18 Actors We Wish Had Been On The A-List Longer

List Rules
Vote up the stars who deserved more time to shine.

Show business is notorious for being one of the most unforgiving of industries. While it can raise people up and put them on top of the world - often landing them in the coveted position of being on the so-called “A-list” - many stars have found such success is remarkably fleeting. 

Sometimes, stars vanish from public visibility at the height of their fame, while others go from starring primarily in films to appearing on television. Oftentimes, these are the actors who managed to capture something peculiar about the moment they were at the height of their powers. For this reason, it’s worth taking a look back at them in order to appreciate what has been lost as a result of their brief time on the A-list.


  • 1
    1,005 VOTES
    Brendan Fraser
    Photo: The Mummy / Universal Pictures

    Throughout the 1990s, Brendan Fraser was at the surefire height of his career. With his boyish good looks and seemingly effortless charm, he managed to entertain and enchant audiences in ridiculous comedies like George of the Jungle and in more action-oriented fare like The Mummy. He also showed his skill in dramatic films such as Gods and Monsters. 

    However, starting in the mid-2000s, several forces (a sexual assault, a divorce, and health problems) led to an unfortunate downturn in his career. Recently, however, there has been a turn-around in his fortunes, and he has begun to appear in high-profile films such as The Whale. Given just how undeniably charming he has always been, this will hopefully herald a return to major popularity for one of Hollywood’s most likable personalities.

  • 2
    747 VOTES
    Gary Sinise
    Photo: Forrest Gump / Paramount Pictures

    Gary Sinise has always excelled at playing military men of one sort or another. In this regard, the height of his achievement is inarguably Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. He brings out so much of this particular character, and he allows the viewer to feel for him, not as an object of pity but as a man who has endured more than anyone should have to.

    Given his remarkable ability to bring out hidden depths in his characters, it’s all the more unfortunate his career didn’t quite sustain its momentum. While he has appeared in many roles throughout the subsequent years, he has yet to match his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan.

  • 3
    591 VOTES
    Val Kilmer
    Photo: Top Gun / Paramount Pictures

    In the early days of his career, Val Kilmer was one of the male stars in Hollywood. His breakout role was, of course, in the 1986 film Top Gun, where he played the antagonistic character of Iceman. His star continued to rise in subsequent years, ultimately reaching its apex when he appeared in both Tombstone and Batman Forever. He received particular praise for the former, as he brought a noted human touch to the role.

    However, Kilmer's star began something of a decline in the late 1990s, thanks to his appearance in several disappointing films, including the bizarre and deeply unpleasant The Island of Dr. Moreau. However, despite health issues, his recent appearance in Top Gun: Maverick might signal a return to the heights of his earlier career.

  • 4
    597 VOTES
    Bill Pullman
    Photo: Independence Day / 20th Century Fox

    Bill Pullman first came to national prominence thanks to his appearance in the 1986 comedy Ruthless People, co-starring with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler (two actors who were also at the height of their stardom in the 1980s). He subsequently made several high-profile appearances in such successful films as Spaceballs, While You Were Sleeping, and Independence Day, all of which helped to land him on the A-list. 

    He was particularly well-known for playing nice-guy characters that are often in short supply, making his eventual fall out of the A-list all the more unfortunate, if understandable. After falling from A-list glory, he moved more into stage and television work. Though some of these have had him in a starring role, it’s hard not to wish he’d had a bit more time to be a major film star in his own right.

  • 5
    609 VOTES
    Geena Davis
    Photo: Beetlejuice / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Geena Davis was one of Hollywood's most well-respected and visible actresses. After becoming a household name due to her role in Beetlejuice, she reached the height of her career with her starring roles in both Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own. She had a knack for creating incredibly strong characters who weren’t afraid to show their vulnerability. 

    However, in the latter part of the 1990s, she gradually lost her place on the A-list due to several commercial failures, including the likes of Cutthroat Island. This was truly unfortunate, and it robbed filmgoers of more work from one of the most talented actresses of her generation.

  • 6
    513 VOTES
    Elisabeth Shue
    Photo: Leaving Las Vegas / MGM

    Elisabeth Shue largely got her start in commercials before making her debut in The Karate Kid, in which she plays the love interest of the film’s main character. She solidified her career by appearing as Jennifer Parker in Back to the Future Part II and Part III, replacing Claudia Wells. She also attained significant success in the 1990s, even going so far as to earn an Academy Award nomination for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995. She had a certain girl-next-door niceness which helped to explain why she was so popular.

    She has continued to work in the years since then, but with some notable exceptions, she has been primarily in supporting roles. Shue does steal the show during her time on the Amazon series The Boys, in which she plays the unscrupulous and manipulative Madelyn Stillwell.