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Public Discussions

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GreenCine Movie Talk
Star Power
Discuss the people who make what we watch.
59

Movie Stars Are Not Actors
Topic by: sinisterguffaw
Posted: August 26, 2004 - 12:19 PM PDT
Last Reply: December 6, 2005 - 8:31 AM PST

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author topic: Movie Stars Are Not Actors
sinisterguffaw
post #1  on August 26, 2004 - 12:19 PM PDT  
$#!%&$#@!!! This is the THIRD M@%#&@F^(%ing time I've tried to post this, so no funny stuff this time!!! (It's not your fault, GC, it's this stupid computer...)

It was gonna be all ranting and raving about how much I don't like julia roberts for this first paragraph. And then it was gonna have some unfair and altogether rude remarks about her horse face. And then a pot shot at her primadonna of a niece who apparently has her own TV show now.

Point was (and IS) that Julia Roberts can no longer be classified as an actor, since every time I see her in a role I don't see the character she is playing, instead I see Julia Roberts pretending to be someone. Yes, even in Erin Brokovich.

But it's not just her, of course. It's a common malady afflicting many of the Hollywood Elite. Ben Affleck, Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe...

And even some of the not so "elite" are falling prey to the "I can't see past the Star" syndrome. Look at Christopher Walken. He's become a complete characture of himself!
Cinenaut
post #2  on August 26, 2004 - 1:41 PM PDT  
Tom. Cruise.

Of course, it works better when he's playing an evil a-hole, like he does in his latest film.
Eoliano
post #3  on August 26, 2004 - 2:05 PM PDT  
Okay, I understand what you're saying, but you have to accept that showbiz is showbiz replete with all the hype and hoopla surrounding all those glitzy stars, many of whom, we'll all agree, have a limited depth and/or talent. However, you have to admit that Russell Crowe gave an outstanding and finely nuanced performance in The Insider and that it definitely stands apart from the rest.

Chris Walken, my old buddy from Queens just called and in reply to your statement said, It's not so much that... he would... classify... me... with the others, it's just that he's completely off the... mark. I am not a... caricature... of my... self. I have always been... a fine actor... I never considered... my... self... a movie... star. So don't get me in a... vendetta kind of... mood. We're gonna have a little Q&A, and at the... risk... of sounding redundant, please... make your answers... genuine.
sinisterguffaw
post #4  on August 26, 2004 - 2:54 PM PDT  
Tell Chris I love him and never want him to change!

As for Russell Crowe... I like him too. Usually. Not so much in Master and Commander, and we won't even mention that one with Meg Ryan. But he is capable of some pretty amazing performances. Still, it's becoming increasingly difficult for me not to see him as "Russell Crowe pretending to be So-and-so."

Charlize Theron was in danger of falling into that trap until she pulled Monster out of her bag of tricks. I think Nic Cage was on the same track until Adaptation.
jross3
post #5  on August 27, 2004 - 12:56 PM PDT  
> On August 26, 2004 - 2:54 PM PDT sinisterguffaw wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I think Nic Cage was on the same track until Adaptation.
> ---------------------------------

Didn't he have a twin brother in that one? It would be hard to think of him that way, unless you already knew he had a split personality (and was psycho, hallucinating his alternate persona).
sinisterguffaw
post #6  on August 27, 2004 - 2:19 PM PDT  
That's why his performance was so impressive!

ALittlefield
post #7  on August 27, 2004 - 7:46 PM PDT  
I've always been impressed with the way that Dustin Hoffman can disappear so completely into a role that it's hard to even recognize him. Just look at Ratso Rizzo in MIDNIGHT COWBOY, and then Micheal Dorsey in TOOTSIE, and then Raymond in RAIMAN, and so on. He is, I think, one of the few movie stars that is truly an ACTOR in the sense that he disappears in roles. Robert De Niro used to be that way, but now he seems to be constantly spoofing himself (Fearless Leader?). The list of other actors who can "disappear" is short: Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, perhaps Nicole Kidman.
itchy008
post #8  on August 28, 2004 - 2:07 AM PDT  
Movie stars are actors. This has always been true.

Cary Grant was always Cary Grant in every movie.
Jimmy Stewart was always Jimmy Stewart.
Ingrid Bergman was always Ingrid Bergman.
Katherine Hepburn was always Katherine Hepburn.
Mifune was always Mifune.
Alain Delon still plays only Alain Delon.

We bitch about movie stars today because we know too much about them. The mystique is gone. The mystery is gone.

jross3
post #9  on August 28, 2004 - 1:28 PM PDT  
> On August 27, 2004 - 12:56 PM PDT jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On August 26, 2004 - 2:54 PM PDT sinisterguffaw wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > I think Nic Cage was on the same track until Adaptation.
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Didn't he have a twin brother in that one? It would be hard to think of him that way, unless you already knew he had a split personality (and was psycho, hallucinating his alternate persona).
> ---------------------------------

I should take that back. Even in ten places at once, with fifty layers of makeup, Eddie Murphy is Eddie Murphy. He seems like an actor because he has a naturally energetic personality - and (surprise!) so does almost every role he plays. But it doesn't look like he's acting at all, and all his roles kinda blend together, and in my head I'm watching The Nutty Beverly Hills Cop where ten overqeight Eddie Murphies (some of them in drag) are chasing around a bunch of talking animals and a superpowered child. Even Donkey shows up, and it's not an animated movie!
Bowwow
post #10  on August 29, 2004 - 11:28 AM PDT  
I must have lower standards than the rest of you. I like every actor/actress that has been mentiond. Even Julia Roberts whose smile makes me melt.
jross3
post #11  on August 29, 2004 - 3:55 PM PDT  
> On August 29, 2004 - 11:28 AM PDT Bowwow wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I must have lower standards than the rest of you. I like every actor/actress that has been mentiond. Even Julia Roberts whose smile makes me melt.
> ---------------------------------

Well, yeah; we're not (well, I'm not) saying that we don't like these people. I liked Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, for example, but what was the name of his character? I don't know! He was Tom Cruise! If I were to talk about that character, I would refer to him as "Tom Cruise", not "Tom Cruise's character" or "[whatever-his-name-was]". I am pretty much unable to differentiate between the actor and the character - it could be that he's just so awesomely good that I don't even see a difference, but it's probably because his face is so recognizable that I can't even pretend he's some angry, drunk, out-of-work soldier from the 1870s.

The other end of this spectrum (for me) is probably Vin Diesel. I liked him so much in Pitch Black that (no matter what role he's in, like in XXX), he's always going to be Riddick in some way. Maybe it's because he's just a lousy actor, but I think it's because that character was so darn cool...

I like Julia Roberts, too. I don't like too many of the movies she ends up in, but I don't dislike her specifically. But I still "can't see past the actress". If I really, really loved Julia Roberts, I'd probably love every movie she's in due to that fact.
She does a good job, though. I loved her in Ocean's Eleven and The Mexican. But if you ever see me watching Runaway Bride, call the morgue because I'm dead.

'course, just being a familiar face isn't always enough. Arnold "the Governator" Schwarzenegger has played a lot of parts in his day, and is definately one of the most recognizable people in the movies. Any one of us could probably pick him out in a lineup, even from behind, even with a big bag over his head. But most (well, some) of his roles are pretty unique. Well, at least I can say that "Conan the Barbarian" is a very different character than "watever-his-name-was" in Twins. Sure, most of his characters end up carrying guns and shooting things before the movie ends, but they usually have fairly different personalities. But (even as the indominable Mr. Freeze) I've always seen these people as Arnold first, and characters second.

In any case, I can accept that these people are probably never gonna get much less recognizable than they are now, and I can enjoy the movies just the same. It doesn't ruin things for me (like I said, I loved Ocean's Eleven, even though the entire cast is cursed this way). As long as the characters are given at least a little personality to differentiate them from every other generic type out there, no problem. If they aren't... well, it wouldn't matter who is is playing the role, in that case - any actor would be boring. In fact, maybe these famous people could salvage the role just by looking pretty.
So there you have it - that's what big-name actors are for. Looking pretty. Plus, by using them, your movie is automatically tied in with millions of dollars in old advertising for their older movies. Makes sense!
Bowwow
post #12  on August 29, 2004 - 7:15 PM PDT  
Yes, I believe that I can see what you are saying. I always figure that those stars have some acting talent though. More than say your average amature. I say this as a person who often finds herself a patron of the local community theater productions. Trust me, even Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts has a bigger range.

Still, there are probably hundreds or even thousands of actors who are much more talented but as of yet undiscovered. I dont know exactly what it is that makes a person a star. It has to be more than a pretty face though as there are lots of those around too.
ALittlefield
post #13  on August 29, 2004 - 8:07 PM PDT  
As a fan of Humphrey Bogart, I KNOW there must be more to being a movie star than a pretty face! Seriously tho', it seems clear that as they become famous, movie stars really become a brand name, with certain expectations for their films. Shirley Temple and Arnold Shwartznegger would seem to have very little in common, but they were both very popular movie stars who built a large audience who knew exactly what they were getting when they went to one of their films. And that same audience abandoned them when they couldn't or wouldn't keep doing the same kind of thing. (Shwartzneggar's biggest flops are JUNIOR and JINGLE ALL THE WAY, non-action roles.) This is probably why the usual likable Tom Hanks had a recent flop in THE LADYKILLERS.
Bowwow
post #14  on August 29, 2004 - 10:36 PM PDT  
> On August 29, 2004 - 8:07 PM PDT ALittlefield wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> As a fan of Humphrey Bogart, I KNOW there must be more to being a movie star than a pretty face!

Ok, then explain Leonardo DiCaprio.

It does seem like certain stars find themselves more prone to taking certain types of roles and their fans certainly expect that. I mean, I can see anyone wanting to see Sylvester Stallone in a romantic comedy or anything.
Brockton
post #15  on August 30, 2004 - 7:33 AM PDT  
My contribution to band-width pollution:

It's the audiences fault. When I discuss movies with folks not nearly as enlightened as you-all on GC, it nearly always degenerates into statements like "I like Mel Gibson" or "I like "Jennifer Garner", etc., ad nauseum. People, in general, watch movies for the stars. There are actors I like, but not enough to go to a movie just because of who is in it. In my mind, it's the director who matters; but, outside of Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarentino, and a handful of others, folks just don't know the real force behind great movies.

Ultimately, I don't think Hollywood conspires to forcefeed us crap and sends out marketing departments to convince us that we like it. They give the people what they want. And, with any luck, the people will get what they deserve.

Regarding certain pretty boy stars: I am looking forward to seeing Collateral. I'm not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but I have enjoyed his few against-character roles, especially in Magnolia.

The great thing about Movie Stars is that they can actually surprise you on occasion. Even John Wayne had his moments (e.g., the Shootist).
ALittlefield
post #16  on August 30, 2004 - 8:48 PM PDT  
> On August 29, 2004 - 10:36 PM PDT Bowwow wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On August 29, 2004 - 8:07 PM PDT ALittlefield wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > As a fan of Humphrey Bogart, I KNOW there must be more to being a movie star than a pretty face!
>
> Ok, then explain Leonardo DiCaprio.
>
> Alright, you got me there. Actually, I think Leonardo is a much better actor than that other godawful pretty boy Keanu, who not only can't act, but has strangely wound up playing in period pieces (BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING)where his patented blank,dim witted surfer dude delivery seems far too modern.
As for Bogie, I think he had a definite presence and charisma that transcended traditional notions of attractiveness. And he could play bad guys and good guys with equal ability. (Although when he could only play TOUGH guys, just look how uncomfortable he looks in the overrated original version of SABRINA to see what I mean).
> ---------------------------------

kamapuaa
post #17  on August 31, 2004 - 2:02 PM PDT  
> People, in general, watch movies for the stars. There are actors I like, but not enough to go to a movie just because of who is in it. In my mind, it's the director who matters;

Tom Cruise will only be in big-budget action movies, or maybe a high-profile artistic piece. If you handed him the script for "Baby Geniuses 2," he would throw it back at you just as quickly as Quentin Tarantino would.

Shah Rukh Khan, likewise, tends to be in pretty good movies, and is a safer bet than seeing a random film even by a Mani Ratnam.

And I didn't watch "Tomb Raider" for the plot.

Besides, to my mind, there's barely any American directors who are worth seeking out, although perhaps it's a chicken-egg phenomenon. If I named my 25 favorite directors still in the business, maybe 3 would be American. Maybe less.
Bowwow
post #18  on August 31, 2004 - 3:29 PM PDT  
> On August 30, 2004 - 8:48 PM PDT ALittlefield wrote:
(Although when he could only play TOUGH guys, just look how uncomfortable he looks in the overrated original version of SABRINA to see what I mean).

> ---------------------------------

Ah, I thought Bogart was wonderful in Sabrina. I dont really think the movie was overrated either although I have to confess I am a big fan of that genre and perhaps have tastes a bit more pedestrian than your average green cine person.

I will agree that Keanu Reeves is pretty much just a pretty face although he kind of has a sexy voice too and that he makes Leonardo DiCaprio look like a wonderful actor. Neither of them have anything on Bogart or Gregory Peck *swoon* who, imho, is one of the best leading men who ever lived.

But trust me, they must have some skill. I generally dont find myself too distracted by their acting when I am watching a film they are in. There are people out there who are so bad that they could play themselves in a movie and it would still seem false.





kamapuaa
post #19  on August 31, 2004 - 3:35 PM PDT  
Theoretically I'm working right now, but this topic got me inspired to write a best works of best directors list, check it out!

Despite saying maybe 3 of the top 25 directors were American, I ended up listing 9.
ALittlefield
post #20  on September 4, 2004 - 1:03 PM PDT  
> On August 31, 2004 - 3:29 PM PDT Bowwow wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On August 30, 2004 - 8:48 PM PDT ALittlefield wrote:
> (Although when he could only play TOUGH guys, just look how uncomfortable he looks in the overrated original version of SABRINA to see what I mean).
>
> > ---------------------------------
>
> Ah, I thought Bogart was wonderful in Sabrina. I dont really think the movie was overrated either although I have to confess I am a big fan of that genre and perhaps have tastes a bit more pedestrian than your average green cine person.

Well SABRINA is often considered a classic(and I'm generally a huge fan of Billy Wilder), so maybe it's me. Still tho', Wilder's first choice for the role was Cary Grant, whom I think would have done a much better job. Also, the film is another example of Audrey Hepburn falling for a guy A LOT older than she is. (Look no further than LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, FUNNY FACE and CHARADE to see what I mean.) Unfortunately, this is standard procedure in Hollywood films, but I really find it distracting in Hepburn's films since she looked so much like a little girl, even when she was in her 30's and 40's.
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