The Growing Celebrity Gap
I’m not going to lie: when it comes to actors, I definitely play favourites. Guys like Robert Downey Jr. and Morgan Freeman definitely have a higher chance of getting me into the theater than others. In high school, Orlando Bloom and Leonardo DiCaprio were definitely worth my time and money to get to the theater. What made it even better was being able to talk about it with others. Be it in high school or the adult world now, being able to chat with your friends and family about the latest Johnny Depp flick or new Bruce Willis film can be fun.
Unfortunately, that only works when the people you’re talking to know the people you’re talking about. And keeping up with actors and celebrities nowadays is like keeping up with players on sports teams — the big names are easy to track, but it’s easy to lose others in the trading.
Take Harrison Ford for example. (By the way, if you just said “Who?”, then the rest of this might be hard to follow — best to skip ahead for now). Harrison Ford, the man known as Indiana Jones. Also known as the man who made Blade Runner an amazing film, who introduced Han Solo’s witticisms into everyday conversation. I was talking about him about a month ago to a friend, when another friend’s face scrunched up at the mention.
“You mean the guy from Ender’s Game?” she said.
Yes, that’s him.
“Oh yeah,” she said, “What else has he been in?”
(If that just brought you a bit of pain, trust me, I know. If you still don’t know who Harrison Ford is, keep skimming down.)
How can we forget all of the great film contributions that someone like Harrison Ford gave to us? How easy we forget all those great film moments, those lines that we continue to quote. But like all great baseball players, you have a number of options — quit while you’ve still got something left, play until you’re forgotten, or only come on the field for the really great plays.
It’s a tough call to make. Stay off the field too long and you may not get the chance to play again. Stay on the field too much and you become your own running joke. Trying to keep up with the younger players can be a hassle and not worth the time. That’s when retirement can set in.
Take Sean Connery for example. Brilliant actor, well-known, rarely misses a beat. He quit while he was still on top, still a big fish in a big pond. Our generation knows him. But the next generation coming up? Maybe not. It seems that the only way to survive as a celebrity in films nowadays is to get a few big ones in with the mixed generations. Look at Robert Downey Jr.’s doing. He was almost on his way out until he hit it big with Iron Man. Now he’s going to be known for years after they finish making the last Avengers films. Same thing with Anthony Hopkins, who was fortunate enough to be cast as Thor’s father. That’s what the new generation will know him as. But guys like Michael Douglas? Hell, even Joe Pesci is low on today’s celebrity totem pole.
Comedians like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey are two more guys who seem to be holding on to what they have. But with guys like Seth Rogen, Zach Galifianakis and the Judd Apatow troupe moving in, it’s hard to keep a toehold on the comedy turf. There’s another two guys who are just trying to make it work. Williams has started fitting in with the small screen work. But Carrey with a Dumb and Dumber sequel? How’s that for a lasting legacy?
Every generation has their own actors, but it seems that there are fewer and fewer great ones. And while it’s common for actors to come and go with the generations, it’s hard to see the good ones sit on the bench while the other ones get to go into extra innings.
Watching movies for me now is like playing Fantasy Football. It’s like looking out on a field of players and saying “I really like that Chris Hemsworth guy, and he should have a few Thor
and Avengers movies left in him. I’ll pick him.” I feel like I’m watching all new players every time I watch a movie now. My main hope is that some of them are still around to play next season.