Dermatology comeback:
Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children”

On the silver screen, looks can define a career.  It can giveth, taketh away, and in the case of  Jackie Earle Haley, giveth again.  If this actor’s name doesn’t ring a bell, his iconic face might.  As the cocky thuglet who won Tatum O’Neal’s tween heart and took his little league team to new heights in “The Bad News Bears,” Haley portrayed a young punk to admire.  His clear complexion and rakish freckles led to further roles in the underdog bicycling flick “Breaking Away” and even starring alongside superstar-to-be Tom Cruise in the naughty comedy “Losin’ It.”

While Haley's career was "Breaking Away," the actor's complexion was breaking out.

But while Cruise cruised to leading man status, Haley’s career was derailed by an epidemic adolescent affliction: Acne.  During “Breaking Away,” he started breaking out, big time. The flares of inflamed cysts resulted in deep acne scars. This scarring, coupled with premature hair loss, seemed to mark an end to Haley’s big screen acclaim. 

Fortunately for Haley, Hollywood also has room for bald, acne-scarred roles. In the drama "Little Children," he doesn't play the romantic lead, but is instead cast as a self-mutilating pedophile.  Hey, it's work. Though his character perpetuates the standard skinematic cliché, that bad skin signifies evil, Haley delivers a powerful and well rounded performance.  His character is unpleasant, yet still evokes the viewer's sympathy.  We will never know how aggressive treatment of Haley’s acne may have altered his career, but in “Little Children,” he rises above his dermatologic defects.

Runner-up, dermatology comeback:

Sylvester Stallone as "Rocky Balboa"

Rocky 1976, new skin
Rocky 2006, not-so-new skin

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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