largely marked by missed opportunities and disappointing roles.

Lindsay Lohan

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Lindsay Lohan began her career as a child actress, showing immense promise and talent in films like “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls.” However, as she transitioned into adulthood, Lohan’s personal struggles and legal issues overshadowed her acting career. Frequent stints in rehab and legal troubles hindered her ability to secure substantial roles. While Lohan has attempted comebacks, the once-promising starlet has yet to reclaim her former glory.