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9 Celebrities Who Made Huge Career Comebacks

Reviewed By Celina Bravo, Editor

By Modern60, Editorial Team

Published On June 6, 2024

Beauty & Fashion

9 Celebrities Who Made Huge Career Comebacks

"I grew up in Malaysia, and Bollywood is really big there. As a result, I've grown up watching a lot of Hindi movies."

Show business is all about staying relevant with stellar performances in every project. While it’s easy for a celebrity to fall off the radar if they aren’t careful with their choices, it’s tough to make a comeback after not being in the spotlight for a while. There are few stars who catch a break and claw their way back with good decisions – sometimes even in their golden fifties! Some of the names might surprise you.

Robert Downey Jr.

Source: Instagram/robertdowneyjr/

The Tropic Thunder actor kick-started his career with impressive hits like The Pick-up Artist, Less Than Zero, and Chaplin. But, his struggle with lifestyle choices in the mid-90s sent him on a downward spiral, consequently causing him to lose out on opportunities within the industry. All this changed when he cleaned up his act and, in 2007, made a spectacular comeback as Tony Stark in Iron Man and went on to reprise the role in many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Today, at 59, RDJ continues to captivate his audiences, even winning an award for his role in the spectacular Oppenheimer.

Michelle Yeoh

Source: Instagram/michelleyeoh_official/

This Hollywood star rose to stardom in her mid-30s with unforgettable roles in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon. She took up other well-known projects over the years and maintained her celebrity status overseas. But her return to Hollywood was phenomenal with her show-stopping portrayal of Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Yeoh’s performance was off-the-charts, earning her the prestigious Saturn Award for Best Actress in 2022 and bagging an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role the following year. Talk about sheer brilliance!

Kevin Costner

Source: Instagram/kevincostner/

It’s hard to comprehend that a legend like Kevin Costner, known for his iconic roles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and The Bodyguard (1992), almost faded away behind Hollywood’s giant curtains. After the success of The Postman in 1997, Costner starred in a couple more films with similar genres that kept him in the limelight, but none managed to recreate the magic of the 90s. In 2018, he made a huge comeback at the age of 63 with the hit series Yellowstone. Costner’s extraordinary performance won the hearts of fans worldwide, and even now, in its 5th season, the show continues to entertain and attract viewers.

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Keanu Reeves

Source: Getty Images

Reeves’ star was on the rise in the ’90s and early 2000s, capturing audiences with his iconic roles as Jack Traven in Speed (1994) and Neo in The Matrix (1999) and its sequels. After these massive hits, the actor did a few films that didn’t enjoy the kind of success his previous films had. But then, in 2014, just two months shy of his 50th birthday, he made a crackling comeback with John Wick. This big break reignited his career, and since then, he has most notably starred in multiple John Wick sequels and one Matrix sequel leading up to his most recent work, John Wick: Chapter 4, in 2023. The excitement doesn’t stop here – John Wick 5 is in the works and will see the light of day soon! It’s clear that Reeves has no signs of slowing down, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Brendan Fraser

Source: Shutterstock

A familiar face through the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Brendan Fraser was known for his comedic roles in George of the Jungle (1997), Blast from the Past (1999), and Bedazzled (2000). He also took up defining roles in the action-comedy film Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). After these massive hits, unpleasant experiences led him to retreat from the public eye for about two decades. He made a triumphant return to the big screen with a banger of a performance in The Whale (2022). This movie earned him praise and even an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2023. At 55, Fraser continues to prove his worth, and his fans could not be more thrilled.

Mickey Rourke

Source: Instagram/mickey_rourke_/

This actor’s career graph started incredibly strong through the ‘80s with acclaimed performances in films like Diner (1982) and Barfly (1987). Unfortunately, Rourke’s career took a detour due to his difficult work ethic, forcing him to step away from Hollywood and pursue a career in boxing, where he earned the name El Marielito in the ring. Although he met success in boxing, Rourke’s passion for acting never diminished. But soon enough, he resumed his pursuit of Hollywood fame and wowed his audiences with his role in the 2008 sport-thriller The Wrestler, earning himself an Oscar nomination. The actor, now in his 70s, has several prominent roles under his belt, including the villainous Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2.

Michael Keaton

Source: Indie Wire

The ‘80s mainstream movie star Michael Keaton wooed his fans with his hilarious comedy performances in Mr. Mom (1983) and Beetlejuice (1988). He also played the iconic role of Bruce Wayne in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). After that, things went quiet for a while. The actor starred in various films through the ’90s and early 2000s, but he could not regain his lost celebrity status, with reviews of his work being lukewarm. After a decade, and at the age of 62, Michael Keaton delivered a gripping performance in Birdman (2014), a film that won the 2015 Best Motion Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards. It also got him a Best Actor nomination at the same awards. What’s truly ironic is that the movie mirrored Keaton’s real-life journey, as it portrays a tale of a former superhero attempting to revive his career. This marked a turning point for him, with the star appearing in several high-profile films, including his memorable portrayal of the antagonist, Vulture, in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).

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Jane Fonda

Source: Instagram/janefonda/

Let’s take a look at the remarkable journey of Jane Fonda in the entertainment industry, which includes a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. While she gained immense popularity in the ’60s, her path to stardom faced massive setbacks. She was initially known for her comedic roles, but Fonda’s breakthrough came in her amazing performances in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978), which earned her well-deserved Academy Awards. Despite her prominent roles post-1991, fans were shocked when she stepped away from acting soon after. But, in 2005, her return to the silver screen as Viola Fields in the rom-com Monster-in-Law captivated audiences instantly, reminding them of what an amazing entertainer she is.

Betty White

Source: Instagram/bettymwhite/

The iconic Hollywood star flourished in the glorious ’40s, experiencing an equal share of triumphs and challenges. During her 50s, White signed up for different roles in successful sitcoms, including Life with Elizabeth (1953). Following early success, the celebrity gradually slipped away from the limelight for many years. In 1970, she returned to the silver screen with exemplary roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. From there, it was a steady uphill climb for the Hollywood legend. At age 63, White won hearts for her performance in a television sitcom, The Golden Girls (1985). She continued to move her fans with her role in Hot in Cleveland (2010) and a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live in the same year at age 88. Over her glorious 75-year career span, she earned eight Emmy awards across various categories. Although Betty White passed away in 2021, she made a lasting impression on her fans and the industry, who will always cherish her for her contributions.

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at Modern60 is a group of highly skilled professionals with diverse backgrounds in journalism, content creation, editing, and digital media. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise to ensure that every piece of content meets our strict editorial guidelines and quality standards. The team is dedicated to delivering accurate, well-researched, and engaging content across various subjects, including health, wellness, lifestyle, and current events. With their commitment to upholding the highest standards of journalism and content creation, the Modern60 Editorial Team is the driving force behind our mission to empower and inspire our readers.

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