Watching Them Become Stars

I never saw the transformation Judy Garland, Roddy McDowall or Elizabeth Taylor made from child actor to adult star.   Or Mickey Rooney.  Or Dean Stockwell.  Or any child actor who successfully moved on to a movie career as an adult before 1980 because to me, I saw it happen all at once.  I might see Rooney in Boy’s Town one day and The Black Stallion the next.   I might see Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz in the evening after watching her in A Star is Born that morning.    And Elizabeth Taylor might transform before my eyes from the little girl in National Velvet to the destructive Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in nothing more than a week.   But for each one of us there is a period where we saw the transformation in real time, maybe for some of this post’s readers it includes the actors I listed above.   My cinephilia came into its own in the late seventies and early eighties and more than a few of the stars today got their start then.   When I look back on it, I can see how wrong or right I was and how some completely blindsided me, one in particular.

Taps Cast

The early eighties were a particularly fertile period in my cinephilia.  Having just gotten both cable and a VCR, it seemed that, after years of reading about so many movies, now I could finally watch them.  And I did, one after another, the VCR becoming my best friend.  But also, like any teenager/twenty-something, I watched a lot of whatever was on cable.  Again and again and again.  Two of those movies were Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Taps.   Now, had you asked me at the time, right then in 1982 when I was watching these movies on cable, who would become stars and who wouldn’t, I would have probably given the wrong answer on some, the right answer on others.   Certainly Fast Times left me clueless.  I found it to be dull, unfunny and shoddily put together.   I probably would’ve said that maybe Jennifer Jason Leigh will go on to big things, and maybe her goofy brother, Judge Reinhold, but nobody else.  Oh, I thought Sean Penn was good enough as Spicoli, it’s just that with nothing else to base it on, I couldn’t be sure if this was a performance or, like Pauly Shore later, this was all he could do.  Eric Stoltz?  I couldn’t even tell you what he did.  Forest Whitaker?  The football player?  Doesn’t seem like he did much.  If you told me at the time that both Penn and Whitaker would go on to be highly respected Oscar winning actors, I probably would’ve assumed you’d been smoking some of that Spicoli weed again.  Oh yeah, and did I mention Nicolas Cage?  That’s right, Fast Times at Ridgemont High had three future Best Actor winners in it.  Holy cow.

For Penn, the difference came when I saw Taps.  Being young and stupid, it took me a couple of viewings, and paying attention to the credits, to realize that the cavalry friend of Oscar winner Timothy Hutton was the same guy who played Spicoli in Fast Times.   Now I could see something and I was duly impressed.  But the person who really caught my attention was some guy named Tom Cruise.  Now Cruise is an actor with whom I have a tolerate/hate relationship (love doesn’t enter into it).  I mostly think he’s good at playing jerks and a-holes.   Anything outside of that and he can come off as alternately dull or cloying.   In his action movies, just dull.   But jerky or crazy angry?  Oh yeah, he’s got that down pat, my friends, and his role as the utter jerkwad militant wacko shooting up the front gate with his machine gun while drooling with delight and screaming, “It’s beautiful, man, it’s beautiful!” was the role he was born to play.  And Frank T.J. Mackey.   And the producer in Tropical Thunder.  Point is, I was half right and half wrong.  I saw that he would be big but I probably would’ve guessed, “This guy will become a classic heavy, with millions of fans loving to hate him.”  I guess I was kind of right anyway.

birdyprofile

Later, when I was watching The Color of Money, starring Paul Newman and the now bonafide star, Tom Cruise (playing a cocky jerk in a rather pointless sequel, or is that statement redundant?), I remember watching the scene where Eddie gets played by a young hustler played by Forest Whitaker and I thought, “Hey, that’s the football player from Fast Times again and that other movie, Vision Quest.”  I was beginning to recognize him in very small parts but he still had nothing big to go on.

Vision Quest, on the other hand, had this new guy, Matthew Modine, and after watching that and Birdy, I was convinced he would be accepting an Oscar any day now.  His lead in Full Metal Jacket soon after seemed to confirm that this was an actor on his way to stardom.  And yet, despite steady work and reliable performances, it just never quite happened.   More than any of the actors I’ve already mentioned here, he’s the one, at the time, I would’ve pegged for lasting stardom and Oscars.

Or how about his costar in Full Metal Jacket, Adam Baldwin, who’d also made a big splash in My Bodyguard and had a brief role in Ordinary People?  He’s certainly a terrific actor and has worked steadily since but stardom eluded him.

The other guy in Birdy, Nicolas Cage, impressed me more but I still would have never, ever pegged him for stardom.  By Moonstruck, I was starting to see it but I still thought his performances were too big and broad to make it.    By Vampire’s Kiss, it was becoming clearer.  And by now, they were all starting to connect.   Adam Baldwin was in Ordinary People with Tim Hutton who was in Taps with Penn and Cruise, Penn was in Racing with the Moon with Cage and Cage was in Birdy with Modine who was in Full Metal Jacket with Baldwin and on and on.  Except…

There was this other group called “The Brat Pack.”  Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald.  They were in The Breakfast Club and Ally Sheedy had co-starred with this other great new kid, Matthew Broderick in War Games.   Say what you will now, at the time, I would’ve pegged them all for stardom, especially Molly Ringwald.  Not just the stardom she had, or the steady work she’s received, but major stardom and the box office and Oscars that go with it for her whole career.

Less Than Zero

As it was, I watched all of them grow into actors taking on adult roles and succeeding for the most part, even if they didn’t all become big stars.  I definitely didn’t see Penn’s star rising so fast nor did I see Whitaker as a major force until Bird, but there was one that completely blindsided me:  Robert Downey, Jr.   When I noticed him at all, in things like Weird Science or The Pick-Up Artist, he just seemed like a pretty boy riding out his youth in front of the camera for as long as anyone would pay him.   Some might still think that but I’ve come to really enjoy his work, especially in Zodiac where he gives one of the best performances of his career.   One person that wasn’t blindsided was my mother.  I still remember her telling me in the late eighties that he was the best of the lot.  I was highly skeptical but I think she was right. 

In the end, all the actors I’ve mentioned here were and are good ones with varying degrees of success.   And unless we’re all the exact same age, we’ve watched different actors become stars in different times.  As to who among the youngest actors in movies today will be the stars of tomorrow, I couldn’t say for sure.  Tell you what, though.  Let me ask my mom and I’ll get back to you.

82 Responses Watching Them Become Stars
Posted By Heidi : March 13, 2013 12:20 pm

Yeah, I would have been right with you on some of them. I remember watching Taps, but couldn’t get past Timmothy Hutton to really notice the other guys! Also agree with your mother, I thought that Robert Downy jr had more talent in his little finger than the rest of the so called “brat Pack” , but that wasn’t saying a whole lot.I didn’t care for their movies at the time they came out. I do love Adam Baldwin, and the parts he gets, he usually plays well. I know him best from Firefly and the movie Serenity, based on the tv series. I think he has quite a following of fans, if nothing else.

Posted By Heidi : March 13, 2013 12:20 pm

Yeah, I would have been right with you on some of them. I remember watching Taps, but couldn’t get past Timmothy Hutton to really notice the other guys! Also agree with your mother, I thought that Robert Downy jr had more talent in his little finger than the rest of the so called “brat Pack” , but that wasn’t saying a whole lot.I didn’t care for their movies at the time they came out. I do love Adam Baldwin, and the parts he gets, he usually plays well. I know him best from Firefly and the movie Serenity, based on the tv series. I think he has quite a following of fans, if nothing else.

Posted By tdraicer : March 13, 2013 2:23 pm

I always thought Matthew Modine was, well, dull. Not bad, not without talent, but lacking that certain spark that keeps your eyes focused on an actor when they are on screen. I have a similar tolerate/hate relation with Tom Cruise, and also with Sean Penn, but they both have that energy that Modine lacks.

Posted By tdraicer : March 13, 2013 2:23 pm

I always thought Matthew Modine was, well, dull. Not bad, not without talent, but lacking that certain spark that keeps your eyes focused on an actor when they are on screen. I have a similar tolerate/hate relation with Tom Cruise, and also with Sean Penn, but they both have that energy that Modine lacks.

Posted By kingrat : March 13, 2013 4:01 pm

THE OUTSIDERS is another amazing film to watch for future stars. Everyone was sure that Matt Dillon, this good-looking guy who could act, would become a big, big star. Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell were in some successful films, but didn’t become stars, but Patrick Swayze as the older brother made an impression while he was on screen, and that Tom Cruise guy (who seemed nice in this movie) also went on to have bigger careers. Diane Lane has had an in-and-out kind of career, but done some big films along the way.

“Tolerate/hate” relationship says it perfectly. Love it! But Tom Cruise can carry a movie, and some more likable and even more talented actors cannot. Until he started jumping over couches on Oprah, Cruise had one of the best careers in Hollywood history, and he’s still doing pretty darn well, whether we like him or not. (OK, some of us are in the “don’t like him” category.)

Everybody was ready for Josh Hartnett to have a big career after PEARL HARBOR, but you know how well that turned out.

I’m with you on Matthew Modine. Yes, perhaps a little bland, but able to transform himself into different characters, as in BIRDY. I’d have bet on an Oscar, too.

Posted By kingrat : March 13, 2013 4:01 pm

THE OUTSIDERS is another amazing film to watch for future stars. Everyone was sure that Matt Dillon, this good-looking guy who could act, would become a big, big star. Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell were in some successful films, but didn’t become stars, but Patrick Swayze as the older brother made an impression while he was on screen, and that Tom Cruise guy (who seemed nice in this movie) also went on to have bigger careers. Diane Lane has had an in-and-out kind of career, but done some big films along the way.

“Tolerate/hate” relationship says it perfectly. Love it! But Tom Cruise can carry a movie, and some more likable and even more talented actors cannot. Until he started jumping over couches on Oprah, Cruise had one of the best careers in Hollywood history, and he’s still doing pretty darn well, whether we like him or not. (OK, some of us are in the “don’t like him” category.)

Everybody was ready for Josh Hartnett to have a big career after PEARL HARBOR, but you know how well that turned out.

I’m with you on Matthew Modine. Yes, perhaps a little bland, but able to transform himself into different characters, as in BIRDY. I’d have bet on an Oscar, too.

Posted By AL : March 13, 2013 6:38 pm

Greg, this smacks of The Nepotism Brat Pack…

Posted By AL : March 13, 2013 6:38 pm

Greg, this smacks of The Nepotism Brat Pack…

Posted By John Mundt, Esq. : March 13, 2013 6:49 pm

Maybe we’re missing the point. That entire “Brat Pack” generation seemed to mark a departure (or return?) to an era of young, teen-ish stars mostly burning brightest in their earliest films. As most of the Brat Packers matured, the following decades instead quietly claimed their once meteoric fame like inevitable gravity. For me, the most shocking thing is that any of them have had decent careers at all….not because they weren’t any more or less talented than performers of other eras, but because their initial fame was built in large part specifically on their youth.

It completely tickles me to see any of them today, though, no matter the setting, because, as with you, they are my first equa-generational stars. We all could have been in high school together, and, like my actual schoolmates, the joys and sorrows, triumphs and surprises that they have experienced have mirrored my own. I might even suggest that the success some have enjoyed recently (Charlie Sheen, Robert Downey, Jr.) stems from a weird sense of nostalgia for the “good old days” of the 1980s.

Posted By John Mundt, Esq. : March 13, 2013 6:49 pm

Maybe we’re missing the point. That entire “Brat Pack” generation seemed to mark a departure (or return?) to an era of young, teen-ish stars mostly burning brightest in their earliest films. As most of the Brat Packers matured, the following decades instead quietly claimed their once meteoric fame like inevitable gravity. For me, the most shocking thing is that any of them have had decent careers at all….not because they weren’t any more or less talented than performers of other eras, but because their initial fame was built in large part specifically on their youth.

It completely tickles me to see any of them today, though, no matter the setting, because, as with you, they are my first equa-generational stars. We all could have been in high school together, and, like my actual schoolmates, the joys and sorrows, triumphs and surprises that they have experienced have mirrored my own. I might even suggest that the success some have enjoyed recently (Charlie Sheen, Robert Downey, Jr.) stems from a weird sense of nostalgia for the “good old days” of the 1980s.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 13, 2013 10:08 pm

Vision Quest! My husband wrestled in highschool even going to state championships. He thought Vision Quest a great movie, when he was 18. I thought it was so dumb! Some of the actors you mentioned were on some successful tv shows, and still are. Adam Baldwin was on Firefly, a show my husband will watch over and over again, via netflix streaming. Molly Ringwald is on the ABC Family channel’s Secret Life of an American Teen. You also forgot to mention Cage’s role in Valley Girl, an early role for him, playing the punk rocker who falls in love with a Valley Girl…Tom Cruise, he is on my can’t stand list. I think when he jumped on Oprah’s couch, that cemented it for me.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 13, 2013 10:08 pm

Vision Quest! My husband wrestled in highschool even going to state championships. He thought Vision Quest a great movie, when he was 18. I thought it was so dumb! Some of the actors you mentioned were on some successful tv shows, and still are. Adam Baldwin was on Firefly, a show my husband will watch over and over again, via netflix streaming. Molly Ringwald is on the ABC Family channel’s Secret Life of an American Teen. You also forgot to mention Cage’s role in Valley Girl, an early role for him, playing the punk rocker who falls in love with a Valley Girl…Tom Cruise, he is on my can’t stand list. I think when he jumped on Oprah’s couch, that cemented it for me.

Posted By Doug : March 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Possibly we have to reach back to the 1980′s for examples because
the business has changed and (whisper it) so have we.
Here’s a newer example-from the moment Dakota Fanning appeared onscreen in Spielberg’s miniseries “Taken” she owned the audience.
I remember my dad saying, “Man, that little girl can act!”.
If she works hard at her craft, avoids the Lohan potholes on the road to success…in fifty years she might be the Meryl Streep of 2063.
“Oh, I thought Sean Penn was good enough as Spicoli, it’s just that with nothing else to base it on, I couldn’t be sure if this was a performance or, like Pauly Shore later, this was all he could do.”
Well said; Penn has never been a favorite of mine, but I respect his talent. I was always amazed that Pauly Shore knew to face the camera instead of just wandering around. Maybe they hung a hot dog from the boom mic.

Posted By Doug : March 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Possibly we have to reach back to the 1980′s for examples because
the business has changed and (whisper it) so have we.
Here’s a newer example-from the moment Dakota Fanning appeared onscreen in Spielberg’s miniseries “Taken” she owned the audience.
I remember my dad saying, “Man, that little girl can act!”.
If she works hard at her craft, avoids the Lohan potholes on the road to success…in fifty years she might be the Meryl Streep of 2063.
“Oh, I thought Sean Penn was good enough as Spicoli, it’s just that with nothing else to base it on, I couldn’t be sure if this was a performance or, like Pauly Shore later, this was all he could do.”
Well said; Penn has never been a favorite of mine, but I respect his talent. I was always amazed that Pauly Shore knew to face the camera instead of just wandering around. Maybe they hung a hot dog from the boom mic.

Posted By Richard B : March 14, 2013 1:08 am

Who’d have thought Jon Cryer was the one still working?

Posted By Richard B : March 14, 2013 1:08 am

Who’d have thought Jon Cryer was the one still working?

Posted By Emgee : March 14, 2013 11:27 am

The career rise that still baffles me is that of Tom Hanks. From wimpy teenage comedies like the Burbs to becoming Best Loved Actor of All Time, how did that happen? And more to the point: Why?

BTW It still grates me that Paul Newman got his only Oscar as a Support Actor in The Color of Money,supporting You Know Who.
How annoying is that?

Posted By Emgee : March 14, 2013 11:27 am

The career rise that still baffles me is that of Tom Hanks. From wimpy teenage comedies like the Burbs to becoming Best Loved Actor of All Time, how did that happen? And more to the point: Why?

BTW It still grates me that Paul Newman got his only Oscar as a Support Actor in The Color of Money,supporting You Know Who.
How annoying is that?

Posted By Richard B : March 14, 2013 1:06 pm

Well, technically, Newman’s award was for Best Actor in a Leading Role. So Cruise basically supported both Newman and Hoffman to leading-man Oscars. Maybe that’s the kind of work he should have stuck with.

On the other hand, Newman’s last nomination was for supporting Tom Hanks, so I know how that must grate with you.

Posted By Richard B : March 14, 2013 1:06 pm

Well, technically, Newman’s award was for Best Actor in a Leading Role. So Cruise basically supported both Newman and Hoffman to leading-man Oscars. Maybe that’s the kind of work he should have stuck with.

On the other hand, Newman’s last nomination was for supporting Tom Hanks, so I know how that must grate with you.

Posted By jbryant : March 14, 2013 8:22 pm

I have to side with those who find Matthew Modine rather dull. He’s certainly not a bad actor, but I never prophesied an Oscar for him, nor did I ever saw a level of charisma that would have suggested major stardom.

Downey, Jr. first impressed me in LESS THAN ZERO, an Oscar-worthy turn that suggested more acclaim was on the horizon, if not full-fledged stardom. The fact that he has achieved both is almost miraculous, considering.

Posted By jbryant : March 14, 2013 8:22 pm

I have to side with those who find Matthew Modine rather dull. He’s certainly not a bad actor, but I never prophesied an Oscar for him, nor did I ever saw a level of charisma that would have suggested major stardom.

Downey, Jr. first impressed me in LESS THAN ZERO, an Oscar-worthy turn that suggested more acclaim was on the horizon, if not full-fledged stardom. The fact that he has achieved both is almost miraculous, considering.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:54 pm

I actually don’t disagree with the “Modine lacking charisma” argument at this point. Just that when I was younger and seeing him in STREAMERS, FULL METAL JACKET and BIRDY, I thought he had a lot more going for him and expected a lot. By contrast, I didn’t expect a lot from Penn and he ended up delivering quite a bit more. My opinion on Downey, for instance, obviously changed a lot, too.

Cruise I honestly did think would be a great “guy you loved to hate” actor his whole career and still say that’s what he’s best at.

And I left so many out. Anybody remember Christopher Collet? I thought he’d go places, too.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:54 pm

I actually don’t disagree with the “Modine lacking charisma” argument at this point. Just that when I was younger and seeing him in STREAMERS, FULL METAL JACKET and BIRDY, I thought he had a lot more going for him and expected a lot. By contrast, I didn’t expect a lot from Penn and he ended up delivering quite a bit more. My opinion on Downey, for instance, obviously changed a lot, too.

Cruise I honestly did think would be a great “guy you loved to hate” actor his whole career and still say that’s what he’s best at.

And I left so many out. Anybody remember Christopher Collet? I thought he’d go places, too.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:57 pm

Jenni, I must’ve watched VALLEY GIRL on Showtime back in the early eighties about twenty times. It was always on and I’d get bored flipping around and just watch it. Interestingly, I can remember pretty much nothing that occurs in the movie.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:57 pm

Jenni, I must’ve watched VALLEY GIRL on Showtime back in the early eighties about twenty times. It was always on and I’d get bored flipping around and just watch it. Interestingly, I can remember pretty much nothing that occurs in the movie.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:58 pm

Emgee, I’m still amazed that Newman didn’t win for The Verdict. He’s simply superb in that.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 14, 2013 10:58 pm

Emgee, I’m still amazed that Newman didn’t win for The Verdict. He’s simply superb in that.

Posted By Nim Kovak : March 15, 2013 2:22 am

Ultimately what strikes me about these familiar groupings and names from my own American youth as well — is that very few of them have demonstrated the built-to-last level of talent of say –

Kate Winslet — or Naomi Watts (both of whom seem almost at an entirely different plateau in fact)

Well, Sean Penn of course — & perhaps Robert Downey Jr … of those mentioned above …

And grudgingly I suppose Depp and Di Caprio (though neither of them has ever been quite right for my own aesthetic somehow)

But the very mention of a name like Newman in the context of this discussion shows melodramtically just how little comparison there really is compared with that generation or the one before

Don’t believe me? Try watching any of the films mentioned above … And then clear your palate and watch “Hud”! … THERE’S what a young star radiating mind-blowing levels of talent looks like!!! … ‘Nuff said …

Posted By Nim Kovak : March 15, 2013 2:22 am

Ultimately what strikes me about these familiar groupings and names from my own American youth as well — is that very few of them have demonstrated the built-to-last level of talent of say –

Kate Winslet — or Naomi Watts (both of whom seem almost at an entirely different plateau in fact)

Well, Sean Penn of course — & perhaps Robert Downey Jr … of those mentioned above …

And grudgingly I suppose Depp and Di Caprio (though neither of them has ever been quite right for my own aesthetic somehow)

But the very mention of a name like Newman in the context of this discussion shows melodramtically just how little comparison there really is compared with that generation or the one before

Don’t believe me? Try watching any of the films mentioned above … And then clear your palate and watch “Hud”! … THERE’S what a young star radiating mind-blowing levels of talent looks like!!! … ‘Nuff said …

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 12:29 pm

Two actresses just starting out who may have huge careers a decade from now: Michelle Dockery and Jessica Brown Findlay from Downton Abbey. Great show.
I remember the first time I saw Ray Liotta in a movie-”Something Wild”-when he first appeared he was so menacing without saying a word-I found myself pushing my chair back. I knew he was going to have a great career.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 12:29 pm

Two actresses just starting out who may have huge careers a decade from now: Michelle Dockery and Jessica Brown Findlay from Downton Abbey. Great show.
I remember the first time I saw Ray Liotta in a movie-”Something Wild”-when he first appeared he was so menacing without saying a word-I found myself pushing my chair back. I knew he was going to have a great career.

Posted By CitizenKing : March 15, 2013 12:40 pm

I am not sure the “Hud” comparison is quite fair. By the time Newman starred in “Hud” he was nearly 40, had two Academy nominations (for “The Hustler” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), and was a big time star. A better comparison perhaps is to watch “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, although even then he was over 30.

I clearly remember seeing Forrest Whitaker in “The Color of Money” and he belw me away. I didn’t connect him at the time with the silly “Fast Times”. I think the only thing that separates Whitaker and Newman in terms of ability is that Whittaker has made more idiosyncratic choices with his roles. Of course, he didn’t have the studio pushing him along and grooming him like Newman did in the 50′s and eraly 60′s. And you can’t ignore the effect of race on Whitaker’s career, either.

I also think you have to keep in mind that stars of Newman’s era were just as prone to acting in silly, lightweight fluff. Check out “Rally Round the Flag, Boys”, “Paris Blues”, and “What a Way to Go.” I am not knocking Paul Newman, I am a huge fan. But I think you have to put it all in perspective.

I was also annoyed that Newman’s only Oscar was for TCOM. But I have made peace with the fact that the movie an actor wins for is not always what earned the statue. The Academy has a tendency to give mulligans, which often slight other actors who will then deserve a mulligan of their own. There’s gotta be a better way.

Posted By CitizenKing : March 15, 2013 12:40 pm

I am not sure the “Hud” comparison is quite fair. By the time Newman starred in “Hud” he was nearly 40, had two Academy nominations (for “The Hustler” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), and was a big time star. A better comparison perhaps is to watch “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, although even then he was over 30.

I clearly remember seeing Forrest Whitaker in “The Color of Money” and he belw me away. I didn’t connect him at the time with the silly “Fast Times”. I think the only thing that separates Whitaker and Newman in terms of ability is that Whittaker has made more idiosyncratic choices with his roles. Of course, he didn’t have the studio pushing him along and grooming him like Newman did in the 50′s and eraly 60′s. And you can’t ignore the effect of race on Whitaker’s career, either.

I also think you have to keep in mind that stars of Newman’s era were just as prone to acting in silly, lightweight fluff. Check out “Rally Round the Flag, Boys”, “Paris Blues”, and “What a Way to Go.” I am not knocking Paul Newman, I am a huge fan. But I think you have to put it all in perspective.

I was also annoyed that Newman’s only Oscar was for TCOM. But I have made peace with the fact that the movie an actor wins for is not always what earned the statue. The Academy has a tendency to give mulligans, which often slight other actors who will then deserve a mulligan of their own. There’s gotta be a better way.

Posted By Richard B : March 15, 2013 1:40 pm

Doug: Absolutely agree with you on Ray Liotta; a mesmerizing combination of charm, dangerousness and outright rage in “Something Wild.” And yet, after “Goodfellas”…despite doing good work in movies like “Blow”…much of his subsequent career has been straight-to-cable or straight-to-video pap. What happens to these guys’ careers? “Thelma and Louise” is a reminder that for every Brad Pitt there’s a Michael Madsen.

Posted By Richard B : March 15, 2013 1:40 pm

Doug: Absolutely agree with you on Ray Liotta; a mesmerizing combination of charm, dangerousness and outright rage in “Something Wild.” And yet, after “Goodfellas”…despite doing good work in movies like “Blow”…much of his subsequent career has been straight-to-cable or straight-to-video pap. What happens to these guys’ careers? “Thelma and Louise” is a reminder that for every Brad Pitt there’s a Michael Madsen.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 2:19 pm

James Dean is probably a useful comparison, or would be if he’d lived and we had a later career to point to. He was only 24 with the filming of his three big films, around the same age as most of the brat pack and others we mentioned. So he was of the same age as Penn and Cruise and Modine (who was 26 in Vision Quest) and his film performances are a lot more solid in those three early roles. I don’t doubt that Penn and Cruise had talent at a young age, but I’m not sure if they could have played Jett Rink in GIANT. But maybe, what do I know? They were never given the chance. EAST OF EDEN, on the other hand, I can see one of the young eighties stars doing well.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 2:19 pm

James Dean is probably a useful comparison, or would be if he’d lived and we had a later career to point to. He was only 24 with the filming of his three big films, around the same age as most of the brat pack and others we mentioned. So he was of the same age as Penn and Cruise and Modine (who was 26 in Vision Quest) and his film performances are a lot more solid in those three early roles. I don’t doubt that Penn and Cruise had talent at a young age, but I’m not sure if they could have played Jett Rink in GIANT. But maybe, what do I know? They were never given the chance. EAST OF EDEN, on the other hand, I can see one of the young eighties stars doing well.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 3:24 pm

Changing the topic for a moment, but I have noticed that some of today’s actors remind me of classic movie actors of the past. Not that they have the same talents as those past actors, but that they somehow physically resemble them. I have noticed this and in part think that is why some of the “stars” of today have been able to stick around due to them sort of seeping into our subconscious and reminding us of the older stars. My examples are Matthew McConnaughay and Paul Newman-they share a resemblance. George Clooney and Cary Grant. James Franco and James Dean-I think they share an uncanny resemblance and if a biopic of Dean is done, I think Franco should be tagged to play him.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 3:24 pm

Changing the topic for a moment, but I have noticed that some of today’s actors remind me of classic movie actors of the past. Not that they have the same talents as those past actors, but that they somehow physically resemble them. I have noticed this and in part think that is why some of the “stars” of today have been able to stick around due to them sort of seeping into our subconscious and reminding us of the older stars. My examples are Matthew McConnaughay and Paul Newman-they share a resemblance. George Clooney and Cary Grant. James Franco and James Dean-I think they share an uncanny resemblance and if a biopic of Dean is done, I think Franco should be tagged to play him.

Posted By Emgee : March 15, 2013 4:20 pm

“if a biopic of Dean is done, I think Franco should be tagged to play him.” When that happens i bet Brad Pitt would be devastated.I’m pretty sure he fancies himself as a latter day Dean, if his photographs are an indication.That studied, smouldering look……

Posted By Emgee : March 15, 2013 4:20 pm

“if a biopic of Dean is done, I think Franco should be tagged to play him.” When that happens i bet Brad Pitt would be devastated.I’m pretty sure he fancies himself as a latter day Dean, if his photographs are an indication.That studied, smouldering look……

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 4:58 pm

jennifromrollamo:”Not that they have the same talents as those past actors, but that they somehow physically resemble them.”
I’ve noticed this-just finished season one of Downton Abbey, which I mentioned above.
One actor, Jim Carter,reminds me of Judd Hirsch. Also on the show, Jessica Brown Findlay looks a bit like a young Angelina Jolie.
Actors who remind the audience of earlier stars have one foot in the door, often because movie producers want the star power for their vehicles…without the star salary.
Michael Douglas is a fine actor, but I think his resemblance to his father (and that absolutely great last name)helped him to make his start.
James Franco could play James Dean, but if such a movie is made, they would probably go with a complete unknown. A year from now, after his sensitive portrayal of “Alien” in the “Spring Breakers” movie, James Franco may no longer be a star. But who knows? De Niro survived “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle”.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 4:58 pm

jennifromrollamo:”Not that they have the same talents as those past actors, but that they somehow physically resemble them.”
I’ve noticed this-just finished season one of Downton Abbey, which I mentioned above.
One actor, Jim Carter,reminds me of Judd Hirsch. Also on the show, Jessica Brown Findlay looks a bit like a young Angelina Jolie.
Actors who remind the audience of earlier stars have one foot in the door, often because movie producers want the star power for their vehicles…without the star salary.
Michael Douglas is a fine actor, but I think his resemblance to his father (and that absolutely great last name)helped him to make his start.
James Franco could play James Dean, but if such a movie is made, they would probably go with a complete unknown. A year from now, after his sensitive portrayal of “Alien” in the “Spring Breakers” movie, James Franco may no longer be a star. But who knows? De Niro survived “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle”.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 5:56 pm

Doug, I am a huge Downton Abbey fan. Brace yourself for season 3!
I agree, that Jim Carter does look like Judd Hirsch! I just watched My Week With Marilyn and Carter had a bit part as a pub/inn keeper. Michele Williams was outstanding as Marilyn Monroe, while not looking exactly like her she still put forth a wonderful performance of a troubled star, who seemed bigger than life itself. A shout out too, to Dougray Scott, who played a great Arthur Miller, down to the NYC accent. His part in the movie was small and I wish it had been larger. My only gripe was Kenneth Brannaugh’s fake chin with a cleft in it. Olivier had such a chin but one could tell that it was a fake on Brannagh and I think it appeared to hinder his mouth movements a bit when he had to speak.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 5:56 pm

Doug, I am a huge Downton Abbey fan. Brace yourself for season 3!
I agree, that Jim Carter does look like Judd Hirsch! I just watched My Week With Marilyn and Carter had a bit part as a pub/inn keeper. Michele Williams was outstanding as Marilyn Monroe, while not looking exactly like her she still put forth a wonderful performance of a troubled star, who seemed bigger than life itself. A shout out too, to Dougray Scott, who played a great Arthur Miller, down to the NYC accent. His part in the movie was small and I wish it had been larger. My only gripe was Kenneth Brannaugh’s fake chin with a cleft in it. Olivier had such a chin but one could tell that it was a fake on Brannagh and I think it appeared to hinder his mouth movements a bit when he had to speak.

Posted By Jack Favell : March 15, 2013 8:17 pm

Thanks so much for mentioning Adam Baldwin, a wonderful actor right from the start.

Elizabeth McGovern, John Cusack.

Posted By Jack Favell : March 15, 2013 8:17 pm

Thanks so much for mentioning Adam Baldwin, a wonderful actor right from the start.

Elizabeth McGovern, John Cusack.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 9:09 pm

Elizabeth McGovern is on Downton Abbey! Cusack, for probably various reasons, hasn’t had a hit in quite a while. Kevin Bacon, on the other hand, has appeared in a lot of movies, some very good ones, and now I have heard raves for his cop/suspense show on Fox.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 15, 2013 9:09 pm

Elizabeth McGovern is on Downton Abbey! Cusack, for probably various reasons, hasn’t had a hit in quite a while. Kevin Bacon, on the other hand, has appeared in a lot of movies, some very good ones, and now I have heard raves for his cop/suspense show on Fox.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 10:28 pm

I haven’t even started season two of Downton yet, but soon. I hosted ‘movie night’ but most friends had other plans, so it was just two Dougs watching “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on Blu ray tonight.
Elizabeth McGovern shines in her Downton role,and since we’re playing the Downton ‘resembles game’,”Thomas”-Rob James-Collier could probably sign autographs as Christian Bale, jr.
Back to topic, Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress-she showed innate acting talent even as a small girl in “The Amityville Horror” in 2005. We’re watching her grow up on screen, and she’ll probably be a major star in another decade.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 10:28 pm

I haven’t even started season two of Downton yet, but soon. I hosted ‘movie night’ but most friends had other plans, so it was just two Dougs watching “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on Blu ray tonight.
Elizabeth McGovern shines in her Downton role,and since we’re playing the Downton ‘resembles game’,”Thomas”-Rob James-Collier could probably sign autographs as Christian Bale, jr.
Back to topic, Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress-she showed innate acting talent even as a small girl in “The Amityville Horror” in 2005. We’re watching her grow up on screen, and she’ll probably be a major star in another decade.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 10:30 pm

I haven’t even started season two of Downton yet, but soon. I hosted ‘Friday movie night’ but most friends had other plans, so it was just two Dougs watching “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on Blu ray.
Elizabeth McGovern shines in her Downton role,and since we’re playing the Downton ‘resembles game’,”Thomas”-Rob James-Collier could probably sign autographs as Christian Bale, jr.
Back to topic, Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress-she showed innate acting talent even as a small girl in “The Amityville Horror” in 2005. We’re watching her grow up on screen, and she’ll probably be a major star in another decade.

Posted By Doug : March 15, 2013 10:30 pm

I haven’t even started season two of Downton yet, but soon. I hosted ‘Friday movie night’ but most friends had other plans, so it was just two Dougs watching “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on Blu ray.
Elizabeth McGovern shines in her Downton role,and since we’re playing the Downton ‘resembles game’,”Thomas”-Rob James-Collier could probably sign autographs as Christian Bale, jr.
Back to topic, Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress-she showed innate acting talent even as a small girl in “The Amityville Horror” in 2005. We’re watching her grow up on screen, and she’ll probably be a major star in another decade.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 10:42 pm

You guys do know James Franco’s claim to fame was playing James Dean, right? You can watch it online. Here’s the wikipedia entry on it: James Dean

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 10:42 pm

You guys do know James Franco’s claim to fame was playing James Dean, right? You can watch it online. Here’s the wikipedia entry on it: James Dean

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 10:45 pm

Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress

I agree, she might have a good career ahead of her. Jodie Foster was as young (or younger) when she started and she ended up with two Oscars in four years.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 15, 2013 10:45 pm

Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming quite a good actress

I agree, she might have a good career ahead of her. Jodie Foster was as young (or younger) when she started and she ended up with two Oscars in four years.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 16, 2013 12:30 am

I didn’t know that a James Dean movie was made for television and it starred Franco! Thanks for that info, Greg.

Posted By jennifromrollamo : March 16, 2013 12:30 am

I didn’t know that a James Dean movie was made for television and it starred Franco! Thanks for that info, Greg.

Posted By robbushblog : March 17, 2013 2:23 pm

You beat me to the punch on the James Dean biopic, Greg. That was probably Franco’s best work to date, although he was very good in 127 Hours. Who would have guessed from watching Freaks and Geeks that he would become so popular? Not me.

I thought Haley Joel Osment was going to be a huge star after The Sixth Sense. After Secondhand Lions and some other less than notable roles, he seems to have vanished.

Posted By robbushblog : March 17, 2013 2:23 pm

You beat me to the punch on the James Dean biopic, Greg. That was probably Franco’s best work to date, although he was very good in 127 Hours. Who would have guessed from watching Freaks and Geeks that he would become so popular? Not me.

I thought Haley Joel Osment was going to be a huge star after The Sixth Sense. After Secondhand Lions and some other less than notable roles, he seems to have vanished.

Posted By The Mutt : March 17, 2013 6:52 pm

Watching Kurt Russell grow up from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes to Stuntman Mike has been fascinating.

Posted By The Mutt : March 17, 2013 6:52 pm

Watching Kurt Russell grow up from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes to Stuntman Mike has been fascinating.

Posted By swac44 : March 21, 2013 5:15 pm

I didn’t see the James Dean biopic that Franco starred in (I’m not the biggest Dean fan, to be honest, his style grates on me), but I didn’t like him much in the first few films I saw him in because the Dean influence was so strong and took a while to wear off. I’ve since enjoyed his performances in Milk, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and even the new Oz movie, which I found entertaining enough.

An actress I liked right off the bat as a child is Christina Ricci, and I hoped her career would have had a higher trajectory. She continues to work, but for every successful project (The Opposite of Sex, Monster) there seems to be two or three misfires. I’ll still go see something she’s in, with the unnotable exception of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, I don’t think anything could persuade me to chase that turkey.

Posted By swac44 : March 21, 2013 5:15 pm

I didn’t see the James Dean biopic that Franco starred in (I’m not the biggest Dean fan, to be honest, his style grates on me), but I didn’t like him much in the first few films I saw him in because the Dean influence was so strong and took a while to wear off. I’ve since enjoyed his performances in Milk, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and even the new Oz movie, which I found entertaining enough.

An actress I liked right off the bat as a child is Christina Ricci, and I hoped her career would have had a higher trajectory. She continues to work, but for every successful project (The Opposite of Sex, Monster) there seems to be two or three misfires. I’ll still go see something she’s in, with the unnotable exception of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, I don’t think anything could persuade me to chase that turkey.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:25 pm

Kurt Russell is a great example. He was in Disney movies when I was a kid and when I heard he was playing Elvis I still remember thinking how odd it was that the Disney kid was playing Elvis. Then I saw him in Escape from New York and The Thing and I couldn’t imagine him clean cut anymore.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:25 pm

Kurt Russell is a great example. He was in Disney movies when I was a kid and when I heard he was playing Elvis I still remember thinking how odd it was that the Disney kid was playing Elvis. Then I saw him in Escape from New York and The Thing and I couldn’t imagine him clean cut anymore.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:27 pm

Rob, I looked up Osment and it appears he’s been in video games and his last two movies don’t even have Wikipedia entries. Of course, he could come back in a big way ten years from now for all we know. I wouldn’t count him out yet.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:27 pm

Rob, I looked up Osment and it appears he’s been in video games and his last two movies don’t even have Wikipedia entries. Of course, he could come back in a big way ten years from now for all we know. I wouldn’t count him out yet.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Swac, I think Ricci will keep coming back, too. I never watched the show Pan Am but I heard good things about her in it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2013 8:28 pm

Swac, I think Ricci will keep coming back, too. I never watched the show Pan Am but I heard good things about her in it.

Posted By robbushblog : March 21, 2013 8:43 pm

Kurt Russell came by his portrayal of Elvis honestly. He kicked Elvis in the shin twice in It Happened at the World’s Fair.

Posted By robbushblog : March 21, 2013 8:43 pm

Kurt Russell came by his portrayal of Elvis honestly. He kicked Elvis in the shin twice in It Happened at the World’s Fair.

Posted By robbushblog : March 21, 2013 8:45 pm

I’ll continue to watch Ricci in stuff too. She is very sexy, despite her really large forehead and really big eyes. I don’t know what it is about her.

Posted By robbushblog : March 21, 2013 8:45 pm

I’ll continue to watch Ricci in stuff too. She is very sexy, despite her really large forehead and really big eyes. I don’t know what it is about her.

Posted By Doug : March 22, 2013 2:28 am

robbushblog:”She is very sexy, despite her really large forehead and really big eyes. I don’t know what it is about her.”
She’s an actress who does a lot of acting behind the eyes, meaning that she is thoughtful; she’s ‘present’ in every moment no matter how ridiculous those moments are.
The first glimmer of there being more to her than just cuteness
was in the Addams Family movie when Wednesday was coaxed into smiling, and her smile was so scary that the ‘normals’ instinctively shied away from her.
That wasn’t easy to convey, and she nailed it.

Posted By Doug : March 22, 2013 2:28 am

robbushblog:”She is very sexy, despite her really large forehead and really big eyes. I don’t know what it is about her.”
She’s an actress who does a lot of acting behind the eyes, meaning that she is thoughtful; she’s ‘present’ in every moment no matter how ridiculous those moments are.
The first glimmer of there being more to her than just cuteness
was in the Addams Family movie when Wednesday was coaxed into smiling, and her smile was so scary that the ‘normals’ instinctively shied away from her.
That wasn’t easy to convey, and she nailed it.

Posted By Pat Turman : March 22, 2013 9:21 pm

I’ll give one example of when I was right in predicting stardom & one when I was wrong: Both Bruce Willis & Mickey Rourke were stars on the rise at about the same time (early/mid 80′s). I had unintentionally associated them together because at first I got the two of them confused for each other. I finally got a bead on them when Willis was MOONLIGHTING on TV & Rourke was starring in big movies like 9 1/2 WEEKS & ANGEL HEART. I remember thinking that Rourke would have this huge megastar career while Willis would be forever stuck in the minors trying to break into features. Boy was I wrong!

I also remember seeing SILVERADO when it came out. It was the first movie I saw Kevin Costner in. And he just instantly grabbed your attention in every scene he was in. I didn’t know his name but I remember thinking “this guy’s gonna be a big star.”

Posted By Pat Turman : March 22, 2013 9:21 pm

I’ll give one example of when I was right in predicting stardom & one when I was wrong: Both Bruce Willis & Mickey Rourke were stars on the rise at about the same time (early/mid 80′s). I had unintentionally associated them together because at first I got the two of them confused for each other. I finally got a bead on them when Willis was MOONLIGHTING on TV & Rourke was starring in big movies like 9 1/2 WEEKS & ANGEL HEART. I remember thinking that Rourke would have this huge megastar career while Willis would be forever stuck in the minors trying to break into features. Boy was I wrong!

I also remember seeing SILVERADO when it came out. It was the first movie I saw Kevin Costner in. And he just instantly grabbed your attention in every scene he was in. I didn’t know his name but I remember thinking “this guy’s gonna be a big star.”

Posted By Paul Dionne : March 26, 2013 7:13 pm

Two that I still go wow didn’t see that coming: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy Solomon/3rd Rock From The Sun) and his growing body of work, and Mila Kunis (Jackie/That 70′s Show), though Kunis seems to have a healthy don’t give a shit attitude, but if you’d asked me she seemed the least talented of That 70′s Show’s cast. Let’s see how much staying power Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory) has.

Posted By Paul Dionne : March 26, 2013 7:13 pm

Two that I still go wow didn’t see that coming: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy Solomon/3rd Rock From The Sun) and his growing body of work, and Mila Kunis (Jackie/That 70′s Show), though Kunis seems to have a healthy don’t give a shit attitude, but if you’d asked me she seemed the least talented of That 70′s Show’s cast. Let’s see how much staying power Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory) has.

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *

MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D  Action Films  Actors  Actors' Endorsements  Actresses  animal stars  Animation  Anime  Anthology Films  Art in Movies  Australian CInema  Autobiography  Avant-Garde  Aviation  Awards  B-movies  Beer in Film  Behind the Scenes  Best of the Year lists  Biography  Biopics  Blu-Ray  Books on Film  Boxing films  British Cinema  Canadian Cinema  Character Actors  Chicago Film History  Cinematography  Classic Films  College Life on Film  Comedy  Comic Book Movies  Crime  Czech Film  Dance on Film  Digital Cinema  Directors  Disaster Films  Documentary  Drama  DVD  Early Talkies  Editing  Educational Films  European Influence on American Cinema  Experimental  Exploitation  Fairy Tales on Film  Faith or Christian-based Films  Family Films  Film Composers  Film Criticism  film festivals  Film History in Florida  Film Noir  Film Scholars  Film titles  Filmmaking Techniques  Films of the 1960s  Films of the 1980s  Food in Film  Foreign Film  French Film  Gangster films  Genre  Genre spoofs  HD & Blu-Ray  Holiday Movies  Hollywood history  Hollywood lifestyles  Horror  Horror Movies  Icons  independent film  Italian Film  Japanese Film  Korean Film  Literary Adaptations  Martial Arts  Melodramas  Method Acting  Mexican Cinema  Moguls  Monster Movies  Movie Books  Movie Costumes  movie flops  Movie locations  Movie lovers  Movie Reviewers  Movie settings  Movie Stars  Movie titles  Movies about movies  Music in Film  Musicals  Outdoor Cinema  Paranoid Thrillers  Parenting on film  Pirate movies  Polish film industry  political thrillers  Politics in Film  Pornography  Pre-Code  Producers  Race in American Film  Remakes  Revenge  Road Movies  Romance  Romantic Comedies  Satire  Scandals  Science Fiction  Screenwriters  Semi-documentaries  Serials  Short Films  Silent Film  silent films  Social Problem Film  Sports  Sports on Film  Stereotypes  Straight-to-DVD  Studio Politics  Stunts and stuntmen  Suspense thriller  Swashbucklers  TCM Classic Film Festival  TCM Underground  Television  The British in Hollywood  The Germans in Hollywood  The Hungarians in Hollywood  The Irish in Hollywood  Theaters  Thriller  Trains in movies  Underground Cinema  VOD  War film  Westerns  Women in the Film Industry  Women's Weepies