10 actors and actresses back from the brink
A look at bottomed-out A-listers who successfully re-ignited their careers
Early Success: The one time "As the World Turns" star had small roles in film and TV, but her breakthrough came playing a brash, gum-chomping New Yorker in 1992 with "My Cousin Vinny." Not only was the movie a commercial hit, Tomei won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, beating such distinguished stars as Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Judy Davis.
The Brink: Tomei's highest point quickly became her lowest. Given her relative inexperience compared to her fellow nominees, the backlash was immediate. Critic Rex Reed suggested that presenter Jack Palance had misread the name in the envelope, and the perception that Tomei was a one-trick pony best suited to Italian-American caricatures didn't help matters. Tomei's roles post-Oscar weren't exactly home runs, either. "Untamed Heart" with Christian Slater and "Only You" with Robert Downey Jr. didn't set the box office on fire. For the next few years she was mostly stuck in well-received performances in indie films and TV movies.
The Comeback: In 2000, Tomei had a small but memorable role in the Mel Gibson hit "What Women Want," which put her back on Hollywood's radar. But the real turn came when she scored a second Oscar nod for "In the Bedroom," which was about as far away from the broad humor of "My Cousin Vinny" as she could get. A third Oscar nod for "The Wrestler" made it clear that Tomei's early accomplishment wasn't a fluke.
Did it take? Mostly. Given that Tomei is (an extremely well-preserved) 48, roles for women in her age group aren't exactly burning up age-obsessed Hollywood. But having established herself as an electric comedic and dramatic actress, she's still in demand.
-Liane Bonin Starr