About What the Hell Happened
The “What the Hell Happened” series started when I caught the Day of the Dead remake on cable. Since the movie had never received a theatrical release, I entered with extremely low expectations. But somehow, the movie failed to live up to my low standards. My mind wandered. All I could think was “What the hell happened to Meena Suvari?”
I started wondering what had happened to other actors I used to follow. How had Michael Keaton gone from playing Batman to semi-retirement? How did Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue end up slumming it in a Piranha remake?
As I worked my way through the series, I learned about Val Kilmer’s weight gain, Rick Moranis’ personal loss and Kathleen Turner’s illness. I discovered how many actresses were victims of bad plastic surgery like Meg Ryan. All that, and Steve Guttenberg.
Eventually, the series became more popular than I could have ever imagined. In an effort to give readers more of what they wanted, I decided to expand the scope of the series. Originally, I was very selective when choosing subjects for WTHH. Candidates had to be A-list actors who had disappeared from the spotlight. Also, I would only write about actors and actresses I had actually been a fan of.
Little by little, I loosened those criteria. I started writing about actors who had shown promise but never achieved A-list status. This allowed me to write about some of my favorite actresses like Penelope Ann Miller, Bridget Fonda and Mira Sorvino. I also started writing about actors who are still in the public eye but aren’t as big of stars as they used to be. This let me cover working actors like Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey and Chevy Chase.
Finally, I decided it was okay to write about actors I was never especially fond of. This made Steven Seagal eligible.
There have also been some changes regarding the scope of each article. When I started, the articles were much shorter. I hit the highlights and lowlights of the subject’s career. Their personal lives were only commented on if it had a direct impact on their career. TV guest spots and direct-to-video movies were usually omitted. But as I have written the series for the last several years, I have come to appreciate that those things are important to painting a full picture of the actor’s career. While no article is ever likely to be 100% comprehensive, I now try to include relatively obscure projects along with the ones everyone is familiar with.
I will be the first to admit that the title of the series sometimes requires interpretation. It’s a little weird to ask what the hell happened to an actor who is currently working. And frequently the answer to the question isn’t all that compelling. A lot of times, an actor just got old. Or they decided to concentrate on their families or personal lives. Sometimes they just decide staying on the A-list is no longer worth the effort.
At this point, the series is intended to be a career retrospective. Sometimes I am dissecting a train wreck like Sean Young or Mel Gibson. Other times, I’ll look at squandered potential like Nicolas Cage or Heather Graham. Some careers will be long and distinguished. Others will be relatively short-lived. All that is needed is a rise and a fall.
Frequently, the mild profanity in the title puts fans of the subject on the defensive. While I respect the passion of these fans, I think their anger is usually misplaced. The fact that these actors have been selected for a retrospective means that they have achieved a level of greatness that merits such treatment.
The articles are written with what I hope is a humorous tone. I do crack wise at the expense of the celebrities. But I figure these guys can take it. All of my jokes are intended in the spirit of good fun. If articles ever veer into being mean spirited, that is a failure on my part.
I hope you enjoy looking back at these careers with me. If you do, please be sure to let me know in the comments section. If you don’t, let me know that too. Although I appreciate constructive criticism much more than a drive-by “You suck”. The comments sections of these articles have been lots of fun. I have enjoyed long conversations with several like-minded readers over the years. I have even made friends with movie lovers around the world.
Also, if there is a subject you would like to see covered, let me know. I have taken several suggestions since starting the series. Be sure to vote in the poll to select the next candidate. I frequently let the poll guide me when choosing who to write about next.
As always, thanks for reading. Hope you stick around.
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