Cameron Diaz burst onto the scene in 1994, opposite Jim Carrey in “The Mask.” Although Carrey was a newly minted Hollywood star, Diaz still shined and held her own opposite the actor’s trademark over-the-top antics. Four years later she was given her first real chance to open a movie where she was more than a supporting player and she hasn’t looked back since. This weekend Diaz returns to her raunchy comedic roots with “Bad Teacher,” and despite a few high profile recent misfires, there’s just something special about this talented actress that has made her a household name.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Total USA Earnings: $126 million
Anyone can tell you it’s not easy going toe-to-toe with Jim Carrey. In fact unless you’re a kid or an animal you don’t really stand much of a chance. So when Diaz was able to make an impression in what was her big screen debut, people took notice. Although her feet were soon quickly put to the fire once again in her second major role as her co-star was none other than “America’s Sweetheart” Julia Roberts. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was a box office hit and even topped her previous opening, but while Diaz continued to hold her own, her most important test was still ahead.
There’s Something About Mary (1998)
Total USA Earnings: $176 million
Just one summer later, Diaz was again put front and center starring opposite Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon. The film was “There’s Something About Mary” and it was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, who themselves were relative newcomers. Just like Diaz, the pair had also hit it big with Jim Carrey and their movie “Dumb & Dumber” was one of the year’s highest performing. The success continued with “Mary” as it went on to earn $176 million, which to this day remains Diaz’s most profitable movie to date outside of the “Shrek” franchise.
Charlie’s Angels (2000)/Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
Total USA Earnings: $125 million/$100 million
While the comedy also succeeded in giving new meaning to “hair gel”, it more importantly set Diaz up to bring one of TV’s most iconic groups to the big screen. Along with Drew Barrymore and Lucy Lui, “Charlie’s Angels” successfully transitioned to the world of film. Granted despite a strong opening for the original, the sequel tanked.
Shrek (2001) / Shrek 2 (2004) /Shrek The Third (2007) / Shrek Forever After (2010)
Total USA Earnings: $267 million/ $441 million/ $332 million/ $238 million
In fact it wasn’t long before her other major franchise began to decline as well. While Diaz had been lucky enough to snag a key role in Dreamwork’s “Shrek” franchise, the film’s box office receipts would eventually begin to decline; hitting their peak with 2004’s “Shrek 2.” Although despite the downward turn, the fractured fairytale co- starring Mike Meyers is still one of the most successful series in film history, having spawned three sequels, two TV specials and a very loyal following of fans. No matter how it performed, “Shrek” still kept the actress in the spotlight and continued to help net her new roles.
The Green Hornet (2011)
Total USA Earnings: $98 million
Although most of those roles during that period weren’t as successful as the ones she used to start her career. While she was able to succeed with movies like “Vanilla Sky” & “Gangs of New York,” she also had her share of flops including “In Her Shoes,” “The Holiday,” “The Box,” and most recently 2010’s “Knight & Day,” her second partnership with Tom Cruise.
Despite it all though, Diaz still gives every movie she’s a solid chance to succeed. Earlier in the year she starred in “The Green Hornet,” which with $98 million isn’t really considered a full fledge blockbuster, but still a promising sign that actress could be set to return to her peak. In fact that that $98 million is the highest grossing (non-franchise) film Diaz has had since “Sky.”
It also helps bring us full circle to this weekend, where Diaz will team with two of Hollywood’s brightest young actors in Jason Segal and Justin Timberlake. Could the actress be ready for a comeback or did she really never go away in the first place? Regardless, “Bad Teacher,” may play a major role in helping the box office re-gain its momentum and help Diaz re-ignite her hit streak.
“Bad Teacher” is now in theaters.