This award season has celebrated Hollywood comebacks, with Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan shining in the spotlight. Their performances in The Whale and Everything, Everywhere All at Once earned them Oscars and reminded us of their incredible talent.
Fraser, who previously starred in popular films like George of the Jungle and The Mummy series, had yet to have a leading role since Inkheart in 2008. On the other hand, Ke, who started his career strong with roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, had almost disappeared from the silver screen after a minor role in Encino Man. As an Asian American actor, he faced challenges as he grew up and turned to work behind the scenes in stunts and choreography.
Their well-deserved awards have drawn attention to other Hollywood comebacks, with other award-winning performances showcasing the resilience and talent of these comeback kids.
Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name
Eddie Murphy has been a beloved presence on our screens since the 80s, starring in classics like the Beverly Hills Cop series and Coming to America (1988). He continued to charm us with hits like The Nutty Professor (1996) and Dr Dolittle (1998), even lending his voice to the animated Mulan movie as the lovable dragon Wushu. However, as we entered the 2000s, Murphy's appearances became less frequent, although we still enjoyed his unmistakable voice as Donkey in the Shrek movies.
In 2019, Murphy returned triumphantly to the big screen in a biopic about Rudy Ray Moore, the real-life comedy and rap icon who blazed a trail with his loud and vulgar persona, Dolemite. Despite initial skepticism from critics, Murphy's performance earned him numerous accolades, including Best Actor awards at the Golden Globes, AAFCA (African-American Film Critics Association) and the Black Reels Awards. Dolemite is My Name showcased Murphy's incredible range as an actor, capturing both the humour and the pathos of Moore's life.
Murphy's most recent project, You People, is a comedy exploring modern love, family dynamics, and clashing cultures. Starring opposite Jonah Hill, Murphy's return to the big screen has been highly anticipated, and we can't wait to see what he brings to the table. With a career spanning decades, Murphy has proven himself to be a true icon of the entertainment industry, and we're excited to see what he has in store for us next.
Michael Keaton in Birdman
Michael Keaton had a string of successes in the late 80s, including his memorable turn as the troublemaker Beetlejuice in 1988 and the iconic Batman in 1989. However, as the years went by, his roles became less noteworthy, and he was relegated to supporting parts. That is until 2014, when he starred in the refreshing and poignant Birdman.
The film follows an actor past his prime trying to revive his career by directing, writing, and starring in a Broadway production. This role was perfect for Keaton, and he delivered a standout performance. His portrayal earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the 87th Academy Awards, and he won a Golden Globe for his work.
Birdman showcased Keaton's talent and reminded audiences of what a gifted actor he is. Since then, he has appeared in notable movies, such as the Oscar Best Picture winner Spotlight, The Founder, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Trial of Chicago 7, and most recently Mobius in 2022. He even found time to appear on the small screen in the series Dopesick and won an Emmy for Best Lead Actor for his nuanced portrayal.
Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa
Sylvester Stallone's name is instantly recognised for his iconic portrayals of Rambo and Rocky, characters that he embodied so convincingly. But after years of being typecast in action hero roles, Stallone's career was revitalised in 2006 when he resurrected the beloved character of Rocky, 30 years after the original film's release.
In Rocky Balboa, Stallone delivered a heartwarming story about an ageing Rocky, now a small restaurant owner, being challenged to a fight by a hot-headed young boxer. The film won over critics and fans and spawned a spinoff movie, Creed. Stallone wrote and directed the film himself, proving that despite his age (he was 60 during the filming of Rocky Balboa), he was far from finished.
Recently, Stallone has moved to the small screen, starring in the TV series Tulsa King as Dwight "The General" Manfredi, a mafia cop exiled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he builds a new criminal empire. This transition to television has allowed Stallone to flex his acting muscles in a new format and continue to showcase his versatility as an actor.
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke's role in The Wrestler (2008) seemed tailor-made for the actor, who started boxing at 12. Beginning his acting career in 1971 at 19, shortly after quitting boxing, Rourke first appeared in TV series before gradually making his way into movies. He soon began landing roles that garnered attention, most notably in 9 1/2 Weeks (1986) with Kim Basinger, where he established himself as a sex symbol. However, in the late 80s, Rourke's personal life and on-set behaviour overshadowed his acting career. In the early 90s, he returned to boxing to escape self-destruction, winning several fights but suffering injuries like a broken nose, ribs, and a split tongue, as well as short-term memory loss.
Rourke resumed acting in the mid-90s, starting with minor roles and eventually landing the lead in The Wrestler directed by Darren Aronofsky, a film about a struggling professional wrestler trying to find meaning outside the ring. His performance in the film earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, which he ultimately lost to Sean Penn for Milk. Nevertheless, Rourke received critical acclaim for his work, winning BAFTA Film Awards, Golden Globes, and Independent Spirit Awards, among others.
Since then, Rourke has remained busy, with roles in Iron Man 2 (2010), The Expendables (2010), and Sin City (2013). His most recent project is the upcoming movie Hunt Club, where he stars opposite Mena Suvari. The film is about a group of male hunters who regularly lure women to their island with the promise of winning a large sum of money in a hunt.