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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.