It's sometimes easy to forget that Hollywood is always in the process of selling you something. All those trailers, interviews, and leaks translate to weekends spent pumping money into your local AMC. But as much as it's about the selling of movies, it's about the selling of the people who make the movies; actors, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, you name it. Actors especially are expected to bring in lots of money by studios, but sometimes not even a big studio push is enough to make someone stick. Some are a step or two above character actors; good-looking and successful in their own right but doomed to bottom of the Netflix list obscurity. I took the liberty of finding a handful of actors who haven't exactly been embraced with open arms, no matter how hard Hollywood keeps trying.
He made his debut in the 2009 Australian stoner comedy Stone Bros. before finding reliable character work in American movies like Jack Reacher, A Good Day To Die Hard, and last year's Suicide Squad. Let's get one thing straight: Jai Courtney is not a good actor. His movie star looks hide his flat acting chops, and even he's portrayed both John McClaine's son, Kyle Reese in Terminator: Genisys, and a DC supervillain over the course of the last four years, he still makes little to no impression.
Oh, poor Taylor Kitsch was ready to hit the Hollywood elite. He started off with small parts in John Tucker Must Die and The Covenant, but eventually took a shot at the big leagues as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As much money as it brought in, no one was asking for a sequel and Fox eventually moved on to Channing Tatum before they canned a solo Gambit movie entirely. Kitsch worked his way around other franchises including Disney's attempt at John Carter and the Battleship movie before he was doomed to the character actor list.
Not all award circuit darlings are created equal. After wowing critics at Sundance in The Spectacular Now back in 2013, Teller was offered roles in the Divergent series and eventually the lead in Fox's disarous reboot of the Fantastic Four. But if it's not in the context of an awards season contender like Whiplash, audiences just don't seem to want young John Cusack over here.
Kinnaman had a healthy career in his native Sweden before making his American debut in the forgettable alien invasion flick The Darkest Hour. This led to a four-season run on the Netflix show The Killing and eventually a shot at playing Robocop in the 2014 remake. Even though that was dead on arrival, the good will that The Killing had generated led him to a supporting role in WB's universally despised Suicide Squad as Rick Flag. Millions of dollars and WB's own stubborness did more for the franchise than Kinnaman's performance did.
James Cameron's Avatar was a watershed moment for pretty much everyone involved. Lead Sam Worthington had the world in the palm of his hand after the film's massive box office and award intake, but outside of the revamped Clash of the Titans franchise, he's kept to smaller films since then. He'll probably be back for at least one of Cameron's four Avatar sequels, but good luck naming anything else he's done in the nine years since.
It's been 17 years since Bell broke out in the role of Billy Elliott and he has yet to become a full-blown movie star. Bell is the most reliable character actor out of the bunch, having bit parts in 2005's King Kong, 2008's Jumper, and as the heavily motion-capture animated lead in 2011's The Adventures of Tintin. He ws also The Thing in 2015's Fantastic Four alongside Miles Teller, but unless you're a fan of his turn on AMC's Turn: Washington Spies, he's not exactly a bankable star.