Sometimes They Come Back: Top 5 Actor Comebacks
Hollywood is not only gradually moving away from the scandalous aftermath of the #MeToo movement but also bringing back half-forgotten stars from the 90s and even the 80s to the screens.
Photo: Johnny Depp on the set of "Jeanne Du Barry"
In 2020, the film "Minamata" was released, where Depp played the role of a "Life" magazine photographer investigating the mercury poisoning of the residents of a Japanese town. After that, for three years, fans had to go to court buildings rather than theaters to see the actor as he fought for his reputation in a series of legal battles with his ex-wife Amber Heard and the tabloids that supported her. Due to the backlash from the #MeToo movement, he had to turn down many projects, such as the continuation of the "Fantastic Beasts" series based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. However, no matter how much Heard frowned, portraying herself as a victim of domestic violence, in the summer of 2022, the court finally found her guilty of defamation.
Against the backdrop of news from the courtroom, directors who do not support the #MeToo movement started showing interest in Johnny Depp. French director Maïwenn Le Besco offered him the role of Louis XV in her new drama "Jeanne Du Barry." The film was shown at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival. While it didn't cause a sensation, critics praised Depp for his excellent French. And celebrity gossip lovers began actively discussing the actor's dental problem with his Hollywood smile. Star dentist Michael Apa explained Depp's damaged teeth as a result of aggressive wear and his addiction to espresso and cigars. According to Apa, the actor needs to restore his bite, and veneers would be the best solution. Well, after the court obliged Heard to pay her ex-husband $15 million in compensation, he can calmly replace all his teeth with gold if he wants to.
Brendan Fraser on the set of "The Whale"
"George of the Jungle," "Blast from the Past," the "Mummy" trilogy—having shot to fame with these films in the 90s and early 2000s, Brendan Fraser quietly disappeared from the big screens. It turned out that the actor went through a cascade of difficult episodes in his life, which turned him into a recluse and plunged him into depression. It all started in 2003 when he was sexually assaulted by Philip Berk, the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. According to the actor, at one of the social dinners, Berk grabbed his buttocks and touched his crotch. For Fraser, it became a psychological trauma, and due to shame and victim complex, he couldn't even properly explain what had happened when he reported it to the police. In addition, during the early 2000s, the actor experienced the death of his mother and a lengthy divorce from his wife Afton Smith, also an actress. Health problems also arose—Fraser had to replace his knee joint, undergo spinal surgery, and work on the recovery of his vocal cords.
It seemed that Fraser would no longer achieve great success in the film industry. However, he caught the attention of Darren Aronofsky—a director who previously revived Mickey Rourke's lost career by casting him in the film "The Wrestler." In Aronofsky's latest work, the drama "The Whale," Fraser played an obese teacher who, ashamed to show himself to his students, teaches online classes with the camera turned off while trying to rebuild his relationship with his teenage daughter. During the filming, the actor wore "fat prosthetics" weighing 136 kg for several hours every day. And these struggles paid off—although critics had mixed opinions about the film itself, they unanimously praised Fraser's performance. The actor received the coveted "Oscar" and triumphantly returned to the top tier of Hollywood superstars.
Photo: Michelle Yeoh
The actress became widely known for her work with Jackie Chan in the 90s and her appearance in the blockbuster "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000. Since then, the Malaysian actress continued to act, but for a long time, there were no notable successes in her filmography. When Yeoh turned 60 last year, no one expected a significant actor's comeback from her. On the contrary, her close friends advised her to retire from the film industry. However, Yeoh firmly rejects ageism: "As you age, people start telling you that it's time to retire. No, guys. Don't tell me what to do..."
The action film "Everything Everywhere All at Once," with allusions to "The Matrix" and "In the Mood for Love" by Wong Kar-wai, brought Michelle Yeoh an Oscar for Best Actress (the first in history for an actress of Asian origin). Playing the owner of an immigrant laundromat who travels through parallel worlds, trying to save the multiverse, Yeoh not only showcased her dramatic talent but also demonstrated impressive kung fu skills for her age.
Jonathan Ke Quan
Photo: Jonathan Ke Quan
This actor gained fame in the early 80s when he played Short Round in the film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" at the age of 12. Since the early 2000s, Quan stopped appearing in movies and worked as a stunt choreographer and assistant director. And now, after 20 years, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Everything Everywhere All at Once." Both critics and audiences enthusiastically welcomed his incredible transformations throughout the film, switching between different characters every few minutes. From the dull husband of the main protagonist to a martial arts master, a brave rebel, and a sophisticated member of high society, Quan effortlessly transitions between these roles, as if he had rehearsed them during his time away from the screen. It's a remarkable success for a 51-year-old actor who once began his life by fleeing communist-controlled Vietnam as a child and living in an American refugee camp for a year.
Photo: Kevin Spacey on the set of "House of Cards"
At the end of 2017, this highly talented Hollywood actor of our time became a victim of "cancel culture." It all started when Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of sexual misconduct that, according to Rapp, occurred in 1986 (30 years ago). Spacey decided to divert public attention and came out as gay. However, this strange maneuver only worsened his situation. Following Rapp, dozens of people he had worked with began to complain about Spacey's inappropriate behavior. As a result, he was removed from the hit series "House of Cards" and was stripped of the Emmy award that was being prepared for him. The production of a biopic about writer Gore Vidal, in which Spacey played the lead role, was put on hold indefinitely. He was even edited out of the already shot film "All the Money in the World" and replaced by Christopher Plummer. Spacey then disappeared to some rehab facility in the Arizona desert. It seemed that sooner or later, the actor would follow the fate of producer Harvey Weinstein and end up in prison.
However, at the end of last year, the first film in which Spacey appeared after the high-profile scandal was released. Italian director Franco Nero offered the Hollywood outcast a role in the film "The Man Who Drew God," in which Kevin Spacey played a detective. Shortly before that, in October 2022, Rapp's lawsuit was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Now, the actor plans to make a full-fledged comeback, but for that, he needs to win another trial, proving his innocence in sexual misconduct allegations from four other men. The trial began on June 28 in London and is expected to last for a month.