Best 10 Inspiring Comebacks from the Stars of the 90s: Year 2023


Best 10 Inspiring Comebacks from the Stars of the 90s: Year 2023

The 1990s brought us a time of Hollywood magic, where groundbreaking effects, thrilling stunts, heart-wrenching dialogue, and unforgettable performances from our favorite actors and actresses unfolded before our eyes. While some of these stars seemed to fade away as the 2000s arrived, every person on this list eventually made a triumphant return to the silver screen, reclaiming their rightful place in the spotlight.

How did they manage to make their spectacular comebacks, you may wonder? Well, these actors took daring risks and made calculated choices that paid off big time. Take Brandon Fraser and Christina Ricci, for instance. They shook off their once-written-off reputations and proved their undeniable talent. Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder, who had faced legal troubles, redeemed themselves by delving into the thrilling worlds of superheroes and horror. And then there’s Ke Huy Quan, an Asian actor who faced challenges finding work in Hollywood. He even changed his name to stay in the game and eventually found success in stunt and production work. In 2019, he auditioned for the game-changing film Everything Everywhere All at Once.

No matter why they left the scene, it’s truly a delight to witness these ’90s luminaries making their triumphant return. So, let’s show our unwavering support for these remarkable comeback stars! Share your love for your favorite actors by giving them a big thumbs-up using the arrows below.

1. Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser
In 2022, one actor’s comeback made headlines and was warmly embraced by fans. Brendan Fraser, known for his roles in ’90s hits like Encino Man and George of the Jungle, experienced a surge in popularity. With his attractive physique and charming personality, he became a sought-after love interest of that era. His starring role in the Mummy franchise further solidified his appeal.

However, Fraser’s dedication to his craft had its consequences. Years of intense filming schedules and demanding stunts took a toll on his body. He revealed, “By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China, I was put together with tape and ice… I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily.” His health suffered, but an even more devastating incident occurred.

Fraser disclosed that he had allegedly experienced a sexual assault at the hands of the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. This traumatic event led to depression, reclusiveness, and ultimately, his withdrawal from acting. But in 2022, Fraser made a remarkable comeback that rivaled a Hollywood movie plot.

In Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Whale, Fraser portrays a reclusive, 600-pound English teacher who seeks to reconnect with his estranged daughter while grieving the loss of his partner. Aronofsky’s movies are often controversial, but Fraser’s performance garnered widespread acclaim. Critics described it as “brilliant,” “intensely moving,” and “one for the ages.”

The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022, where Fraser received a standing ovation lasting six minutes. His outstanding portrayal earned him the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor in 2023.

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2. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr., son of the eccentric underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., gained fame in the ’80s as part of the “brat pack,” starring in films targeted at disgruntled youth like Less Than Zero and Weird Science.

However, in the ’90s, Downey Jr.’s career took a dark turn as he battled with drug addiction and faced multiple arrests. Eventually, he was sentenced to three years in prison, though this was later reduced to one year with a hefty fine. Despite his troubles, he continued to act and even appeared on the show Ally McBeal.

After some setbacks, Downey Jr. managed to turn his life around and has become more beloved than ever. His portrayal of Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man movies has won the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. Additionally, his genuine sense of humor has made him a popular figure for internet memes.

Not just known for his acting, Downey Jr. and his wife Susan have also found success as producers. They established their own production company, fittingly named Team Downey.

3. Ke Huy Quan

Ke Huy Quan
In 1984, twelve-year-old Ke Huy Quan got a lucky break when he was cast as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Ke Huy Quan and his family had escaped war-torn Vietnam in 1978. During an open casting call in Los Angeles, he met Steven Spielberg while his brother was auditioning. Spielberg asked him to read for the part and the next day, he received a call from the director.

As Short Round, Ke Huy Quan played the adorable and streetwise sidekick to Indiana Jones, stealing scenes from Harrison Ford. Spielberg was so impressed with his performance that he offered him the role of the child inventor Data in The Goonies. Although both movies were successful, Ke Huy Quan’s career slowed down as he entered his teenage years. He then transitioned into making martial arts films in Taiwan and Hong Kong, eventually leaving acting altogether to work as a stunt coordinator.

After being out of the spotlight for many years, Ke Huy Quan was inspired to return to his former career after watching Crazy Rich Asians. He said, “It’s such a significant movie for me. I felt, oh my God, that’s what I want to do after stepping away for so long.” He asked a friend to be his agent and within two weeks, he landed his comeback role.

In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan stars alongside Michelle Yeoh as Waymond, the husband of Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant who owns a struggling laundromat and must save the multiverse from destruction. Waymond is a gentle and loving character but also a cutthroat martial arts expert and romantic lead in parallel universes. The co-directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, were having difficulty finding an actor for such a multifaceted role until they came across a GIF of Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones on Twitter and thought he would be perfect.

The movie turned out to be a surprising box office hit, earning over $100 million globally and becoming A24’s highest-grossing film. In March 2023, Ke Huy Quan’s outstanding performance earned him an Academy Award.

4. Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton
Keaton started his Hollywood journey as a versatile and comedic actor. Films like Night Shift, Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Beetlejuice brought him the recognition he deserved. However, it was his portrayal of Bruce Wayne in 1989’s Batman that truly catapulted him into the A-list category.

In the 1990s, Keaton chose projects that appealed to his personal interests, opting for less bombastic roles. Films like Much Ado About Nothing, Multiplicity, Jackie Brown, and Out of Sight showcased his versatility. Although his career slightly waned in the 2000s, he remained active with projects such as First Daughter and Herbie: Fully Loaded.

The early 2010s saw Keaton making a comeback with notable roles in The Other Guys and RoboCop. However, it was the 2014 film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) that truly revitalized his career. This film reminded everyone of Keaton’s immense talent and earned him his first-ever Oscar nomination.

Currently, Keaton has reclaimed his position as a major player in Hollywood. Films like Spotlight, The Founder, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and The Trial of the Chicago 7 have further solidified his stardom, revamping his career once again.

5. Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder was a beloved “it girl” in Hollywood during the late ’80s and early ’90s. She had a decade-long run of success with both audiences and critics, starring in iconic films such as Beetlejuice, Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Reality Bites, and Girl, Interrupted. These movies made her a household name and even earned her an Oscar nomination for The Age of Innocence and Little Women.

However, a career can easily be derailed by crime, and in 2001, Ryder found herself embroiled in a scandal involving shoplifting. This incident left a significant stain on her prospects, and she subsequently disappeared from the spotlight for a few years.

In 2009, Ryder began the process of rebuilding her reputation in Hollywood with her role in Star Trek. She then went on to take part in projects like Black Swan, Frankenweenie, The Plot Against America, and The Iceman.

Undoubtedly, Ryder’s most notable role after the 2000s is Joyce Byers in Stranger Things. Portraying a single mother searching for her missing son amidst eerie events, Ryder was able to draw upon the horror and teen classics of the ’80s and ’90s, reminiscent of the films she starred in when she was younger.

6. Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci’s rise to fame began in the mid-’90s when she captivated audiences with her portrayal of dark and offbeat characters in movies like The Addams Family, Casper, and Now and Then. However, as the decade progressed, she took on riskier and more adult roles in films such as The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Buffalo ’66, which gained her a dedicated following and established her as a ’90s icon.

Despite her success, Ricci found it challenging to find her place in mainstream Hollywood as she was often pushed towards more conventional projects. Reflecting on this period, she commented, “I just don’t think that complicated and challenging was real popular at that time.” It wasn’t until she ventured into television that she reconnected with her dark roots and experienced a career resurgence.

In late 2021, the Showtime series Yellowjackets premiered, but it wasn’t until 2022 that it gained significant traction and developed a passionate fan base. The show, a blend of mystery, horror, and coming-of-age storytelling, follows the survivors of a girls’ soccer team after their plane crashes in the wilderness in 1996 and later as they navigate adulthood 15 years later. Ricci stars alongside ’90s “It Girls” Melanie Lynskey and Juliette Lewis.

Ricci portrays Misty, an adult character who works as a nurse. Misty’s sarcastic cheerfulness masks her sadistically violent and manipulative nature, adding depth and intrigue to the storyline. Critics showered praise on the show, and Ricci’s performance earned her an Emmy nomination in 2022. In the same year, she also returned to the world of The Addams Family, playing a mysterious botany teacher at Nevermore Academy in the Netflix series Wednesday.

This period marks a career renaissance for Ricci, according to her own words. She has regained the creative freedom she enjoyed during the height of her fame in the late ’90s. Reflecting on this turnaround, she expressed her emotions, saying, “It has not been easy, this path. So to all of a sudden have it turn around so much and have people just have such a different reaction to me, I was very emotional about it.”

7. Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris, known for his role as the famous child star in Doogie Howser, M.D., had a period of relative obscurity before making a hilariously raunchy comeback in the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. This brought him back into the public eye.

Following his resurgence, Harris joined the cast of the popular series How I Met Your Mother alongside fellow cult TV stars Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segal. He played the womanizing character Barney Stinson, a role he would later reprise in the spin-off series How I Met Your Father.

In 2008, Harris teamed up with Nathan Fillion in Joss Whedon’s web miniseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which boosted his reputation among the geek community.

In a remarkable turn of events, Harris won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2014. He earned this accolade for his outstanding performance as the intersexed rockstar Hedwig Schmidt in the revival of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway.

Furthermore, Harris has pursued his passion for magic and even authored a successful young adult series titled The Magic Misfits.

8. Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey
During the ’90s, Matthew McConaughey scored notable roles in movies like A Time To Kill, The Newton Boys, and Amistad, solidifying his status as a heavyweight in Hollywood. However, as the 2000s rolled in, he gradually transitioned into B-list territory, gaining recognition for his involvement in fluffy romantic comedies such as How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days and The Wedding Planner.

But in recent years, McConaughey has taken a different path, gravitating towards darker and more challenging projects. This decision has not only earned him critical acclaim but has also rekindled the adoration of his fans. In 2013, he delivered powerful performances in Dallas Buyer’s Club and The Wolf of Wall-Street, both of which received nominations for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Continuing his streak, McConaughey took on one of his most captivating roles in 2014 as a troubled undercover cop in the highly acclaimed first season of HBO’s True Detective. This further solidified his reputation as an actor capable of tackling complex and compelling characters.

9. Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik
From 1990 to 1995, Mayim Bialik became a household name by starring as the titular character in over a hundred episodes of Blossom on NBC. Being the lead on a primetime sitcom has that effect. Afterward, Bialik focused on voice work for various cartoons while pursuing multiple degrees from UCLA.

Then, in 2010, Bialik made a major comeback in primetime thanks to The Big Bang Theory, the biggest sitcom of that time. Throughout the show’s run until 2019, she portrayed Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon Cooper’s love interest, in an impressive 200+ episodes. That’s how you make a big-time television comeback.

10. Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne, the quirky girl of the turn-of-the-millennium, was a familiar face in many late-’90s teen favorites. From the iconic lesbian love story But I’m a Cheerleader to the wildly successful American Pie series, and even the beloved indie cult classic Slums of Beverly Hills, she left her mark.

However, like many young performers, Lyonne faced her fair share of challenges. Battling emotional instability and drug addiction, her life took some tumultuous turns. From car wrecks to getting evicted for an incident involving a neighbor’s dog, she even dated Edward Furlong. Her struggles led to multiple arrests and hospitalizations during the early 2000s.

Fortunately, it seems that Lyonne has managed to find stability in recent years. Her breakthrough role came in Netflix’s immensely popular series Orange is the New Black, where she portrayed the troubled ex-heroin addict Nicky from 2013 to 2019. This marked a turning point in her career.

Not stopping there, Lyonne then took on the role of a leading lady in the time-loop comedy Russian Doll. The show explored themes of trauma and garnered critical acclaim.

Looking ahead to 2023, Lyonne will be taking on a new challenge as she becomes the “lady Columbo” in the detective series Poker Face, known for its clever and unpredictable plot twists.

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