10 Actors Who Made Successful Comebacks (Pay Attention, Lindsay Lohan!)

Now that we've all had time to get used to the idea of LiLo making a comeback, let's look at some good examples she might follow (we're looking at you, Robert Downey, Jr.!).
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10 Actors Who Made Successful Comebacks (Pay Attention, Lindsay Lohan!)

Now that we’ve all had time to get used to the idea of LiLo making a comeback, let’s look at some good examples she might follow (we’re looking at you, Robert Downey, Jr.!).

-Lucia Peters

Robert Downy Jr Drew Barrymore Jason Bateman

Have we all had sufficient time to digest Lindsay Lohan’s SNL appearance from a few weeks ago? Have we gotten if not comfortable with, than at least used to the idea that all signs are pointing to her attempting to make a big comeback? Good, because we’ve got some schooling to take care of. Namely, if LiLo is really serious about getting back to work, today, we’re going to show her exactly how to do it.

These 10 actors (well, 11 if you count the pair of twins as two separate people rather than a single entity, but you know what I mean) all had some pretty great highs early in their careers. Then they suffered some devastating lows. Some of them were quieter than others, and not all of the breakdowns were due to that nebulous, catch-all term “personal problems;” but believe you me, those lows were LOW. Happily, though, they all managed to get through the worst of it, and these days, they’re going stronger than ever. So listen up, LiLo: Even if the odds are stacked against you, it can be done. These victorious folks prove it.

1. Robert Downey, Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr.

Of course Robert Downey Jr. would be at the top of the list—his is hands down the most notable comeback of all. Although he was always enormously talented, his early success in the ‘80s became overshadowed by his issues with drugs and alcohol in in the ‘90s. Happily, after a long and difficult battle, he was able to beat the addictions and come out on top during the 2000s. Now he’s an A-lister, sober, married, and a new dad—AND he’s Iron Man to boot. It doesn’t get much better than that!

2. Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke

Another promising star who started to self-destruct, Mickey Rourke left acting in 1991 to go back to boxing—which, in fact, had been his original career before he fell into acting in the ‘70s. Eventually, though, boxing promoters began saying that he was too old for the sport; additionally, a number of injuries and a bad plastic surgeon left him with what he calls “a mess” That didn’t stop him from getting back into film in the 2000s, and hey, guess what? Hey won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Independent Spirit award, as well as earning an Oscar nomination for his performance in 2008’s The Wrestler. It just goes to show that you can always change your career path; all it takes is a little hard work to do so.

Read 12 Actresses Who Have Mastered the Art of Aging Gracefully

3. Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris

It took NPH a long time to get out from under the shadow of Doogie Howser (being a child star will do that to you), but what he began with Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, he completed with How I Met Your Mother. He also put in some time on Broadway along the way. Suit up!

4. Betty White

Betty White

I know, I know—comeback? What on earth are you talking about? Betty White never went out of style! She’s Betty White! But then there’s this: After Golden Girls ended in 1992, our beloved Betty kind of faded from the spotlight for a while. She never stopped working, of course (because she’s BETTY WHITE); but it was mostly in lower-profile things or as guest shots. During the early 2000s, however, she started to bounce back, and by the end of the end of the decade, she was doing things like starring in Hot in Cleveland (for which she’s won all sorts of awards), posing for calendars, and telling the world that she’s totally still hot. Raise your hand if you can’t wait for her Friars Club Roast this summer!

5. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore fell into the trap that many child stars of the ‘80s did: Partying and substance abuse. After her early successes in E.T. and Irreconcilable Differences, she became a regular at Studio 54 while still a child, started smoking cigarettes by age 9, went to booze at 11, moved on to marijuana at 12, and graduated to cocaine by 13. She went to rehab a couple of times in her early teens, one stint of which was brought on by a suicide attempt. Happily, though, a three-month stay with singer David Crosby and his wife—“people that were committed to sobriety,” as Crosby put it—and legal emancipation helped Drew get her life back on track. I may not be a big fan of her as an actress, but she’s been producing, she’s become an activist, and hey, she’s gettin’ married again! She’s healthy, and that ain’t nothin’—especially considering where she’s been.

More celebs who bounced back, including Jason Bateman, up next!

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0 thoughts on “10 Actors Who Made Successful Comebacks (Pay Attention, Lindsay Lohan!)

  1. If this list is directed at LiLo – it wouldn’t be too inspiring. Leo’s career was never about being a pretty face, he’s always been considered one of the best up and coming talents out there starting with pre-Titanic movies like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”. Ashley and Mary Kay didn’t reinvent themselves as producers or fashion designers, they’ve been doing both since about 8 or 9 years old. They simply stopped stretching themselves as much and focused their energies with producing and designing with positive results on both fronts. Hardly a career reinvention. John Travolta never left the scene with unpopular/flop movies, he simply made comedies and movies that wouldn’t garner critical recognition until “Pulp Fiction” (“Look Who’s Talking” ring a bell?) Drew Barrymore went to rehab too, but as a child with very messed up parents and Drew had people like Steven Spielberg as a godfather pulling for her as well as a legendary last name. Big advantages! Betty White never stopped working and became a big deal again by allowing herself to be tackled in a Superbowl commercial. Yes, same idea of poking fun at oneself like LiLo did on Saturday Night Live, but it’s a bit different when you are poking fun at yourself for getting old as opposed to being a complete train wreck. The reality is that there are no women on the list who made a comeback after being complete train wrecks. The public is much more forgiving of guys so it was an easier road for RDJ and MR. MR didn’t go to jail and RDJ was never disrespectful to the judge during hearings like LiLo writing “F*@k you” on her nails. The only comparison is Britney Spears and she has a little more leeway with music tours than actors get, but Britney is the only example I see that shows women can come back too. Unfortunately there is a double standard out there and it’s going to be awhile before producers can even get LiLo insured again. Will it be too late for her?

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