Hollywood is a surprisingly forgiving town given how hard it is to break into the industry.
What does it take to get blacklisted? Apparently nothing, other than maybe spouting off anti-Semitic comments (looking at you, Mel Gibson). Otherwise not even a resume filled with box office flops will stop an actor from getting work. And a string of canceled television series won't keep a showrunner from getting another order from NBC.
In honor of Ryan Reynolds' most recent box office disaster, let's look at the various species of invincible Hollywood phoenixes.
Reynolds is proof that we can never underestimate the power of a twinkly smile and a rock-hard body. The actor first delighted audiences playing the smart aleck Berg on the turn-of-the-millennium television show "Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place." Tall, adorable and with impeccable comic timing, Reynolds was born to do a romantic comedy or five. And that's exactly what he did with a series of so-so movies, including "The Proposal" and "Definitely, Maybe." He also headlined some spectacular box office failures. The action comedy "R.I.P.D.," for example, made about $78 million on a reported production budget of $130 million. Ouch.
His most recent starring role, "Self/Less," opened last weekend and brought in a paltry $5 million. But despite a string of underperforming outings, including a much-derided turn as the Green Lantern, Reynolds is set to star as the title character in an adaptation of another superhero comic, "Deadpool."
See also: Taylor Kitsch, star of one of Hollywood's most mythic bombs, "John Carter," and Kate Hudson, who is cute as a button but hasn't made a good movie since, well ...
The genius underdog
Sometimes the good guys can't catch a break. Case in point: Bryan Fuller. The showrunner's steady stream of singular television series have never transcended cult status and keep getting canceled too soon. NBC recently announced it wouldn't renew Fuller's critical darling "Hannibal," which is the same fate that befell his other fanciful and unique inventions "Pushing Daisies," "Wonderfalls" and "Dead Like Me."
So now the only thing left to do is wait for his next show, "American Gods," which will likely premiere in early 2016. But will it survive the year?
See also: "Heroes" showrunner Tim Kring, who's getting a second chance with "Heroes Reborn" this year. And let's not forget that Joss Whedon used to be a member of this tribe before hitting it big with the "Avengers" movies. Sometimes all the second and third chances pay off.
The erratic auteur
Cameron Crowe might have won us all over with his boom box statement scene or his "Tiny Dancer" singalong, but in recent years his tricks have started to feel like just that — cheap moves to tug at our heartstrings. "Elizabethtown" was a special kind of misfire that was somehow outdone by the recent mess of "Aloha." No matter, Crowe is set to direct an upcoming pilot for Showtime, even if it appears to have hit a snag with the lead recently getting recast.
See also: Jason Reitman, a filmmaker of such extremes, it's impossible to predict whether he'll churn out a gem like "Up In the Air" or an unwatchable debacle in the vein of "Men, Women & Children."
The one-hit wonder
M. Night Shyamalan is a case study in how to stretch 15 minutes of fame into 15 years. The moody, surreal "Sixth Sense" tells us that all it takes is one good twist ending. The director followed up seeing dead people with a bunch of other brooding supernatural thriller-ish dramas that all underperformed even though many sported his tell-tale last-minute curveball. He's still hard at work, bringing the distinctly meh "Wayward Pines" to television and terrorizing grandchildren everywhere with his upcoming movie "The Visit," in which Nana and Gramps turn into monsters after the sun sets.
See also: "Chappie" director Neill Blomkamp who hasn't been able to replicate the success of his thinking man's action movie "District 9," and the Wachowskis, who may forever be living in the shadow of their "Matrix" movies.
Sometimes artists have to create their own opportunities. That's what Zach Braff did with his "Garden State" follow-up "Wish I Was Here." The multi-step process started with a Kickstarter campaign, since studios weren't willing to finance Braff's vision, but fans were. When he reached his $2 million goal, the former "Scrubs" star made the movie and cast himself in the lead role, naturally.
See also: Rob Thomas, who used Kickstarter to turn his delightful, long-canceled "Veronica Mars" series into a less satisfying movie, and James Franco who seems set on transforming all of William Faulkner's best novels into middling movies.
The nostalgia-inducing stars of the '80s
What do Charlie Sheen, Christian Slater, Kiefer Sutherland, Judd Nelson, James Spader, Rob Lowe and John Cusack all have in common? They defined cool 30 years ago. They've also all made big professional or personal (or professional and personal) missteps but manage to keep on ticking.
See also: Demi Moore, although, true to form, Hollywood has been less charitable with the female stars. Ally Sheedy, where are you?
The household names
John Travolta can get away with anything. He can fondle all the lady-chins he wants. He can make all the awful Scientology movies he can possibly bankroll. He can mispronounce the names of Broadway's biggest stars. He's John Travolta, so he'll still have multiple movies come out in any given year.
See also: Nicolas Cage, who has a knack for choosing the worst movies imaginable, but he's a Coppola and an Oscar winner — so there. Then there's Nicole Kidman, whose recent flops have been particularly memorable. Rather than get a theatrical release, "Grace of Monaco" went straight to Lifetime. But if you think that's going to slow down the Oscar winner's career, think again.
The (formerly) funny men
Male comedians are the kings of second chances even long after their jokes have gone to seed. Adam Sandler is a prime example. His man-child shtick has remained the same, but the public's appetite for his humor hasn't. Sandler's movies tend to be exhausting and stupid, but that didn't stop Netflix from signing him for a four-movie deal and landing itself in a lot of hot water after the comedian offended the Native Americans on set with his "humor. "