Actors Who Almost Ruined Their Careers

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Celebrity is a tough business all around, and the pressures of fame and wealth can be too much for some actors to handle. While these are problems that most people would envy, these actors might beg to differ. They came close to derailing their careers, but we're glad they were able to rebound and find their way back into the spotlight.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman has never really left the public eye, but she sees it differently. Sure, the Star Wars prequels were bad enough to anger many of the series' diehard fans, and Portman credits them with almost ruining her career. Fortunately, she was able to bounce back with a series of more serious roles in movies such as Cold Mountain, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta, and Black Swan. Now, Portman is once again considered one of Hollywood's top actresses. She appeared in the first two Thor movies, and although she won't be back for Thor: Ragnarokher role in Ex Machina director Alex Garland's Annihilation suggests she still knows how to pick a script.

Paul Reubens

You may know him as Pee-Wee Herman, and the scandal that derailed his career has been a punchline for years. In 1991, Paul Reubens was arrested for "indecent exposure" inside an "adult theater," because apparently, you're supposed to watch adult films for the thrilling plots. In the fallout from the incident, CBS stopped airing reruns of Pee-wee's Playhouse, and Reubens retreated from the public eye for many years. After years out of the limelight, Reubens reclaimed his famous character, donning the grey suit and red bow-tie once again for the 2016 Netflix film, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday. Nearly 30 years after the character's last major film, Big Top Pee-Wee, the new release was positively embraced by fans and critics alike.

Robert Downey, Jr.

Despite promising beginnings in a number of critically acclaimed big-budget films, Robert Downey, Jr.'s sudden fame, mixed with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, resulted in a number of drug and alcohol-related arrests in the late '90s. After cleaning up his act, Downey started to roll out the hits, appearing in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Gothika, A Scanner Darkly, and Tropic Thunder. He's most known for his ongoing lead roles in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes series and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.

Mike Tyson

The terrifying Tyson didn't start his career as an actor, but found a renaissance as one. Known best as a boxing champion, Tyson's controversial life has included multiple accusations of violence against women, longtime drug and alcohol abuse, and biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear in their 1997 rematch. After retreating from the public eye in shame, Tyson found a new life once he appeared in The Hangover. He now has his own cartoon series, Mike Tyson Mysteries. Holyfield and Tyson appeared together in a post-credits scene during the 2013 boxing movie, Grudge Match. You can also catch Tyson taking on martial arts and action star Donnie Yen in Ip Man 3.

Drew Barrymore

Child actress Drew Barrymore's career was almost over before it began. After starring in the 1982 out-of-this-world hit E.T. at age seven, Barrymore became notorious for abusing alcohol, marijuana and cocaine—all by the age of 13. After two stints in rehab at 14, and a stay with musician David Crosby, Barrymore found sobriety and started her wildly successful second act. She's curtailed her acting activity in recent years, booking a relatively meager four movies from 2009-2016, but that doesn't mean she's been resting on her laurels; in fact, Barrymore's focused on her family and charity work while appearing in ads as one of the faces of CoverGirl. You can catch Barrymore in the 2017 Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet.

Fred Willard

Comedian and Christopher Guest regular Fred Willard's career was marked by nothing but funny movies until his 2012 arrest for a "lewd act" in an adult theater. The arrest cost him his job hosting Market Warriors, but Willard was quick to recover after an honest interview on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Since then, he's appeared in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Fifty Shades of Black, and a handful of television roles.

Mickey Rourke

Former boxer and semi-reluctant actor Mickey Rourke enjoyed a successful career until he was arrested for spousal abuse in 1994 after assaulting his then-wife Carré Otis. Rourke went from boxing, to acting, to boxing again, and back to acting. In the late '90s, he almost gave up the spotlight completely. Luckily, he was able to bounce back with a lead role in the 2005 comic book-based noir film, Sin City. This major return, which he attributes to his manager and his dogs, led to Rourke appearing in The Wrestler, Iron Man 2, and The Expendables 1-2.

Rob Lowe

In the age of Kardashians, it's hard to remember that a sex tape could once ruin someone's career, and Rob Lowe had one of the first. Only a few years into his career, Lowe was filmed with at least three different women, one of whom was barely above legal age, sparking a wave of controversy when the tape was made available for sale against his will. Lowe quickly recovered by owning up to the incident and making fun of himself for the embarrassment.

During the years since he rebounded from his scandal, Lowe has appeared in dozens of movies; even more impressive, his television resume spans hundreds of episodes across dozens of noteworthy shows, including the likes of The West Wing, Parks and Recreation, Californication, Moonbeam City, and The Grinder.