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Why Successful Franchises Kill Acting Careers

Successful movie franchise have made many a budding young actor's career—but just as often, starring in a sequelized blockbuster can have the opposite effect. Here are just some of the reasons why starring in a franchise can spell Hollywood doom.

Becoming overshadowed by the franchise

Franchise fame doesn't count for much when the franchise is better-known than you are. Take Twilight star Kristen Stewart, for example: it isn't just that she risked being typecast as her character, Bella. It's more that when people think of those movies, they think of screaming adolescent girls and lonely soccer moms. And while the money is good, serious directors and actors don't really want to be associated with that kind of thing. You might say they avoid it like a vampire avoids sunlight.

Becoming famous too soon

Sometimes a franchise can make a young actor or actress famous before they're able to deal with that kind of thing. Stewart, who signed on for Twilight at 17, told the Guardian that being swept up in the whirlwind of fame at such a young age really affected her personally, which in turn affected her career. She felt she had to be on guard at all times, creating the impression of the bored-looking young starlet everyone came to know. She's since mounted a successful reinvention, but not all actors are so lucky.

The franchise has a dubious reputation

Starring in a high-profile franchise doesn't do an actor much good if the movie has a bad reputation. Jake Lloyd knows just what that's like after his run as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, the most reviled of the Star Wars prequels. The movie reaped a whirlwind of bad critical buzz, and Lloyd's performance was particularly singled out for jeers, but it would be unfair to blame him for the film's failures. He was incredibly young at the time and couldn't be expected to carry a whole movie. The Phantom Menace stink still stuck to him, though, turning Lloyd into an unwilling poster child for what can happen when a franchise gig backfires. The fallout not only affected his professional career, but his personal life as well.

The actor doesn't perform well in the franchise

When an actor makes one bad movie, it can be swept under the rug, but a string of bad movies is harder to hide—and Natalie Portman found this out the hard way after appearing in the Star Wars prequels. The Black Swan star has gone on record as saying those movies almost ended her career, arguing that they made her look like she couldn't act and claiming "no director wanted to work with" her because of them. Fortunately, she had a major body of work to fall back on, and after choosing a few superior scripts, she was able to move past Star Wars—but that kind of second act doesn't happen often.

They perform too well in the franchise

Almost everyone loved Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. And therein lies the problem: a once-in-a-lifetime project like that comes with a lot of "baggage," as Wood put it. Though he never felt hindered by it, he was, and probably is, always going to be Frodo to everyone who watched him in those epics. Fortunately, he's found work in a string of genre films since then, helping his career get out from under Frodo's shadow. Hopefully it pays off in the long run, or he might end up making another trip to Mount Doom to lift the curse.

Personal life impedes on franchise

Sometimes the way an actor's personal life intersects with their franchise can help take down a promising career. Tobey Maguire during the third Spider-Man movie, for instance: when people saw his embarrassing dance number in the movie, they forgot about the charming young man who starred in Wonder Boys and The Cider House Rules. They did, however, remember the borderline bro who palled around New York City with Leonardo DiCaprio as part of an unfortunately named group. Maybe he could've recovered had there been a fourth Spider-Man, but that ship has come and gone.

Other people take control of the actor's life

Working in a franchise can cause an actor to completely abandon their careers, which almost happened to Emma Watson during production of the Harry Potter films. During the making of those movies, she was told "what time [she got] picked up... what time [she] can eat, when [she has] time to go to the bathroom," and called the whole experience "agonizing." It got so bad that she considered walking away from the series, and it's easy to understand why. After the Potter films concluded, Watson turned her attention to smaller films and less stressful endeavors, like going to college and working with the UN.

Too much is sacrificed for the movies

When you sign on to appear in multiple films as one character, it can mean you're required to keep your looks the same for as long as the franchise continues. Tom Felton, who we all know as Draco Malfoy, had to do just that while making the Harry Potter movies. According to Felton, his hair and eyebrows were dyed so much during production that he's forgotten what color they actually are. In a way, Felton feels he lost his childhood to the franchise—and that's enough to make any guy or girl say "avada kedavra" to their career.

The actor can't pursue other projects

Committing to multiple movies means having to pass on other opportunities, often missing out on the chance to show more of their acting chops and other skills. Such has been the dilemma faced by Chris Evans every time he gears up to play Captain America in the MCU. In 2014, he told Variety that he's wanted to try directing for quite awhile, but there's always "another movie to do." Being forced to put that idea on hold is one reason why he's said he's ready to leave acting once his contract with the House of Ideas is up. Luckily, there's already a Falcon to take up the shield once Evans is done.


Let's face it: ultimately, working in a franchise takes a lot of time and effort, and sometimes, contractual obligations are the only thing that keep an actor showing up for work. Evans, for example, has said he's not going to pursue acting "outside of what I'm contractually obligated to do." And considering he's ready to quit acting once he hangs up the shield, he probably won't be signing any acting contracts anytime soon. Avengers, disassemble?