Movie Fanatic Round Table: Who Deserves John Travolta-Type Comeback?

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When Quentin Tarantino cast John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, he succeeded in launching one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in history. Movie Fanatic has gathered some of the brightest minds in town to give our two cents as to who is ripe for a return to greatness. Who would you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.

Movie Fanatic Round Table Pic

Without further ado… here is this week’s Movie Fanatic Round Table question:

What actor or actress out there deserves a John Travolta-type, Pulp Fiction comeback and why?

Eric Eisenberg,
While he hasn’t fallen completely off the map and does occasionally take part in some legitimately good movies, my vote would have to be for Val Kilmer. The guy has been stuck doing so much crap and direct-to-DVD stuff, but this is the guy who brought us movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Tombstone, Real Genius and The Doors.

I would love to see a great director finally give him a really meaty part again that will let him test his skills and show audiences that he still has the talent.

Roth Jennings Cornet,
You know who I'd like to see have a big resurgence? Holly Hunter. She's always been one of my favorite actors. She takes characters that on the page are, for most, unrelatable and brings them to such vivid life that we can't help but both understand and love them. I wouldn't say she's in need of a comeback but I would say that she is a bit less of a presence than she was some years ago.

However, there are two reasons why I tend to doubt it: 1) The reality is that it is far less likely that a woman will climb to the heights of super-stardom as Travolta did. 2) Hunter typically chooses projects that are unique and (seemingly) speak to her as an artist. That doesn't necessarily lend itself to a bevy of blockbusters.

So, barring Hunter, I'd love to see Winona Ryder make a real comeback. She's been making strides towards it and feels oddly primed for it. I'm not sure I think she's one of the world’s best actors but I do have a real affection for her.

Gerrad Hall,
Eddie Murphy? His name comes to mind purely because I just saw the title of his most recent flop, A Thousand Words. I actually caught myself shaking my head in pity, hoping and wishing he would do something truly worthy of his talents. His comedy skills are impeccable, no doubt, but enough with the fluffy, family-friendly schmaltz.

Give us something like Dreamgirls, a layered performance that showcased his comedy and made him dig deeper for the emotion, for the flaws, for the moments of conniving charm. It was a risk, and it paid off.

Ryan Downey,
Powers Boothe! Granted, he was never as big as Travolta, but I loved him in Rapid Fire, Tombstone, Deadwood... Cast him, Tarantino!

Joel D. Amos,
Michael Keaton was huge back in the day. His unforgettable turns in Mr. Mom, Gung Ho, Clean and Sober, Batman and of course Beetlejuice are the stuff of legend.

He's flirted with a comeback of late, with Tarantino of all people, casting him in Jackie Brown and Adam McKay giving him the scene-stealing role in The Other Guys. But it has been too long since Keaton was the top dog in a film and he has both the dramatic and comedic chops to carry a film... why is this guy not working more?

But, I agree with two of my colleagues: Kilmer would be a great choice for a comeback.

Jami Philbrick,
For me there is only one real answer to this question: Val Kilmer! Think about his body of work. From his early hit films like Top Secret, Real Genius and Top Gun, to his seminal work in films like The Doors, Batman Forever and Tombstone, to his more recent acting accomplishments in such under-appreciated movies as David Mamet's Spartan and Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Kilmer has always been an exciting and intriguing actor to watch. But in recent years the actor has been relegated to direct-to-VOD action films.

Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

However, I think with the right role, Kilmer still has the chops to hit it out of the park. He did come very close to getting nominated for an Oscar for his work as Jim Morrison in The Doors and even legendary film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel thought it was a travesty that the Academy overlooked him. And don't forget, he gave an excellent supporting performance in both Ed Harris' Pollack and more recently in Renny Harlin's 5 Days of War. But Kilmer does not come without his own baggage.

The actor has been labeled "difficult" over the years and if you've heard any of the legendary stories from the set of The Island of Doctor Moreau… then you'll know why. And if you've seen Kilmer recently then you have noticed the obvious, he's kind of going through his Marlon Brando phase... if you know what I mean. He's gained significant weight and has let his hair grow long. (IE: He's letting himself go!)

But that doesn't change the fact that Val Kilmer is still a versatile actor with an impressive resume of work. Bottom line is Kilmer has the smarts, the talent, and the credentials to make a "Travolta" size comeback or even bigger if he wants ... but the question still remains: does he want it?

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