Marilyn Chambers, Rabid (1977): You know the drill: Actors desperate to break into Hollywood do porn to get noticed, then get stuck. At best they have dalliances, as when Chambers, a Cybill Shepherd lookalike—who died in April—headlined this early David Cronenberg shocker as an injured woman whose experimental skin graft gives her a rabies-spreading phallus that quickly infects Montreal. Cronenberg’s original choice? Sissy Spacek.
Traci Lords, Cry-Baby (1989): Having taken her name from Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story , it was only natural that Lords would go from underage porn star to Hollywood ingenue. Or that was the plan. But Lords has never overcome her past, even working a couple times for John Waters, who knows a thing or two about exploiting infamous celebrities (Patricia Hearst, particularly).
Rocco Siffredi, Romance (1999): Not everyone can be Ron Jeremy. The so-called “Italian Stallion” has only gone mainstream twice, and then for provacateuse Catherine Breillat. First came Romance , which featured unsimulated action, then Anatomy of Hell , which featured the handle of a shovel inserted into ... uh, never mind.
Sibel Kekilli, Head-On (2004): Discovered by casting agents in a Cologne mall, Kekilli was justly doused with awards for her volatile turn in Fatih Akin’s keyed-up drama. And then the tabloids discovered something: She was also known as Dilara, thespian in the hardcore genre.
Brigitte Lahaie, Calvaire (2004): What becomes of the aging porn star? A household name in her native France, Lahaie first segued into exploitation films (including this Belgian horror), then played a prostitute in the NC-17 Henry and June and has since settled into grand dame mode, becoming porn’s answer to Jeanne Moreau.
Sasha Grey, The Girlfriend Experience (2009): Originally wanting to call herself Anna Karina, Grey instead took her name from a combination of the German industrial band KMFDM, The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Kinsey scale. Her next stop: this Steven Soderbergh film.
Six Long-Running Film Franchises