Back in the mid-2000s, Jessica Alba seemed poised for superstardom. She was unequivocally gorgeous onscreen, even in unforgiving superhero spandex. She’d proven her range with an attention-getting role in the gritty prestige flick Sin City, and she took approximately five minutes to bounce back into camera-ready condition after giving birth to her daughter, which has to be some kind of record. Yet by 2010, Alba had all but disappeared from Hollywood. Here’s why.
She had trouble landing great leading roles
Hollywood hasn’t always had the greatest track record when it comes to casting diversity, so you’ll be saddened but probably not shocked to learn that Jessica Alba, despite being a serious beauty, was limited in her choice of roles by her not-so-white-bread appearance.
“They couldn’t figure out my ethnicity, so I would always go up for ‘exotic,'” she explained in a recent interview. And while Alba thinks the current crop of mega-stars of all different skin tones has changed that state of affairs for the better, she faced an uphill battle to be considered for the kind of meaty, challenging roles that earn accolades and launch careers.
Nobody remembers her movies
Instead of having multiple mega-hits under her belt, Jessica Alba’s biggest claim to fame is probably her role in the first Sin City film, which found her sharing the screen with a huge ensemble cast that included mega-stars like Bruce Willis and Clive Owen. And while Alba held her own, people don’t really remember her—possibly because they were too distracted by Nick Stahl’s very disturbing attention-grabbing performance as a serial killer with skin the color of radioactive pee. Can you remember anything else she’s been in? Oh yeah, there was that whole superhero thing…
Her Marvel movies were an embarrassment
At a time when the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest sources of employment in Hollywood, the publisher’s properties are still strangely a hit-or-miss venture when it comes to reliably increasing an actor’s star power, especially when they’re controlled by other studios. Some stars, like Scarlett Johansson, have struck career gold in the superhero market, but Alba had the particular bad luck to be involved in the one Marvel story nobody can get right. Fox’s 2005 Fantastic Four, in which Alba played Sue Storm, at least got a sequel, but that doesn’t mean it was good. Ever since, Alba has been stuck with the decidedly un-marvelous memory of a superhero franchise so bad it almost made her quit the biz.
She hasn’t headlined a project in years
Despite her solid status as a Hollywood It Girl in the early 2000s, Jessica Alba has confined her work almost exclusively to bit parts in the last decade. She hasn’t had meaningful top billing since 2008, when she starred in the remake of the J-horror flick The Eye. And these days, her roles are so teensy that she doesn’t even make it to the poster. Of course, it’s Alba’s choice to play small parts in indie films and skip the promotional circus, but it’s made her virtually invisible in the industry, even if she’s technically still working.
She makes a lot of bombs
There may also be another reason for Jessica Alba’s lack of visibility in her recent roles: she’d rather not be associated with a string of cinematic disasters. Take her most recent movie, Mechanic: Resurrection, which was supposed to be a reinvigoration of a tried-and-true franchise with the ever-popular Jason Statham. It currently holds a dismal 28 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And when she jumped back on the Sin City train in the 2014 sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, her performance didn’t get the attention she wanted.