Why Hollywood wants no part of Hulk Hogan anymore

If someone drops Terry Gene Bollea's name, most people are probably lost. Bollea is much better known by his wrestling moniker: Hulk Hogan. Hogan was a fixture of American pop culture throughout the '80s and '90s thanks to the relevant popularity of WWF (and later WWE) wrestling. He was so popular that it opened the door to a career in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, it seems that Hollywood recently hasn't taken quite the shine to Hogan that it did a few decades ago. It seems there's a lengthy lists of controversies and complications standing between Hogan and a possible return to his Hollywood glory days.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was the star Hulk Hogan couldn't be

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stands out as the one notable WWE wrestler who managed to not only match Hulk Hogan's pop culture relevancy, but to surpass him. Since Hulk Hogan's leap to the big screen, other wrestlers have also tried their hand at Hollywood fame. They've pretty much failed. Johnson proved that such success is possible with the right amount of charisma and leading man good looks. Johnson attached himself to the incredibly Fast and Furious series of movies, and his movies have raked in a staggering $3.7 billion to date.

Johnson is loved in the wrestling world, and his ability to sell movie tickets makes him something of a Hollywood darling, too. Because Hollywood hates redundancy — at least when not hitting us with an endless supply of movie reboots — it seems there's only room for one pro wrestler turned movie star. It would seem the rise of The Rock inevitably contributed to the fall of Hollywood Hogan.

That whole sex tape thing...

Raise your hand if you saw a Hulk Hogan sex tape coming … now put your hand down, because you're a damn liar! Childhoods everywhere were ruined when Gawker broke the story of a leaked sex tape involving Hogan and Playboy playmate Heather Cole, the wife of Hogan's friend Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Cole would later testify that Hogan was just one of a slew of men her husband pressured her into sleeping with, although she insisted that she had no idea Clem was filming her.

The Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal would prove to be the undoing of Gawker, as Hogan filed a lawsuit against the news site. Gawker was ordered to pay Hogan $31 million in damages and was subsequently forced to shut down in 2016. The situation is almost bizarre enough to warrant a "based on a true story" Hollywood movie. But they'd probably have to ask The Rock to play Hulk's part since he can't get a job in Hollywood anymore.

Hulk hasn't been 'Hollywood' since the 1990s

To be perfectly blunt, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan's body of work isn't exactly impressive. Some movie geeks will remember his first movie appearance coming by way of a cameo in Rocky III as a wrestler named "Thunderlips." Several years later, Hogan would make his debut in a starring role in the cult classic No Holds Barred. Hogan portrayed a popular wrestler named Rip, a character that was almost completely based on Hulk Hogan. Hogan would go on to make a few more movies and a TV series called Thunder In Paradise. No other wrestler had made quite as big a splash on the big screen as Hogan in those days, which is why he eventually became known as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. His career is made up of mainly cheesy action movies, you know, the sort of thing you'd expect from a wrestler popular during the golden era of wrestling. But even that well went dry by the late '90s, with Hulk Hogan's last major role coming by way of The Ultimate Weapon in 1998.

Sadly, the action movie landscape was changing — and changing fast — thanks to the rise of Asian action stars like Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Audiences wanted believable heroes who did their own stunts. The audience wanted serious action stars, and unfortunately, Hulk Hogan's background in fake wrestling didn't put him anywhere on that list.

The WWE doesn't need him anymore

Sure, there's been some recent talk of Hulk Hogan making a return to the WWE by way of Wrestlemania 33. But that says more about the decline of the WWE's pop culture relevancy than anything else. In actuality, Hogan's fledgling Hollywood career began to head south as his impact on the wrestling world decreased. Despite having the most infamous and emotionally traumatic heel turn in WWE history, the teen wrestling fans of the late '90s were more interested in Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, cool anti-hero types that spoke to the irreverent cynicism of the time.

The next two decades would see the rise of memorable wrestlers ranging from John Cena to CM Punk. While none of these wrestlers' fame would ever quite match what Hulk Hogan experienced at the very height of his fame (with the notable exception of The Rock), their rise was a sign that his prime was no more. When the wrestling world moved on, so did Hollywood — dramatically decreasing the availability of even laughable movie roles.

His reality TV show got a little too real

Hulk Hogan's attempts at nepotism fell horribly flat. First there was the attempt to use his fame to help his daughter, Brooke Hogan, launch a singing career. While she did have a few minor hits, Brooke made the mistake of being one of a slew of blonde pop singers during the '90s and early '00s. As such, having a famous dad wasn't enough to bring her major success in the music industry.

If that weren't enough, Hogan decided that we really needed to get up close and personal with his family. Following in the steps of The Osbournes, 2005 gave us Hogan Knows Best. Although the show was semi-popular with wrestling fans, the decision to put one's family in the spotlight for the sake of reality TV can create unnecessary strain.

The dramatic lack of privacy meant the spotlight was on the Hogan family when Hulk's son, Nick, was involved in a horrific car accident. ABC News reported Nick had been clocked by Florida police going faster than 100 mph on multiple occasions. His luck ran out on August 27, 2007, when both he and his best friend John Graziano were involved in a terrible car crash. Graziano was left with permanent brain damage and will reportedly spend the rest of his life "in a semi-conscious state." The Graziano family sued the Hogans following the crash, and the two families settled out of court. As it was determined that Nick Hogan was drinking illegally and speeding prior to the incident, Nick Hogan agreed to a plea deal that would give him a virtual slap on the wrist: just eight months in jail.

The scandal was a dark mark on the Hogan family and on Hulk, as it's quite possible that Nick's famous dad allowed for a rather mild sentence of eight months in jail. The situation brought the family's reality television show to a halt. Unfortunately, this wouldn't be the last time that scandal caused Hulk Hogan or his family to make national news.

His divorce got messy

In the immediate aftermath of Nick's car crash and guilty plea, Hulk Hogan was left reeling by another shocking turn of events. Hulk's wife, Linda, filed for divorce in the fall of 2007. People reported that Hulk admitted to suicidal thoughts when his wife of 25 years left him. What followed was a very bitter divorce. By the time the dust settled, Linda managed to leave their marriage with about 70 percent of Hulk Hogan's wealth.

Linda Hogan later blamed the divorce entirely on Hulk, claiming she divorced him after he'd had an affair with one of their daughter's friends, a woman named Christiane Plante. She even went as far as to claim that Hulk Hogan had a gay affair with wrestler Brutus Beefcake, although she later retracted those claims.

Hulk let his racist side show

In case you missed it, Hulk Hogan was actually fired by the WWE in 2015. Although some said he voluntarily resigned, the WWE insisted it fired Hogan after a series of racist comments he made came to light via a secret audio recording. Hulk Hogan made a public apology for his statements. He claimed his statements didn't represent his personal beliefs about people of different races and that he "used language that is offensive and inconsistent with [his] own beliefs."

The audio recording has Hulk complaining about his daughter Brooke's sexual decision making and dropping a lot of N words. While these quotes come by way of a transcript, the full contents were sealed by court order to prevent the audio from being leaked to the public.

In a bid to distance itself, at least initially, all mention of Hulk Hogan was scrubbed from the official WWE website and online Hall of Fame. Kind of a weird choice; it's not like everyone would suddenly forget he was a major wrestling star for decades. In any case, the ice seems to have thawed considerably, as there are now rumors circulating that the WWE might be willing to bring the wrestling legend back into the fold, scandals and all.

Can Hulk Hogan find his way back to Hollywood?

Given the negative press that Hulk Hogan has experienced in recent years, it only makes sense that if he were to stumble back into the WWE, it would be as a bad guy. It's certainly easier to have everyone hate a sex-taped closet racist than to realistically turn such a person into a hero. Who knows? A successful return to the WWE could help open a backdoor that would help Hulk Hogan ease his way back into Hollywood.

It won't be easy, but it's not entirely impossible. Sylvester Stallone, the man who helped bring Hogan into Hollywood via that Rocky cameo, has helped himself and other Hollywood action-movie hasbeens stay kinda relevant thanks to his Expendables movies. Maybe a future project could make room for Hogan? In addition to his on-again-off-again relationship with the WWE, Hulk Hogan has done a bit of voice work recently. Who's to say Hulk Hogan's return to the big screen can't come by way of voicing movie characters?

Whatever moves Hulk Hogan makes to re-ignite his Hollywood career, he'll have to be careful. The cameras are always rolling in Hollywood, so hopefully he doesn't get caught up in any more sex tapes or racist rants.