There are some things an actor should never do. Nicholas Barber comes up with six rules to keep them out of trouble ...
Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE
Rosamund Pike's affecting performance in “An Education” confirmed that she was definitely more than just a Bond girl. So it’s odd to see her in “Johnny English Reborn” playing a Bond girl once again. Nine years on from her performance as Miranda Frost in “Die Another Day”, she’s the love interest in Rowan Atkinson’s new 007 spoof, effectively parodying herself. It’s a weird choice of roles.
Appearing in a pastiche of one of your earlier films is never a wise move. Not only is it disrespectful to that film, it’s also an acknowledgement that you aren’t known for much else. It turns you from an actor to a punchline. Robert Patrick, for example, seemed as if he might be bound for stardom when he played the T-1000 in “Terminator 2”. But by the time he’d sent up that role not once but twice, first in “Wayne’s World” and then in “Last Action Hero”, audiences assumed that he’d do the same thing at children’s parties. He might as well have taken out an advert announcing that his celebrity was on the wane.
Any actor who doesn’t want to reek of despair should avoid such self-mockery at all costs. That’s Rule One. Here are some other rules for keeping the stench of a decaying career away:
Rule Two: Don’t do a horror film unless you’re the monster. Horror audiences come to see the villains, and they come back again when those villains are in the sequels. The heroes’ main purpose is to look surprised when they’re impaled by a garden implement. So Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes don’t do themselves any favours by turning up in another of this week’s releases, “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”.
Rule Three: Don’t play the parents of a child who's the lead character. The message it sends is that your moment has passed, and that you’ve passed on the baton to the next generation. When Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt play the heroine’s parents in “Soul Surfer”, or when anyone old enough to vote co-stars with Dakota or Elle Fanning, they’re accepting that they’re less of a draw than a 12-year-old. Indeed, the showbiz adage that you should never work with children and animals holds water.
Rule Four: Don’t play a cartoon character’s sidekick. Bob Hoskins is the exception to the rule with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, but no one else is immune. When Robert DeNiro hammed his way through “The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle”, even rehashing his “You talkin’ to me” speech from “Taxi Driver”, it was a sure sign that he didn’t care about acting any more. Brendan Fraser, meanwhile, rubs shoulders with animated animals in almost all of his films, to the point where it now looks as if he can’t do anything else. Jason Lee’s role in “Alvin & The Chipmunks” laid to rest his stint as a leading man. Even though he was barely in the second “Alvin” film, he’s back in the imminent third instalment.
Rule Five: Don’t return to a franchise you abandoned a few years earlier. Any actor who walks out on a successful film series is telling the world that he or she has moved on to bigger and better things. Any actor who then returns to the series is telling the world that those bigger and better things turned out to be smaller and worse. For instance, Vin Diesel made the first “The Fast and the Furious” before bowing out. His co-star, Paul Walker, hung on for the sequel, but they both steered clear of the third instalment (except for a brief cameo from Mr Diesel). For the fourth episode, though, they were both back—an admission that their careers had stalled. As for Walker’s participation in the second film, that brings us to ...
Rule Six: Don’t sign up for a sequel without your original co-star. When Sharon Stone reprised her role in “Basic Instinct” without Michael Douglas, it seemed as if Mr Douglas had better things to do, whereas Ms Stone was left harking back to former glories. Worse still, Ms Stone had already cameoed as her “Basic Instinct” character in “Last Action Hero”. This brings us back to rule one.
Nicholas Barber is a film critic who writes reviews for the Independent On Sunday and previews for Intelligent Life. His last piece for More Intelligent Life was about how famous stars are better together than alone.
Picture credit: AP