Comeback kids: 8 TV stars who successfully returned to our screens
Everybody loves a good comeback story; in the UK we always root for the underdog and love to see someone graft their way back to the top. Who knew that these huge TV stars were once lower than Z-list and taking any job possible? We take a look at eight television actors who brought their careers back from the edge.
Neil Patrick Harris
At the tender age of 16, Neil took on the role of a child prodigy doctor in Doogie Howser M.D.. After a successful run of four seasons Patrick Harris appeared in guest TV roles and a few made-for-television films. 2005 was the year of change for the actor when he was cast as loveable rogue, Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother.
11-year-old Jason made his acting debut in a cereal commercial before hitting the big time… Little House on the Prairie. He became a teen heartthrob in the 1980s with a starring role in the sequel to Teen Wolf but after a few box office failures and a drug addiction plagued him in the 90s, he disappeared off our screens. Bateman made his comeback in 2003 with a starring role in offbeat comedy Arrested Development. Although it never achieved high ratings, it has become a cult hit and is set for a fifth season on Netflix this year as well as a potential film.
Kiefer’s career went the opposite way to most actors – from blockbuster films to nothing to TV favourite. Appearing in the critically acclaimed, fan favourite films Stand by Me and The Lost Boys whilst in his twenties, he looked set for big things. However, Sutherland made no real splashes in the 90s and plodded on through a number of flops until 2001 when he was cast in 24. Appearing in over 200 episodes of the hit drama, at one point he was the highest earning television actor.
A Hollywood veteran, Betty was the first woman to produce a television sitcom and has been working in the business for almost 80 years. The 1980s saw her in her most famous role, as Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls, for which she was nominated for the Best Actress Emmy every year of the show’s run (and won once). Work seemed to dry up for Betty in the 90s (apparently it was everyone’s dry patch), until she gave us the most glorious performance in The Proposal alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Now she’s back on telly screens pranking members of the public on the show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.
Jimmy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1998 and was often mocked by critics for constantly cracking up in the live sketches. Whilst this may not have given him critical acclaim, he became wildly popular with fans (particularly the ladies…) and stayed at SNL longer than originally planned. However, on leaving the show in 2004 he attempted to pursue a film career with little success. It was thanks to Lorne Michaels (creator of SNL) that he was recommended to take over from Conan O’Brien as the host of Late Night. When Jay Leno stepped down from The Tonight Show, Jimmy won the coveted role, giving him a secure position as a TV great.
In the late 90s and early 00s Cranston had notable roles in two beloved TV sitcoms: playing Dr. Tim Whatley in Seinfeld and Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. After some voiceovers and bit parts in the subsequent years, Cranston solidified himself as a cultural icon when he took on the role of Walter White in hit crime drama Breaking Bad. Winning countless awards, the show has been cited as one of the greatest of all time – safe to say Cranston won’t be short of work anytime soon.
A child actor, Mayim got her break in the Bette Midler film Beaches before taking on the title role in NBC’s teen angst show Blossom. Charting the life of Blossom and her family, the programme dealt with every theme possible from drugs to divorce to abuse and everything in between. When the acting work died down a little she casually earned herself a P.H.D. in neuroscience before returning to the screen in 2010. Mayim let art imitate life, playing neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory and earning herself thousands of fans with her portrayal of the witty and weird gal.
Like a lot of other American actors, Stamos first found work on General Hospital before his big break as resident bad boy, Jesse, on Full House. After eight years and eight seasons on the incredibly popular show, the series sadly came to an end… as did John’s powerhouse career. He took some bit parts in made-for-TV movies, comedy shows and cartoons. It was his two guest appearances on medical drama ER in 2005 that really saved the day. The following year he joined the cast as a series regular. Stamos’ career has come full circle with the announcement that he will reprise his role as Jesse in the Netflix-commissioned series of Fuller House.