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Reasons why he wasn't a bigger actor after his 1970s run (French Connection, Jaws, All That Jazz, etc.)

Multiple reasons, including:

1. Jaws 2 didn’t do as well as the original - Although it grossed more than $200 million USD, that was less than half of the original film on a higher budget. That made a lot of tongues wag about how Scheider couldn’t “win the big games” which was a reputation that he maintained for the remainder of his life.

2. All That Jazz underperformed - Although the film made three times its budget, the hype surround it meant that it was expected to have earned far more. That began Scheider’s “slide”.

3. Still of the Night/Blue Thunder/2010 - Three in a row that all under-performed. Blue Thunder likely hurt the most as it was hyped up on all of the available media and yet still was unable to make Scheider into a bigger star. Things were getting grim for him by the mid-1980s and he needed a hit to keep in the running.

4. 52 Pickup - For some reason, someone thought that this adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel (Not even one of HIS best) would make a good film. And they also decided that the film needed Ann-Margret. Both were terrible decisions, the film bombed at the box office, and Scheider returned to the ranks of character actor for the remainder of his career.

5. Scheider eschewed any further involvement with the Jaws franchise - After Jaws 2, Scheider declined any further roles in the franchise. While that was his right, he also needed a franchise for when his other film roles dried up and he decided that he did not. After 1987, Scheider’s star dimmed and remained dim for the rest of his life.

Scheider tried a move to television with the sci-fi series SeaQuest: DSV. He lasted for two of the series’ 2 1/2 seasons and left when the ratings plunged and the program was critically savaged. Following this, Scheider was strictly a character actor and even then, his outings were uniformly unsuccessful. He died of cancer in 2008.

While hindsight is 20/20, had he remained with the Jaws franchise and had even one of his early 1980s roles been a major hit, Roy Scheider would have remained a marketable star for the remainder of his life. They didn’t and his career in the 1990s and later was nothing like what his 1970s success foretold.


I loved 52 Pick Up, I think its an underated gem and one of his best roles. It has a great storyline and lots of twists and turned, plus some very well drawn, memorable villains, especially Clarence Williams quiet menacing Bobby Shy.

Great score too.

For me Seaquest DSV was rock bottom for Scheider. A dreadful series which did him no favours.