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Let’s be Franco: Actors Who Don’t Like the Interview Circuit…

I actually don’t feel strongly one way or the other about James Franco. I do kinda like that he was willing to experiment a bit by appearing as “Franco the performance artist” on General Hospital, respect the fact that he doesn’t care too much about his image to appear in films like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, but I also feel a little frustrated when I see how incredibly bored he seemed hosting the Oscars. There’s been a bit of on-line discussion about Franco’s public persona, and his perceived lack of interest in his own projects or in giving interviews, to the point where the actor has found himself being compared to Harrison Ford, one of the more notoriously difficult celebrity interviewees. However, despite all that, I find myself having quite a bit of sympathy for actors clearly not comfortable with dealing with the press circuit.

Going to great lengths to get away from it all...

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Can a Good Talent Be Over-Exposed?

Jeremy Renner is having a good year. Recently confirmed to take over from Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, offered the job of taking over from Matt Damon in the Bourne series, playing Hawkeye in both Thor and The Avengers, and starring in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, it seems that Renner is on the cusp of being huge. And, for those of us who have noted Renner’s performances in films like The Town and The Hurt Locker, it’s surely well-deserved. However, can Renner be over-exposed?

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Elizabeth Taylor, RIP

I’m still not sure what to write about the passing of Elizabeth Taylor. Obviously I know who she is, and obviously I’m familiar with her incredible collection of work. She was an icon, one of the stars which defined the period of Hollywood which ran from the forties into the seventies. I’ve seen Cleopatra. I’ve seen Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? I have yet to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but it comes recommended. And yet, as I write this, I feel quite uncertain. Unlike most of the people who will discuss Taylor’s contributions to cinema, I am too young to remember all the classics. I have never seen any of them in a cinema. Elizabeth Taylor was never really a movie-star to me, she was an icon.

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Stop Motion Capture: Time to Worry About Tintin?

Mars Needs Moms bombed at the box office. Badly. Really badly. Ignoring the fact that Disney is in need of another hit, the failure of the Seth-Green-starring Robert-Zemeckis-produced motion-capture 3D CGI films raises serious questions about the future of that particular animation style. However, I wonder if it’s playing across the minds of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson as they add the finishing touches to their Tintin adaptation.

All at sea?

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When Does a Movie Star Become an Actor?

I think that most people would agree that there is a distinction between a “movie star” and “an actor”. I think that the great Nicholas Meyer offered a definition that fits quite well:

What’s the difference between an actor and a movie star? An actor is someone who pretends to be somebody else. A movie star is somebody who pretends that somebody else is them. Actors will change their face, will change their hair, will change their voice, will disappear into the role. A movie star doesn’t disappear.

That might sound quite harsh towards a “movie star”, but I think that you could argue that a movie star (if applied correctly) can add a certain amount of artistic weight to a film:

A movie star is someone whose past work enriches your experience of, and deepens your pleasure in, his or her present work. In other words, a movie star is someone whose baggage you want to carry.

I don’t mean that the terms are mutually exclusive insofar as they apply to a specific individual (indeed I can think of several performers who are both actors and movie stars), nor that it’s a fixed position (I can think of many individuals who have started out as what might be considered an “actor” before becoming a “movie star” in their own right). In fact, while it’s easy to think of any number of performers who have repositioned themselves as movie stars after beginning as actors, it’s somewhat rarer to see it happen the other way around. Is the road from actor to movie star a one-way trip?

Is it a rocky road to being taken seriously as an actor?

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Twilight of the Stars?

I’ve been thinking a bit of late about movie stars. Are we reaching the end of the star-driven era of Hollywood stars? What got me thinking about it was the news of Tony Scott’s upcoming Unstoppable – a movie about a runaway train starring Denzel Washington, who has been one of Scott’s most consistent collaborators in the past. I loved Denzel Washington – and I loved Crimson Tide and, to a lesser extent, Man on Fire. And yet, I have absolutely no urge to see the film. It isn’t a “must see” simply because of the talent or skill involved. And, being honest, I don’t think I’m alone. There would have been a time years ago when a name on a marque would have marked a film as “must see”. I am beginning to suspect that the era of “star power” might be slowly passing.

Am I Cloo(ney)ed into something?

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Why Does Transformers Need John Malkovich and Frances McDormand?

Francis McDormand and John Malkovich have been cast in Transformers 3. Both are fantastic actors. In fairness, Malkovich has fairly low standards when it comes to choosing his movies – he was linked to Spider-Man 4 as the Vulture before it all fell apart and managed to be the best thing about Con Air (okay, second best – but Steve Buscemi is just awesome anyway) – but McDormand is an actress known for being relatively choosy about her roles. She isn’t exactly matinee idol fare. But, as I read the story, I couldn’t help wondering: why does Michael Bay even need actors for Transformers?

Who needs actors when you have explosions?

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Matthew Goode on Making Bad Films…

It’s turgid. I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010. [The location] was the main reason I took it – so that I could come home at the weekends. It wasn’t because of the script, trust me. I was told it was going to be like The Quiet Man with a Vaughan Williams soundtrack, but in the end it turned out to have pop music all over it. … Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid.

– Matthew Goode on Leap Year

It’s rare to hear an actor being so candid about a film that met with… less than stellar reception. On one hand I admire the guy’s honesty in speaking out, but on the other I kinda wonder if he really has the right to label the movie as ‘turgid’ after starring in it and whether ‘I got paid’ is really a justification for inflicting that racist romantic comedy upon mankind.

Look on my works ye mighty and despair...

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Tiring of Retiring Stars?

Hmm… A little part of me is so surprised that everybody is taking this whole ‘retirement’ thing with Robert Downey Jnr. so seriously. Yes, he talked about quitting while he’s ahead – an act that many former stars would have done well to consider – and seems to long for a bit of quite time:

I’ve never had it this good — this is my day in the sun — and I certainly don’t want to look a gift horse in the molars. But [my wife] Susan and I want to begin to be in our lives as much as we are in our jobs. I’d love just to sit here and say, ‘What movie’s playing tonight?’ I’d love to finish the new book about D-day I’m reading. I love painting, I love music.

I’m far too cynical to be driven to a state of panic about the loss of one of the finest talents to re-emerge over the past two or three years. Experience has taught us that there’s quite a distance between ‘retiring’ and ‘retired’ in Hollywood.

No need to feel down about Downey...

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Actors & Politics: A Dangerous Combination…

There is an interesting article in The Guardian written by Samantha Morton, which lauds Nicole Kidman’s decision to announce that Hollywood treats women as sex objects and Matt Damon’s announcement that he won’t do excessively violent films. They are both valid points for discussion, but I’m never quite sure what to make of it when an artist makes a public anouncement like that, clearly politicising their work. Anyone who neede Nicole Kidman to tell them that Hollywood treats women as objects obviously hasn’t been paying attention to any film released ever, and I doubt anyone will be particularly surprised to here Matt Damon won’t turn up as a lead in Saw. That’s not to diminish their observation, but part of me is always uncomfortable abou the increasing politicalisation of actors and celebrities in our culture.

kidman

Not kidding around...

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