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Hollywood's Continued Search for 'That Guy

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Hollywood's Continued Search for 'That Guy Empty Hollywood's Continued Search for 'That Guy

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:57 am

Is Taylor Kitsch next on the overexposure radar?
By: Kevin Blumeyer
Published: Wednesday, March 23rd 2011 at 9:42 AM

Taylor Kitsch

Upon hearing the news that Taylor Kitsch ("Friday Night Lights," X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is being courted to star in Oliver Stone's next film, Savages, Cinematical's Jacob Hall posted an article asking "Is Taylor Kitsch the Next Sam Worthington?" And it makes sense. Kitsch has a similarly rugged and athletic look, and he's already set to star in two of 2012's biggest blockbusters: Battleship and John Carter of Mars. The latter is a Disney sci-fi epic being called "The Next Avatar" in some circles.

But, to me, the comparison to Worthington is to compare to the latest in a long line of fresh faces the major studios force down our throats, only for us to tire of them within a year or two. For the sake of this article, I'll call refer to this idea of the "next" big actor as the search for "that guy." Some of them, like Ben Affleck and Jude Law, have recovered from this overexposure backlash to enjoy long and successful careers. Others (Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom) have not, though I suppose there's still time.

The Cinematical article calls Kitsch the "textbook definition of a rising star," in that he built a following on television before appearing in supporting roles in big movies. But is that really the way stars are made these days? I mean, Matthew Fox, Chad Michael Murray, Wentworth Miller and those boys from "The O.C." didn't quite pan out the way fans of their shows might have projected. The "Freaks and Geeks" and "That '70s Show" casts are obvious exceptions, but it seems career paths have changed from a time when mega-stars like Bruce Willis, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio were built on the small screen.

Of this new group of potential "that guys," the young leading men that consistently show up on every "shortlist" for a highly coveted action/thriller role — Kitsch, Worthington, Jeremy Renner, Channing Tatum, Aaron Johnson, Chris Pine, Alex Pettyfer, Garrett Hedlund, Andrew Garfield, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Fassbender — only Kitsch gained recognition as a TV star.

It's not an exact science, but many of these guys seem to follow a similar pattern. The offers start piling up after a critically acclaimed breakout role in some little-seen indie lands them on the radar of major Hollywood producers and big-name directors. Garfield had Boy A. Hardy had Bronson. Fassbender had Hunger. Johnson had Nowhere Boy. You get the idea.

Colin Farrell

We'll call this the Colin Farrell career path. He was "that guy" eight or so years ago, starring in high-profile actioners like The Recruit, S.W.A.T. and Daredevil after gaining raves in 2000 for his performance in a low-budget war film called Tigerland. Sound familiar, Mr. Renner?

Feeling more pressure to produce dollars than a quality performance, Farrell vowed to avoid blockbusters all together after Miami Vice and Alexander failed to live up to their massive budgets. He has since rebuilt his career around indies like Cassandra's Dream and In Bruges, even going uncredited in Crazy Heart as a sign of support for Jeff Bridges. It looks like he's ready for a big paycheck again, though, signing on for the Total Recall remake.

Either way, let's hope Farrell learned his lesson and will continue to mix in those little indies with his top-lining roles in mainstream features. Affleck and Law benefitted from that strategy as well.

That's probably the best way for a young star to forge a path to the top, and something Christian Bale has always done well. Every Batman Begins or Terminator Salvation is counteracted with an I'm Not There or a Rescue Dawn, so he gains respect from the mainstream, fanboy and art-house crowds without overexposing himself to any of them.

Anthony Mackie is a future superstar in my book and he seems to be smartly building a similar resume, alternating his supporting roles in Eagle Eye and The Adjustment Bureau with larger ones in smaller movies (Night Catches Us, The Hurt Locker).

Jeremy Renner

I haven't seen enough "Friday Night Lights" to offer a sound opinion, but fans of the show seem to think Kitsch has enough substance to stick around for a while as well. With Jeremy Renner having Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Avengers in theaters in less than a 6-month period, I'd argue he will attain "that guy" status before Kitsch gets his turn. Renner's two Oscar nominations tell me he has the chops to weather any sort of ensuing backlash. Of course, the 40-year-old, baby-faced Renner has 10 years on Kitsch so he may as well cash his chips in while he can.

As someone who recognized Renner's star potential back in 2003 with his bad-guy role in S.W.A.T., it's a bit gratifying to see others finally recognizing his talent. And there's something to be said for waiting your turn. Hell, even guys like Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe weren't given their own starring vehicles until they were offered their Oscar-winning roles.

On a personal note, one of my favorite working actors is Mark Ruffalo, a guy who generally leans toward indie fare like You Can Count On Me, The Kids Are All Right and The Brothers Bloom. When he does land a role in a major studio flick, it tends to be as part of a star-studded ensemble, as in Rumor Has It…, Zodiac and Shutter Island. But when he finally gets his own American Beauty or Gladiator, it'll be all the more sweeter. I'm sure fans of Aaron Eckhart might have felt the same way, if only that movie hadn't been Battle: Los Angeles.


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