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There's no business like show business, like no business I know...
Ever since Hollywood has been in existence, it has tried to make new stars. A new big star can sell a movie, and once they're proven a success, they can sell many other movies. This is especially handy when the fickle viewing audience turns on a big-name actor with star power, or Real Life Writes the Plot and they do something scandalous. Having a long line of replacements always pays off, and you can never have too many major stars.
The Hollywood Hype Machine refers to the massive set-up that is in place to create said new stars, or new TV shows, books or movies. An aspiring, good-looking young actor or actress, after getting a few noteworthy roles in indie films, TV shows, or their home country under their belt, will be chosen by a studio to be the "Next Big Thing" (or "It Girl" if they're female) and will thus get a major headlining role. They'll immediately appear in celebrity magazines and on entertainment programs and be touted as the Next Big Thing, and they'll give interviews in every medium possible. Several new roles will be announced at once. Tabloids will start following them around. Men's/women's interest magazines will be lining up to offer them a sexy photo shoot. They'll show up to host Saturday Night Live. They'll make People's list of the 50 Most Beautiful People and, if they're female, the "Top 100 Hottest Women" list of any men's magazine. Meanwhile, failed stars will suddenly drop off these lists. Did they suddenly become less good-looking? No, they're just not worth pushing any more.
If the resulting push succeeds, great. If it bombs...? Well, the star will linger for a year or two before disappearing, as people wonder "what the hell ever happened to...?". At best, they will continue working in indie flicks, low-key studio pictures, and television, and may even be able to mount a comeback later. At worst, they will be in rehab, unemployment lines, and "Where Are They Now?" specials (or worse). Sometimes the actors reject Hollywood for a normal life, get overwhelmed and suffer public burn-outs, or become too associated with a particular role.
The Hollywood Hype Machine is very fickle, but has a never-ending supply of willing young stars and starlets ready to take the place of the old one. The reason that magazines, tabloids and TV shows (even ones unaffiliated with Hollywood studios) get into it is because, by pushing these new big stars, they can have big headlines and have paparazzi follow them around, thus selling more magazines and getting higher ratings.
Not even the might of the Hype Machine can determine what the public's tastes are going to be and while it can be powerful, it requires a certain delicacy of touch; trying too hard to make someone the Next Big Thing is a very good way of making the public sick of them very quickly. Still, The very existence of Hollywood and the television industry depends on fresh young talent. It's likely that every major star of today, good and bad, has at one point benefited from this.
Women seem more affected by this than men, perhaps as a result of roles and stardom coming to the most recent pretty new girl on the scene. As the female stars age, Hollywood decides they aren't pretty enough anymore, and casts the new young thing. Male stars, meanwhile, are offered a lot more leeway with their looks, and can even be downright unattractive (and can therefore get known for things besides their bodies), so they are less affected and are generally less replaceable. The main exceptions are, of course, young Bishonen actors whose main purpose is to make young women Squee their way to the theater. For every Leonardo DiCaprio who makes it to the top, there are countless young studs off of The WB or The CW who don't.
Compare Deader Than Disco, Hype Aversion, Hype Backlash. Also compare it to the "star system" employed by the studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood, which this is effectively a modernized version of.
- Silent film actress Clara Bow was the original "It Girl" (because she starred in a movie called It). Natural charisma and an earthy sexuality uncommon for that era made her a huge star in the latter 1920s. She was able to overcome a thick Brooklyn accent and transition to talkies, but an exceedingly fragile psyche combined with an adversarial relationship with Paramount Pictures led to a nervous breakdown in 1931. Paramount fired her, and after an abortive comeback attempt she retired from movies at the age of 28.
- Matthew McConaughey is a defining example. When A Time to Kill came out in 1996, he was basically called the "next Brad Pitt" and given a ton of new major roles. People Magazine covers soon followed, and he was expected to become the next A-list star. What ended up happening was a major string of box-office disappointments and minor roles, and he became instead known for appearing shirtless in "Celebrity Beach Body" specials, showing up in Direct to Video indie films, and being the romantic male lead in Chick Flicks. Not quite what was expected.
- He could see a career resurrection though thanks to the critical acclaim on The Lincoln Lawyer, which was his best reviewed film in years.
- And Killer Joe, which got quite rave reaction at early screenings at Venice Film Festival. He could very well be a next Brad Pitt if the future track records hold up. Even Brad Pitt had his first half of 2010s appearing in mostly mediocre flicks, then scoring a streak of serious and critically acclaimed movies in the latter half.
- And that comeback has proven true. McConaughey won the Oscar for Best Actor for 2014's Dallas Buyers Club
- Kate Hudson had a huge star-making role as a drugged-out groupie in Almost Famous. Immediately, she was given major role after major role in romantic comedies, all of which did middling business and resulted in critics (including Roger Ebert) hemming and hawing over how far she had fallen. Years of magazine covers, bikini shots, and other big movie roles haven't done much for her career, though that certainly hasn't stopped her from trying.
- Alicia Silverstone wound up getting her career (built on the strength of Clueless) kicked out from under her by Batman and Robin.
- Gretchen Mol was touted as another "It Girl" when she debuted in Rounders. It didn't pan out, with Rounders doing middling business, and even she (with newfound indie-cred from playing the lead role in The Notorious Bettie Page) admits that it was a particularly bad example of the Hollywood Hype Machine building up an unprepared starlet. She is doing quite well with films and a recurring role on critical favourite Boardwalk Empire.
- Most of the "New Brat Pack" (a pun on the Brat Pack of The Eighties) that emerged from the American Pie movies ended up like this. Many of them got star pushes of different levels, but in the end, only Alyson Hannigan went on to bigger fame — and this most likely had more to do with her pre-Pie exposure on Buffy the Vampire Slayer than anything else. Examples:
- Shannon Elizabeth became a sex sensation after Pie came out. She showed up in countless men's magazines (including an all-nude shoot in Playboy) and got a half-dozen roles in films like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, 13 Ghosts, and Tomcats. Just a couple of years later, she was a bit player and was essentially gone from any mainstream Hollywood attention. This may or may not have to do with her decision to no longer do nudity in film, even though that was what made her a star in the first place. She's since become more famous as a professional poker player and as a Dancing With the Stars contestant, and though she does still act, most of her films now go Direct to Video and it's unlikely she'll do anything noteworthy anytime soon.
- Mena Suvari, between Pie and American Beauty, got a decent push, but slowly vanished from the spotlight and is now best known for indie films.
- Jason Biggs tried playing the same down-on-his-luck regular guy character (especially in The Loser) a bit too much, and he now mostly plays supporting roles in films like "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Over Her Dead Body"
- Similar to Biggs, Seann William Scott did mostly the same kind of "big dumb happy guy" roles and mostly vanished from the limelight after the Hotter and Sexier The Dukes of Hazzard film came out. He now mostly plays supporting roles in films like Cop Out, however his roles in the Ice Age franchise has made him the most financially successful of his former cast mates.
- Tara Reid had one of the better shots, but problems with drugs and alcohol, botched plastic surgery, and a penchant for carrying the Idiot Ball (though she claimed that she was only "acting" dumb, most people aren't sure of whether that's true or not) derailed her into a mess, though that still hasn't stopped her from doing DTV films.
- Chris Klein was an ill-fated Estrogen Brigade Bait attempt that went nowhere after his hoped-for star turn, the remake of Rollerball, turned into a Star-Derailing Role instead.
- Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) went from Pie to a series of "dorky, lovable loser" roles in films like the infamous flops Freddy Got Fingered and Dirty Love, as well as a string of DTV films rebranded under the "National Lampoon" banner. However, he has at least attempted to restore his cred in recent years with appearances in the Harold and Kumar film series, as well as a starring voice on American Dad and the HBO series How To Make It In America. Only time will tell whether he can bring his star back.
- Ironically, John Cho, who plays a minor character in the film, is the one whose movie career is most on the rise, between Harold and Kumar, Star Trek, and the Total Recall' remake.
- Natasha Lyonne is an especially unhappy case. She got even more cred with But I'm A Cheerleader but a serious problem with drugs and Alcohol (Including a DUI, a bout with an STD and stay in Rehab) as well as health problems and extreme Mental illness have all but destroyed her career. There was even a period where she was living homeless on the streets of NYC after being evicted from her apartment for her behaviour. Nowadays she's more likely to be discussed as the butt of jokes than for her acting talents.
- Lindsay Lohan. This one wasn't related to any lack of talent — Meryl Streep, of all people, vouched for her acting ability, as did her Mean Girls co-star Tina Fey. Instead, her problems came from a combination of a disastrous relationship with her parents, chronic partying and drug/alcohol abuse (which eventually led to legal troubles), and a reputation for being a diva who often showed up to set late and hung over. An awful case of What Could Have Been. The full details can be seen on her page.
- Paris Hilton. There's really too many to name in this topic... but we're gonna name them anyway. Unlike the other people on this list, this heiress and socialite did not earn her fame through "legitimate" routes (film, TV, music), but through a Home Porn Movie that was "leaked" online in advance of the debut of her Reality Show The Simple Life. Not only did the video turn her into a mega-star virtually overnight, it also established the home sex tape as a viable route for would-be celebrities and fading stars to boost their careers. She went on to channel her fame into careers in music and (non-pornographic) film, both of which have been non-starters, and the latter notable only for producing her performance in Repo the Genetic Opera. Lately, she seems to have settled back into modeling and reality TV with her new show The World According To Paris - but unlike The Simple Life this was cancelled after one season.
- Marion Davies is a famous historical example, since it was William Randolph Hearst who financed her bid for movie stardom. While her looks were as good as people expected from a former Ziegfeld girl, and she was far more talented and off-screen amiable than her Roman à Clef opera singer counterpart in Citizen Kane, Hearst kept pushing for her to be cast in heavy-duty "respectable" dramatic roles when she was much better at comedy.
- Jessica Biel seems to be headed this way, much to her fans' chagrin. Despite a lot of hype early on from Seventh Heaven, an amazing fitness-girl body that frequently shows up in magazines, constantly dating other stars (like Justin Timberlake), and several potential break-out roles, she has had a string of critically trashed box-office bombs like Blade: Trinity and Stealth (a massive critical and box office bomb that also sank Jamie Foxx's post-Ray hype), and when she finally got naked in a "serious" movie (hoping for the extra career boost that it usually provides hot, young, fading actresses), it was a straight-to-video stripper role (Powder Blue) that earned her zero legit cred - and sadly for all concerned is more likely to be remembered as Patrick Swayze's final film. To date, despite being on tons of magazine covers, she's still just a minor star who's better known for being Justin Timberlake's wife.
- Denise Richards started out with mostly mediocre movies, but got breast implants and an all-star nude role in Wild Things, making her a household name (amongst men) overnight. A bit of the Hype Machine got underway, but most of her subsequent films were trashed by critics and weren't too successful at the box-office (with the exception of The World Is Not Enough, and that was hardly down to her), she stopped doing nudity and basically vanished from Hollywood within the year. A failed marriage to Charlie Sheen later, and she's now more tabloid-bait than an actual star.
- Kate Bosworth had bit parts and a cancelled-after-one-season TV show on The WB called Young Americans before her starring role in Blue Crush. Once that hit, she was catapulted to the position of It Girl, hyped as the greatest and most beautiful actress of her generation (sometimes this phrase was used pretty much verbatim), and she became a regular tabloid and fashion mag staple because she was dating the premiere heartthrob of the time. Fast forwarding to 2010, and just about every film since Blue Crush, with the exception of maybe Superman Returns, has been a critical and/or commercial failure, though not for lack of trying for that great comeback.
- Rachel Bilson, Bosworth's co-star in the upcoming film BFF and Baby, which no one seems to expect much from, was something of a TV It Girl during her days on The OC. Once that ended, Bilson did a few underperforming films and forgettable TV appearances and, like Bosworth, is now mostly known for attending various Hollywood functions and getting paparazzi photos of herself performing mundane daily tasks. However, she did score a TV series with Hart of Dixie, which did at least get renewed for a second season.
- Rachael Leigh Cook first came to fame thanks to her role in a famous anti-heroin Public Service Announcement (in which she demolishes a kitchen) and became a star proper when She's All That came out. The flop of 2001's Josie and The Pussycats (and to a lesser extent Anti Trust and Texas Rangers in which she had supporting roles and which unluckily came out the same year) derailed her career and she spent the following decade playing bit parts on television and various forgettable straight to DVD flicks. In recent years, however, she has had some success as a voiceover artist and plum guest roles in the likes of Psych and Ghost Whisperer, and (like many on this list) is not a junkie, criminal, or laughing stock so unlike some names on this list a comeback isn't an entirely unrealistic prospect.
- Pia Zadora is a notorious example from The Eighties. After years of bit parts (including a small role in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians as a child), her bid for fame started when she married billionaire Meshulam Riklis in 1977. Her career peaked in 1981, when she won the Golden Globe for Best New Star of the Year for the film Butterfly, which was largely financed by Riklis. However, it has long been rumored that Riklis had "bought" Pia her Golden Globe by financing lavish trips to Vegas for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and her performance also wound up winning her two Razzies (for Worst Actress and Worst New Star). She won the Worst Actress Razzie again the following year for her performance in The Lonely Lady , a film that essentially killed her acting career and left her doing small parts and cameos. She wound up having far more success as a singer, even earning a Grammy nomination in 1984.
- Elizabeth Berkley was supposed to be the Next Big Thing with Showgirls. Too bad that trainwreck of a film completely derailed whatever film career she may have had. The fallout was so bad that when she requested $2,500 to be interviewed for the V.I.P. DVD edition of the film, she was turned down. Ouch.
- The CGI actress Aki Ross from Final Fantasy the Spirits Within was supposed to have a long "career". The intention was for the computer model created for the movie to be used in projects unrelated to Final Fantasy and spanning multiple media formats (movies, games, etc.). "She" even got a photo spread in Maxim, including a plot on their "Hottest Women" list, and was promoted as the very first in what would be a long line of virtual actors. The failure of the movie to even recoup its astronomical production costs, and the subsequent collapse of the studio that financed it, resulted in a somewhat shorter career than numerous magazines had been predicting. It also ensured that the trend of "virtual actors" was stillborn, no doubt leading many SAG members to breathe sighs of relief (and ensuring that the Hype Machine would remain necessary for the foreseeable future).
- Chris Tucker was actually considered to be "the next Eddie Murphy" when the first Rush Hour movie was a surprise success in 1998. Unfortunately, Tucker never attempted (or was much motivated) to branch out and capitalize immediately. The only movies that Tucker has done since 1998 have been the two sequels to Rush Hour (Tucker was apparently paid $20 million for Rush Hour 2). Tucker has seemed to be more passionate about his charity work, budding up with the late Michael Jackson, and his stand-up.
- Demi Moore has had various ups and downs, but has been hyped a lot. She was the most-successful member of the Brat Pack era of Hollywood, and went on to some major success in The Eighties, but a string of huge box office bombs in The Nineties completely derailed her star. The Scarlet Letter was universally loathed by critics and Striptease, a wannabe star-defining role for which she earned the then-highest paycheque of any female in Hollywood history, was another mega-bomb), and she vanished for literally a decade. She only resurfaced as Ashton Kutcher's new wife, but a storm of hype from her hot body (despite her age) in Charlies Angels: Full Throttle failed to amount to anything, and she's still just "that older chick who married the younger guy."
- Until she got dumped by Kutcher and subsequently became even bigger tabloid bait...
- Julia Ormond was an unknown in the US when she landed lead roles three big mid-nineties films (Legends of the Fall, First Knight, and the remake of Sabrina), starring opposite such actors as Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, and Richard Gere, but all were box-office and critical disappointments. She's still working, but she never became the "star" Hollywood expected.
- Jennifer Garner was promoted as the next big Action Girl after coming to public attention with the TV series Alias. But she turned out to be remarkably unsuccessful in headlining movies. Her big action film debut in Elektra flopped, whereupon she turned to romantic comedies and did only marginally better. These days, she seems stuck in small supporting roles, such as in Juno, Valentines Day (with Jessica Biel, mentioned above), and the Arthur remake.
- Josh Hartnett rocketed to super-stardom in the late 90's and early 00's with roles in teen films like The Virgin Suicides, Halloween H2O, and The Faculty, and was voted several times by People Magazine as one of their top teen stars of the year. Gradually, however, his momentum died down - in spite of a starring turn in the critically acclaimed Black Hawk Down, Hartnett was in a long list of commercial flops including Town And Country, Pearl Harbor, and the box-office bomb Hollywood Homicide. His last work of note, 2007's 30 Days Of Night, barely recouped its production budget, and he's spent the late 00's and early 10's working on small indie projects.
- Shannon Sossamon was another teen actor who was a media darling, having catapulted herself to the A-List in 2001-2002 with starring roles in A Knight's Tale, 40 Days And 40 Nights, and The Rules of Attraction. Afterwards, she spent the 2000's starring in a long string of DTV and indie films, as well as some TV work (most notably on the short-lived CBS vampire series Moonlight), but it failed to drum up any major following.
- Nia Vardalos came out of nowhere to star in and write My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which became the biggest indie film and romantic comedy of all-time. After getting an Academy Award nomination as well for her script, big things were expected from her. However, her star fell as soon as it rose with a series of flops (the TV spinoff My Big Fat Greek Life, Connie and Carla) and she faded back into obscurity. A couple attempts at a comeback (starring in 2009's My Life in Ruins and writing 2011's Larry Crowne) have resulted in critical drubbing and box office failure (the latter was also a rare misstep for Tom Hanks).
- Canadian actress Estella Warren got a huge push in 2001 when she starred as the love interest and femme fatale in two major Hollywood films - the remake of Planet of the Apes and the Sylvester Stallone racing film Driven. That (along with dating her Driven co-star, Kip Purdue, and landing a spot on Maxim's Hot 100 Babe List before she had a single film out) did a lot to jumpstart her fledgling career (in spite of both film's middling box office). However, Kangaroo Jack killed any momentum she had. What followed were a string of unsuccessful direct-to-video flops and indie films, along with an unsuccessful marketing push in 2005 (features in FHM and a supporting role in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which was cut prior to the film's release). These days, she's more well-known for her tabloid antics (including trying to break out of a police station after being arrested) than her film career.
- Elizabeth Shue had a solid career as a child / teen actress (with prominent roles in The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, and Back to The Future Part II and III) but really hit the big time with a critically acclaimed performance alongside Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas (which went against her previously established, girl-next-door image). Big things were expected, but a few high-profile critical and commercial flops (such as The Saint with Val Kilmer and Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon) didn't really hit the heights that were anticipated, and she had a more-or-less solid but unremarkable career since then. She parodied this with a starring role in Hamlet 2, where she played a fictionalized version of herself who quits acting in disillusionment to become a nurse.
- She may be on the verge of... something... replacing Marg Helgenberger on CSI in 2012.
- Sophie Marceau was expected by many to have a successful crossover in American films having found success in her native France and having played a major role in Braveheart and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. However, a number of flops and a bizarre, rambling speech she made at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 fast derailed her in the US. She still makes films but many of them barely get released outside of France (you would think Ne te retourne pas, a film where she teams up with Monica Bellucci and which they embraced topless on the cover of Paris Match while promoting would have gotten a decent international push).
- Edward Burns was heavily hyped as being a future voice in independent film after starring and directing in the acclaimed The Brothers McMullen in 1995. However, numerous attempts at trying to recapture the success of that film and his follow-up She's The One (along with attempts to become a name as an actor despite those talents not being as good as his directing skills and a failed attempt to make his ex-girlfriend a star) have failed to catch on and his hype died out fast. He's still around but most of his films (starring or directing) either go straight-to-DVD or get barely released.
- Susan Ward was hyped as a potential "next big thing" after marrying one of the heads of Morgan Creek and having a movie built around her (The In Crowd). Then, the movie bombed and her hype fell as fast as it rose. Nowadays, she's known for her numerous plastic surgeries (which began before making the movie) rather than the numerous straight-to-DVD movies she appears in (or her regular role on Make It or Break It).
- Nikki Blonsky is a rather sad example of this. After being heavily hyped for her role in Hairspray, a lot was expected of her. Sadly, Hollywood didn't know what to do with her and she's been mostly stuck being typecast as the fat girl in little-seen TV movies and the short-lived Huge. Her first post-Hairspray film role wasn't until four years later (a small role in the critically panned Waiting For Forever) and it's since been discovered that she's been working in a salon to pay the bills.
- The younger actors in American Beauty, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Mena Suvari. The three got huge pushes from the movie but none of them ever really amounted to anything. Suvari was probably the most successful (as she also got major hype from American Pie) but all in all is not that big of a star.
- As for the other two, Birch had already established herself before the film but had a Star-Derailing Role in the form of Dungeons and Dragons. She won acclaim for Ghost World but threw any momentum away when she refused to part ways with her father, whose Stage Mom tendencies cost her major roles.
- Meanwhile, Bentley got some notable roles but an out of control drug habit seemed to have destroyed his career. However, he has no less than six films scheduled for released in 2012, including a role in the highly anticipated film version of The Hunger Games, so only time will tell if he can make it work or disappear into oblivion.
- Dougray Scott got a lot of hype after his role as Prince Charming in Ever After and soon became the frontrunner for roles such as Wolverine and James Bond. But after Mission Impossible II went over schedule, he was forced to give up the Wolverine role to a little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. While Jackman became a huge star, Scott's career fell into a tailspin as he's spent much of his career toiling away in TV movies, short-lived TV series (plus a single season on Desperate Housewives, just as the show was beginning its long descent in ratings and buzz) and little-seen movies (his possible low point being the 2011 film Love's Kitchen, which grossed just £121 at the UK box office).
- Emile Hirsch was an rising star who had built up much acclaim from films such as Into the Wild and Alpha Dog. Then the failure of Speed Racer (an attempt to turn him into a big star) more or less led his hype to dry up, as he would not appear in another lead role until the 2011 flop The Darkest Hour. Though he still has the occasional supporting role, Hirsch's time seems to have passed.
- After appearing in a number of well-regarded supporting appearances in various films and TV shows, Brandon Routh got a massive push when he was cast in the role made famous by Christopher Reeve in Superman Returns in 2006. His Star-Making Role ended up being a dead end when the film received mixed reviews, general viewer apathy and (despite making $400 million at the box office) negative profit due to prior production costs. Routh then disappeared for two years before landing a pair of cameo roles in a couple of films (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and a guest spot on the third season of Chuck, all of which failed to make much impact with audiences. His intended comeback in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, based on a bestselling comic series, also flopped at the box office ($4 million against a $20 million budget). Barring a major hit, it seems like he'll be stuck making small indie projects for quite some time.
- Mike Myers was one of the bigger stars of Saturday Night Live at the turn of The Nineties, especially after a movie based on the Wayne's World sketches he toplined was a hit. The sequel and So I Married an Ax Murderer weren't as successful, but a few years after those he struck gold with the first Austin Powers film and his two highly quotable characters in it. Though not a box-office blockbuster, it proved so successful on the video market that the 1999 sequel was. His star rose even higher after he voiced the title character in Shrek. But he developed a reputation for being egotistical and tough to work with, walked out of a planned movie adaptation of the SNL "Sprockets" sketches, and the Austin Powers sequels were met with frostier critical reactions (primarily due to Refuge in Vulgarity and Sequelitis) than the original had. A Star-Derailing Role came with his critically roasted turn as The Cat in the Hat in 2003, which was so terrible that Dr. Seuss' estate has prohibited any more live-action adaptations of his works, and it was his last live-action leading role for five years. In the interim he continued with the Shrek franchise, but that went into decline with the third installment. 2008's The Love Guru was intended as a comeback vehicle but bombed spectacularly. With the Shrek saga closing out quietly in 2010, and no leading roles in the pipeline, early hopes that he would be the second coming of Peter Sellers have proven unfounded.
- Martin Lawrence was one of the fastest rising comedian stars of the '90s. His sitcom, Martin, was incredibly popular and then in 1995 he starred along with Will Smith in Bad Boys, which was the Star-Making Role for both actors. Unfortunately, real life drug issues and a sexual harassment suit would cause the ending of the popular sitcom. On the film side, while Will Smith went on to star in other smash hits, Lawrence stuck with acting in comedies that only produced lukewarm responses (the first Big Mamma's House film and Wild Hogs being exceptions).
- Remarkable things were expected of Brooke Shields after Pretty Baby, but both The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love were troubled productions that were scorned by most critics and were challenged at the box office to make a profit, even with good ticket sales. But the huge critical and commercial failure of the Cannon Group's Sahara officially ended her promising career as a leading lady. The only real success she achieved during her lifetime was as a fashion model.
Examples that did hold up:
- Angelina Jolie. Years of indie-cred roles in Gia, Hackers, and other films paid off with a big push from Girl, Interrupted in 1999, which won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and resulted in a near-endless push that got her big roles in such films as Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. When the latter got her together with Brad Pitt, the "Brangelina" media juggernaut was born. Clearly a major success story for everyone involved, as her films do well (though she stopped making them so quickly and focused on her home life and activist work), and the magazines get to make money from her image (proof that being tabloid-bait isn't always a terrible thing — only if that's all you're known for). Ironically, Jolie has stated on several occasions that she wants to give up acting for her growing family.
- Tom Cruise got a big push in The Eighties, and tons of film roles. Virtually everyone proved to be a success. Obviously, he kept on being famous and having huge box office smashes until he royally screwed up and went crazy in the mid-2000s, with the infamous couch-jumping incident on The Oprah Winfrey Show being the telltale sign of his downfall. Twenty years? A fairly good run. Currently, he and the Hype Machine are going into overdrive to re-make him as a successful A-Lister, as he pokes fun at himself with humorous roles, and tries to fit back into the "romantic Action Hero" archetype once again. Now that Mission Impossible IV is out to rave reviews, a Career Resurrection may not be far away.
- Nicole Kidman received a big push after earning critical praise for her role in To Die For, and her career has held up pretty well since then. Though her career didn't really take off until Tom Cruise dumped her, and she won an Oscar for her role in The Hours.
- Heath Ledger started out as this in a big way, to the point where they even made a joke about it in Josie and The Pussycats. However, the reclusive Ledger went back to having a low profile until Brokeback Mountain established him as an actor to truly be taken seriously. Sadly, he then experienced the greatest career surge of all — a premature death. The Dark Knight Saga helped establish his legacy, and the very least, he will be more remembered for his latest work than for being a Teen Idol.
- Leonardo DiCaprio. Being the romantic, Bishonen male lead in the highest-grossing film (before inflation) of the 20th century will turn anyone into a star. However, while Titanic wound up getting hit hard with Hype Backlash and became Deader Than Disco in less than a decade, DiCaprio's career and reputation managed to come out almost fully intact, thanks to his work with Martinfullys well as the fact that, post-Titanic, he did very few movies to avoid over-exposing himself.
- The same goes for his co-star Kate Winslet, who luckily had some cred under her belt before(Including an Oscar Nomination) and who chose her projects well, making her a critical darling and eventually landing an Oscar.
- Sandra Bullock got her big push from Speed much like Keanu Reeves did. However, she has had much better luck channeling that into a long-lasting career. There was initial worry as the "Chick Flick" movement slowed down in the late '90s and she vanished for a while, but with a long string of more recent hit movies running through the Turn of the Millennium, including the two biggest hits of her career (one of which won her an Oscar) just last year, there's no doubt about her place on the A-List.
- Will Smith has had a huge one. Starting out as a comedic rap star, of all things, he had a pretty funny sitcom for years with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and had a decently-sized box office hit with the buddy-cop action movie Bad Boys. Then, starting with Independence Day and never stopping, he was showing up in one guaranteed A-List movie every other year. His comedies and action/explosion movies all make huge money (even his bombs make $100 million), and he has earned legit cred from his more artistic or serious movies. Today, he's an absolute A-Lister, and one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. Proof that the system can still work.
- Julia Roberts got her huge push with Pretty Woman in 1990, and Hollywood got behind her as they rarely ever do for a female star not known for nudity. Twenty years later, she's still a bankable A-List star, though with less "legit" cred as she sticks to more mainstream, pedestrian "chick flicks" than serious films. Still, movies like Erin Brockovich gave her some critical acclaim (and in Erin's case, a Best Actress Oscar).
- Cameron Diaz got tons of publicity after The Mask became a Top 10 box-office hit and for several years after she was in many critically and/or commercially successful films such as My Best Friends Wedding, Gangs of New York, Theres Something About Mary, and Being John Malkovich. She is the second actress to earn $20 million for a film, after Julia Roberts. Also branched out into voice work and struck gold with the Shrek film series.
- Gwyneth Paltrow got a huge amount of hype right from around Se7en and several high-profile romances with major Hollywood hunks (including Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck). Unlike most flash-in-the-pan hotties with famous boyfriends, she proved her acting chops and won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, had several hits (enough to offset the occasional bombs — and she was in her fair share, enough to derail almost any career), and has managed to become a legitimate star in her own right. Her movies are rarely blockbusters (Iron Man notwithstanding), but she has artistic cred and enough of a name to get almost any role (it's unlikely anyone regrets her being on Glee, especially after she won an Emmy).
- Reese Witherspoon certainly worked out well. After being a fairly run-of-the-mill actress in the early '90s, she all of a sudden got this massive push, first with the critically acclaimed Election and then commercial success with the Legally Blonde series and various Chick Flicks. She effectively became the next Julia Roberts, and even got an Oscar for her trouble (for Walk the Line).
- Though she hasn't seen quite as much success in recent years; Rendition, How Do You Know, and Water for Elephants were all box-office flops (especially How Do You Know) that received mixed reviews.
- Robert Downey, Jr. has been a Zig Zag with the Hype Machine. Starting off as a member of the Brat Pack in the 80's, Downey got his big break in the late '80s - early '90s which culminated with him getting an Oscar Nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin in the biopic Chaplin. Unfortunately he had a real life downward spiral that led to drug abuses and arrests. After gaining sobriety in the mid 2000s, Downey returned to acting in the indy scene, and ended up making his Career Resurrection in 2008 with his starring role in Iron Man and has since then taken off and haven't looked back since.
Examples on the fence:
- The entire cast of Friends were given countless movie roles the second that show became a sensation. The results have been mixed — Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry have gone back to TV (the former had a flop with Dirt, and while Cougar Town was initially a hit, declining ratings led to it being put on hiatus in the middle of S2, held for mid-season in S3, and pushed from ABC to TBS for S4; the latter is 0 for 2 with Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine), Matt LeBlanc made a series of hellacious bombs (he did Ed, a movie with a baseball-playing chimp, and Lost in Space... and then there was Joey) and is now stuck on the low-rated Showtime "comedy" Episodes (playing himself, no less), David Schwimmer started directing, and Lisa Kudrow went for indie cred. They're serviceable careers for the most part, but nothing huge. Jennifer Aniston has fared the best so far — while she didn't headline a $100 million hit until 2011's Horrible Bosses (which arguably was helped out by the other heavyweights like Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey in the film — she's never had a starring role do that well, and is mostly known for Romantic Comedies), she was fortunate enough not to have a major flop during the time in between, and at the very least she's treated like a major star by most of Hollywood.
- Jude Law spent years as a bit player before receiving his big Hollywood marketing push in 2004, starring in Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow, the remake of Alfie, and half a dozen other films. Chris Rock engaged in some Lampshade Hanging at his expense at the Oscars ceremony, making fun of how this "Tom Cruise Lite" was receiving so much hype for what seemed to be no reason. Of course, every film either bombed or was a disappointment, and then he got caught cheating on his then-fiance Sienna Miller with his children's nanny. Oops. Even with his career damaged, however, Law has continued plugging away, with major roles in Sherlock Holmes, Repo Men, and other recent Hollywood films. It's a serviceable career, although not nearly the highly bankable, Cruise-style A-lister that the studios were hoping he would be.
- Uma Thurman was victimized by this. After notable roles in the late '80s with films like Dangerous Liaisons and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, she became an "It Girl" with Pulp Fiction. This push ultimately faltered within three years after subsequent films, particularly Batman and Robin and The Avengers 1998, did poorly, and she vanished from the limelight (rumour has it she took time off to concentrate on motherhood, which might have killed buzz even further) before Kill Bill reignited her career in 2003.
- Ben Affleck, like Thurman, is an example of both failure and success in the Hype Machine. After Good Will Hunting and Armageddon, there was a period from 1998 through 2003 in which he was the biggest star in Hollywood. Then came Daredevil, Gigli, and the entire Bennifer saga, which derailed his career so badly that he wouldn't do any movies at all in 2005. He became a Hollywood punchline in the mid-'00s. However, he was able to quickly bounce back with "legit cred" in 2006 and after, not only as an actor in films like Hollywoodland, but also as a director with the critically acclaimed crime dramas Gone Baby Gone and The Town (and as an actor, State of Play and Company Men). He's now comfortably married with kids to Jennifer Garner, and he mostly stays out of the tabloid limelight.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones made a major splash with her Fan Service-y role in The Mask of Zorro, and instantly became a household name (internationally, anyway - she had already been fairly well-known for a while in the UK). Unfortunately, before she could get much work, she hooked up with Michael Douglas and practically vanished for years, only making the occasional movie like Chicago (for which she won an Oscar). She's still a name, but she could have been as A-List as anybody given enough of a push.
- Orlando Bloom appeared in The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies and was one of the biggest stars of the early-mid '00s. Since then, his career has suffered several hits, including critical thrashing and Hype Backlash, but he works steadily in highly regarded (if small) productions, for which he is finally starting to receive positive attention from the critics. His career appears to be thriving, but it's doubtful it will reach its former stratospheric heights. By all accounts, this seems to be his intention (he reportedly turned down Jake Gyllenhaal's role in Prince of Persia the Sands of Time).
- Disney has started creating an alarming number of Kid Coms in recent years, starting with the success of Lizzie McGuire and Hilary Duff. With Duff, they managed to create a crossover starlet (with movies, TV shows, albums, and clothing lines coming out) of high repute. They immediately created a formula with this, spawning Hannah Montana and others, with all their myriad starlets being built up the exact same way. Most of them (although there are exceptions) have only received minor hype after their Disney shows' runs were finished, and have mostly failed to find real stardom outside of their original shows.
- Anne Hathaway, for instance, became an acclaimed actress only after leaving the Disney machine and going for legit cred in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married.
- Zac Efron has so far achieved the most success out of any of his High School Musical castmates. Despite that, he's only had one bonafide hit. So time will tell whether he can successfully make the transition.
- Ironically, Shia LaBeouf - who didn't get the hype machine from Disney like his contemporaries - has had the most post-Disney success due to being the star of the Transformers series. He's now in a similar predicament to Orlando Bloom, whether he'll find success outside of the major franchise that put him in the public eye.
- The cast of the MTV reality show Laguna Beach fell under this. When it premiered, Laguna was the first teen-oriented reality series on the network, and rode a wave of commercial acclaim, teen mag appearances and ratings domination. The teenage cast members all attempted to parlay their exposure into different avenues (to various levels of success), with most falling into obscurity after high-profile appearances in series or films. Lauren Conrad made the jump to her own successful spinoff, The Hills, but left the program after several seasons to unsuccessfully try her hand at a fashion line. Kristin Cavallari took up Lauren's spot as the main character of The Hills, but she mostly does DTV films now. Jason Wahler is more well-known for his guest stint on Celebrity Rehab than any of his prior work. Audrina Patridge's self-titled spinoff didn't last long. Only Stephen Colletti from the first season (who parlayed his fame into a long-running role on One Tree Hill) has had a relative degree of success.
- Jennifer Lopez practically became an A-list star overnight after her performance in Selena was praised by critics, and she followed it up with several critically acclaimed films such as Out of Sight and The Cell. She also became noteworthy for being one of the few thespians who was able to successfully juggle both a singing and acting career. Though some critics were disappointed when she later switched over to starring in middling romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner, Monster-in-Law, and Maid in Manhattan, but her films were still successful box-office wise for the most part, and even the critically mauled Gigli didn't seem to stall her career much. But then she took a four-year break from her film career, and her first film since her break, The Back-Up Plan received worse reviews then any other film she's starred in so far, so while Lopez is still getting work in films (and television), it's pretty likely she'll never return to her former A-list status.
- Eddie Murphy was the hottest comedian around back in The Eighties. He started out on Saturday Night Live during one of its toughest Dork Ages, perhaps being the reason SNL escaped cancellation. He would soon bring his wit to the big screen in films like 48 Hours, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II, and Coming to America (his only misstep was 1986's The Golden Child), as well as his standup specials Delirious and Raw, and even a couple hit songs such as "Party All the Time". But after the failure of his 1989 vanity project Harlem Nights, in which he starred with his comic idols Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx, Murphy's career plummeted in The Nineties, with his films Another 48 Hours, The Distinguished Gentleman, Boomerang, Beverly Hills Cop III, and Vampire in Brooklyn, all bombing. He had become a walking punchline, infamously mocked by David Spade on SNL in 1995 when he said "Look, kids! a falling star! Make a wish!", which really made him mad. He bounced back with his 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor, and other films like Metro, Dr Doolittle, Mulan, Life, and Bowfinger. But in the 2000s, Murphy slipped again as he made more family-friendly films, which, with the exception of the Shrek films, were poorly received. Films like Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Meet Dave, and Imagine That, were panned by audiences and critics, but his worst was 2002's The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which became one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history. His brightest spot throughout this time was receiving an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls in 2006, but the much-maligned 2007 film Norbit probably torpedoed his hopes of winning. He was praised for starring in Tower Heist in 2011, but 2012 brought A Thousand Words (filmed several years before its release), which was universally panned. He has expressed an interest in making more adult-oriented movies, so only time will tell whether he'll recover.
- Similar to Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey was the big comedian of the '90s. Jim Carrey started off playing supporting or minor roles in movies in the 80's, but after the back-to-back successes of Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask in 1994, his star shot up like a rocket. Unfortunately for him, while his comedic roles brought a major bank, it made him severely typecast as an actor. Attempts at more dramatic fare, such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, The Majestic, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while earning him praise from critics, under-performed and even outright flopped at the box office compared to his broad comedies. While he currently sticks to those, he's toned down his antics in them, and is thus not quite as popular as he was in The Nineties.
- After a long string of appearances in failed pilots and short-lived series, Adrianne Palicki finally broke through the mainstream when she took the role of Tyra Landry in the television version of Friday Night Lights, which received significant critical and commercial acclaim. However, her roles after the series ended have been weak at best - she starred in the FOX flop Lone Star (cancelled after two episodes) and had the title role in a pilot for a Wonder Woman reboot, which wasn't picked up to series and was trashed by critics and fans. It remains to be seen if she can stage a comeback - she is set to appear in a reboot of Red Dawn and G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2012.
Too early to call:
- Megan Fox came out of Transformers as the new It Girl sex symbol, and promptly rode it to tons of covers, press coverage, etc. So far, however, it doesn't look good. Jennifer's Body and Jonah Hex were spectacular failures that seem to be sticking to her, people have an obsession with her "toe thumbs", and to top it all off, she was not in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (she claims that she chose to leave, but others are saying that Michael Bay kicked her off the movie due to her attitude). Getting booted from the franchise that made her name, and losing out on the one sure-fire hit in her future, can't bode well (though YMMV as some argued that her leaving that franchise was a good thing). People are already writing obituaries for her career. Overall, it looks like Hype Backlash to the once-obvious "Hottest Woman Alive" winner will put her into the "didn't pan out" section quite soon, barring some major hit coming out and quickly.
- Emma Roberts was heavily hyped as being the next big thing due to her relation to Julia Roberts (she's her niece) and roles in a few high-profile movies. After a disastrous adaptation of Nancy Drew in 2007 (among other flops like Wild Child (which went Direct to DVD in North America) and 184.108.40.206), it looked that she was never going to break out. Despite the obvious fact that no one was biting, Hollywood continued to push her, which led to lackluster performances of Scream 4 and The Art of Getting By. Emma's still around, but it will take a major hit film to turn things around for her.
- Michael Cera came out with a vengeance after Arrested Development went off the air, appearing in several films that got mainstream recognition and artistic credibility (particularly Juno), and things were looking up. But his push fell apart in 2010, as both of his films that year (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Youth in Revolt), despite positive critical reception, flopped badly. His problem? Cera played the exact same nerdy-shy-guy character in every film he's been in so far, right down to specific mannerisms and vocal style. He's not gone yet, but he's heading in that direction.
- The cast of Twilight has gotten a big push, particularly Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Anna Kendrick. Stewart's first big post-Twilight role has been playing Joan Jett in the Biopic The Runaways, Pattinson has done the romantic dramas Remember Me (which seems to be more famous for its controversial ending than anything else) and Water for Elephants, and Kendrick has gone for indie and Oscar cred with her performance in Up in the Air. It's too early to see how their careers will go, so check back in a couple of years.
- Ditto for Taylor Lautner, who has parlayed his good looks and his fame from playing Jacob into the action movie Abduction. However, Abduction was a critical and box office flop.
- Same with Kellan Lutz. Lutz seems to be on even shakier ground, since his biggest claim to fame is being shirtless at every available opportunity. He recently dragged out the "I want to be taken seriously" line, but since he has yet to put his shirt back on, some people didn't really believe him. His first post-Twilight work is coming down the pipeline soon, so place your bets.
- Following Avatar and Terminator Salvation, Sam Worthington has gotten a big push as Hollywood's next big Action Hero. The Clash of the Titans remake followed, as well as a number of smaller action movies. Time will tell if he goes on to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or the next Steven Seagal.
- Gerard Butler. After roles in such films as Dracula 2000 and the Lara Croft Tomb Raider sequel, People magazine predicted he would become a megastar upon the release of the movie version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera in 2004. However, not only was that film a modest performer at the box-office, but Butler turned out to be a big reason why it's resulted in a Broken Base for the show's fandom. In early 2006, he finally attracted big-time attention via 300, and since then has alternated between action films (Gamer, Law Abiding Citizen) and Chick Flick/Romantic Comedy fare (P.S. I Love You, The Ugly Truth). He's getting plenty of work, but The Onion probably had a point when it joked that saying Butler is starring in a film is just false advertising.
- Alexander Skarsgard is getting a lot of attention for True Blood and for dating former starlets, but what his current fans perceive as famewhoring and paparazzi baiting seems to be turning them off. He's on the fence until future efforts succeed in replenishing the ranks. Solid and Ho Yay-riffic work on Generation Kill seems to be doing the trick.
- Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Hollywood seems entranced by the both of them, despite their continued failure to gain traction with audiences. The movie Bloom turned down, Prince of Persia, performed under expectations, and even Maggie's presence in The Dark Knight Saga hasn't been enough to bolster her career, with most of the praise she received only being in comparison to Katie Holmes, the woman she replaced. Her unconventional facial appearance (big jowls and looking much older than the current crop of young starlets) is part of it as well. But the suits seem undeterred, so who knows? Maybe someday, one of them will hit it big. Family Guy, naturally, was not above pointing all of this out with a cutaway gag in which the two bickered over which one was "more offputting" and "more unappealing in a lead role."
- Scarlett Johansson. An indie darling in the late '90s, she was crowned the new "It Girl" in 2003 on the back of her two acclaimed performances in Lost in Translation and Girl With A Pearl Earring. Her failure to secure an Oscar nomination for either film did a lot to stall her momentum, and her follow-ups were not nearly so well received. Luckily for her, Woody Allen declared her his latest muse and they made three films together, including his most popular latter-day film, Match Point. This kept her career on life support until she made a stab at a mainstream comeback with Iron Man 2 and, coming soon, The Avengers. It's too soon to say whether she'll be successful this time around.
- Kristen Bell has been pushed heavily by Hollywood in the past few years, but it's been her Forgetting Sarah Marshall co-stars, Mila Kunis and Russell Brand, who became bigger stars out of the deal. So far, she's decently well-known, but is nowhere near what Hollywood was hoping.
- Being cast in romantic comedies rather than the crime dramas that got her famous hasn't helped her at all.
- Katherine Heigl. After several years of TV appearances in stuff like Roswell and Greys Anatomy, she gained a lot of fans for her starring role in Knocked Up... only to throw them all away within weeks. Not long after Knocked Up came out, she did a very vocal interview where she attacked basically everyone involved in the film, calling director Judd Apatow a sexist and lead actor Seth Rogen a slob, among other things. However, in spite of the Hatedom she brought on with that interview, her recent works, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, have actually done very well at the box office despite not-so-great reviews, and she did later apologize for the way she acted.
- Part of the reason for her continued success may be that some people have given Heigl an Alternative Character Interpretation, feeling that her comments, rather than showing her to be a primadonna bitch, prove that she's the Only Sane Woman in Hollywood. Heigl was far from the only person saying that Knocked Up was sexist (and her comments were actually pretty mild compared to what some critics were saying). They take the fact that the tabloids paint her as a shrewish Straw Feminist (while arguably exaggerating her comments) as proof that she had a point about sexism in Hollywood. Now if only she'd branch out beyond generic rom-coms...
- The fictional character Batwoman. When the character was announced as appearing in the weekly comic series Fifty Two in 2007 there was a massive media response, even branching into non-comic related formats. The character was a recreation of the classic character from the 1950's, but was written as a lesbian involved with one of the primary characters for the series. Most of the media focus was on her sexuality, and she became regarded as the highest profile gay superhero in The DCU. Dan Di Dio, Chief Editor of DC Comics, has said that even he was completely unprepared for the massive news fixation on the character, and did not know how to properly respond. Though unconfirmed, rumors circulate that the Batgirl series being published at the time of her introduction was canceled in order to make room for her character. However, the amount of coverage on the character was completely out of proportion to her role in the series, which was a supporting role spread out over a year, and she spent the following two years as a minor and unused character, only appearing in guest spots in other series. However, in 2009 she became the headline character in Detective Comics and received a well-received title-series by Greg Rucka that effectively delved into her backstory.
- Justin Bieber, who has enjoyed massive success as a pop music sensation, may or may not be the latest in a series of flash-in-the-pan Teen Idols. It doesn't help that in the eighteen months or so he's been on the radar, he's released the same album three times . Thus far, he's garnered most of his fame with media hype and live appearances; all of which is fine, but an image backed by an hour of recorded music can only last for so long before the hype begins to die down. Let's face it, he'll be on the cover of every teen magazine and on every poster in teenage girls' bedrooms for the next year or so, but his next album will help steer the course of whether his stardom starts to burn down, or whether he has legitimate staying power as an artist and not just as a hype product.
- The biggest threat to Bieber's career as a mature performer is people getting completely sick of him, as he has saturated every form of media out there, even appearing on shows and in magazines that have nothing to do with his target demographic of young children and teens. Whether he can make the transition to mature performer once these kids lose interest or whether everyone will get so sick of him that they'll throw parties to celebrate him finally dropping off the radar for good remains to be seen.
- Ryan Reynolds, who had the fortune/misfortune of coming along when Hollywood had a dearth of young leading males. After getting his big break in the ABC series Two Guys, a Girl And A Pizza Place, Reynolds starred in a number of well-regarded comedic roles. However, most of his films from the late '00s and early '10s (with the exception of Buried) received mixed reviews at best. His intended dramatic breakout performance in 2011's Green Lantern was also a critical and commercial underperformer. It's hard to say how well his career will turn out at this point, though the success of his 2012 film Safe House (though Denzel Washington was obviously the big draw, and there's a lot of debate about how much Reynolds' presence really contributed) could help him regain momentum.
- The boys of Supernatural. Both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have gotten incredible praise for the show (including helping to raise it above the Sci Fi Ghetto), and for being a couple of members of "Young Hot Hollywood" who can actually act instead of relying on being solely Estrogen Brigade Bait. However, both of their attempts at film careers after starting Supernatural (Jensen in the My Bloody Valentine remake and Jared in the new Friday the 13 th) went nowhere. The big test will be when they branch out of the sci-fi/horror genre, and when Supernatural ends and they can be choosier about film roles (since right now they are limited to what they can do while Supernatural is on break).
- Patrick Dempsey had a serviceable but unremarkable film career for awhile. Once Greys Anatomy became successful, Hollywood started trying to promote him as the next big thing. Of the leading-man roles he's had since then, only Enchanted was really a critical and / or commercial success, and that one was arguably helped by having the Disney name behind it as well. His other roles haven't really set the world on fire.
- Gemma Arterton began being hyped as the next big UK starlet after a One-Scene Wonder role as Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace (managing to overshadow even lead female Olga Kurylenko). However, none of her post 007 roles (The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Tamara Drewe, Prince of Persia the Sands of Time, Clash of the Titans) have managed to meet the hype. There's still a slight chance that she could pull it off but it's looking very unlikely.
- Justin Timberlake: A lot of ups and downs for this pretty boy. His entrance into Hollywood was rough: Alpha Dog had mixed reviews, but his performance was mostly praised. Then Southland Tales, Shrek the Third, and The Love Guru pretty much ruined the careers of everyone involved, including him. Nobody cared for The Open Road, but then The Social Network gave him a massive career boost. From then on it was bumpy again: voicing another CGI character, picking the wrong sci-fi thriller to star in, and being hit or miss with the rom-com genre.
- Seth Rogen has been dancing around this trope for a while. He's been acting since the late nineties but he got his biggest push from Knocked Up in 2007. Like Michael Cera, He was then on the receiving end of criticism for playing the same character (The vulgar but loveable slacker) too many times in films that weren't successful or were despite his presence. Though he earned back quite a bit of cred with his surprising dramatic performance in 50/50 which have made people view him in a better light.
- Amanda Seyfried was seemingly on a streak of success in becoming a top box-office draw (with hits such as Mean Girls and Mamma Mia). But in an eleven-month period from 2011 to 2012, she had three major flops in a row (Red Riding Hood, In Time and Gone) with some reviews for the third one questioning if she even had appeal or talent in the first place (though others reviewers contened she was better than the material.) She's now on the fence and with her next film (a biopic on Linda Lovelace designed solely to beat another one with Malin Akerman into theatres) not likely to win her much cred, she could end up disappearing. She's also playing Cosette in the upcoming Les Misérables film, which could end up going either way depending on how well it (and she) performs.
- Emily Blunt became known outside of the UK in 2006 with her performance in The Devil Wears Prada and a Golden Globe win for the drama Gideon's Daughter. But since then, her career has been a rollercoaster of critical hits (The Adjustment Bureau, Sunshine Cleaning, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and major misfires (The Wolf Man, The Five Year Engagement). She still has a shot of having a big hit outside of her native country but outside of the arthouse crowd, she likely to remain best known as John Krasinski's wife.
- Julianne Hough is pretty much touted as "The Next Big Thing" by The Machine, and American is being subjected to the Dancing With the Stars performer's films left and right for the next several years (including a successful re-release of Footloose), until she either hits it big, or they give up.
- An episode of Angel dealt with a young actress who, knowing that she'd be spit out by the Hype Machine in a few years, tries to become a vampire so that she could retain her youth and beauty (and, by extension, her career) forever.
- Allegra Coleman. In 1996, Esquire ran an article on the "Next Big Thing." They created their own Hype Machine behind her, talking about her role in a new Woody Allen film, her rocky relationship with David Schwimmer, and her friendship with Deepak Chopra. The problem? Allegra wasn't real. The whole thing was an elaborate fabrication created by writer Martha Sherrill as a hoax/publicity stunt/Take That. The interesting part of the whole thing was that, despite not being real, the Allegra Coleman hype machine still worked, jump-starting the acting career of the model used in the photo shoot, future Heroes star Ali Larter.
- A two part episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air was devoted to this trope in regard to Ashley. Will helps Ashley breakout as a singer, turning her into an overnight success. Ashley quickly develops an ego due to her new found success but no less than a few weeks later her album completely bombs because people got sick of her.
- This also becomes a rather unfortunate Funny Aneurysm Moment because Tatyana Ali's real life efforts to break out into the music business failed miserably.
- and would go on to be named "Worst New Star of the Decade" in 1990 and being nominated for "Worst Actress of the Century" in 2000
- For extra irony, Lawrence was actually the top billed actor at that.
- And as far as that goes, it seems fairly obvious that the role was written with him in mind and that Gyllenhaal was basically told "act as much like Orlando Bloom as possible." So he isn't wholly out of the loop...
- The Truman Show was the one exception and that was due to the trailer downplaying the drama.
- a two-part album released in halves four months apart, a compilation of the aforementioned two-parter, and an acoustic re-release with mostly identical content, but focused on vocals and instrumentals, rather than synthetic production