Wes Bentley, Ghost Rider
Credit: Jasin Boland

I was scanning through the armpit of my cable last night, and I came upon Ghost Rider, that very lamentable Nicolas Cage movie of last year. You remember: It came out in February and made a fortune, but no one you know will admit to have seeing it? That’s the one.

Anyway, I’m watching and who should pop on screen but Wes Bentley (pictured), who broke out so memorably as the plastic-bag-filming teen in American Beauty and then promptly fizzled away into the entertainment ether… only to pop up as a clichéd demonic villain in a shoddy comic book flick. And it got me thinking about other breakouts that broke down: other movie stars that made a big splash, showed incredible promise, and then ended up in bargain-bin fodder.

I’ll give you two more: Chris O’Donnell (he of Scent of a Woman and Batman & Robin, and not much since, besides some TV guest gigs) and Mira Sorvino (who won an Oscar in ’96 for Mighty Aphrodite and then slipped off the map after 1999’s Summer of Sam, popping up most recently in an episode of House).

Who else do you think fits the bill? Who lit up the sky for a brief, shining moment and promptly disappear before their true potential could be realized?

addCredit(“Ghost Rider: Jason Boland”)