There are lots of reasons why an actor might want to move on from an iconic role - to try new things or to challenge themselves, for example. But after exploring other personas, returning to the characters moviegoers fell in love with can be not only personally satisfying, but revitalizing in terms of overall marketability and success.
Here is a rundown on some of the biggest stars who almost fell off the map before reprising one of their most famous/popular roles. Whether the reprisal revived their career as a whole or simply renewed their pre-existing acclaim as that character, it was clearly a career boost for these stars, with the reclaimed fan appreciation leading to solid ratings, box office turnout, and social media buzz.
Vote up your favorite stars who brought back their most beloved characters.
- Photo: Star Trek / Paramount Pictures
Leonard Nimoy was the only original Star Trek cast member seen in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and his return to the fold was the elder-passing-on-wisdom cinematic moment we all needed. Nimoy, who played the delightfully logical Mr. Spock in the classic '60s TV series and a slate of feature films that followed in the '80s and '90s, had not been seen as the pointy-eared and eyebrowed Spock for almost two decades before his return in the J.J. Abrams version, which saw him imparting Vulcan knowledge to his younger, "Kelvin timeline" self (Zachary Quinto).
He also returned for a brief appearance in the 2013 follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness.19818Just like old times?
- Photo: Star Wars: The Force Awakens / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Luke Skywalker's return in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker gave long-awaited cinematic closure to legions of Star Wars fans, delivering on the cultural phenomenon of George Lucas's creation and providing full-circle perspective on the story beyond nostalgia. The returns of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were a big part of it, too, of course, but there was something extra special about seeing the young Luke, now a Jedi elder, on screen again.
While Mark Hamill enjoyed a successful career as a voice actor for animated shows such as Batman and Spider-Man after his rebel days, he was largely out of the public eye before coming back for the intergalactic sequels. Since re-visiting Skywalker, Hamill's done on-screen guest spots on The Big Bang Theory and What We Do in the Shadows.21242Just like old times?
- Photo: Star Trek: Picard / CBS All Access
Though he was a successful Shakespearean actor long before his TV and blockbuster film work, Sir Patrick Stewart's role as a sci-fi captain has cemented his icon status. Even his stint as Professor X in the X-Men films can't compete.
Yes, Jean Luc Picard is the ultimate figure of wisdom and reverence; just hearing the man speak always felt like a momentous event. When the actor reprised his role for CBS's Picard in 2020, it was just that.17022Just like old times?
- Photo: Cobra Kai / Netflix
Though he had appearances in films such as My Cousin Vinny and The Outsiders, Ralph Macchio will always be remembered as the eponymous Karate Kid. The actor followed up his famous role as underdog Daniel LaRusso in three movies with small roles on TV (Ugly Betty, Entourage), but he never got away from the kid who waxed-on and waxed-off on screen.
In Cobra Kai, Macchio saw a triumphant return to the character all grown up, 34 years later, battling his old rival Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in the YouTube Premium program, ultimately gaining an even bigger audience and new fanbase after the show was picked up by Netflix.17541Just like old times?