It’s hard enough to make it in Hollywood, let alone making it last. For most actors and actresses who manage to break into the big time, 15 minutes of fame is all they can expect before fading back into indie films, stage productions, or another line of work altogether.

Just as many musicians become known as “one-hit wonders” and a lot of authors are only ever remember for a single big bestseller, many movie stars fade from the spotlight almost as quickly as they enter it.

Every now and again, though, the fates align to bring an actor back into the mainstream in a big way — like when Winona Ryder went bonkers in Stranger Things and won everyone over again, or when Molly Ringwald got a choice role in Riverdale and reminded audiences why she was such a star in the ’80s. In fact, it happens more often than you might realize: each of these stars are prepping projects that could lead to huge comebacks in the not-too-distant future.

The Siberian Express


Dolph Lundgren’s rise to fame was nothing short of meteoric. After earning a very small role in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill, the supersized Swedish stud gloved up for what would become his career-defining part as Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. As unlikable as the character may have been, Lundgren was a hit, and went on to earn sizable spots in action movies like The Punisher, Universal Soldier, and Men of War.

Things started to slow down for Lundgren, however, once the action films of the era started to fall out of favor and yielded the box office to stories with more cranial appeal (think Mission: Impossible, The Matrix, and The Bourne Identity). He still had no trouble keeping the lights on, but his status as a hitmaker was certainly through by the time he joined Sylvester Stallone’s assemblage of old-school action stars in the Expendables series. Those films have helped Lundgren score some more steady work in recent years, but it’s his impending return to the role that made him a star in the first place, in Creed II, and his forthcoming appearance as King Nereus in DC’s Aquaman that looks to really rev up the engines on his return to the top. There may be a whole generation of moviegoers that don’t yet know Dolph Lundgren’s work, but with these projects ahead, he could be back at household name status sooner than later.

The scorned sweetheart


Meg Ryan was on top of the world in the ’80s and ’90s. After making the jump from TV to film with a small role in Top Gun, Ryan went on to become one-half of cinema’s sweetheart duo with Tom Hanks with the feel-good favorites Joe versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. People loved to love her in other films, too, like When Harry Met Sally…, Prelude to a Kiss, and City of Angels, to name a few. Her hot streak came to a grinding halt, however, when her personal life became tabloid fodder after she had an extramarital affair with Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe.


Suddenly, she was no longer bankable in cute rom-coms, her wholesome image seen as tarnished, and her attempts to step away into more serious drama with movies like Against the Ropes and In the Land of Women failed to open up a new lane for her. Eventually, she retreated from the spotlight for several years at a time, only resurfacing for a few TV guest spots. In 2015, she directed the war drama Ithaca, which reunited her with Hanks and marked the start of Ryan’s new non-apology tour as she started publicly rejecting the persona that had defined her career before. She’s also lined up her own TV series — the half-hour comedy Picture Paris, which could be a key start in returning to the small screen. With this new work and her new no-nonsense attitude, Meg Ryan could be on her way up again.

The original Wonder Woman


Gal Gadot has definitely earned her stars and stripes as the heroine of the modern DC film universe. Before she became Diana Prince, however, there was another whose turn as Wonder Woman was celebrated as completely on point: Lynda Carter, who portrayed the Amazonian warrior in the late ’70s television series for three seasons. From there, Carter’s career slowed down significantly in the ’80s, with just a few TV, film, and commercial roles over the ’90s and 2000s.

She has since cited a desire for a life of “substance” spent raising her two children as the reason for her absence, but now that her kids are grown, Carter seems to be making more regular appearances, including a recurring role in TV’s Supergirl and a small but memorable part in the Super Troopers films. With Gadot’s version of Wonder Woman bringing the character back into ubiquity, Carter’s been a subject of curiosity for fans of the character, and now, it looks like she’ll have a cameo role in the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984. Timing issues prevented her from appearing in the first film, but given the fan furor surrounding Wonder Woman, it isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination to foresee this as just the start of Carter’s own major comeback.

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Forgotten Actors You Didn’t Know Are About To Make Huge Comebacks

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