Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis was celebrated for her roles in iconic feminist movies in
the early '90s, but these days, she's known for a disappointing TV comeback and a random
attempt at making the Olympics.
What's kept Davis out of the spotlight for so long?
Here's a look at what happened and the exciting projects that may finally bring her back.
Commander in brief
Davis staged a full-fledged comeback in 2005 when she landed the lead role on the ABC political
drama Commander in Chief, playing America's first female President.
Although the show debuted to strong ratings and won Davis a slew of awards and nominations,
including a Golden Globe, its success was relatively short-lived.
Amid sagging ratings, ABC pulled the series after just one season.
Speaking to Vulture in 2016, Davis admitted she was "devastated" by the show's cancellation,
saying, "I still haven't gotten over it.
I really wanted it to work."
Davis' previous attempt at television, The Geena Davis Show, was also canceled by ABC
after one season.
Davis' attempts to salvage her career on the small screen may have been prompted by a disastrous
run at the box office during the mid-to-late '90s.
After a string of successful hits, including The Accidental Tourist, Thelma & Louise and
A League of Their Own, Davis' stock unexpectedly plummeted when she made two back-to-back movies
with her then-husband, Renny Harlin.
The first was 1995's jaw-droppingly bad Cutthroat Island, which bombed so hard at the box office,
it remains one of Hollywood's most unsuccessful movies.
"I hope the lady is prepared to be a good loser."
"What gave you the idea I was a lady?"
Then came another underwhelming action thriller, 1996's The Long Kiss Goodnight, which recovered
less than half its budget domestically, amid mixed-to-positive reviews.
The one-two punch preceded a series of blows in Davis' personal life.
She divorced Harlin in 1998, then took an "unusually long" two years off to reflect
on her career, according to the New York Times.
She became picky
Davis told Vulture in 2016 that she got far more selective once she hit her 40s, noting
that she only made one film in that decade of her life, 1999's Stuart Little.
"George, this is Stuart, your new brother."
Davis said the right parts just weren't coming along: "I was getting offers, but for nothing
meaty or interesting like in my 30s.
I'd been completely ruined and spoiled."
After what the the New York Times described as a "difficult divorce" from Harlin, Davis'
personal life bounced back in a really positive way.
In 2001, she married neurosurgeon Reza Jarrahy.
Less than three years later, by age 48, she had given birth to three children, including
For most actors in Hollywood, having three kids that quickly would be enough to take
some much-deserved time off.
However, in her interview with Vulture, Davis insisted the two things were never related:
"A lot people leapt to that conclusion because becoming a parent happened to coincide with
film roles tapering off.
When I made Commander in Chief, I had three children under 3 years old.
If I was really going to take time off from working, I think it would have been then."
Davis shocked everyone in 1999 when it was revealed that she was competing for a spot
on the U.S. archery team for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Davis—who took up the sport about two years prior—did not make the team, but she finished
in 24th place in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Davis still considers her training to be a positive experience, saying,
"It was the most out-of-body experience I've ever had,"
"It was fabulous.
I will never forget about it."
Davis even joked about her archery skills in a 2013 Funny or Die video …
"I was in a League of Their Own.
As an archer, I'm in a class of my own."
Starting an institute
You may see less of Davis on the big screen these days, but she's still making an impact
on the industry.
In 2004, Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a "research-based organization
working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence
content creators, marketers and audiences about the importance of eliminating unconditional
bias, highlighting gender balance, [and] challenging stereotypes."
According to the Observer, Davis created the institute after noticing the lack of female
roles in children's TV shows and movies she watched with her daughter.
The organization has been a huge success thus far, launching numerous studies and even its
own film festival.
For Davis and TV, the third time is proving to be the charm.
In the fall of 2016, the actress starred in a TV reboot of the classic horror movie The
Exorcist on Fox.
Davis plays Angela Rance, a similar role to the one Ellen Burstyn played in the original
Despite disappointing ratings, Fox wound up renewing the show for a second season, reportedly
because executives are big fans of the show.
Davis won't appear as a series regular, but she helped set the stage for what's ahead.
Davis also has two movies in the pipeline, including Marjorie Prime, in which she co-stars
alongside Jon Hamm and Tim Robbins.
Does this signal the Geena Davis revival fans have been craving for years?
Whatever happens, we're just happy to have her back in action.
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