What Happened to ‘A Walk to Remember’ Actor Shane West?
Some actors hit it big in movies and then sometimes find themselves moving to TV in later years. Shane West was poised to become an A-list movie star after co-starring with Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember.
Then again, starring in such a movie could have created a frustrating stereotype as a continual romantic lead. West decided to do what other actors who want to diversify do: He started making indies.
If those films didn’t quite find the audience he was hoping for, at least TV offered plenty of different opportunities. Since his A Walk to Remember days, he’s appeared on shows ranging from ER to Salem…including briefly joining the superhero fray.
Remembering back to the cinematic magic of A Walk to Remember
By 2002, Shane West had made a name for himself in the briefly popular ABC family drama Once and Again. He began playing the role of son Eli Sammler when the series began in 1999. Once and Again followed newly divorced father Rick Sammler (Billy Campbell) hooking up with newly divorced Lily Manning (Sela Ward).
West’s role as Eli was popular, but when Once and Again ended, his next step was movie stardom. Starring in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic novel A Walk to Remember was poised as a star turn for West and Mandy Moore. Latter, of course, has gone on to find major success in movies and with This Is Us on NBC.
It’s ironic both didn’t quite find success in movies and rather evolved to becoming beloved TV stars. Timing was probably right since their transition occurred just when TV was starting to become the new movie theater.
Nevertheless, 2002-2003 was Shane West’s peak as a movie actor, unless you include some undervalued performances he gave later on the big-screen.
Shane West moves over to ER in place of mainstream movies
A role as Tom Sawyer in 2003’s A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was planned to be another launching pad into a long movie career. Then the NBC medical drama classic ER came calling in 2004, giving West the role of Dr. Ray Barnett.
By this point, the series was a decade old and wanted to introduce some compelling new characters. His role managed to hit it off with viewers, leading him to devote more time to TV than big Hollywood movies.
He also went decidedly indie when starring in The Elder Son; then helped finance 2007’s What We Do Is Secret, a biopic about punk rock star Darby Crash. These didn’t generate the buzz like his earlier films did, leading his film career to wane a little in ensuing years.
Sticking with TV was his ultimate acting destiny by landing the role of Michael in The CW’s spy thriller series adaptation of Nikita.
The last decade has been mostly TV, but he hasn’t given up on movies
In the last decade, West has only made five theatrical movies while focusing on three different TV series with successful runs. Nikita above ran from 2010 to 2013, leading next to Salem, a supernatural thriller on WGN America.
West was able to stay on this series for three seasons as well, until it ended in 2017. Since then, he’s landed a role on Gotham for four episodes during its final season. Those who saw him there know he played the TV version of Bane.
Movies are still on the table, though. It seems like he’s reigniting this flame in the last year or two. Two movies are in post-production now, including a more socially relevant film about transgender rights called Gossamer Folds.
Maybe West can get his film career back on track, even though he’s an established favorite doing more varied TV roles in shows attracting a younger demographic.