Top 10 Celebrity Career Comebacks

Script Written by Matthew Thomas. You gotta love a good comeback story. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Career Comebacks. For this list we’re looking at celebrities whose careers hit the skids, but against all odds found a way to resurrect their fading stars. Special thanks to our users dag3658, Reuben Dahya, Alex McQuitty, Travis Kemp, waitik and dksoulstice for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script Written by Matthew Thomas.

Top 10 Celebrity Career Comebacks


You gotta love a good comeback story. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Career Comebacks.

For this list we’re looking at celebrities whose careers hit the skids, but against all odds found a way to resurrect their fading stars.

#10: Neil Patrick Harris

For many years, most people didn’t know the name Neil Patrick Harris. If he popped up on our screens, the only name we thought of was Doogie Howser, the teen-aged doctor Harris played early in his career. Harris seemed to fade away after the show came to an end – that is, until he appeared in the “Harold & Kumar” series as a self-aware version of himself. Taking that momentum to move on and star in “How I Met Your Mother,” Harris became the show’s breakout star. He’s since kept the momentum going with award show hosting gigs, memorable guest slots and more.

#9: Michael J. Fox

One of the most beloved actors of the 1980s, this star of “Family Ties,” and the classic “Teen Wolf” was just oh-so-likeable. He also earned a place in cinema history as the lead in a certain much loved time travel trilogy during this same time. His film career cooled off a bit after that, but his return to the small screen during the mid-‘90s in “Spin City” was well-received. Unfortunately, Fox had begun suffering from Parkinson’s by that point and was forced to slow down. Shifting to guest spots and recurring roles in the 21st century, he’s maintained his presence while demonstrating his keen dramatic abilities to create some of his best work ever.

#8: Rob Lowe

As a young man, Rob Lowe was a huge star on the silver screen. With roles alongside brat packers in “St. Elmo’s Fire” and other big stars in “The Outsiders,” he seemed untouchable. Then, in the late ‘80s, controversy reared its ugly head in the form of a sex tape, and his public image took a massive hit. Fast forward a decade or so and to a starring role in “The West Wing,” as well as a hilarious turn in “Parks and Recreation,” and Lowe was a TV star. Eventually he was headlining his own sitcom, “The Grinder,” so his star doesn’t seem like it’ll be diminishing anytime soon.

#7: Paula Abdul

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Paula Abdul released a pair of successful albums that rocketed her to stardom and earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With the help of MC Skat Kat and a popular Diet Coke commercial, she became even bigger - and then her career hit the skids and her fame waned as she took a break from music. But when she was tapped to be a judge on “American Idol,” which became the most popular show at the time, she once again became a star in 2002. People may have been talking about her supposed intoxication levels - but at least they were talking.

#6: Drew Barrymore

When she appeared in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” which held the record for highest grossing film of all time for eleven years, Drew Barrymore absolutely stole the show. The incredibly adorable young actress went on to star in several other films until adolescence – and drug addiction - sidelined her career. In the early ‘90s, she reminded the world how talented she was when she earned her 2nd Golden Globe nomination for “Guncrazy” and followed that up as teenaged mistress Amy Fisher. New opportunities then opened up for her with her “Scream” cameo leading the way. With hits like “The Wedding Singer” and “Charlie’s Angels,” Barrymore became a huge star once again.

#5: Ellen DeGeneres

In the ‘90s, stand-up comedienne Ellen DeGeneres tried her hand at the lead in a sitcom and found herself in a big hit. She achieved even greater fame when both she and the character she played came out as gay. But a backlash soon developed and her popularity faded. In 2003 though, she had a double whammy: she delighted audiences as the voice of Dory in the huge hit “Finding Nemo,” and simultaneously earned a devoted following as the host of her own talk show. A popular Oscar host and Cover Girl, these days, she is a bigger star than ever.

#4: Jason Bateman

A former adolescent star that earned roles in shows like “Silver Spoons,” Jason Bateman went on to star in films like “Teen Wolf Too.” But as the nineties progressed, the former teen idol’s career stalled big time. Getting cast in the acclaimed sitcom “Arrested Development” in the 21st century changed all that. Bateman demonstrated that his talent had very definitely matured, and he capitalized on the critical attention the show received by going on to garner laughs in several huge comedies like “Horrible Bosses” and “Identity Thief.” He’s also given his fair share of solid dramatic performances.

#3: John Travolta

Long before his recent Academy Award peculiarity, John Travolta was a huge movie star in the seventies. With a marvelous villainous role in “Carrie” and memorable lead roles in “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever,” Travolta became an international superstar. Then came the eighties, where he’s best remembered for his role in a talking baby franchise. It wasn’t until his involvement in a little film called “Pulp Fiction” in 1994 that it all turned around, big time. Moving on to star in a string of box office hits like “Get Shorty” and “Face/Off,” he arguably enjoyed more success than ever before.

#2: Britney Spears

One of the biggest stars of the late nineties pop music scene, Britney Spears was unstoppable with her releases of hit song after hit song. In fact, her first single is one of the best-selling tunes of all time. She even dominated the Super Bowl halftime show in 2001. Then, about halfway through the noughties, things started to go awry. Suffering from a mental breakdown, she became fodder for the tabloids, her record sales dipped and she ended up in rehab. She made a small comeback in 2007 with her “Blackout” album, but personal issues troubled her again until 2008’s “Womanizer” and its parent record, “Circus.” By 2012, she had again taken the record world by storm, with Forbes naming her the year’s highest paid female musician, an honor she hadn’t attained in a decade.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Mickey Rourke
Kiefer Sutherland
Sylvester Stallone
Michael Keaton

#1: Robert Downey, Jr.

When he started out, Robert Downey, Jr. was quickly heralded as one of the best actors of his generation. His Oscar-nominated role in “Chaplin” and his extreme performance in “Natural Born Killers” demonstrated his impressive range. But his well-publicized drug problems made him a risky prospect for producers and his star went into eclipse in the ‘90s. Finally pulling himself together, Downey re-established himself as a skilled actor in the new millennium. His performances in the “Iron Man” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises established him as one of the most bankable stars as well. Few performers have gone from low lows to high highs as RDJ, and that’s why he’s #1.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think had the best celebrity career comeback? For more perception breaking Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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