I have to tell you that I think about a lot of things when I’m in the process of waking up. And yes, it IS a process, even more so, when you have to wake up at 6:00 AM, to get to college. Even more so when you have to take a bus, then a train, and then a tram. And most of the time, I think about absolutely stupid and irrelevant things while listening to music. And today, while eating breakfast, while in the bus, and while in the train, I thought about film stars.
And there, I was thinking: why is it, and how comes that, some big stars, that had huge success in a film (or even a series for all I care) could not succeed anymore afterwards, but some others do?
Then the answer struck me: it’s because, the role they played, that made them become famous, was very often the only role they had, that showed them on screen, and gave them some credits as actors.
Let’s give you some examples. The very best one I could find, is Star Wars (and there, I don’t mean episode I to III, but the real “old” ones). Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo already had a carrier before and while being in Star Wars. What I mean is, he shot in many films that had international success, while he was shooting Star Wars, like Blade Runner and Apocalypse Now. This showed that he could play another role than the iconic role of Han Solo. He was seen as a “legitimate” actor from the public.
And what about Carrie Fisher (beautiful Princess Leia) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, duh…)? Well Mark did not shoot any film that got international recognition before, nor while shooting Star wars. Thus, he stayed (and is still seen) as Luke Skywalker. And only as such. Contrary to Harrison Ford, he could not get rid of the character he was playing. He was stuck in his role as an icon, as an object of a film. Thus he was not recognized as an actor from the public, but as a unique character. And as for Carrie Fisher, even if she was the sex symbol of a whole generation and had a lot of presence as film star, she did not shoot any major international film afterwards (by this I mean: she never had the main role in them, and often went unnoticed to most eyes). Because she didn’t shoot any significant film before. Not as a side character.
Let’s give another example. Here, we could see it as a counter example, but in fact, it just shows how hard it is for an actor that got famous really fast with an iconic character, and this internationally, to get out of the public’s mind that he is this character. That it is his unique role.
Do you know who I am talking about? Well yes, Leonardo DiCaprio. He got famous internationally as the poor romantic boy of Titanic. And how many year did it take him, after Titanic, to build up a real carrier? To not end as just a guest star in TV shows and films? Yup, 2003. I would even say that he got recognized as an actor, and not only more as a young trendy boy, when he shot Blood Diamond, in 2007. Titanic had been out in 1998. Thus, it took him almost 10 years to get out of this stereotype that was forged around him and his character of Jack Dawson, which permits him now to do some very psychological and really serious films like Inception, or the beautifully mind-wrecking Shutter Island.
There we had it. Long recovery, isn’t it? And why? Because he also didn’t have any secondary role before.
Same problem we will see with the golden trio of Harry Potter. These poor guys couldn’t even physically shoot films before, and even if they did, no one would recognize them now. So for us, they will stay for a long time Harry, Ron and Hermione. There again, they will have problems getting out of these iconic characters, that marked a whole generation!
A bit like what happened to the three (human) main characters of Star Wars, I predict we will have the same thing for the actors of Harry Potter. Rupert Grint will be forgotten, Emma Watson will become (and is already seen from the Internet community) as a sex symbol, and Daniel Radcliff will perhaps have a career.
Why do I believe that? Well Rupert Grint had no other projects while shooting Harry Potter, and even if he seems being on film project right now, I am not sure that these films will have international success. Whereas, Daniel Radcliff had appeared in a theater piece (which made a lot of fuss around him because he appeared naked in it) and has already made a film that has international advertising about it: The Women in Black. And for Emma Watson? Well, she is the “égérie” of Channel right now, but apart from that… she didn’t turn any major film either.
Now, let’s take a look on the oh-so-famous Edward… I mean Cedric… I mean Robert Pattinson. What will happen to him? He had a secondary role in Harry Potter as Cedric Diggory, which made so that he was internationally known, as a side character (and come on, who didn’t cry when he died as Cedric?). But then he took the role of Edward Cullen. There I have to say: he told himself he hates the book and the story, but still, it makes him one of the most male actors of all time. And I’m really serious there. But he proved most people he could do better than this bad choice in playing in Remember Me and Water for Elephants. And seriously, he isn’t a bad actor. He just didn’t do the right choice at this period of time.
So, where’s the problem? There it is: Edward Cullen is a character that sticks to him. It wouldn’t be that terrible if, like Harrison Ford, several iconic character sticked to him, like Indiana Jones AND Han Solo. But there he is seen as the fairy vampire Edward Cullen. And this is really bad, because he isn’t bad of an actor.
But I do believe he will still shoot a lot of films, that will have international success, and not because all the Edward fangirls are all about him, but because he is an good actor. And perhaps he will be able to get out of this character, eventually. But first, we’ll have to wait for these stupid twilight series to end for poor Pattinson to be able to prove to everyone that he really just isn’t only a good pale sparkly face.
So, my point is, if you did have immediately, in a international success film, a main character role: you have less chance as an actor to get other roles, and to be seen as something other as your character. Even so more if it become an icon! But, if you had the chance to have several appearances as an important side character beforehand in other films that had some actual international success, you will more likely be recognized as a full time actor, even if some of your iconic characters you played may still stick to your skin, when the public watches you play.
But in the end, nothing is impossible with hard work, even if it’s harder, and it’s true that it’s better to jump on the first occasion, even if it does not allow you later on to have a big career, than letting your chance slip and having nothing at all.