VOICE OVER: Jennifer Silverman
WRITTEN BY: Lindsey Clouse
Don't expect to ever see these actors in franchises. For this list, we'll be looking at those rare A-list celebs who have managed to stay away from every superhero universe, wizard world, international intelligence agency, and illegal street racing gang out there. Our countdown includes Jane Fonda, Regina King, Jodie Foster, and more!
Top 10 Actors Who Never Do Franchises
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Never Do Franchises.
For this list, we’ll be looking at those rare A-list celebs who have managed to stay away from every superhero universe, wizard world, international intelligence agency, and illegal street racing gang out there.
What actor would you love to see leading their own franchise? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
#10: Jane Fonda
One of the greatest Hollywood bombshells of all time, it seems like Fonda was always destined to be a star of the silver screen. The daughter of actor Henry Fonda, Jane was born with performing in her blood. She appeared in nearly 30 films throughout the 1960s and 70s, including one of her most recognizable roles as the super sexy sci-fi adventurer Barbarella. But fans who grew up in the 1980s might remember Fonda from a different genre: her series of VHS exercise videos that became massive best sellers. And Fonda’s career is still going strong. Since turning 80, she’s starred in the hit Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” as well as multiple movies, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
#9: Richard Gere
After making a name for himself as a high class male escort in “American Gigolo,” Gere quickly gained a reputation as a Hollywood sex symbol. But it was his role as the resolute and loyal navy officer in training Zack Mayo that vaulted him to superstardom. Gere continued to play the leading man in romances into his 50s. Although many other actors of his generation have appeared in major franchises, Gere somehow never has – at least not yet. But if Michael Keaton can play Batman in his 70s, then we’d say there’s still time for Gere to put on a cape if he ever wants to.
#8: Matthew McConaughey
After meeting “Dazed and Confused” casting director Don Phillips in a hotel bar, McConaughey landed his breakout role as David Wooderson in his early 20s. Since then, his good looks and southern charm have kept him in the spotlight. In the 2000s he became the rom-com king, earning him the title of “People” magazine’s sexiest man alive in 2005. And his ability to bring the ladies to their feet in “Magic Mike” proves that he hasn’t lost a step. And yet, he’s one of the few leading men in Hollywood who hasn’t been snatched up for a cinematic universe or spy franchise. Although if anyone could pull off a skin tight superhero uniform, it’s Matthew McConaughey.
#7: Jennifer Aniston
Everyone knows Aniston from her role as Rachel Green on “Friends,” one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. In fact, Aniston has probably had the most successful post-“Friends” career of any of the main cast, extending her comedy chops to the big screen too. She’s also proven her talent at dramatic acting, as in her moving performance as accident survivor and prescription drug addict Claire in “Cake.” And although we could totally picture her hunting down international terrorists alongside Ethan Hunt, so far she’s managed to stay out of the franchise game.
#6: Regina King
One of the most versatile women in Hollywood, King has done it all: comedy, drama, action, commercials, even guest judging on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” And technically, she has also played a superhero – just not in the Marvel or DC Universes. Instead, she played Angela Abar a.k.a. Sister Night in the streaming miniseries “Watchmen.” Lately, though, King has been spending as much of her time behind the camera as in front of it. She’s directed episodes of hit TV shows like “Shameless” and “The Good Doctor,” not to mention a feature film. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before she ends up in a major franchise. But she’s just as likely to be directing it as starring in it.
#5: John Cusack
It seemed like John Cusack was in every teen comedy that came out in the 1980s. In fact, from the 80s to the 2000s, it seemed like he was in every movie, period. And no wonder – over those three decades he appeared in over 50 films, from rom-coms to thrillers to a somewhat questionable turn as Edgar Allan Poe. So how is it that he never ended up in a franchise? As it turns out, he almost did. In 1985, a John Hughes-inspired Spider-Man script was produced for Cannon Films with Cusack in mind. Of course, at the time, Marvel was popping out such gems as “Howard the Duck,” so maybe it’s for the best that Cusack’s Spider-Man never came to be.
#4: Jodie Foster
Although her breakout role technically came in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” when most people think of Jodie Foster, they think of Clarice Starling. Holding her own opposite the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins, Foster’s powerful and understated performance in “The Silence of the Lambs” earned plenty of critical attention and awards. Since then, she’s continued to focus her career primarily on dramas. And like Regina King, she’s no stranger to the director’s chair, with credits for both feature films and major TV shows. Although the lurid tales of Hannibal Lecter border on franchise status, we don’t expect to see Foster putting on a cape or wizard robes any time soon.
#3: Daniel Day-Lewis
He sings. He dances. He goes to extremes in his method acting choices. But he doesn’t do franchises. Although the now retired Sir Daniel has had an incredibly illustrious career, surprisingly, he’s only appeared in about 20 films. And each of those films was a completely standalone entity – he’s never even been in a sequel. Yet somehow, despite never going near the MCU or MI6, he has embodied some truly iconic characters, from the eminently quotable Daniel Plainview to the Great Emancipator himself. But we also have to admit, he would have made a brilliant 007.
#2: Meryl Streep
If anyone deserves to be called the queen of the silver screen, it’s Meryl Streep. Having been a household name for over four decades, it seems there’s no part she can’t play. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Check. Acclaimed chef and cooking show host Julia Child? No problem. Frosty Anna Wintour-inspired magazine editor? Obviously. With so many incredible characters on her résumé, it’s kind of hard to believe that no major franchise has gotten its hooks into Streep. But if any actor can hold their own in Hollywood without a cinematic universe to fall back on, it’s Queen Meryl.
#1: Leonardo DiCaprio
Technically, Leo’s first film role was in the third installment of a horror franchise. But let’s be honest; “Critters 3” is no “Captain America: Civil War.” Whether you know him as the star-crossed Romeo, the ill-fated Jack Dawson, or the dream-hopping Dom Cobb, Leo has been stealing hearts in every genre for almost 30 years. Yet it wasn’t until the 2010s that he finally earned the highest honor of all – getting turned into a meme. And although by this point Leo could probably have his pick of franchise leading roles, we’re happy to continue watching him give it his all in one amazing standalone movie after another.