When you hear the phrase "one hit wonder," your brain might flood with thoughts such as Toni Basil jumping around in a cheerleading uniform singing about how Mickey is so fine, or Gotye cry-singing into the camera about someone he used to know — but the phrase isn't exclusive to just music. There are plenty of actors who lucked out with one well-known movie role but then never managed to replicate that success. For better or for worse, it's precisely these 13 actors that we remember — who were so close to fame and glory but unfortunately remain mostly known for that ONE big role.
At the ripe age of 19, Alicia Silverstone made quite a name for herself as the lovable but ditzy Cher in "Clueless." Which makes it puzzling that she still doesn't have much else to her name besides an embarrassing appearance in "Batman & Robin" and the voice of Sharon in "Braceface." She may still be acting in small roles, but to us she'll always be like, the coolest high schooler evah.
The original "Star Wars" trilogy helped launch many successful careers (such as Harrison Ford), yet just as Luke Skywalker disappeared somewhere in the cosmos, so did Mark Hamill's acting career. Not to say that he hasn't been successful, as he absolutely kills it voicing The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series." But when it comes to physical, onscreen appearances, he will forever be known as the Jedi warrior who was pretty upset when he found out Darth Vader was his dad. Hey, if you're gonna be remembered for a single role, Skywalker is a pretty good gig to have!
Not to say that we were expecting much before or after "American Pie," yet most of the actors have a least a few other commercial hits after the famous teen sex comedy. Sadly, that wasn't the case for Shannon Elizabeth, who played the sexy Nadia. Since then, she has occasionally popped up here and there, such as Kelso's baby mama on "That 70's Show" or in a Justin Bieber music video, but she was never able to fully capitalize on her "American Pie" success.
With only a few acting credits to his name, the dapper Brandon Routh hit it big when he landed the coveted role of Clark Kent in "Superman Returns" — or so he thought. He was actually pretty great as the Man of Steel, yet the movie was far from a huge success. Poor Routh went down with the film, and despite a few appearances in major productions, his only claim to fame now is playing The Atom in the DCEU TV shows — which is quite a step down from Superman.
Linda Blair successfully scared the living crap out of all of us before she even went through puberty thanks to "The Exorcist" (even getting an Oscar nomination for the role) so it stands to say that she had a bright future ahead of her. Perhaps the curse was a thing in real life, though, as she sadly only managed to snag B-horror movies and occasional TV appearances.
He was just the adorable child actor in "Uncle Buck" and "My Girl" (HE NEEDS HIS GLASSES) when Macaulay Culkin got his breakout role in "Home Alone" and its sequel. Still captivating audiences in this holiday classic, Culkin ultimately bowed out from acting completely as he got older. He does make the occasional cameo, such as in "Zoolander 2," yet these days he seems pretty busy with his pizza-themed comedy rock band called Pizza Underground (yep, that's a real thing).
There are only two men we'll ever fondly remember for wrestling wild beasts — the late Steve Irwin and Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee. As his first and only major role, Paul Hogan captivated audiences with his Australian accent and croc wrangling abilities, so much so that he spawned a couple of sequels. His career since has been spotty, very rarely making a small film or TV appearance before disappearing back into the jungle (perhaps to fight some more crocodiles?).
The young blonde bombshell made quite a crash in Hollywood when she starred in the surfing flick "Blue Crush." Like an incoming wave it seemed Kate Bosworth was primed for Hollywood success, especially when she landed the role of Lois in "Superman Returns." Perhaps that movie is a death trap for actors, as after that she never managed to nab any major roles (kinda like Brandon Routh). She's still acting and as gorgeously talented as ever, but sadly nothing has touched her part as the wave-riding Annie.
With his shaggy bowl cut and little tricycle, Danny Lloyd was absolutely adorable in "The Shining," even when he was getting chased by a crazed Jack Nicholson with an ax. Apparently that onset experience was enough, as he went on to make one TV movie before retiring from Hollywood completely. Nowadays, Lloyd teaches biology at a community college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, far, far away from the snowy mountains of Colorado.
Another adorable child star getting her start alongside Macaulay Culkin, Anna Chlumsky captured everyone's heart as Vada in "My Girl," going on to reprise her role in the sequel a few years later. Yet similar to her male co-star, Chlumsky had trouble landing any significant roles after that. Luckily, she's had a prominent role on HBO's "Veep" in the past few years, so things seem to be looking better. There's still no denying that when you think about Anna Chlumsky, you probably picture her crying over a casket.
Having just appeared alongside some future stars such as Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe in "The Outsiders," Ralph Macchio made a name all his own as the baby-faced Daniel LaRusso in the "Karate Kid" movies (Macchio was already in his early 20s at the time). Soon becoming a teen idol, it seems he was prepped to become a big star like his "Outsiders" co-stars, but his career began to fizzle as soon as it began. He has occasionally popped up in such hits as "Hitchcock" and "How I Met Your Mother," but he will always be fondly remembered as simply the karate kid.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a big fat hit, helping to make Nia Vardalos a well known writer and actress in Hollywood. Yet it appears people only love her as the caring but slightly rebellious Toula, as the comedy is far and away the most successful thing she's done career-wise. The fact that a sequel is coming out with Vardalos reprising her iconic role proves that Vardalos is well aware what people want from her — nothing wrong with that!
Maybe hooking up with Shannon Elizabeth was the kiss of death, as Jason Biggs (who rose to fame in the "American Pie" films), apparently had his pie and ate it too while playing Jim Levenstein. He played a similar character in "Saving Silverman" and had a decent part in "Jersey Girl," but he must have been typecast as he struggled to pick up any meaningful or starring roles afterwards. He did make a bit of a redemption as Piper's fiancé on "Orange is the New Black," yet he was definitely overshadowed by the powerful ensemble cast on the show.