There are many reasons why one actor has more success than another. Sometimes it may be purely based on talent, but it’s not always that simple. Sometimes it can be a certain look, or it could be a key role that they got and a rival missed out on.
What we know for sure though is you have to be unique to shine, but for every huge movie star there will always be another light that had to pay the price. Without further ado, these are the Top Ten Actors whose careers have been disrupted by other Actors:
10. Gretchen Mol disrupted by Gwyneth Paltrow
In 1998 it would have been called a fair fight. Both Gretchen Mol and Gwyneth Paltrow had the blonde hair, cute smile and a little twinkle in their eye. Mol was starring alongside Matt Damon and Ed Norton in Rounders so there was no reason to be concerned. But Gwyneth was about to have a sliding doors moment, starring in Shakespeare in Love, Great Expectations and actually Sliding Doors – all in the same year! But she wasn’t finished. Hush and The Perfect Murder were also released in 1998, which means that while the whole world everyone was drowning in Gwyneth, Gretchen Mol was actually swept away by her. It’s science: It’s simply not possible to have two actresses with weird first names starting with the letter G around at the same time, so it was bye-bye Gretchen.
9. Eric Bana disrupted by Tom Hardy
Minus the Ray Martin impression, the early career trajectories of Eric Bana and Tom Hardy were remarkably similar. Both broke out with starring roles as charismatic criminals (Hardy would go on to play real-life criminal Charles Arthur “Charlie” Salvador in 2008’s Bronson), they both played Star Trek villains and each dabbled in the Superhero sector. Bana got a head start with Chopper while Tom Hardy was still doing background work on Band of Brothers (with the equally silent at the time Michael Fassbender), but when they crossed paths on 2001’s Black Hawk Down something must have gone down between them.
At that point Bana was on the road to mainstream success, but Hardy seems to have made it his mission to mock Bana at every turn. When Bana’s CGI-heavy Hulk movie was poorly received, Hardy did so many lat-pulldowns for his role in Warrior… he became a real-life Hulk. When he heard that Bana was really into cars, he took a role in Locke… set entirely in a car. Then he found out Bana was inspired to become an actor after watching the original Mad Max movie, so wouldn’t you know it, Hardy jumped at the chance to crush Bana’s dream by taking the Mad Max role in Fury Road. Why are you so spiteful, Tom? Did someone hurt you? Was it Eric Bana?
8. Kristen Stewart disrupted by Jennifer Lawrence
It feels like a stretch to argue that Kristen Stewart is not having a successful career, but after receiving the child star baton from the great Jodie Foster when they co-starred in Panic Room, she seems to have mostly squandered her head start. When she won the role of Bella in the Twilight saaaargghhhaaa, she didn’t exactly embrace the fame that came with it and is only now clawing her way back to critical acclaim with her recent performance in Café Society. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence, who is the same age as Stewart but missed out on the Twilight role, has taken over the world. Since her Oscar nominated performance in Winter’s Bone, she joined the adult table with Robert De Niro and David O. Russell, won an Oscar for Silver Lining Playbook, was nominated another two more times for American Hustle and Joy, and is now one of the biggest names on the planet.
7. Rupert Evans disrupted by James McAvoy
Who is Rupert Evans you may ask? After graduating from the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, he served his apprenticeship on English TV in various costume dramas before scoring the plum role of John Myers in Guillermo del Toro’ s much-anticipated Hellboy. All looked well for a sustained movie career, but for the emergence of James McAvoy. They shared the stage as original cast members of the London play Breathing Corpses in 2005, but even then McAvoy, three years Evans’ junior, had the higher billing. There was a sense of inevitability about McAvoy breaking out via his loveable role as Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia, and being of similar look and vintage, why would you need Evans when you have McAvoy? When Evans didn’t appear in the Hellboy sequel, with his character sent off to Antarctica instead, it was clear his movie career has been iced.
6. Jeremy Northam disrupted by Colin Firth
If you ever find yourself watching The Crown on Netflix, or if you are in the room while your mother is watching it, you may wonder why that old politician guy looks familiar. It’s because it’s Jeremy Northam and he almost used to be somebody. In 1999 he was filming Happy, Texas, no doubt pleased with how far he had come from his home in England. He was playing the ‘Handsome Guy’ alongside indie mainstays Steve Zahn and William H. Macy, and it was meant to be his stepping stone role towards becoming a genuine Hollywood Leading Man. But what he didn’t know was that nobody would see Happy, Texas, and countryman Colin Firth was about to star in a movie called Bridget Jones’s Diary, which everybody saw. When Firth followed that up with Love Actually, he cemented himself as the tall, stuffy, well-spoken Englishman that would permanently leave Northam in the shade. And by shade, we mean a TV career.
5. Sam Worthington disrupted by Chris Hemsworth
After Heath Ledger made his successful foray into Hollywood, casting directors were looking out for straight-talking Aussie actors who would shake your hand firmly and look you in the eye while doing it. It helped Sam Worthington get to the front of the queue for Avatar and after the monumental success of that movie, he looked to be on the precipice of decades of Hollywood dominance. That was until a taller, blonder, better-looking deep-voiced Australian by the name of Chris Hemsworth arrived in town. Now we’re asking, “Where the bloody hell is Sam?”
4. Rupert Grint disrupted by Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne auditioned for the first Harry Potter movie but somehow was the only red headed young actor in the United Kingdom who didn’t get cast. Rupert Grint did though, but since his starring role as Ron Weasely, he has done nothing, except be the worst thing in Wild Target (2010) and some voice work on Postman Pat – ouch. Hollywood has decided that they only want one posh sounding freckly dude, and that is Eddie Redmayne. And if anything ever happens to Eddie, and Rupert Grint dares to stick his head up again, the strawberry blonde Domhnall Gleeson will be there to step in and kick Grint in his red-pubed balls to put him back in his place.
3. Bryce Dallas Howard disrupted by Jessica Chastain
Hollywood is as equally close-minded over redheaded female actors as they are with males. Following a turn in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, Bryce Dallas Howard came into 2011’s The Help as the clear favourite. She had an impeccable family pedigree, some early indie cred and had dabbled in the Spider-Man, Twilight and Terminator franchises. But she never saw the previously unknown Jessica Chastain coming. Chastain had the more dramatic role in The Help, didn’t have to eat a poop pie and then followed up quickly with top shelf directors, Terrence Malick and Jeff Nichols, sealing the deal with an iconic role in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. If you want someone to write in sharpie on your glass office walls, you’ll pick Chastain every time, and she definitely turned out to be The Fonz to Bryce Dallas Howard’s Richie.
2. Macaulay Culkin disrupted by Elijah Wood
A woman holds the hands of two boys as they dangle from a cliff, one her son, the other her nephew. She doesn’t have the strength to hold them both so has to make a decision…as Macaulay Culkin falls to his death, it may well have been a metaphor for his career. Kit Culkin, insisted on the role in The Good Son as a condition of Macaulay returning for the Home Alone 2, so that the world could see his son’s acting range. But unfortunately all it did was highlight his lack of said range and made Elijah Wood look like a saucer-eyed Laurence Olivier by comparison. Wood somehow avoided being typecast as a Hobbit and is now one of the busiest actors around, while Culkin’s career stunted so badly that he is currently better known as being the older brother of Kieran than as an actor in his own right.
1. Ben Mendelsohn disrupted by Russell Crowe
Some say that it was a close casting call between Ben Mendelsohn and Russell Crowe for the Hando role in Romper Stomper, but others say that Mendelsohn had the role until an aggressive campaign by Crowe undermined Ben’s masculinity, chin strength, and his ability to the do that crazy eye thing that Crowe specialises in. Whichever you believe, history shows that Crowe got the role and the international attention that came with it. Not saying that Mendelsohn would have gone straight to the Maximus gig and the Oscar wins that followed, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to switch their two careers.
Mendelsohn would have been brilliant in A Beautiful Mind, would have brought some interesting nuance to American Gangster and likely would have skipped Les Misérables altogether. Then imagine how good Crowe would have been as the black sheep brother in Bloodlines and malicious greatness he could have delivered in Animal Kingdom. Hey, Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan might even still be married.
It’s taken a while, but Mendelsohn has walked the long away around and now finds himself standing next to Darth Vader in Rogue One, while Russell Crowe is playing second fiddle to Tom Cruise in The Mummy reboot. Mendelsohn may well be having the last laugh.