Hollywood has a long and dubious history of thrusting incumbent stars upon us whom they deem to be ‘the next big thing’. Some actors take their time and build an innings, stretching their repertoire before finding their niche and claiming their bona fide meal ticket. It may last for years or only a summer, until the ‘next big star’ arrives.
Recent years have seen a long line of, in particular, pseudo leading men offered bites at the cherry, with mixed success, yet still Hollywood persists. It’s all about who’s face puts bums in seats.
One such example is Chris Pine. Although Pine has enjoyed some success (based on box office earnings), Hollywood often fails to differentiate between an actor’s influence and the movie vehicle he’s riding – just look at Sam Worthington; star of the world’s highest grossing film ‘Avatar’, only to uh, bum out on titles like the Titan films (in 3D) and the barely memorable ‘Man on a Ledge’, though credit to him for going back home to reinvent himself with some Indie projects (I hear). With Chris Pine though, here’s an actor who’s seen a modicum of success with Star Trek reboots, one or two debatable successful dramas and now his truest litmus test of leading man potential, the rebooted Jack Ryan franchise (previously helmed by Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin in the 90’s before BAtffleck showed up in ‘The Sum of all Fears’ – which is of course all based on the Tom Clancy’s Spy novels). My issue with these young actors is simply an unproven track record and then Hollywood’s blind faith in them as star quality. Chris Pine is still not a household name, and if he keeps turning in performances that lack charisma, its sure to stay that way.
Lets just expand the pool of names so that it doesn’t all come down on Pine (he happens to be one I still have hope for by the way), here’s some more Star’s that never were, or leading men that failed to really stick.
- Colin Farrell – the one on this list with the most bites at the cherry and still he hasn’t found his feet. He usually flatters to deceive and then recedes only to comeback in an obscure role and knocks it out the park. He has talent, but perhaps he’s best served in scene stealing supporting roles (‘Horrible Bosses’, ‘Crazy Heart’, ‘In Bruges’). Sadly, audiences just haven’t truly accepted him as a leading man (‘Phone Booth’ hardly counts).
- Alex Pettyfer – Still young but has developed a bad reputation among filmmakers for well, petty things, like money and contract disputes, creative differences etc. So, a bit of a drama queen, and for someone so young, he needs some career counseling, and maybe stick to modelling for the time being – I’m nowhere near sold on his ‘potential’.
- Ryan Phillippe – Perhaps a little harsh but I can’t remember a film of his when he played the lead (and there are a few titles) – oh wait, ‘The Bang Bang Club’ anyone, though truth be told that wasn’t his fault. Much credit to Ryan though, he does seem to grasp the opportunities of taking on some quality supporting roles and has developed quite a body of work. He has loads of talent, but somehow crowds don’t tend to watch films where he’s the star attraction – perhaps just wrong leading choices then.
- Taylor Kitsch – a man with little to his track record. I believe he convinced some casting agents that his brooding supporting/cameo role in ‘Friday Night Lights’ was enough to light the flame of a would-be trail blazing path to superstardom, starting with the CG infested ‘John Carter’ – in 3D (I shall not mention his foxtrot through that X-Men origins turd of a film – though again not entirely his fault – Oh, why not, let’s mention it: he’s dismissed for even saying yes to the role, hence he condoned everything else in it, including his cardboard performance). Suffice is to say it will be a while before he’s entrusted with a blockbuster.
- Liam Hemsworth – hardly emulating the success of his brother (because we will inevitably compare), he just doesn’t bring anything new to the screen. There’s little depth to any of his performances. I’m sorry to bring it up, but if Chris wasn’t famous, I wonder how much exposure Liam would’ve received. Let’s wait and see, even though I don’t see much.
- Justin Timberlake – (cough) His films make money because of his popularity, but make no mistake about it, this person cannot act! – memorizing lines is sort of second nature to him because he needs to for his music, but I still don’t know how this man gets acting jobs… seriously, another example of producers robbing real actors of decent roles in favour of bringing sexy back – the word sexy isn’t even sexy, just say it, go on… or say “Justin Timberlake is NOT AN ACTOR!”
- Josh Hartnett – I actually forgot his surname and Googled ‘Josh’ – his name came up 2nd last behind the likes of Josh Hutcherson, Josh Brolin, Josh Peck, (some other names), Josh Groban and Josh Duhamel… that last one is an indictment of his slide in the ‘Josh’ pecking order – whether by his choice to abandon Hollywood or because he just isn’t that bankable anymore (if he ever was), the details are kind of irrelevant. Admittedly I was never sold on his talent as an actor but he certainly sailed quite far on his good looks. He did make several mistakes in his choice of roles, biting off more than he could chew, so that he often looked out of his depth, and his recent disappearance indicates it was one mistake too many. (Wonder what would’ve become of him had he taken the ‘Superman Returns’ role? But no, he decided on ‘The Black Dahlia’, and the producers went for it, even though he was too young for it – Kryptonite on both sides if you ask me. Also, he wasn’t the only one miscast in ‘Dahlia’) – now we’ll see him attempt to sneak back into the scene via TV in Sam Mendes’ “Penny Dreadful”, slyly slipping half surreptitiously into the shadows of Eva Green and Timothy Dalton.
- Hayden Christensen – need I even mention Star Wars, or…. Well that’s the thing, the only title I can remember with him in it is ‘Shattered Glass’, or whatever that investigative reporter drama/thriller was called, I forget… oh wait, there’s ‘Jumper’, which people tell me wasn’t bad (after I watched it). I think I fell asleep, or changed the channel, either way, it may not have been bad, but it certainly wasn’t spectacular.
- Andrew Garfield and Toby Maguire – jury’s still out on the former, but what has the latter been up to of late that’s noteworthy (apart from riding along on ‘The Great Gatsby’ coattails)? I happen to like Macguire’s version of Spidey a little more than Garfield’s, but whereas the old Spider-Man went off the rails, the current one seems a bit humourless. I don’t know what Garfield did before this, but from the little I’ve seen, there’s not much to get excited about.
- Ashton Kutcher – The overwhelming sentiment I’m getting is that people just don’t care. His latest work was a forgettable ‘serious’ turn in the pseudo Steve Jobs Biopic film – and though his performance wasn’t bad, the word most used was ‘boring’. I don’t know what he has to do to rekindle the ‘That 70′s show’ flame (because it all went to Ash, hehe), perhaps reignite things with Demi… Otherwise, nobody cares.
- Ryan Reynolds – Aah Ryan, one who has also enjoyed both sides of success and failure, though not always his fault, he just found himself stranded on a sinking ship, or doomed vessel (‘Green Lantern’). Some bad choices have made producers question his pulling power, but credit to him for keeping at it. Moderate box office success in several films keep his name relevant (‘Safe House’ had a decent reception, but was that due to him or Denzel Washington), but he remains a risky hit-and-miss leading man. I for one am nowhere near convinced that he’s the guy for Deadpool though.
- A year and a half ago I would’ve had Jake Gyllenhaal on top of this list, but his performance in 2013’s ‘Prisoners’ really made an impression on me, so much so that without his part I’d venture to say the film would be bear little interest for me (Hugh Jackman was widely lauded for his performance – which was good – but the film wouldn’t have floated well enough on that alone). Jeremy Renner is still not a household name despite starring in a string of commercially and critically acclaimed films (‘American Hustle’, ‘The Hurt Locker’), either outshone by bigger names or not given enough credit (‘The Town’), he’s yet to nail down that bulls-eye performance. – Can I just say, I think he’d have brought more to the table in a film like ‘Elysium’ than Matt Damon ultimately did…
The Leading Man Roulette continues on page 2 with big names that went over the bend (we’re looking at you, Tom Cruise)!