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Thirteen(ish) actors who left a film franchise and then returned


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Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998)
Directed by Steve Miner
Years Between Appearances: 17

Laurie Strode’s battle with her evil brother Michael Myers was supposed to end with “Halloween II” in 1981. “Halloween III” had an all-new storyline, but that didn’t go over too well with audiences, so “Halloween 4” resurrected Myers and sent him searching for Strode’s daughter Jamie. Myers and Jamie battled for a couple of movies, but the franchise got a big boost a few entries later when Jamie Lee Curtis agreed to reprise the role of Laurie in “H20: 20 Years Later.” Curtis even stuck around long enough to provide a brief supporting turn in the “H20” follow-up, “Halloween: Resurrection,” the last in the series’ original incarnation before the whole thing was resurrected, with Scout Taylor-Compton in Curtis’ role, by writer/director Rob Zombie.

Robin Williams in “Aladdin and the King of Thieves” (1996)
Directed by Tad Stones
Years Between Appearances: 4

Williams got into a major fight with Disney over their use of his likeness in the promotion of the first “Aladdin.” He’d agreed to play the film’s wise-cracking Genie on the condition that they wouldn’t exploit his name for marketing purposes. Then Williams turned out to be the best part of “Aladdin” and they exploited his name for marketing purposes. You ain’t never had a friend like the Genie — but you ain’t never made an enemy like Robin Williams! That meant Williams wanted nothing to do with 1994’s “The Return of Jafar” or a subsequent animated television series. But after Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg left the company, Williams got back into the voiceover booth for 1996’s “King of Thieves.” Katzenberg’s replacement, Joe Roth, didn’t even need to rub a magic lamp to make it happen. All it took was a public apology — and a hefty paycheck.

Sam Neill in “Jurassic Park III” (2001)
Directed by Joe Johnston
Years Between Appearances: 8

The first “Jurassic Park” sequel, “The Lost World,” followed Jeff Goldblum’s snarky mathematician Ian Malcolm. The second — and, to date, final — “Jurassic Park” sequel returned the focus to the series’ original protagonist, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Neill), as he led an expedition back to Isla Sorna in search of a rich couple’s missing son. Neill wasn’t the only original “Jurassic Park” actor to return to the fold either; Laura Dern, who previously played Grant’s girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler, also appeared in a small but crucial role. Every few months, it seems, rumors bubble up about a possible “Jurassic Park IV” and which characters may or may not reappear. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Wayne Knight’s Dennis Nedry gets to take command of this one.

John Franklin in “Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return” (1999)
Directed by Kari Skogland
Years Between Appearances: 15

You might think after 15 years you’d be a little too old to play a “child” of the corn again. You’d be wrong! In fact, actor John Franklin was probably too old to play a child in the first “Children of the Corn;” he was already in his mid-twenties in 1984 (a hormonal disorder made him look younger than his age). By the time he returned to the series five films later, he was already pushing 40. But in some ways that makes his performance even more effective. In “666,” he has the wrinkles of a middle-aged man and the physical stature of a boy. Creeeeeeeeeepy.

Cary Elwes in “Saw 3D” (2010)
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Years Between Appearances: 6

Cary Elwes, the dashing star of sprightly comedic adventure films like “The Princess Bride” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” always seemed like an odd fit for the dour gore-isthenics of the “Saw” series, which is probably one reason why he was so effectively surprising in the first film. That movie left his character’s fate uncertain and it took six “Saw”s in six years before we finally learned that Dr. Lawrence Gordon had indeed survived his ordeal with the Jigsaw Killer. In the series’ final installment, Elwes returned as Gordon, older, wiser, and a whole lot meaner. The Dread Pirate Roberts had nothing on this guy.

The Cast of “American Reunion” (2012)
Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Years Between Appearances: Various (but at least 9)

After three films in the late ’90s and early ’00s, the original “American Pie” cast had outgrown their roles. After all, the “Pie”s were about the awkward sexual encounters of horny teenagers, and after the characters graduated from college and got married in “American Wedding,” there was a bit of a disconnect between the actors and the franchise’s target audience. In the following years, “American Pie” became the brand of direct-to-video gross-out comedies. But in less than three months, the entire original “Pie” cast will appear in “American Reunion,” set at their fiction Michigan high school’s ten year reunion. Even John Cho — who was basically just the guy who called Stifler’s Mom a “MILF” in one scene — is coming back. That is a very old pie. I hope they kept it in the freezer all these years.

Did we leave anybody out? What other actors have left franchises and then returned? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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