bouncing back | 

A-listers from Nicolas Cage to Hugh Grant prove the door is always open for a celeb comeback

There is always a second chance when it comes to being famous

Esther McCarthy

Nicolas Cage is receiving some of the best reviews of his career for his new movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - in which he plays a washed-up actor called Nick Cage.

The meta movie marks an extraordinary comeback for the star, who turned to straight-to-video movies after losing his $150 million fortune in squandered property deals and high spending, amid high-profile flops.

Cage is set to enjoy a career resurgence - but he isn't the first star to return to the top of his game following seemingly impossible challenges.

Nicolas Cage (Ian West/PA)

Hugh Grant

Grant was at the peak of his fame and Hollywood hot on the success of Four Weddings and a Funeral when he experienced a very public humiliation.

In the era before sex tapes, news of being caught in the company of prostitute Divine Brown was a very big deal and, sure enough, the story made headlines worldwide.

Hugh Grant

His mugshot was published everywhere while Grant was also the punchline for jokes on comedy and talk shows.

It could have ended his fledgling career, but the actor managed to come back from his public fall from grace and went on to star in several more hits including Bridget Jones' Diary.

Tiger Woods

He's well used to talk of his very public marriage break-up, but in recent weeks Woods has again shown why he's golf's comeback king.

The sports star revealed that he was lucky to be alive following a serious road traffic accident in California last year.

He underwent surgery for multiple leg injuries but returned to play at Augusta in what he regards as his greatest comeback.

Tiger Woods

"I wasn't exactly playing my best out there, but just to have the support out there and the appreciation from all the fans, I don't think words can really describe it, given where I was a little over a year ago, and what my prospects were at that time," an emotional Woods said later.

Robert Downey JR

Downey is one of the world's biggest stars thanks to Iron Man, but in the late 1990s, the actor was truly struggling. In 1996, he made headlines when police stopped him for speeding and found cocaine and heroin in his car.

That same year, he was hospitalised when his neighbours found him passed out in their home.

Robert Downey Jr

A few years later, he ended up in prison when he was found to have violated his probation. But after a stint at rehab, the star managed to transform his life and become the charismatic movie star he is today.

Jonjo O'Neill

The much-admired jockey has made one of the most courageous comebacks in the history of Irish sport. After suffering serious injuries in 1975 and 1980, Jonjo returned to the horse racing that was his passion. He bounced back from almost losing his leg to win the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup on Dawn Run.

Jonjo would later be diagnosed with cancer but recovered to return to the sport he loves, this time as a successful trainer.

Colin Farrell

He's now one of our biggest exports, but for a time in the mid-noughties Colin Farrell looked in serious danger of going off the rails. Tales of wild living and boozing were in the media, as well as a rumoured fling with then pop princess Britney Spears.

Then there was the public embarrassment when a sex tape emerged on the internet in 2005 despite his legal efforts to prevent its release.

Colin and Britney have both seen the highs and lows of stardom

After wrapping Miami Vice later that year, Farrell checked into rehab - and later won even more public support by acknowledging his difficulties. "I've always had a propensity towards addiction.

"But then two weeks into rehab I was like why the f*** am I fighting so hard to keep this thing in my life?" he later told Gay Byrne. His first movie back after rehab was In Bruges, which won him a Golden Globe, with many more hits since.

Britney Spears

Speaking of Britney, the star is enjoying a comeback before our very eyes following a tumultuous period in her life. Following her successful actions to end years of conservatorship at the hands of her father, Britney is embracing her long-fought-for independence.

She's also revealed that she's setting her sights on releasing new music she's been working on this year.

It's set to mark an extraordinary comeback following years of difficulties when her rights were taken away following a public meltdown in 2008.

Winona Ryder

She shot to fame as one of cinema's most iconic young stars. But Winona Ryder experienced a huge public humiliation and fall from grace when footage of her shoplifting at posh US store Saks Fifth Avenue emerged in 2001.

The story made headlines all over the world and she was subsequently found guilty of grand theft and vandalism.

Winona Ryder (Yui Mok/PA)

When Ryder disappeared from the public eye, it was assumed her career was over. In fact, she had moved back to San Francisco by choice ("I just had other interests, frankly").

Years later, she staged a successful comeback with a memorable role in Black Swan as well as TV shows, and now plays Joyce Byers in Stranger Things. But she doesn't allow herself to get caught up in fame. "You can't look to the industry to validate you as a person, because that can just lead to incredible disappointment."

Monica Lewinsky

She was humiliated and shamed in the most public of ways when news emerged that she was having an affair as a young Whitehouse intern with then-president Bill Clinton.

The revelation by Linda Tripp in 1996 would have broken another young trainee as she became the punchline for talkshow hosts the world over. Lewinsky (pictured left) tried for years to stay out of the limelight and took a degree in an effort to rebuild her life.

In 2014, she decided enough was enough and returned to the public domain, as she put it: "To take back my narrative, burn the beret and bury the blue dress, and give a purpose to my past".

She returned to the limelight by writing the essay 'Shame and Survival' for Vanity Fair magazine.

Monica Lewinsky at the premiere of her TV series Impeachment. Photo: Getty Images

Most recently she was involved in the American Crime Story anthology series, Impeachment. "When you have made a colossal mistake like I did so early in your life, and lost so much because of it, the idea of making a mistake is catastrophic," she said last year.

"And yet in order to move forward I have to take risks. I have to try things. I have to continue to define who I am."

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