She Shoulda Been A Contender, Part II


Christmas is drawing ever nearer, and anyone working in retail (me for example) will find it considerably harder to maintain a steady update rate on their blog. However, just before the holiday madness truly takes over, we've got time to check in with our ongoing list of hot actresses who should have had bigger careers.

Welcome to part II. (oh, and remember part I, right here.)

We'll begin with royalty...


Carrie Fisher

Carrie never stood a chance, when she became an overnight sensation after appearing as Princess Leia in Star Wars (1977). And sure enough, three years later during the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) she was doing coke on a daily basis. She was 23 at the time. And then things really got out of hand.

Later in her life Carrie got back on the straight and narrow. She started writing, she clawed her way back to the real world, but by that time she wasn't in her twenties any more, and the career she could have had, was long gone. Still, she was fairly spunky when she turned up in Fanboys (2008).

High point: The Empire Strikes Back (or Fanboys).
Low point: The Star Wars Holiday Special, but that goes for everyone who was involved.
Should have been in: Some completely ordinary dramas, without any spaceships.

Peta Wilson

Despite sharing a name with that animal terrorist group Peta is all style, class and sexiness. She got to explore this fact in her most memorable performance, playing the lead in La Femme Nikita (1997), the TV-series based on the French action movie. That gig lasted for four years, and though the show was never huge, and admittedly quite silly at times, she was perfect in it. But that was almost 10 years ago. In the intervening years, her turn as Mina Parker on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) is the only thing worth mentioning.

Peta is best used when she can look like a model, and kick ass like an East European terrorist. Are you telling me Hollywood can't use that? Really?

High point: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (yes, I love it, leave me alone)
Low point: I'm gonna go ahead and assume it's Malibu Shark Attack (2009), sight unseen.
Should have been in: Mission: Impossible III (2006).

Traylor Howard

The weirdness of the name notwithstanding, Traylor is the classic combination of the quintessential Girl Next Door, and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. In the TV show Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place (1998) she showed great comic timing, but also a tender dramatic side, when her character found herself torn between a boyfriend and a longtime friend. For a while after the show ended I kept checking her IMDb page for cool new projects, but there was nothing there. Just a few scattered TV appearances and multi-season appearance on the Monk (2005) series. Where did Traylor go, and why?

High point: Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.
Low point: Son of the Mask (I assume).
Should have been in: Trayler could step into any flavorless comedy in lieu of any TV-star-turned-film-star and improve it!

Jennifer Esposito

There's a scene in Spin City (1997) where Stacey (played by Jennifer) is checking out an apartment for rent with her boss Mike (Michael J. Fox). Through the walls they can clearly hear a couple having sex in the next apartment. Mike comments that it sounds loud. Stacey looks at him with a crooked smile, and replies: "You think that's loud? Poor Mike..."

That simple throwaway moment in a random episode of a TV show contains more pizzazz than the whole rest of Jennifer's career. Don't get me wrong, she's done a ton of work, plenty of TV shows and movies, but her appearance is always completely and utterly forgettable. Spunk has an expiration date too. Jennifer has left hers in the fridge too long.

High point: Spin City.
Low point: Everyone forgetting that she actually starred in an Oscar winning film. It was Crash (2004).
Should have been in: A cool thriller ala Backflash (2001), or perhaps playing a levelheaded cop in something like Don't Say A Word (2001) or maybe an action/comedy like Taxi (2004)... What? You're kidding! She was? In ALL of them? Are you sure?

Neve Campbell

At the height of her career she had a successful TV show AND an unbeatable horror franchise on her hands. That was 15 years ago. Neve made a name for herself in the fantastic and touching family drama Party of Five (1994), she was cast as the lead in Scream (1996) a few years later, which she completed, while she was on the TV-series! She was a busy girl.

Scream 2 (1997) and Wild Things (1998) followed, and it seemed like the sky was the limit. It wasn't. Neve was flooded with offers, but she turned them all down. She didn't want to be the next scream queen, so instead she turned her attention to small independent films and the theater stage in London. Too bad.

High point: Wild Things.
Low point: The barely watchable When Will I Be Loved (2004).
Should have been in: Save the Last Dance (2001), instead of The Company (2003).

Leelee Sobieski

What the hell happened to Leelee Sobieski? No, seriously, what the HELL happened? Leelee first caught my eye in the big budget disaster flick Deep Impact (1998), she was surprisingly good (far better than Milla) in the miniseries Joan of Arc (1999). A small, but nonetheless saucy, appearance in the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut (1999) really raised some eyebrows, and she was perfect in My First Mister (2001). Then... it all went downhill. Her performances in 88 Minutes (2007) and In the Name of the King (2007) were awful, to put it nicely.

She's still doing great work now and then, but being great in Walk All Over Me (2007) ("A small town girl runs into big time trouble as she takes on her roommates identity as a dominatrix to pay the bills") is less impressive than being great in a Kubrick film. Come back to the A-list Leelee! And if Uwe calls, just say no.

High point: My First Mister.
Low point: 88 Minutes, no In the Name of the King, no 88 Minutes, no...
Should have been in: My Second Mister? Eyes Wider Open? I dunno, anything but 89 Minutes and In the Name of the King II (by the way, the first one was a joke, the second isn't).



Like I mentioned in part I, it's hard to figure out why some of these actresses disappear, despite having great potential. Often the reason is quite mundane or just plain sad.

Here's the thing, though. Once you put something on the Internet, it's everywhere. So maybe, just maybe, a producer or a casting agent somewhere will come across one of these lists one day, and decide to bring back one of the girls from the semi-dead. And then we'll have done our part.

So add your suggestions to the comments, so they can be included in the inevitable part III.



  1. I miss Leelee too, I loved her in My First Mister and she's great in Joy Ride...stupid Uwe Boll, why do you have to destroy everything?

    Two questions though: 1. When you say M:I3, are you saying Peta Wilson should take the part from Keri Russell or Michelle Monaghan? (in any case, you're crazy!)
    2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, really? Really?!?

  2. @GaGa The Movies
    1) Peta should actually take the Maggie Q part, in my mind, she could do that stuff so easily.
    2) I said. leave me alone! Hehe!

  3. @David Bjerre
    I had totally forgotten that Maggie Q were even in that movie, in that case you might be right. But wait a second, are you saying that you would take your beloved Maggie Q out of one of the very few good movies she's in?

  4. @GaGa The Movies
    Yes. I'm saying exactly that! Who would have thunk it?

  5. Dave, you're effing clever. Thank you.

  6. @jnc
    Thanx man! I call 'em like I see 'em!

  7. I always felt that Traylor and the mega bitch Suzanne Cryer were always overshadowed by the usually quirky but adorable Jillian Bach.

    1. I LOVE Jillian Bach! She was SO good on that show!

  8. I agree with Peta and I also liked her in TLOEM. Sobiesky lost charm and acting skills as she grew up, don´t know why. And Cambpbell had her chances and didn´t hold up to them. There´s something about Esposito that annoys me, and I don´t know what it is.

    1. Sobiesky - Very strange. Not sure what happened there. I think I know what happpened with Campbell - she just didn't wanna play the game. What are you gonna do?