In the mid to late ’90s, Neve Campbell was one of Hollywood’s hottest properties: A TV starlet who had successfully made the jump to big-screen blockbusters.
For a while, she was everywhere: As Julia Salinger on “Party of Five,” the TV drama that made her a star. As a teen queen leading lady in hits like “The Craft,” “Wild Things” and the inescapable “Scream” franchise.
And then, seemingly just as quickly, she was gone.
Granted, Campbell didn’t disappear from Hollywood — her IMDB page shows she had 11 film credits between 2000’s “Scream 3” and 2011’s “Scream 4,” likely the first time many viewers will have seen her on screen for a decade — but the big-name roles had dried up.
Bit parts in TV shows like “Medium” and “Grey’s Anatomy” kept her somewhat visible, and a 26-episode stint as LeeAnn Harvey on “House of Cards” brought her back as a series regular for the first time since “Party of Five” ended 16 years earlier.
During that time, the Canadian-born star, who divorced her first husband of three years in 1998, married English actor John Light, living for five years in London and acting on the West End. Campbell filed for divorce in 2010, and now has two children with partner, actor JJ Feild.
Campbell, now 44, is enjoying renewed attention playing Dwayne Johnson’s wife in the big fun blockbuster “Skyscraper,” out in cinemas this week. The actor has hit the publicity trail for the film, and questions about her Hollywood absence have been put to her several times.
“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert put the question to Campbell when she appeared on his show this week.
“Everyone knows you from ‘Party Of Five,’ ‘The Craft,’ four ‘Scream’ movies, Season 4 of ‘House of Cards.’ Ten years ago, you had the world on a string,” Colbert told her, kindly shaving a decade off the time passed since her initial heyday.
“Cover of Rolling Stone, hosting ‘Saturday Night Live.’ And then you left! You went to London. Why don’t you like us, Neve Campbell? Why did you leave America?” he asked her.
“I just needed a minute,” Campbell told the host. “It was a long minute. It was a good minute.”
Campbell explained that, after making a string of less-than-great films in the early ’90s just to keep working, she slowed down about a decade ago and started to be more selective with her roles.
“In my twenties, it all hit so fast and so big that it was a little overwhelming — wonderful, obviously, and I’m very grateful for it. But it got to a level also where the kinds of things that I was being offered were not the kinds of things I want to do,” she said.
“I was constantly being offered horror films, because I was known for horror films. Or bad romantic comedies. I just wasn’t interested in the scripts and I was feeling a bit unhappy with the things that were coming to me. And I was feeling a little bored with the whole thing. I thought, ‘I want a change.’ So, I moved to London.”
A one point a household name in America, Campbell said she relished the relative anonymity of living in the UK.
“I literally did not get bothered once! People would ask me what I did for a living. I’d say, ‘I act,’ and they’d say, ‘Oh, OK’. It was so lovely!”
No word yet on whether Campbell’s appearance in “Skyscraper” will signal a return to her blockbuster days — she’ll next be seen alongside Steve Coogan in the indie drama “Hot Air.”