It’s been a long time since we’ve done a new recurring feature on the blog, and some of the recurring features I’m behind on (cough favorite TV shows cough), so I’m not quite ready to say this is going to be a recurring feature just yet, but I thought it would be fun to take six completely random actors who are not having the careers I think they should/could (or Hollywood isn’t giving them the careers they deserve-it cuts both ways, people), and give some unsolicited, friendly advice. Each column we’ll pick three women and three men and for the moment I’ll resist themes with this work. If you have other celebrities you’d like to see me give advice to, share in the comments. For now, we have…
What’s Working: Rebel Wilson came to all of our attentions with her hilariously infected tattoo in Bridesmaids, and has since become a favorite of most American cinematic audiences. She’s appeared in Bachelorette and most notably as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. She’s managed to transcend her newfound fame into hosting gigs for MTV, and for the most part is riding her fame relatively well.
What’s Not Working: I have never quite gotten what Wilson was trying to do with Super Fun Night. Very few movie stars go straight from major fame in a film like Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect and then do network television. Even someone like Melissa McCarthy (clearly the biggest star on primetime broadcast television right now) was on her show before her fame hit its new peak, so she’s in a George Clooney/Jennifer Aniston sort of situation. Wilson chose to go there, and with failed results-a cancelled television show has put a sheen on her bright future.
What She Needs to Do: Forget about television. At best you should have done a sort of semi-documentary style HBO show about a comedian or something (something Ricky Gervais would have greenlit). You are better off in film growing your comic brand. Also, try to find some variety in your roles-don’t just do supporting or you will be typecast. You’ve got some bankability, particularly with Pitch Perfect 2 set to be a big hit-utilize it. Signing up for Private Benjamin was a great start (speaking of which-Melissa McCarthy would be a strong choice to play your Captain Lewis).
What’s Working: Lea Michele may have been the initial star of the series, but once Blaine Anderson showed up in his adorkable blue uniform there was no denying the show had shifted over to being the Darren Criss Hour. Criss is talented, bright, and has a legion of deeply devoted fans. His brief stint on Broadway and sold-out concert tour have shown that he has the followers to cross mediums.
What’s Not Working: Glee’s over both in a pop culture sense and soon in a literal sense, and Criss hasn’t really utilized his fame to go into different mediums (to be fair, with the exception of Jane Lynch and to a very lesser extent Chris Colfer, none of these actors have). Criss has only made one film outside of Blaine, and hasn’t even made a full-length album. These windows of fame don’t last forever.
What He Needs to Do: I mean this in the nicest way possible, but the guy needs better work ethic and follow-through. He should be doing a film every break on Glee-not just one. I admire his willingness to stay involved in a number of charities and with this StarKids venture, but as a fan, I’m also objective enough to know that he should have more movies out by now. I don’t fault him for the failure of Girl Most Likely (turning down a Kristen Wiig/Annette Bening project is a foolish thing to do), but he needs to start signing up for more film roles and for the love of pizza, finish that album and release it. You’ve lost all of the momentum from your concert tour (it should have been done before then to improve sales)-at least get it done before Glee is out the door.
What’s Working: An icon of 1990’s cinema, she’s a three-time Oscar nominee and a celebrated beauty. She’s proven in cinema that she has what it takes both to sell prestige (Dangerous Liaisons, White Oleander) and blockbusters (Batman Returns, Hairspray).
What’s Not Working: Seriously-what is up with her acting choices lately? For an actress that once seemed certain to win an Oscar someday she has made just awful movies now for years. Dark Shadows? The Family? New Year’s Eve?!? I get that you may want to work with people you like, but can’t you also pick decent scripts while you’re at it?
What She Needs to Do: First-resist the urge to do a Ryan Murphy show (you know that the follow-up actress to Jessica Lange is not going to get the career boost that she got, and you shouldn’t play second fiddle), and instead get back to making a few films, risky films. Get in talks with people like Todd Haynes or Quentin Tarantino and see if there isn’t a plum role out there for you. And get to working-Meryl takes a role almost every year, and while not all of them are winners, her willingness and continued familiarity with filmgoers helps when a Devil Wears Prada comes along.
What’s Working: Taking on The Normal Heart was a smart decision and umm, you’re still dead sexy.
What’s Not Working: It’s really hard to headline a major blockbuster and have it bomb. It’s harder still when every film you touch seems to go up in flames: John Carter and Battleship are two of the highest-profile flops to hit Hollywood in the past decade, and you happen to have been associated with both. This isn’t an easy badge to bear, particularly because even when you’re a major player in a hit (Lone Survivor), you don’t get any of the credit.
What He Needs to Do: Return to television, first and foremost. The True Detective rumors are a great start. This will remind people why they liked you in the first place: you’re a sensitive, beautiful guy who can act. Meanwhile, try to avoid the blockbusters for a while and instead go the indie route. You’ve already “played gay” in Normal Heart, which is a pity because that would have been better for an Indy, but there’s a bohemian road film with your name on it out there. Carpe diem.
What’s Working: She is the star of the biggest sitcom on television, and rumor has it she makes over $300k an episode for The Big Bang Theory (and that number could well be half a million). Plus with her beauty and youth, she’s the best shot the show has at a major crossover actress.
What’s Not Working: She doesn’t seem to be working at crossing over. I get that $500k a week is hardly something to sneeze at and she’d be a fool to leave the show right now, but Penny cannot last forever. Her film career is almost non-existent (Jim Parsons, who has a much more limited appeal outside of Sheldon, has done far more with his fame from the series). When the most significant role of your film career is playing James Marsden’s sister in a Russell Brand movie no one remembers, you need to fix that.
What She Needs to Do: Honestly, this one’s a bit more on Hollywood, but this girl was made to be a romantic comedy star. She’s funny, charming, gorgeous, and insanely likable-where are the While You Were Sleepings and Sleepless in Seattles for her? I think she could quite easily be the most underutilized star in Hollywood right now, and some extremely smart producer looking for a cheaper alternative to Emma Stone should find their way to her before the sheen from Big Bang starts to wear off.
What’s Working: He’s one of the greatest actors of his generation, and recently finally got that Oscar nomination we’ve all been complaining about him not having.
What’s Not Working: I get that we all want a lake home and a Lexus, but why is it that Gary Oldman keeps taking thankless roles in dumpster bin Hollywood blockbusters (note, I haven’t seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I hear it’s pretty good so I’m not including that yet). Paranoia, Lawless, and RoboCop are not the sorts of films that he should be making right now (at least they’re not the only sorts of films that he should be making right now).
What He Needs to Do: Be a little less Johnny Depp (taking a career renaissance and making gazillions of dollars off his newfound respect) and a little more Colin Firth. The iron is still hot enough that if he found his King’s Speech people would head his way. Oldman should heed this warning: we all saw what happened to Mickey Rourke after The Wrestler…
And those are my pieces of celebrity advice for this week. Do you like this column? Do you want more of it? And if so, what other actors should I advise? Share in the comments!