The 15 Most Successful Actresses of The 90s

Most Successful Actresses of The 90s

Most Successful Actresses of The 90s: In the course of film history, the roles of women have changed noticeably. Gone are the days when they were only allowed to serve the “Damsel in Distress” cliché or act as a decorative accessory for the radiant hero. Nowadays in particular, stripes with multi-layered, female figures in prominent positions are more popular than ever before. At the same time, this does not mean that it did not exist “back then”!

Most Successful Actresses of The 90s:

As early as the nineties, the leading women in the field were convincing in almost all common genres. Whether you hunted serial killers, disguised yourself as a nun, fought against aliens or turned Batman’s head:

We shed light on the work of 15 selected actresses who were able to shape the film decade with their roles!

1. Sandra Bullock

Sandra Annette Bullock was born in 1964 as the daughter of a German and an American. At the end of the eighties she moved to Los Angeles because of her career and initially held rather minor roles in various TV productions.

She played a main character for the first time in “Working Girl” (1990), although the television series proved to be short-lived with only twelve episodes. Bullock was then granted greater success on the big screen: after appearances in “Spurlos” (1993) or “The Thing called Love” (1993), she became known to a wider audience through “Demolition Man” (1993), where she Lt. Lenina Huxley portrayed at the side of Sylvester Stallone.

She benefited from the rejection of the actually cast Lori Petty, who was seen a little later with “Tank Girl” (1995) in another, action-packed future vision. Bullock also stayed true to the genre and celebrated her final breakthrough in Hollywood as a bus driver against her will in “Speed” (1994)! A sequel was less successful in 1997;

2. Meryl Streep

Like all of the ladies on this list, Meryl Streep was popular and successful in the nineties. At the same time, the American, born in 1949, is the only one who is regularly ennobled by film connoisseurs of all kinds as probably the best actress of our time!

If we were to look at the previous or following decade – the multiple Oscar winner would in all likelihood show up here as well. Since this list deals with the nineties, for example, “Death suits her” (1992): In the exaggerated comedy, Streep demonstrated her versatility at the side of Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, while “The Bridges on the River “(1995) by director and co-actor Clint Eastwood when it appeared was celebrated as her successful return to drama. In addition to her role in the family drama “Marvin’s Daughters” (1996), “Music of the Heart” (1999) also earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

For the biography of the violin teacher Roberta Guaspar, Meryl Streep learned how to use the demanding instrument; This is certainly one of the reasons why the Academy once again considered her in the “Best Lead Actress” category.

3. Jodie Foster

Practice early: after advertising deals and television appearances as a child, Alicia Christian Foster, born in 1962, was already in front of the camera for the later director legend Martin Scorcese at the age of twelve.

In addition to “Alice doesn’t live here anymore” (1974), it was in particular her second collaboration “Taxi Driver” (1976) that helped Foster achieve worldwide fame and an Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actress” through her role as an underage prostitute. After she actually took the trophy almost a decade and a half later for her leading role in “Angeklagt” (1988), she expanded her creative spectrum at the beginning of the nineties: “The child prodigy Tate” (1991) was Jodie Foster’s debut as a director.

As a milestone In the same year, the crime thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” proved to be in her career. which won both her and her co-star Anthony Hopkins the prestigious Academy Award. At least there was a nomination for the drama “Nell” (1994), while with “Maverick” (1994) on the side of Mel Gibson or the Carl Sagan adaptation “Contact” (1997) she also worked on comedies, respectivelyHas tried science fiction films.

4. Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver was actually born in 1949 as Susan Alexandra Weaver, but she was already inspired by a character from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” when she was a teenager.

At the beginning of the nineties, Weaver had long been a fixture in Hollywood and was generally considered the first female action star, which she owed in particular to her iconic appearances as Lieutenant Ellen Ripley in “Alien” (1979) and “Aliens” (1986). In 1993 (“Alien 3”) as well as 1997 (“Alien – The Rebirth”) she played her star role again, while “Galaxy Quest” (1999) with Tim Allen and Alan Rickman a comedic meta-view of the so familiar science Fiction genre has opened.

In addition, Weaver was in the nineties in the period film “1492 – Die Eroberung des Paradies” (1992), the political comedy “Dave” (1993), the thriller “Copycat” (1995) or in Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm” ( 1997) can be seen; for the latter film, the actress, who is also valued on the theater stage, was honored with the BAFTA Award.

5. Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Marie Pfeiffer, born in 1958, experienced her first major career high point in the nineties: for her role as nightclub singer Susie Diamond in “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (1989), the American was honored with a Golden Globe and in 1990 for one Academy Award nominated.

A little later, thanks to the drama “Love Field” (1993), she was again shortlisted for both awards, but in both cases she had to admit defeat to Emma Thompson. In between, Pfeiffer slipped into the skin-tight costume of Catwoman for Tim Burton’s DC comic adaptation “Batman’s Return” (1992) and had a lasting impact on the character’s portrayal. In the course of the nineties she was also in the literary adaptation “Time of Innocence” (1993),

She also appeared in the music video for the extremely successful title song “Gangster’s Paradise” by rapper Coolio. Theoretically, Pfeiffer’s filmography could contain other classics of the decade – but she turned down the female lead roles in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and “Basic Instinct” (1992), from which other women also represented on this list should benefit significantly.

6. Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar, born in New York in 1977, was particularly popular with the younger target group of the nineties: After gaining her first media experience as a child through commercials for Burger King or Lee Jeans, she was part of the cast between 1993 and 1995 long-lasting US soap opera “All my Children”. This engagement brought her in turn the lead role in the fantasy series “Buffy – The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), invented by Joss Whedon, where she played the eponymous vampire hunter Buffy Summers in a total of 144 episodes.

On the big screen, she celebrated her first commercial success with the horror film “I know what you did last summer” (1997), which was not only enriching for Gellar on a professional level: on the set she met Freddie Prinze Jr. who she married in 2002. With her participation in “Scream 2” (1997), she initially remained loyal to the horror genre, which was trendy at the time, before she embodied a scheming and unscrupulous stepsister from elegant circles in the drama “Eiskalte Engel” (1999).

7. Julia Roberts

Julia Fiona Roberts, who was born in 1967, was, so to speak, born in the cradle – after all, she was able to fall back on the services of her parents’ drama school at a young age. For a long time Roberts was probably the most popular actress on the planet, which she owes in particular to her work in the nineties!

She started the decade brilliantly with “Pretty Woman” (1990), which made her a world-famous star. For her role as prostitute Vivian, she received both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination in the “Best Actress” category. Roberts then covered different genres: Directed by Steven Spielberg, she starred in the fantasy film “Hook” (1991), while “The Nudes” (1993) she starred in a thriller and “Prêt-à-Porter” (1994) in a fashion -Satire showed.

After some films from the mid-nineties were less successful, Roberts achieved several box office hits in a row, particularly with romantic comedies such as “The Wedding of My Best Friend” (1997), “Notting Hill” (1999) and “The Bride Who Doesn’t Dare” (1999) ,

8. Jennifer Aniston

The career of Jennifer Joanna Aniston, who saw the light of day in 1969, took off slowly at the beginning of the decade, to say the least: A TV adaptation of the hit movie “Ferris macht blau” (1986) was discontinued in 1990 after only 13 episodes during it “Muddling Through” (1994) only lasted ten episodes on the air. Even on the big screen, Aniston was initially not granted a sense of achievement – her first leading role in “Leprechaun – The Killer Goblin” (1993) attracted little attention.

In the meantime, she gave up the idea of ​​quitting acting in favor of an audition that would change her life: “Friends” was launched in 1994 and established itself as the most successful comedy series of its time, which in addition to Aniston also co-stars Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry became world famous.

The pop-cultural influence of the show ensured, among other things, that the hairstyle of Aniston’s series character as “The Rachel” became a popular cut when visiting the hairdresser. The Los Angeles-born actress didn’t win awards for “Friends” until the next decade, when she was honored with both an Emmy (2002) and a Golden Globe (2003) for her by far most popular role.

9. Sharon Stone

Sharon Vonne Stone was born in 1958 and mostly made small guest appearances in television series and movies in the course of the eighties, before her breakthrough at the beginning of the following decade: In the future vision “Total Recall” (1990) she played the supposed wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s main character . The director responsible for the film Paul Verhoeven then engaged Stone for her most successful production, the erotic thriller “Basic Instinct” (1992). Much discussed – and parodied – was particularly the interrogation scene, in which her character Catherine Tramell really lets look deep.

For her portrayal of the opaque femme fatale, she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Golden Raspberry! Critics, however, were unanimous regarding their performance in Martin Scorceses “Casino” (1995): In the second attempt Stone was able to claim the coveted Golden Globe and also received an Oscar nomination for “Best Actress”. In addition, Stone was seen in the western “Faster than Death” (1995), the film adaptation of the novel “The Mighty” (1998) or in the comedy “The Muse” (1999).

10. Meg Ryan

Her somewhat awkward real name – Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra – was shortened by this US actress, who was born in 1961, in the interests of simplicity; she borrowed the “Ryan” from her grandmother’s maiden name. After she drew attention to herself with a supporting role in the eighties cult film “Top Gun” (1986), the romantic comedy “Harry and Sally” (1989) turned out to be a groundbreaking milestone in her career: In the nineties it was probably the most popular option for them female lead when studios wanted to stage a witty romance.

Together with Tom Hanks, Ryan played corresponding roles in both “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) and “em @ il for you” (1998), while “French Kiss” (1995) with Kevin Kline or “IQ – love is relative “Struck in a similar notch stylistically. On the other hand, she was also seen in the musician’s biography “The Doors” (1991) or in dramas such as “Courage to Truth” (1996) with Denzel Washington and “City of Angels” (1998) alongside Nicolas Cage.

11. Rene Russo

After Rene Marie Russo, born in 1954, was initially successful as a model in the fashion industry in the seventies, she changed her subject relatively late at the age of 35 and appeared on the big screen for the first time in the baseball film “The Indians of Cleveland”.

In the nineties she was not only seen in the associated sequel from 1994, but also in a number of action-oriented films: Both in two parts of the “Leathal Weapon” series (1992 and 1998) and in the hugely successful kidnapping She played the thriller “Kopfgeld” (1996) alongside Mel Gibson, while the German director Wolfgang Petersen after “In the Line of Fire” (1992) also played her for the disaster film”Outbreak – Silent Killer” (1995) engaged. In addition, Russo was represented in productions with a comedic twist by roles in “Snap Shorty” (1995) and “Tin Cup” (1996).

Her last film in the 1990s was a remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999), in which the then James Bond mime Pierce Brosnan played the title role of the wealthy art thief.

12. Whoopi Goldberg

Born in 1955 as Caryn Elaine Johnson, the actress was tempted to use her unusual stage name because of her tendency towards flatulence. Her career, on the other hand, is certainly not a breeze: Goldberg had already shot various successful comedies in the eighties and received an Oscar nomination for “The Color Purple” (1985).

Right at the beginning of the nineties, she finally received the coveted Academy Award for her supporting role in “Ghost – Message from Sam” (1990)! She was also awarded the Golden Globe for her part in the extremely lucrative fantasy thriller with Patrick Swayze. Only a little later, Goldberg was able to consolidate her status through her most popular role: In “Sister Act – Eine himmlische Karriere” (1992) she played Deloris van Cartier, who ends up in a monastery to protect witnesses and disguises it as Sister Mary Clarence.

The successful film was followed by a sequel (1994) and its own musical, which Goldberg co-produced. In addition, she was part of the “Star Trek” universe, where she could be found as Guinan between 1988 and 1994 at the bar of the famous Enterprise.

13. Winona Ryder

Winona Laura Horowitz was born in 1971 and made her cinema debut as a teenager in the tragic comedy “Lucas” (1986). For her stage name, she was inspired by the American musician Mitch Ryder, who was very much appreciated by her father.

A larger audience first noticed her with “Beetlejuice” (1988), which became a cult film and prompted director Tim Burton to cast Ryder for “Edward Scissorhands” (1990). The imaginative tragic comedy starring Johnny Depp became an international success, while “Mermaids You Don’t Kiss” (1990) made Ryder’s first Golden Globe nomination a little later.

With “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992) she initially stayed with somber material before winning an Oscar for her roles in the novel “The Time of Innocence” (1993) as well as in the drama “Betty and Her Sisters” (1994) was nominated. In the second half of the nineties Ryder played alongside Sigourney Weaver in “Alien – Die Wiedergeburt” (1997) and the co-produced by her “Durchgeknallt” (1999).

14. Nicole Kidman

Born in 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nicole Mary Kidman and her family moved to Australia at a young age, where she rose to become a film and TV star in the early eighties. Her portrayal in “Todesstille” (1989), which, according to legend, also caught Tom Cruise’s eye: the star of “Tage des Donners” (1990) is said to have campaigned personally for her cast in sports drama – a commitment which culminated in the later wedding of the two film stars.

Shortly thereafter, Kidman was considered for the first time for a Golden Globe for her role in the gangster film “Billy Bathgate” (1991) as “Best Supporting Actress”. With the second nomination, this time for her leading role in the black comedy “To Die For” (1995), she finally left the award ceremony! Other notable productions from the nineties are the comic adaptation “Batman Forever” (1995), the action flick “Project: Peacemaker” (1997) or – at the side of her husband Tom Cruise – the erotic thriller “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), which should also be the last completed film of the legendary director Stanley Kubrick.

15. Cameron Diaz

Who dares wins: Cameron Michelle Diaz saw the light of day in the US-American California and grew up there before she embarked on a career as a model in adolescence and lived in various countries.

Without any acting experience, she auditioned on the recommendation of her agency for a casting for “The Mask” (1994) and landed the role alongside Jim Carrey to her own surprise. Building on this, Diaz was mainly seen in other comedies in the following years; for example in “Kopf über Wasser” (1996), “Better to live unusually” (1997) or “The wedding of my best friend” (1997) alongside Julia Roberts.

The most successful production of this phase, however, is “Crazy About Mary”, in which Diaz took on the role of the title character who was courted by several men. For her part in the worldwide box office hit, she also received her first Golden Globe nomination. She then focused on somewhat demanding roles and won over critics in both the football drama “Every Damned Sunday” (1999) and “Being John Malkovich” (1999), thanks to which Diaz was again shortlisted for the Golden Globe -Jury arrived.


As in most cases, we did not base this list solely on the commercial success of the actresses mentioned. Likewise, for example, the pop culture status of individual actresses or the playing of devoted fan communities have had an impact on one or the other placement.

If you would still like to follow the trail of money, you shouldn’t go away completely empty-handed at this point: “Ghost – Message from Sam” (12th place) and “Pretty Woman” (19th place) are the only films represented here that go with the The 20 biggest blockbusters of the decade are counting. It is therefore not surprising that Whoopi Goldberg and Julia Roberts (places 6 and 7) were the only two women who managed to crack the top ten box office magnets of the nineties, as led by Samuel L. Jackson!


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