20 Performers Who Used to Be Jokes And Now Are Respected: Then vs. Now

20 Performers Who Used to Be Jokes And Now Are Respected: Then vs. Now

Younger readers (or Cracked Kidz, as we definitely call them) won’t remember this, but the MCU used to be interesting. Also, your favorite artist was not as highly respected as they are right now. They used to be joke fodder, everyone would laugh at their cringy attempts at relevance and awful works, and even late night talk show hosts would just use them as the butt of their jokes. But then Game-Changing Event happened, and the game was changed. Suddenly they got in our good graces, forced us to redirect our public shaming to the real enemies (billionaires and crypto grifters), and the rest is hist— alright, you get it.

Such is the sort of artistic stories we’re discussing in this Pictofact. We’ve dealt with the much more familiar topic of fallen celebrities, and someday we will discuss celebrities that became exactly what their critics always said they were *note to self: add link to Jordan Peterson overtly acting like the fascist that normal people always said he was and then don’t forget to delete this note to self*. For now, however, we’re interested in artists that used to be mocked for being lame or ridiculous, and that are now super respected. In most cases, as we will see, the situation particularly concerns beautiful people: heartthrobs and heartthrobettes that would get no respect because they were pretty, but who then proved to have immense talent. You know, talent, the opposite of being a hack. Yeah, you get it. Enjoy!

Heath Ledger

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Heath Ledger When Ledger was announced as the Joker, the internet went wild. Не was talentless, they said. Не was just a pretty boy, they said. Then the movie came out, and Ledger's Joker became the definitive version. CRACKED.COM

Robert Downey Jr.

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Robert Downey Jr. Addiction almost ruined a promising career, and problems with the law interfered with new opportunities. Then Iron-Man arrived, and with it newfound success and respect. We just hope he never makes, like, a trashy Dr. Dolittle movie or something. CRACKED.COM

Adam Sandler

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now HOW HOW I FEEL Adam Sandler Sandler's acting choices keep sending up mixed messages. 2002's Punch-Drunk Love proved he could do much more than just do silly voices, but then he returned to dumb, awful movies. Then he did Uncut Gems, and became respected once again. CRACKED.COM

Kristen Stewart

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Kristen Stewart Between the stiff acting and the series of romantic scandals, it was easy to dismiss Stewart as a mediocre trendy actress. But she soon learned to distrust the paparazzi industry, and more importantly, her talent became too amazing to ignore. CRACKED.COM

Robert Pattinson

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Robert Pattinson Today, all the sulking, glistening and silly, silly hair of Edward Cullen in Twilight have become a footnote in Pattinson's career (okay, a big footnote, but still), and he has proven his insane talent in movies like High Life, The Lighthouse, and The King. PO CRACKED.COM

Charlize Theron

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Charlize Theron After Monster showcased Theron's immense acting talent (and even gave her a Best Actress Oscar), she could do whatever she wanted, and nobody would ever consider her just a pretty face anymore. CRACKED.COM

Justin Timberlake

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Justin Timberlake It's interesting to note the artistic respect Timberlake earned in his post NSYNC career. The boy band was fun, but the poppy tunes and frosted tips did not make anyone take him seriously. CRACKED.COM

Pamela Anderson

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Pamela Anderson It has been hard for Anderson to be taken seriously, and the consent-assaulting sex tape definitely didn't help. Still, she has gained recognition for the political causes she's advocated for, and to anyone doubting she can actually act, just watch 2015's Connected. CRACKED.COM

Matthew McConaughey

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Matthew McConaughey McConaughey's name used to mean two things: shirtless abs and bland romcoms. Then a string of amazing performances arrived, including True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club, and suddenl he become an insanely talented Character Actor.™ CRACKED.COM

Natasha Lyonne

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Natasha Lyonne For a while we could have lost Lyonne, as she became a speedball addict (which is not as cool as it sounds). There were jokes about her being a train wreck, and now look at her. CRACKED.COM

Leonardo DiCaprio

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Leonardo DiCaprio DiCaprio was already showing insane talent in his early movies, but he developed a heartthrob image that many enjoyed dissing. Soon enough, though, Leo outgrew it and his talent became undoubtable. CRACKED.COM

Jonah Hill

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Jonah Hill Hill was hilarious in Superbad and such movies, but he had higher goals than being a clown. Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street transformed his career, and while he still does comedies, he got even more respect with his directorial debut, Mid90s. CRACKED.COM

Zac Efron

Punchline to Appreciated Then VS. Now M M U Zac Efron For a long time, Efron was just Troy from High School Musical. Не then tried to change his reputation with a string of raunchy comedies, but it was only that Ted Bundy movie (even as it was a total misstep) that showed he could actually act. CRACKED.COM

Miley Cyrus

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Miley Cyrus Cyrus is aware that Hannah Montana and her later hyper-sexualization were turns-offs for many. She's spent her post-twerking career mellowing out, doing much more mature and interesting pop music, and focusing on her philanthropic work. CRACKED.COM

Tom Cruise

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now P O Tom Cruise Cruise's talent was never really questioned, but his public persona turned him into a joke for a long time. Today, he seems to have chilled out (we hope), and so we're just left enjoying his legendary talent and insane commitment to mind-blowing action. CRACKED.COM

Jim Carrey

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Jim Carrey Carrey had nothing left to prove after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it was The Truman Show that changed everything. Before that movie, Carrey was just that guy the funny faces, and there was distrust that he could pull off a dramatic role. CRACKED.COM

Britney Spears

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Britney Spears South Park told us to stop messing with Britney, and we didn't listen. After her mental breakdown over the pressure, she spent years getting better and proving she wasn't the ditz we all assumed she was. CRACKED.COM

Justin Bieber

Punchline to Appreciated Then vs. Now Justin Bieber Alright, Bieber is not totally respected, but he's on the right track. By 2015 he was making much more interesting music, and 2020's Changes was another step in the right direction. Bieber still needs to find himself as an artist, but he'll get there. CRACKED.COM
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