Hollywood is not necessarily known as a place where second chances are plentiful. It's hard enough to get the first one. 

There are a whole score of actors out there who after making it big in Hollywood, quickly fell by the wayside whether down to personal or professional reasons, never to reach the lofty heights of stardom again. However there is a small club who've managed to crawl out of the doldrums and make another go of it. A second coming or a renaissance if you will. Sometimes they'll have even more success than they had originally. 

Here's our list of 5 actors that have had a renaissance (or a McConnaissance in one case).  

1. Robert Downey Jr. 

This is the obvious one. RDJ is the poster boy for Hollywood comebacks. He had a blistering start to his career. Jumping from John Hughes movies and romantic comedies to playing Charlie Chaplin for Richard Attenborough. Downey Jr.'s talent and likeability was never in doubt, but his personal problems with regards to substance abuse made him a huge liability for movie producers. After serving some jail time, he eventually got clean and worked on rebuilding his career but there weren't many willing to give him another chance.

The Lowest Point: There are a few to choose from but it was probably getting fired from Ally McBeal a few weeks before his character was supposed to marry Calista Flockhart's. Although he had a good working relationship with the shows creators and his co-stars, he couldn't kick his drug habit and after he got arrested for drug use while on probation the show's producers felt they'd had enough and wrote him out of the show. 

The Turning Point: Although Iron Man is the role that launched him into being one of the highest paid actors working today (with a reported $100 million pay cheque for the next two Avengers movies) it was actually his role in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang that got his career back on track. Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black saw that RDJ was the perfect vessel for his brand of dialogue. He was cast alongside Val Kilmer and the film was a critical success if not necessarily a commercial one. Downey Jr. was then able to use that as a platform to re-build his credibility with supporting roles in Zodiac, A Guide to Recognising Your Saints and Good Night and Good Luck before Jon Faverau cast him as Tony Stark and the rest as they say is history. 

2. Kiefer Sutherland

Sutherland was one of the first actors to resuscitate their careers with a hit TV show. Before becoming the special agent/bad day having/non-bathroom-frequenter hero of the hit FOX show, 24, Sutherland drifted through the wilderness of Direct to Video movies. This was after an extremely promising start to his career. Sutherland became a huge star in the late 80s through roles in films such as The Lost Boys and Stand By Me. His personal life also got plenty of attention when he almost walked down the aisle with Julia Roberts (yes THAT Julia Roberts). 

The Lowest Point: How to pick just one? There was a period in the late 90s where Sutherland starred in among others, films called The Right Temptation and Desert Saints. Yeah. Us neither. 

The Turning Point: 24. The series was a smash hit with its never done before on TV, real time format and Sutherland was launched back to the A List. 

3. Mickey Rourke

Rourke was quite the heartthrob in the 80s. A terribly good looking chap as our mother would say. However he wasn't just a pretty face. He could act and had talent to burn. Unfortunately he also had arrogance in spades too and seemingly the inability to recognise a good project from a terrible one. Which led to an erratic body of work. For every Angel Heart there was a Willd Orchid. He also developed a reputation as a difficult person to work with which really didn't help matters. Rourke took a break from acting to pursue a career as a professional boxer. He didn't enjoy much success in the ring and by the time he came back to acting there was so much damage done to his once "terribly handsome" face that he required multiple surgeries to pull himself back together. 

The Lowest Point: There weren't many offers forthcoming when he did make his return to acting after his boxing career ended, however there are rumours that he turned down the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Ordinarily that would be the lowest point for any actor on this list but because he went on to star in Shergar we're going to have to plump for that.

The Turning Point: While many would say The Wrestler we're going to side with Sin City. His performance as Marv in Rober Rodriguez's adaptation of the graphic novels put him back in contention for roles like Randy 'The Ram' Robinson so one couldn't have come without the other. 

4. Ben Affleck

It's hard to not bring up Matt Damon when discussing Ben Affleck's fall from grace. The two hit the big time together in 1998 when Good Will Hunting, the film they wrote and starred in together picked up two Oscars including a Best Original Screenplay award for the duo. It was after the Oscar win that their paths diverged. Damon worked with respected directors in movies such as Saving Private Ryan and The Talented Mr. Ripley while Affleck starred in Michael Bay movies. Although Damon had some career troubles too in the early 00's, he quickly put them behind him with the Bourne franchise. Affleck's career dip lasted a little bit longer. His engagement to Jennifer Lopez and the birth of "Bennifer" was the start of a several year period where he produced one turkey after another and his reputation as an actor was severely tarnished. 

The Lowest Point: It has to be Gigli. It's still ranked as one of the worst movies of all time and the line "It's turkey time." is still ingrained in our minds. 

The Turning Point: Hollywoodland was the lifeline for Affleck. The future Batman won rave reviews for his portrayal of Superman actor George Reeves. He was able to build on the acclaim by starting his directing career which has taken him from strength to strength. He's now won a second Oscar (Best Film for Argo) and is directing and starring in a whole new Batman trilogy. Who would have predicted that after Jersey Girl?

5. Matthew McConnaughey

Like the majority of the people in this list, McConnaughey was winning plenty of praise early in his career when he was seen as an exciting new talent. Roles in Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill put him on the map. But then....he went down the romantic comedy route and well the less said about those years the better really. 

The Lowest Point: You could pick any of the dozen or so rom coms he did between the late 90s and 2012. Gun to our head we'll choose Ghosts of Girlfriends Past because....well do we really need to explain? It's a rom com based on Charles Dicken's most famous work. It doesn't get much lower!

The Turning Point: McConnaughey was already slowly re-building his credibility with The Lincoyln Lawyer and his old friend Richard Linklater's Bernie but we're going to have to call Killer Joe the role that really made waves. His performance as frightening hitman 'Killer' Joe Cooper once again showcased McConnaughey's talent as a dramatic actor. The McConnaissance began and he went on to pick up and Oscar two years later for Dallas Buyer's Club.


Should we have included anyone else in this list? Let us know in the comments.