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8 American actors who are shockingly huge stars overseas


dragon blade adrien brodyThe runaway success of "Dragon Blade," a Chinese film starring Adrien Brody and John Cusack, proved that two actors with middling success in their home country could find success overseas.

In fact, it feels like reaching out abroad is the best bet for many entertainers right now.

Today, studios count on a film's foreign box office even more than its domestic gross.

Stars who struggled in the United States can find a new life in unexpected places. Sometimes, they can do it by exploring a new medium, whether it be music or painting.

Here are eight American actors who have found surprising success overseas.

Nicolas Cage — China

Nicolas Cage ChinaIn America, Nicolas Cage's over-the-top performances have made him both a punchline and a meme. China, however, takes the Oscar-winning actor a lot more seriously. It might have to do with the fact that many of his films, including "The Croods,""Ghost Rider," and "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" were just three of a handful of American films to make it past Chinese censors.

In fact, Cage is so well-liked in China that in 2013, he received the "Best Global Actor in Motion Pictures" Award at the Huading Awards Show.

He also stars in a car ad for Beijing Automotive.

His upcoming "Outlander," an American-Chinese-Canadian co-production, will be released in China on April 3.

Here's the trailer:


David Hasselhoff — Germany 

 David HasselhoffIn America, Hasselhoff fame has gone up and down multiple times. In the 1980s and '90s, he starred in hit shows "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch." Lately, he is probably best known for an infamous YouTube video in which he drunkenly eats a cheeseburger.

But even when he was down stateside, he maintained a loyal following in Germany.  

On New Year's Eve in 1989, Haselhoff performed a tune called "Looking for Freedom" for a newly reunited Berlin. That year, the song became Germany's top selling single, and Haselhoff proved that if its not working as an actor, you can always try and write a pop song. 

Here is Haselhoff singing at the Berlin Wall:

Halle Berry — China

Halle Berry ChinaSimilar to Adrien Brody, an Oscar win unfortunately didn't bolster Halle Berry's career for long. While she does star in a few of the "X-Men" movies, she also won a Razzie for her performance in 2004's "Catwoman."

Berry was up for a much more prestigious award in 2014: she won a Global Icon award at China's Huading Film Awards. When she got onstage, she said she felt like "an original Beatle" in China 

This could be perplexing to some, given that a few of her recent starring vehicles ("Catwoman," "The Call," "Perfect Stranger") didn't even play in China. Yet, "Cloud Atlas" made the bulk of its $103 million foreign box office gross in China.

John Cusack — China

John Cusack Dragon Blade Premiere

As mentioned earlier, Cusack has found surprise stardom in China, thanks to his starring role in "Dragon Blade." In recent years, Cusack has starred in a wide array of projects, ranging from blockbusters to independent films, that have been met with mixed box office and critical success in America.

Part of Cusack's viability overseas may be because he is already a proven box office draw in China: "2012" was a big hit when it was released there back in 2009.

Perhaps Cusack's collaboration with Jackie Chan was inevitable. After all, Cusack has been an admirer of martial arts and has used it in his movies since the days of "Grosse Pointe Blank":


Jerry Lewis — France

Jerry LewisFrance's love of Jerry Lewis is like folklore at this point, but it is no myth. Lewis has been a fixture in French culture since the 1960s, where many French critics and historians have praised his work, with some saying they prefer him over Woody Allen. His popularity hasn't wained there: an annual Jerry Lewis film festival is held every year in Paris.   

Here is Jerry entertaining paparazzi (who are clearly huge fans) in Paris:

Kevin James — Germany

Kevin James Zookeeper

Haselhoff isn't the only one who's big in Germany. Comedian Kevin James has been a fixture in Germany since "The King of Queens" became one of the few American sitcoms to truly succeed there.

His movies such as "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (which was promoted more heavily on James than Adam Sandler) and "Zookeeper" (where it made its highest foreign gross) attract big audiences in Germany, based on his name alone. American humor tends to get lost in translation when crossing overseas, and while James is much maligned in America, his brand of slapstick doesn't require a translator.

Here is Kevin James making an appearance on the popular German TV show "Wetten, dass..?" ("Wanna Bet?") alongside Cameron Diaz:


Clint Eastwood — Italy 

clint eastwood american sniper

Clint Eastwood is currently having a career renaissance behind the camera with "American Sniper," which recently became the 

highest-grossing film in the US in 2014. It also opened to big numbers in Italy.

It may be because Eastwood has been a huge star over there since the 1960s, when Sergio Leone's "The Dollars Trilogy" first cemented him as a movie star. Eastwood is the rare actor who went abroad in order to become a star in his home country.

Sylvester Stallone — Russia

Sylvester Stallone RussiaSure, the Soviet Union might have once been Rocky Balboa's enemy, but in recent years, Stallone's films have gained something of a following in Russia.

Outside of the "Expendables" franchise, his "Grudge Match" earned its highest overseas total there (at just $2.8 million, though) while his 2013 film "Escape Plan" trailed China for second place. Russians also saw a side of Stallone that Americans never get to witness: a 2013 exhibit in St. Petersburg displayed paintings by Stallone.

His artwork might not have received positive reviews, but Russians from all across the country still came to see it.

Check out some of Stallone's art below:


SEE ALSO: This movie starring Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody, and John Cusack is huge in China right now

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