“Jesse Eisen­berg, James Franco and Justin Tim­ber­lake are bet­ter suited to play­ing geeks and hip­sters than ac­tion heroes”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

Don’t get us wrong: it’s nice that the big­gest stars in the world are sen­si­tive, tal­ented and slightly fem­i­nine, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp. It makes a wel­come change from the big­gest stars of decades past – the smirk­ing mous­tache of Burt Reynolds in the 1970s, the dy­namo of am­bi­tion that was Tom Cruise in the 1980s, and the ma­jes­tic Aus­trian oak that was Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger in the 1990s. The new wave of Amer­i­can ac­tors is promis­ing but, let’s face it, ris­ing Amer­i­can stars such as Jesse Eisen­berg, James Franco and Justin Tim­ber­lake are bet­ter suited to play­ing geeks and hip­sters than ac­tion heroes. One way to iron out the rugged nat­u­ral­ism of an ac­tor is to make them star in ce­real com­mer­cials and sit­coms from a young age, a com­mon be­gin­ning for your typ­i­cal Amer­i­can movie star, from Jake Gyl­len­haal to Eli­jah Wood. Shia LaBeouf, for ex­am­ple, started his ca­reer in the Dis­ney show Even Stephens. True, Chris­tian Bale was in Em­pire of the Sun as a boy, but Steven Spiel­berg’s war movie was a mil­lion miles away from, say, Saved by the Bell.

The Mickey Mouse Club, a 1990s chil­dren’s va­ri­ety show, in­volved kids, sin­ga­longs and whimsy. Many bank­able young ac­tors in the US are Mickey Mouse Club alumni, in­clud­ing Tim­ber­lake and Ryan Gosling. It’s not the ideal place to de­velop a tough per­sona, and it might be hard for Amer­i­can au­di­ences to pic­ture ac­tors fight­ing crime when they’ve seen them war­bling Dis­ney songs while wear­ing mouse ears. You need some­one with star qual­ity but who’s still a fresh face for film­go­ers. What to do? An ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion is to nab some­one who’s cut their acting teeth on an­other con­ti­nent.

It doesn’t mat­ter to Amer­i­cans that Chris Hemsworth started off in Home and Away, but it might have been an is­sue had he ap­peared in The OC or 90210. Sim­i­larly, Eric Bana started off in a sketch show on Aussie TV. Can you imag­ine the star of Hulk grad­u­at­ing from an Amer­i­can TV com­edy? Blind­ing white teeth and a per­fect tan are not char­ac­ter­is­tics associated with geeky Peter Parker, rugged Wolver­ine or reclu­sive Bruce Wayne, so thank­fully non-Amer­i­can ac­tors have (just about)

the right amount of van­ity be­fore go­ing over the edge. Un­like Brad Pitt, Ash­ton Kutcher and Mark Wahlberg, most of the for­eign-born ac­tors on this list did not be­gin as mod­els. This US phe­nom­e­non was brought to in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion by Fame. Spe­cial­ist schools teach the high-school cur­ricu­lum, but the stu­dents also re­ceive train­ing in mu­sic, dance and/or drama. And thanks to a cer­tain TV show, we all know what a glee club is. Of course, the UK and Aus­tralia have school drama so­ci­eties, but the divi­sion be­tween as­pir­ing sport stars and ac­tors seems less harsh. Hugh Jack­man, for in­stance, played rugby in school while also dab­bling in theatre. Thor and Green Lan­tern are the most ex­pat­stuffed su­per­hero movies in re­cent years, with the for­mer boast­ing Hemsworth, An­thony Hop­kins (Wales), Idris Elba (UK) and Stel­lan Skars­gård (Swe­den), and the lat­ter in­clud­ing Ryan Reynolds, Ge­of­frey Rush (Aus­tralia) and Mark Strong (UK). Both films are filled with classy ac­tors in tights and ar­mour shout­ing grand speeches while strid­ing through ma­jes­tic build­ings. Aus­tralia and the UK each have a rich, world-renowned theatre scene, and get­ting to know Shake­speare in­volves lots of pranc­ing about in tights and con­quer­ing grand speeches: the per­fect train­ing ground for a su­per­hero movie.

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