10 Stars Who've Tried to Move On From Their Blockbuster Breakout Roles
The romantic comedy What If started to roll out in theaters this past weekend. The story of Wallace, who tries to maintain a friendship with the coupled-up Chantry despite their mutual attraction, the film’s a well-received romantic comedy co-starring Zoe Kazan, Adam Driverand Rafe Spall, but is probably most notable as the latest of Daniel Radcliffe’s moves to distance himself from the role that made him a household name, Harry Potter.
So far, Radcliffe’s been fairly successful in persuading the public to think of him as something other than The Boy Who Lived: he won plaudits on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and The Cripple Of Inishman, had a horror hit with The Woman In Black, and appeared in acclaimed indie Kill Your Darlings. His biggest post-Potter role so far comes next year, in Fox’s new take on Frankenstein, so there’s every chance that he could shake free of the glasses and the lightning scar.
But what of those who came before? The specter of a mega-franchise can be a hard thing to escape from once the series that made your name comes to an end. And so, to mark the release of What If, we’ve looked back at some other actors who came to fame through huge movie franchises, and examined how they fared in the years after.
Blockbuster franchise: Star Wars
Career path: The man who became Luke Skywalker had been plucked from obscurity to lead the original Star Wars trilogy (including 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, above). Hamill took a few gigs between Star Wars pictures (most notably Sam Fuller’s 1980 World War II classic The Big Red One), but after Jedi, he stepped away from the spotlight, focusing on stage work. Aside from a couple of brief appearances in Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories and The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hamill didn’t appear on screen again until 1989’s poorly received sci-fi Slipstream, in which he played a villain. Since then, he’s had a small handful of live-action roles, but has carved out a hugely successful second career as a voiceover artist, most memorably embodying the Joker in the Batman animated series of the 1990s.
What’s next: A comeback is brewing: He has a cameo in Matthew Vaughan’s upcoming actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service, and of course, he’ll be returning to the role that made his name in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII.