There are so many actors working in the industry, but we only really know of a handful of them. Many stars work for years in obscurity before they actually become well-known and achieve the success and recognition so many of them crave. A lot of actors will land an iconic role, and it will catapult them into the spotlight. However, there are some who capture the role of a lifetime and still have to battle against obscurity.
These people all thought they had lucked out when they scooped these much sought after roles. However, things don’t always work out the way you expect them to, and these guys and gals learned that first hand. Sometimes a dream gig is a dream gig, and other times a dream gig can be an albatross. Here are some of the roles that were meant to be the big breaks for these stars.
Anakin Skywalker – Hayden Christensen
How could we make a list like this without mentioning the Mac Daddy of big roles? Casting took place for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and attracted thousands of young actors, all clamoring for the role of Anakin Skywalker, the young, troubled Jedi Knight who would go on to become the greatest Sith Lord of all time. 19-year-old Christensen was largely unknown when he took the role and isn’t all that well-known since. Sure, the movies were successful, but the scripts and lack of on-screen chemistry harmed Christensen, and he eventually took a 5-year hiatus from acting.
Joan d’Arc – Leelee Sobieski
If the name Leelee Sobieski doesn’t sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. In fact, the young actress was once a promising star on her way to big things. Now she is retired and focused on her family. So why have we never heard of Leelee? After all, she scooped the lead role in the Joan of Arc miniseries at the age of 15, having previously appeared in Never Been Kissed, and Deep Impact. However, the role was the peak of her career, not the start of it, and Sobieski no longer works in the industry anymore.
Nomi Malone – Elizabeth Berkley
Fresh from her neurotic, nerdy role on Saved By the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley was looking for the perfect vehicle to catapult her to Hollywood mainstream. The script she chose was Showgirls, a thriller film by controversial director Paul Verhoeven. Ballsy choice. Unfortunately, the choice backfired, the movie was a flop, and Berkley was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for her performance and was dropped by her agent. Ouch.
Johnny Rico – Casper Van Dien
B-movie stalwart Casper Van Dien must have thought he’d made it big when he bagged the lead in Paul Verhoeven’s cult sci-fi classic Starship Troopers. Van Dien’s breakout role was a great one, and the movie went on to enjoy modest success, despite negative reviews. But Van Dien’s career didn’t really take off in the way it should have following the release of the movie. He’s retreated back to the sanctity of the B-movie world these days, but he did pop up in a recent episode of the Hawaii Five-0 remake.
These are just a few of the roles that, not only didn’t help their stars break the mainstream, they almost ruined their careers entirely. Choosing a script that’s right is always a lottery for an actor or actress, and sometimes it can wind up going spectacularly wrong.