Drew Barrymore made a splash as a child actress in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982 and has never looked back. However, she did drop out of the spotlight for a little while working on a string of so-so movies and a few failed marriages.
However, Barrymore has come back bigger and better than ever. She's hosting her own talk show and leaning on her celeb friends to quickly become a queen of daytime television.
Winona Ryder was everyone’s favorite in the '80s with a huge following for her roles and relationships--taking on Heathers and Johnny Depp. However, after continued success in the 1990s, Ryder saw her fame diminish as the films she was in just weren’t doing well, and she was she became complete box-office poison after a well-publicized shoplifting arrest.
However, Netflix and a little show called Stranger Things have catapulted Winona back to the top of the working actresses of today.
Martha Stewart has never been a shrinking violet, and she’s at the top of her game right now. After a huge start in the '80s as the hostess with the most-ess, Martha enjoyed huge success until a slight problem in the early 2000s, when she was caught committing insider trading.
Never you mind that she did jail time. Martha has roared back into our lives with her Omnimedia company, her friendship with Snoop Dogg, and her recurring stint on Chopped. Posting a thirst trap recently, Martha shows that she just gets better with age.
Even though Michael Keaton played Batman and the iconic Beetlejuice in 1980s, those roles couldn't keep Michael Keaton from falling off the radar for a few years.
Even though he saw some career growth in the 2000s, it wasn’t until 2014 that he enjoyed a career resurgence, becoming businessman Ray Kroc for the biopic The Founder and picking up a couple of new roles in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and American Assassin. Rumors abound that Keaton is set to resume his role as Batman, but only his agency knows the truth.
Brat packer Rob Lowe has that 1000-megawatt smile and the talent to stay relevant. After turns in St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night, Lowe wasn't in the spotlight as much.
Then, later in life, he turned to the small screen where he took over TV in The West Wing, Brothers and Sisters, and Parks and Recreation. Not one to be satisfied with the status quo, Rob continues to work today as Captain Owen Strand on 9-1-1: Lone Star.
Christian Slater and his handsome looks burst into the '80s and '90s in a bevy of films that caught all teen girls’ attention: Heathers, Pump Up the Volume, and Young Guns II. He went on to enjoy movie fame through the '90s with hits like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Untamed Heart, and True Romance.
However, poor choices in the 2000s led to Slater falling off the radar. In 2014, Slater found his groove again with budding actor Rami Malek in Mr. Robot, where he plays a computer hacker.
As a child actress, Bialik started her career in the '80s with recurring roles on Webster and The Facts of Life as well as nabbing the role of Bette Midler’s character as a young girl in Beaches.
In the 1990s and 2000s, she was doing a lot of voiceover work while attending college to get a degree in neuroscience. Breaking out in The Big Bang Theory in the 2010s as a brainy girl was no stretch for her. But this year has been the best by far. She's starred in a show Call Me Kat and nabbed a guest-hosting spot for Jeopardy.
That cute kid from the Golden Grahams commercials grew up to be Ricky Schroeder’s best pal in Silver Spoons as well as part of the amazing Hogan Family on Valerie. Then, Bateman dropped out of the limelight as he battled alcohol and drug addiction for a little over 10 years.
Becoming sober, Bateman set out to revive his career with Arrested Development, which enjoyed the strangest run of a comedy series ever before being cast as the paterfamilias in Ozark, where he reigns supreme on Netflix as both an actor and director.
While Robin Wright starred as Kelly Capwell on the daytime soap Santa Barbara, it’s her role as Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride that still continues to endure. Robin went on to enjoy success in the '90s with Forrest Gump and Message in a Bottle.
Known for her off-screen life as well as her on-screen choices, Robin Wright had a high-profile relationship with Sean Penn. Wright knocked it out of the park with her role as Claire Underwood on House of Cards, starring from 2013-2018, and she's now working on the films Wonder Woman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Samuel L. Jackson
One of the hardest working men in show business started in the '80s on bit roles for Spike Lee in School Daze and Do the Right Thing. However, the '80s/'90s were a time of excess, and Jackson was no stranger to hard drugs, having overdosed several times. His turn as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction was the breakthrough he needed, and he never looked back.
Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel all snagged him for major roles, and Samuel L. Jackson is still on top of his game, nabbing an honorary Oscar this year. He also holds the record as the world’s highest-grossing actor with over $27 billion dollars worldwide.
It's hard to remember sometimes that Meryl Streep started in show business because the movie Taxi Driver had a profound impact on her. She set about honing her talent, and the rest is history. When other actors fade, Streep finds her stride.
Beginning in 1978 with The Deer Hunter and continuing through Kramer vs Kramer, you felt every single expression. But her portrayal in Sophie’s Choice as a polish survivor of Auschwitz was voted the third greatest movie performance of all time. Streep has continued to pick and choose her way through Hollywood, picking up awards and hearts in films like The Devil Wears Prada and Little Women.
You would think a smashing career in the '80s that included such work as The Big Chill, The Natural, Dangerous Liaisons, and, of course, Fatal Attraction would be enough for a lifetime, but not for Glenn Close.
While she left the big screen to move to television work, she took a complete screen hiatus in the 2000s, only to return for Damages from 2007-2014. However, good actors never stay still long, and Glenn found herself starring in the Netflix film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy, which nabbeed her several award nominations.
Bond girl Kim Basinger lit up the screen with her smoldering good looks in Never Say Never Again opposite Sean Connery. Directors Blake Edwards and Robert Altman found her to be their muse and cast her in multiple films including Blind Date and Food for Love. Her turn opposite Mickey Rourke in 9 ½ Weeks set the screen on fire, and she nabbed the part of Vicki Vale in Batman.
1997 was a year that brought Basinger an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a SAG award. But off-screen relationships overshadowed her success in the 2000s...until a little book series came along known as 50 Shades of Grey--where she was cast as Elena Lincoln, the business partner of Christian Grey.
One of the biggest stars in the 80s was undoubtedly Michelle Pfeiffer. Her breakout role as Elvira Hancock opposite Al Pacino set her on a path for '80s stardom with award-winning hits like Tequila Sunrise, Dangerous Liaisons, and The Fabulous Baker Boys.
She enjoyed even more success in the '90s but slowly fell off the radar in the 2000s as she concentrated on family. However, the screen beckoned, and Michelle returned to top form in Murder on the Orient Express, Avengers Endgame, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Angela Bassett got her start in a made-for-tv movie in 1986 called F/X. She gained recognition in early nineties films Boyz n the Hood and Malcom X. Bassett found a comfortable living as an actor playing famous figures such as Tina Turner and Katherine Jackson before hitting the circuit in a number of romcoms.
But it was Ryan Murphy casting her in American Horror Story: Coven that allowed her to find her footing. She appeared in several of the seasons before taking her place in Marvel fandom as Queen Romonda, mother of Black Panther himself.
Its hard to fathom that anyone is having a bigger comeback story than Kevin Costner. With starring roles in No Way Out, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Dances with Wolves, Costner cemented his fame. But he wasn’t quite done, churning out Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, The Bodyguard, For the Love of the Game, and Thirteen Days.
However, Costner stumbled in the post-apocalyptic failure Waterworld and the disappointing Postman. Costner stepped back from production and laid low for a number of years behind the camera. But the small screen came calling, and Costner is enjoying the first regular TV role of his career--as the swoon-worthy, horseback riding, ranch owning John Dutton.
Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the '80s with Risky Business, The Color of Money, Top Gun, and Rain Man. He continued his success into the '90s with a turn in A Few Good Men, The Firm, and Jerry Maguire. Cruise has held the role of Ethan Hunt in all of the Mission: Impossible films, but little else in the 2000s.
When not jumping on couches, Tom was overshadowed by his controversial religion. However, '80s nostalgia called, and Tom is making his comeback in Top Gun: Maverick as well as the 7th Mission: Impossible film.
Mark Hamill has successfully created a career thanks to his role as Luke Skywalker from the original Star Wars series. But then the roles he sought weren’t much of anything, and he started voice acting in television and feature productions as The Joker for the animated Batman series.
He expanded his voice-over work into a lucrative video game career before Star Wars came knocking again with the last of the trilogy to be shot. He reprised his role as Luke for the 8th and 9th installments of the franchise before making a surprise cameos in both Rogue One and Solo as well as the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian.
Tom Hanks hasn’t really gone anywhere but up as a struggling actor from the '80s who starred in such comedic hits as Bosom Buddies, Splash, and Big before hitting it big with his portrayal in Forrest Gump. Along the way, he slayed the rom-com genre along with the war film drama genre.
His turns in small films like The Terminal and Catch Me If You Can earned him rave reviews. Of course, his voiceover work as Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story franchise is history-making. So what else can the man do? He started in News of the World in 2020 and has numerous upcoming projects including the role of Tom Parker in the biopic of Elvis as well as a third WWII miniseries.
The sultry, red-haired Aussie stole hearts in her native Australia but was still little known to the U.S. public until she played a brainy beauty in Days of Thunder opposite her husband to be: Tom Cruise. In the 1990s, she appeared opposite every leading man in Hollywood until her divorce in 2001.
Since Nicole was an established actress in her own right, she continued to make movies. But her turn in Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies on HBO in 2017 brought her alongside Reese Witherspoon and she grabbed multiple acting awards. Kidman went on to the DC Comics universe as Queen Atlanna, mother of Aquaman. Kidman’s career is in high gear right now with The Goldfinch, Bombshell, The Undoing, and Nine Perfect Strangers. Kidman is set to portray part of the legendary comedy couple as Lucille Ball in the biopic Being the Ricardos.
Don Cheedle may have started as a supporting cast member in '80s in films like Hamburger Hill and Colors, but he cut his teeth on nineties films Devil in a Blue Dress and Boogie Nights before becoming one of Danny’s Eleven in Oceans Trilogy, But his career was a bit stagnant and no one knew what came next until his award-winning role as Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda.
Don Cheedle was a star looking to rise, and he did it through the Marvel Universe, starting in 2010 and continuing today as Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot. There’s no limit to his character portrayal as he continues the voiceover work for Disney+ now as well.
Laura Dern rose to prominence for roles in Mask and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet in the '80s before achieving international fame in Jurassic Park. Laura Dern was on again and off again with Hollywood for the next decade, starring in lesser-known films.
However, she reentered the scene as a mother in the critically acclaimed and well-received film The Fault in Our Stars and took the role of Marnie to the next level in the most recent adaptation of Little Women. Laura Dern also kicked it into high gear as part of the new girl-pack in Big Little Lies. Will she continue her domination in Jurassic World: Dominion?
If you had Jean Smart on your 2021 awards season ballot, congratulations. Jean was cast in the leading role of Charlene Frazier Stillfield in Designing Women from 1986-1991. She starred opposite Kelsey Grammar in Frasier, garnering a couple of Emmy Awards.
However, her roles waned as she took bit parts in numerous films and did a huge amount of voiceover work in both Kim Possible and Hey Arnold! Smart entered 2018 in the HBO superhero drama series Watchmen and was then courted for the 2021 HBO Emmy winning series Mare of Easttown, where she stole the show from Kate Winslet.
Seasoned stage icon Sir Anthony Hopkins got his break in 1968 for playing Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter but found himself in multiple adaptations of both stage and film roles, including a turn as Sr Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man before he won acclaim as cannibalistic killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
Hopkins continued his path through both big-budget films and small independent studio films, cementing his legacy. Why does this man still work? Hopkins entered the MCU in 2011 as Odin, father of Thor and played Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes in 2019. He continues to actively work today in both film and television.
Playing the title role of Bronco Billy in 1981 as well as the film Any Which Way You Can opposite a monkey seemed like a sunsetting move for the iconic actor who had portrayed Dirty Harry in five films. But Clint was just getting warmed up. He starred in Tightrope in 1984, known as a provocative thriller. Clint took his time in the '90s, taking roles in The Rookie, Unforgiven, and In the Line of Fire before playing a wayward photographer opposite Meryl Streep in Bridges of Madison County.
In the 2000s, Eastwood took on a few roles before turning director in Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. And now? Now Eastwood is back at the top of his game in The Mule in 2018 and is currently directing/starring in the 2021 film Cry Macho.
Lily Tomlin found fame in the late '60s on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In that led to a boom of filmmaking in the '80s including 9 to 5, All of Me, Big Business, and The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
Tomlin returned to television to voice Ms. Frizzle on The Magic Schoolbus while staking a few small parts in shows like Will & Grace and The West Wing. But Tomlin’s current success is riding high with co-stars Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston in Grace and Frankie.
Jane Fonda hails from acting royalty, and that was apparent in the '60s and '70s, where she cemented her career as a serious actor before starring in The Electric Horseman opposite Robert Redford and 9 to 5 alongside pals Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin.
What’s a famous actress to do other than create an exercise video empire? Fonda is currently working on a film called Luck while still making/producing Grace and Frankie.
Sarah Jessica Parker
For a small gal, Parker made a big impression in the '80s with roles on the sitcom Square Pegs followed by Footloose, Girls Just want to Have Fun, and Flight of the Navigator--before landing Honeymoon in Vegas and Hocus Pocus in the '90s. However, her big break came as Carrie Bradshaw for Sex and the City from 1998-2011.
At the end of SATC, everyone, including SJP, thought that ship had sailed, maybe too many times. However, HBO will have its way, and, just like that, a follow-up to SATC following our lovely ladies (sans Samantha) is currently filming in NYC.
James Spader made a name for himself in the '80s playing baddies and less likable dudes in Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, and Less than Zero before playing a controversial role as a voyeur in Sex, Lies, and Videotape. He continued into the '90s with some success in films like White Palace and Bad Influence.
However, Spader hit a home run on Boston Legal from 2004-2008 as half of a dastardly duo opposite William Shatner. Then, poof. He disappeared until reemerging in 2013 on The Blacklist as the most wanted fugitive Raymond “Red” Reddington, where he still exists as the baddie today.
Julie Andews created iconic roles in the theatre for My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Cinderella before making her feature debut in 1964 as Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music--all before the 1970s. The iconic actress starred in several films of the '80s including Victor/Victoria, where she played a dual role and earned a Golden Globe.
As Blake Edwards' personal muse, Andrews continued to enjoy moderate success until Disney snagged her to play Queen Renaldi in The Princess Diaries. You’d think that would be enough for this iconic lady, but then Bridgerton hit Netflix, where the lovely Dame voices narrator Lady Whistledown, and all the world was watching her again.