As celebrity-obsessed as Americans are at times, we tend to focus on the same lot known as the A-list. But what about those people who had talent and success but never quite broke into that level of fame for very long?
Here are five actors, the roles that made them notable, and the reasons they might not have quite broken into the esteemed and infamous A-list.
1. Cuba Gooding Jr.
Most notable role: Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire
Why he never made the A-list: After breakdancing with Lionel Richie at the 1984 Summer Olympics and breaking out with noted roles in Hill Street Blues, Boyz in the Hood, and A Few Good Men, his Oscar-winning turn as Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry McGuire gained him the national spotlight. After another noted role in As Good As It Gets, Gooding Jr.’s acting choices have led to some nominal success but nothing that rivals his first few notable roles.
Miss him? Then go watch: Men of Honor because it’s really good.
2. Julia Stiles
Most notable role(s): Nicky Parsons in the Bourne series, but really Sara Johnson in Save The Last Dance
Why she never made the A-list: After a series of roles which gained her critical success but were featured in movies that didn’t gain a lot of box office momentum – like Wicked, O and Mona Lisa Smile to name a few – she hit a stride with a small role as Parsons in the original The Bourne Identity, a role which got larger and larger in Supremacy and Ultimatum. With a tendency for the stage, highlighted by her draw toward Shakespearean projects both on the silver screen and in the theater, maybe in another couple years pop culture will realize Stiles’ talent.
Miss her? Then go watch: 10 Things I Hate About You, because it’ll remind you of the awesomeness of the ‘90s, why Heath Ledger is still such a big loss to movies and how cute Julia Stiles is when she isn’t forced into roles that she doesn’t fit.
3. Donald Faison
Most notable role(s): Dr. Chris Turk in Scrubs and Murray in Clueless
Why he never made it to the A-list: The curse of many actors that make their living in comedy is that they are never seen in the same esteem as purely dramatic actors. That may be part of the reason that someone who was in the classic ‘90s film Clueless and was a lead actor on a hit network sitcom for eight years still isn’t an A-lister.
Miss him? Then go watch: Remember The Titans. Did you remember he was in that movie? You should.
4. Heather Graham
Most notable role(s): Brandi/Rollergirl in Boogie Nights, but you could add Jade in The Hangover or her stints in Scrubs and Arrested Development or her co-starring role in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Why she never made it to the A-list: This is an interesting one because some people may argue Graham is an A-list actor, but it seems that her sex appeal is both what gets her many of the roles in her quite large body of work but also maybe overshadows it as well. She’s hilarious, hasn’t gone to making an endless string of romantic comedies to sustain her career, and whenever you forget about her she pops up as a hilarious character actress in a big movie.
Miss her? Then go watch: Two Girls and a Guy, where she is one of two two-timed girlfriends of Blake Allen, played by Robert Downey Jr., when he was in the throes of his worst drug troubles.