Weekend Roundtable: About Time for a Comeback

For people in the entertainment industry, the path to a career comeback is often slow and painful. Whether their personal lives were racked by scandal or they simply don’t work much anymore, which actors and filmmakers do you feel deserve another chance at fame or success?

This week’s topic is not limited to people who’ve been disgraced by scandal. Anyone who has simply been tossed to the wayside by the industry can qualify.

Luke Hickman

I’d love to see Mel Gibson make a massive comeback. There’s no denying that he has some major problems and might be more cuckoo than Tom Cruise – but there’s also no denying that the guy can both act and direct like a madman. He’s starred in plenty of big movies, but some of his lesser-known titles are my favorites, such as ‘Payback’ or ‘Edge of Darkness’. My mainstream favorites are ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and ‘Signs’. When he acts, he gives it his all. Directing is no different. ‘Braveheart’ is the obvious choice to highlight, but I think ‘Apocalypto’ doesn’t get the praise it deserves. Rewatch it. It’s impressive.

Shannon Nutt

From ‘Superman: The Movie’ to ‘Lethal Weapon’ to ‘The Goonies’ to ‘Maverick’, I grew up loving the films of director Richard Donner. He made us believe a man could fly and (for better or worse) was a big reason Mel Gibson became an international superstar. Yet thanks to Hollywood’s bias toward younger directors (unless your name is Spielberg, Scorsese or Eastwood), Donner hasn’t directed a movie since 2006’s ’16 Blocks’ (starring Bruce Willis). It’s a little-known fact that Warner Bros. wanted to make a ‘Lethal Weapon 5’ without Donner. (The studio wanted Shane Black to helm it instead.) Mel Gibson refused to do the movie without Donner and another sequel never happened. Then there were murmurs a few years back that Donner would helm a second ‘Goonies’ film, but nothing ever transpired.

He’s now 86 (the same age as Eastwood) and it looks like Richard Donner might never get behind the camera again. If so, that’s a shame, because he’s been greatly responsible for my love of movies, and I’d guess for many of our readers’ love for them as well.

Mike Attebery

Send Val Kilmer some ‘Beachbody’ workout videos and a decent script and tell him to get back to work! With the release of ‘The Nice Guys’, a lot of people are mentioning Shane Black’s other terrific modern noir, ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, which was made just before Kilmer pulled a mid-decade Baldwin and got huuuuuuge. But that was more than ten years ago, Baldwin is thin again, Shane Black is on a roll again, and Val Kilmer is stuck in a stream of obscure direct-to-video garbage. This guy deserves a comeback!

Brian Hoss

I haven’t seen Sam Neill in anything for something like a decade. Tom Berenger was in ‘Inception’ and then nothing in my purview. Not only are these great character actors (hello, Marvel and DC!), they could even be co-leads in a reboot of ‘Tango & Cash’ or a good version of ‘Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man’.

M. Enois Duarte

Paul Verhoeven is finally releasing his first full-length feature in ten years later this November with the psychological thriller ‘Elle’. It hasn’t been since ‘Hollow Man’ in 2000 that most moviegoers last heard his name and gave him a box office hit. Essentially, it’s been sixteen years since the Dutch filmmaker achieved and enjoyed the same level of success and popularity as he did in the late 1980s and ’90s. ‘Black Book’ was a critical success but went largely ignored in the States. I believe Verhoeven is a brilliant filmmaker deserving a comeback. The genius of his style is the way he injects sociopolitical and cultural commentary into familiar, mainstream genres. His films can be enjoyed as straightforward features by the general public or as meaningful art for cinephiles to further digest and analyze.

Josh Zyber

With the trifecta of ‘Predator’, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘The Hunt for Red October’, John McTiernan was Hollywood’s top director of blockbusters for a time. His movies not only raked in tons of money, but were also respected by critics, which is still a combo difficult to achieve (perhaps now more than ever). Although he had some duds as well, including ‘Last Action Hero’ and the dopey ‘Rollerball’ remake, he undoubtedly could have recovered and turned out at least a couple more action classics.

But then McTiernan did something incredibly stupid and got embroiled in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal. He eventually served time in prison for perjuring himself in court regarding hiring the disgraced private investigator to illegally spy on one of the studio producers he worked for.

Although McTiernan is out of prison now, and IMDb still optimistically lists him as being attached to something called ‘Thin Rain’, it seems incredibly unlikely that anyone in Hollywood will ever trust him again. What a shame that is. Imagine how great it would be if Bruce Willis could bring him back to close out the ‘Die Hard’ franchise on a high note.

Tell us in the Comments about the stars or filmmakers you’d like to see make comebacks.


  1. Paul Anderson

    I would absolutely love to see John Carpenter take one more crack behind the camera. Possibly reuniting with Kurt Russell. I would definitely get amped for that.

    +1 on getting John McTiernan back for another go as well.

    • Mark

      Yes, I’d definitely love another Carpenter movie. Especially it he’s given free reign, and goes in the route of something like Big Trouble in Little China (no reboot or sequel, just that style of movie).

    • Chris B

      We’ll most likely never see another Carpenter movie. Anytime he’a asked about it he immediately shuts down the prospectos making another film and talks about how much work it is. The guy wrote, directed and scored films for nearly 25 years straight. Even if he made another one it most likely wouldn’t be any good because his passion for the process just isnt there anymore.

    • Chaz

      Carpenter directed “The Ward” back in 2010, its been six years since, which isnt insanely long in movie time but since he’s up there in years, it wouldnt surprise me its been this long. Who knows if he will do anything else, but if he doesnt, at least The Ward was much closer to his older films than his later cheese stuff like Escape From LA 😉 (which I love that Carpenter as well, but I’m just saying)

  2. Les

    Totally agree about Apocalypto. I typically do not like sub-titled movies. And yet, Mel Gibson was able to direct one of the finest sub-titled movies I have ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is a spectacular epic adventure. You become so involved in the movie you totally forget it is entirely sub-titled. Now that’s a directorial accomplishment!

    Apocalypto could have or should have been nominated for Best Picture in 2006 but coincided with the year Mel Gibson was arrested for that DUI and the subsequent comments that have haunted him ever since. I think the film was ignored by Hollywood/Academy Awards due to the DUI incident and did not take into consideration the accomplishment of the film itself.

    • Shannon Nutt

      Some of my colleagues will disagree with me, but the subtitled “The Passion of the Christ” was pretty fantastic too.

      • William Henley

        Whether you love or hate The Passion of the Christ, you have got to admit that it is a landmark film. You release a Christian film, which gives you a limited audience, with an R rating, which cuts off even part of that limited market, and then decide to do all the dialogue in a dead language (actually 2, there is some Latin in there as well), and subtitle the entire movie? The fact that the movie was so well received and we are still talking about it means a LOT. As such, this movie deserves a place whenever you talk about monumental films in motion picture history.

  3. I always liked Christian Slater. Heathers, Pump up the Volume, True Romance, and so on. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him. I know there is Mr. Robot, but I’d like to see him in some more films.

    • Bolo

      Sam Neill was good in ‘The Hunter’, too. I really liked that movie. These days he’s semi-retired. I think he has a vinyard or something. The acting he does do doesn’t seem to get big outside of continental Australia I guess.

    • Tom Tuttle

      Sam Neill was recently in an eight episode TV series here in Australia called Old School.
      He played a retired police officer teaming up with a recently released criminal, played by Bryan Brown, to solve the case that forced him into retirement.

      It was quite good an it was very nice to see Sam Neil and Bryan Brown together again in not quite similar roles to the ones they had in Dirty Deeds.

  4. meli

    Alan Parker (Angel Heart, Birdy, The Commitments, Fame, Shoot the Moon, Pink Floyd The Wall, Mississippi Burning, Midnight Express)

    Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Adjuster, The Sweet Hereafter, Calendar, Speaking Parts)

  5. Csm101

    I’ll start off with Tom Sizemore. How does one get from Heat, Saving Private Ryan, Natural Born Killers, Black Hawk Down to Celebrity Rehab? Drugs I guess. I’ve always enjoyed Sizemore’s work as a character actor and wish he would clean up and do something great again. I even love The Relic, which leads me to Peter Hyams. What is he up to these days? I enjoy a lot of his movies, they’re like big budget b-movies with R ratings. I miss those. I got to admit I couldn’t get through A Sound of Thunder. That one was pretty bad, although if it were to get a blu release I’d be willing to give it another chance. I love that he’s his own dp a lot of the time and his shadowy aesthetic.
    Last and most deserving in my book would have to go with Elizabeth Berkley. I can’t say that she was destined for great things, (obviously not) but I think she got it worse than she deserved for Showgirls. Yes it’s a bad movie, but also EXTREMELY entertaining. It also has one of my favorite lines ever in a movie, “I wanna see your ass!”… Gets me every time. Any who, I would like to see her do something that would rectify her acting career and be forgiven for Showgirls, it’s been 20 years, let’s move on. I personally thank you for Showgirls, Ms. Berkley!😍

  6. Chris B

    Martin Brest. Every director makes one bad movie (Gigli wasn’t even that bad). He needs to come out of self-imposed exile and start working again….

  7. photogdave

    Joe Dante. The guy who gave us The Howling, Gremlins and Inner Space is languishing in TV hell!
    (I did like Eerie, Indiana though!)

  8. meli

    There’s a few directors doing high profile TV work who I wish would return to features (or their own TV projects).

    John Dahl – Red Rock West, Rounders, The Last Seduction, Joy Ride

    James Foley – After Dark My Sweet, Glengarry Glen Ross, At Close Range

  9. ScoobySnack

    Bernard Rose really fell off the map after the amazing trifecta of Paperhouse, Candyman and Immortal Beloved. He seems to be languishing in cheap handheld hidef crud. Too bad.
    I second the notion that it would be Karmically perfect for Die Hard to end with McT directing.
    BTW- Val Kilmer got skinny again when Top Gun 2 went into the pipeline.
    And Sam Neill is in a movie this month.

  10. Bolo

    Martin Campbell. I didn’t see ‘Green Lantern’, so I can’t say how bad it was. But I think it’s time that Campbell be allowed to escape the shadow of its failure. I know he’s got a couple of projects coming up, but he never seems to get the kind of recognition he deserves. He’s got a good hand at directing blockbusters. He’s the guy they should have kept bringing back to helm more James Bond movies, not Sam Mendes.

  11. William Henley

    This is a tricky topic for me. Let me start by saying I agree 100% with Mel Gibson – whether you are bothered by what he has voiced in the past or not, you cannot deny that he is both an awesome actor and a fantastic director.

    As to why this is a tricky topic for me, everyone I can think of HAS been busy the last several years, it is just that (with actors) they are taking smaller rolls where they used to play leading characters in boxoffice blockbusters, or in the case of directors, have mostly done producing in the last several years, and the couple of directing projects that they have had were duds.

    So I am approaching this as people who I want to see come back and make a successful blockbuster either as a directing credit or the headline actor, even though they have been keeping consistantly busy lately.

    The first one to come to mind is Dakota Fanning. The last big movie she was in was the Twilight Saga, but she was actually a minor character there. She was a major character in The Runaways, but that movie was kind of a dud. It looks like the last big movie she was in that she played a major character in was Push, way back in 2009. On the flip side of this, it has given her little sister a chance to make a name for herself with Super 8, Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast, which I am happy about – both girls were always fantastic actors, but Dakota usually overshadowed anything Elle did. However, after the release of Beauty and the Beast, Elle will have three major movies where she was a leading character under her belt, and I think it would be a great time for Dakota to come back and do a major film again

    Second one is Christopher Lloyd. Once again, someone who has kept very busy, but he has mostly been doing voicework, and reprising the Doc Brown character, which we all most admit, is his defining role (and truthfully, I would love to see more roles. Telltale games, are you listening? Let’s have another Back to the Future game!) But he also made a great Uncle Fester, and a fantastic Klingon. I would love to see him in a major motion picture or television show again – maybe they could give him a recurring role in the new Star Trek TV series.

    Keanu Reeves. it does look like he was in a couple of fairly big movies recently, though – John Wick and 47 Ronin. I missed both of those at the theater, so I am not sure if they were major roles or not. But seriously, over the course of his career, he has only had a handful of major roles. Give me another Constantine or something with the same badassness as The Matrix. Basically I want another big special effects movie where Keanu is kicking ass!

    Steven Spielberg. Dude, come on, you used to be this huge sci-fi / epic adventure director, blockbuster films, and now you are giving us stuff like The BFG, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Lincoln, and Munich? Now other than Indy, most of his movies have been pretty good, but they are just not on the same scale as Jurassic Park, ET, Close Encounters, Amazing Stories, and Raiders. Shoot, even AI and War of the Worlds were decent (they were disappointing, but I wouldn’t call them bad). Spielberg for the most part has been producing the last couple of decades. I want another big, grand, epic Speilberg movie, something that will capture my imagination, and is bigger than life!

    • meli

      I think “The BFG” was supposed to be a return to form for Spielberg; the story is similar to E.T.
      Ironically, The BFG was overshadowed by “Stranger Things”, a show that copies (or pays homage to, depending on your perspective) Spielberg’s early work.

      Maybe he’ll have better luck with “Ready Player One” or the next Indiana Jones film.

      • Chaz

        Its definitely “stuff” for me, I fell asleep during Munich and was so damn bored and I’ve never even wanted to see Lincoln, its not the type of Spielberg movie I really enjoy, he was the best at making amazing family flicks like ET and probably the ONLY guy out there to grasp what an Adventure movie should really be, in Indiana Jones. I was never a fan of most of his dramas except Saving Private Ryan

      • Spielberg’s earlier works were big Sci-Fi or Action/Adventure movies, with breathtaking visual effects. He and Lucas practically redefined what visual effects look like on motion pictures. Every movie pushed the bar futher and futher.

        Munich and Lincoln are both great movies, as was Amistad and Scheiendler’s List, But to many, Spielberg making movies like this would be like if you heard that Tim Burton directed BBC’s Planet Earth, or James Cameron is making an Imax Documentary about shunken ships (oh wait, that last one happened), or if John Wayne had of started staring in romance musical comedies. Not that they cannot do a fantastic job in those generas, but if John Wayne had of spent almost two decades doing romance musical comedies after two decades of doing westerns, wouldn’t you want him to come back and give you another western?

        • Hm, okay, William, I agree with what you just said. You raised some valid points and concerns. I would argue ‘Tintin’ is a recent Spielberg that evoked his epicness of yesteryear.

          Who knows what grand epic Spielberg has planned for us next, eh? Maybe ‘Indiana Jones V’ will be excellent? Exciting times.

          • William Henley

            Truthfully, I feel Crystal Skull was pretty epic, but I know many feel different. I thought the directing and the scale and cinematography was fantastic, it just had an awful story and leading actor.But I think he got so much backlash from it, I would be surprised if he does anything on that scale again.

            Actually, I feel the same about Star Trek 5. A lot of people fault Shatner, but he did an amazing job with the turd and the budget and time constraints he was given. Star Trek 5 had some of the best character development of any Star Trek up to that point, and DeForrest Kelly should probably have won an Oscar for his performance. But despite the fact that the director and actors each gave it their all, the script was a turd, they had no budget, and stupid crazy deadline that had to be met.

  12. charles contreras

    John Badham was a hell of a director with Saturday Night Fever, Dracula and The Hard Way, so I”d love to see him at the helm of something interesting. Eddie Murphy is coming out with a new film titled Mr. Church, but I would definitely like to see him do his stand up routine again, and be just as edgy as he was way back when. And yeah, I also think Robert DeNiro should make one more serious classic performance that we could all be proud of seeing him in.

  13. Would love to see Martin Brest get another shot after the Gigli fiasco. Mentioned earlier this week in the Midnight Run column, but worth repeating.
    Would like to see Howard Deutch get another shot at the big screen to see if he could recapture some of that mid-80’s magic.
    Almost a decade since Curtis Hanson’s last film, which is a shame. He’s 71, so I hope he has another good one in him.

  14. Sharon Stone deserves a comeback.

    I haven’t really thought about her for a while, but I saw a recent interview with her, where she mentioned that she’s not offered any roles anymore. That’s a huge shame.

  15. Les

    Blood Father is available NOW for rental on, at least, on Vudu Digital HD and iTunes for $6.99!!! Unfortunately, not for purchase, however. I would have rather payed the probably $14.99 just to own it!

    When I saw it on Vudu last night, Sunday, I immediately rented it and watched it! It was as great as I had hoped it would be!

    You can’t beat a $6.99 rental on a brand new movie release when it will not ever to come to a theater in my area anyway. That is actually way cheaper than it would cost to go see it with a couple of people at the theaters!

    I WILL purchase Blood Father on Digital HD as soon as it becomes available.

      • Al

        Josh, I think you misunderstood his original comment. I don’t think he was ever saying that he rented it or watched it twice. When he says “When I saw it on VUDU…”, he was saying “When I noticed it was available on VUDU”, in essence. He then proceeded to say that he immediately rented it. He wasn’t saying that he saw it, and then immediately rented it again to watch it again. Just my $0.02. 😎

  16. Les

    Yes, any rental is good for 24 hrs. You can watch it repeatedly for that 24 hr. period. I just checked my Vudu account and it still indicates I have 6 hrs. left.

  17. Eric

    I have to agree with you Luke, Mel Gibson is one I would like to see have a comeback. Apocalypto was also a great movie that is often overlooked. Now that you mentioned it I think I will pull it out and watch it this weekend. On a separate Mel Gibson note I try to judge actors by their movies and acting abilities because in the end they are all human and make dumb decisions and mistakes so I just want Mel back in the movies because he makes and acts in usually good to great movies.

    • Bolo

      I think Mel will be able to come back as a director. He’s directed a war movie called ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ which is coming out soon. It is getting some praise and looks like it will get a wide release. I doubt he’ll ever win another Oscar, but if this movie makes money and gets good reviews then I’m sure he’ll be able to get more directorial projects off the ground. Hopefully he’ll do that Viking movie he was going to do with Leonardo DiCaprio years back.

      As an actor, I think his best shot at getting a big role in a big movie is if Tarantino wants to use him. Otherwise, I think he’ll continue to get lead roles in stuff that almost goes DTV like ‘Blood Father’ and maybe some small supporting roles.

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