These days, it feels like everything old is new again, especially when it comes to the 1980s. We have newer franchises like Stranger Things making the ‘80s look cooler than ever, even as we have modern-day iterations of throwback favorites like Ghostbusters, Transformers, and He-Man.
Some ‘80s stars like Winona Ryder have made the most of this cultural nostalgia, but others haven’t been so lucky. For example, Judge Reinhold was once a staple of 1980s movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Beverly Hills Cop. These days, though, if you see Reinhold in anything, it’s usually some sort of bottom-shelf film that went directly to DVD (or, more likely, direct to streaming).
Just what happened to Reinhold? Why do we never see this venerable ‘80s icon in anything good anymore? Keep reading to discover the answer!
Typecast early on
When you achieve early success as an actor, it can be something of a double-edged sword. For example, Reinhold was one of the best parts of Beverly Hills Cop. But it seems like Hollywood directors weren’t quite sure what to do with Reinhold if it wasn’t in a buddy-cop comedy.
In other words, Reinhold was typecast early on. And it doesn’t help that he seemed to embrace that typecasting, reprising his Beverly Hills Cop role in a failed TV show pilot. If the actor himself can’t move past his most iconic movie, it’s difficult to expect filmmakers and audiences to believe he can convincingly play other roles.
The pilot that could have been
We already touched on the fact that Judge Reinhold was part of a failed Beverly Hills Cop television pilot. To make matters worse, though, he starred in a different failed pilot that, if it had been picked up, might have permanently altered the course of his career.
The pilot in question was for North Hollywood, an early-2000s comedy created by quirky Hollywood tastemaker Judd Apatow. The metaseries featured Reinhold playing a washed-up version of himself (talk about familiar subject matter). Considering that the series had other big names attached like Seth Rogen and Kevin Hart, it’s fair to say that if ABC hadn’t passed on the series, Reinhold’s career would be quite different.
Little recognition among younger generations
The thing about worrying that you’re a washed-up actor is that it can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, Reinhold has had a number of projects that fizzled out, including a sitcom on The WB called The O’Keefes that only lasted five episodes. And without a successful new show or movie, Reinhold has little to no name recognition among younger generations.
For example, his Beverly Hills Cop costar Eddie Murphy has starred in several major films and TV shows over the years, helping him to reinvent himself for each new generation. Compared to that, the average Zoomer likely recognizes Reinhold as that one guy from his grandfather’s favorite movie…if he recognizes him at all.
Run-ins with the law
All things being equal, Hollywood producers and directors prefer to work with actors that are easygoing and who won’t disrupt film production. Unfortunately, after a run-in with the law in 2016, Judge Reinhold no longer appears to be such an actor.
That year, he got arrested at LAX for an incident involving the TSA. The famous actor kept screaming and cursing at the security agents, eventually going so far as to remove his shirt in his anger, all because he didn’t want to let the agents check his backpack.
Later, Reinhold claimed that he acted this way because of an unexpected reaction to a prescription. The irony is that if he was arrested for something mundane like drug possession, it wouldn’t have been seen as a big deal. But if Reinhold could angrily fly off the handle like this at any moment, it’s understandable if Hollywood executives don’t want him anywhere near their film set.
From cameos to sequels, his big comeback keeps getting delayed
Even though Judge Reinhold hasn’t been in many high-profile roles in recent years, he still pops up in surprising places. This included a fan-favorite cameo on Arrested Development in which he hosted a fake television show titled Mock Trial with J. Reinhold. In retrospect, having a memorable cameo appearance in one of the most popular television shows of all time could have opened the door for better opportunities, but Reinhold didn’t really do anything notable after this cameo, nor did he appear in the Netflix revival of this quirky comedy.
Fortunately, there’s always hope for the actor. There have been attempts to get a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie off the ground for a long time now, and even though nothing is currently scheduled and it seems to be lost in development hell, hope springs eternal. At this point, we can only imagine that Reinhold fantasizes about this sequel just as much and just as intensely as his onscreen counterpart in Fast Times at Ridgemont High fantasized about Phoebe Cates.