There are a couple of new faces on this year’s Most Valuable Stars list, including Jessica Chastain, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Carey Mulligan, but the presence of those favored few means that some of the big names from the 2012 list didn’t make the cut for a second round. Which ten stars slipped out of the top 100, and what went wrong for each of them? Take a look at these cautionary tales and despair accordingly.
When you’ve made so few movies that you can still count them on one hand, it only takes a single misfire to dislodge you from the Most Valuable Stars list. That’s how it went for Jaden Smith, who placed at No. 67 last year while still basking in the afterglow from his hit remake of The Karate Kid, but fell off this year’s list entirely thanks to the box office bomb After Earth, which he made with his father Will. His odd Twitter ramblings don’t help, either — when asked to rank the young Smith’s appeal from 1-10, one of our studio executives handed him a big fat zero.
As her time on Gossip Girl neared an end, Lively leveraged her savvy reps (and a small part in The Town) to vie for the hottest movie roles in town, and she wrangled high-profile auditions for the female leads in Silver Linings Playbook, The Great Gatsby, and Gravity. But despite being bandied about as a contender in the press, she wasn’t able to score any of those game-changing vehicles; instead, she co-starred in Green Lantern and Savages, neither of which set the world abuzz. Seemingly chastened by her lack of box-office success, Lively has indicated in recent months a desire to start a lifestyle newsletter, a career move she may have cribbed from the next name on our list ...
It’s not that Gwyneth Paltrow had a bad year: She co-starred in Iron Man 3, 2013’s biggest hit. It’s just that she has a supporting role in that franchise, and with Iron Man currently on an indefinite hold — Robert Downey Jr. is only signed on for two Avengers sequels — it’s entirely possible that Iron Man 3 may be Paltrow’s last Marvel movie. That uncertainty, coupled with the underperformance of Paltrow’s sex addiction indie Thanks for Sharing, was enough to dock her studio score to a level that left her out of the top 100.
We're a long, long way from Jim Carrey's peak career years — his last live-action film to gross over $100 million was 2005's Fun With Dick and Jane — and 2013 proved especially wan for the former comic megastar: Carrey lent his support to Steve Carell's The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a tremendous box office bomb, and refused to promote Kick-Ass 2, which couldn't even clear $30 million anyway. He could really stand to reinvent himself with a David O. Russell–directed comeback vehicle right about now, but instead, Carrey is shooting Dumb and Dumber To, a sequel coming nearly twenty years too late.
When it comes to Aussie action stars, has Chris Hemsworth made Sam Worthington obsolete? Worthington scored a lot of big movies after James Cameron tapped him to lead Avatar, but Terminator: Salvation was a nonstarter, and the Clash of the Titans series burned out fast. Even though he starred in the biggest movie of all time, Worthington remains far from a household name, and his current studio cachet is meager, as Cameron continues to delay the production of his Avatar sequels, now kicking the can down the road to October 2014.
The recent downturn in romantic comedies has hurt a lot of stars, especially the actresses who made it a bread-and-butter genre, like Reese Witherspoon and Rachel McAdams. But that’s not the only cause of Katherine Heigl’s fall from grace. Hollywood put up with the actress when she was still a box-office draw, but as soon as the money started to dry up (her last two comedies, One For the Money and The Big Wedding, couldn’t even clear $30 million), executives deemed her bad behind-the-scenes attitude a liability that they were no longer willing to take on. Heigl finally got the hint and slunk off the big screen: She’s now developing a TV series she plans to star in for NBC.
Heigl’s The Ugly Truth co-star Gerard Butler actually scored a sleeper hit this year with the White House thriller Olympus Has Fallen, but that wasn’t enough for studio executives to endorse him after a string of brutal bombs: Playing For Keeps made $13 million, Chasing Mavericks brought in $6 million, and Machine Gun Preacher couldn’t even clear $600,000. It’s possible that Butler can rejoin the list next year — in Hollywood, sometimes you’re only as good (or bad) as your last credit — but his bankability is far from assured.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Have audiences tired of Sacha Baron Cohen’s shtick? Last year’s The Dictator made a middling $59 million, about on par with his previous starring vehicle, Bruno, but nowhere near the $128 million high of Borat back in 2006. Hollywood executives are still willing to work with the actor — they gave him a studio score higher than some of the stars who actually made our list — but on most other counts, from likeability to critical respect to Twitter buzz, Baron Cohen was left lacking.
Like her comrade in action Milla Jovovich, Beckinsale is a proven draw in a long-in-the-tooth action franchise, but despite some considerable foreign appeal, she hasn’t quite become a studio mainstay. 2012’s Total Recall remake (directed by her husband Len Wiseman, who also cast her in the Underworld movies) was a dud despite Beckinsale’s villainous turn, and this year studio execs awarded her a score on par with 10-year-old Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis. Ouch.
Keanu! Where ya been, buddy? The 49-year-old star hasn’t been seen in a studio movie since 2008’s turgid The Day the Earth Stood Still, instead keeping a low profile and working on his directorial debut, the low-budget martial arts flick Man of Tai Chi. This December, Reeves will return to mainstream multiplexes with the expensive action movie 47 Ronin, which was famously delayed from last year as director Carl Rinsch battled with Universal over reshoots. Could this be the movie to restore Keanu’s star power, or has he taken too much time off?