Movie Stars vs Actors

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Steve Schaffer, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    The Keanu Reeves and Popcorn Movie threads got me thinking about the state of the "art" in movies these days, more specifically about the performers.

    It seems there are many stars who are big box office draws but are not necessarily skilled actors, and a number of excellent actors who cannot on their own attract a large audience to the theater, as well as a few who are not only skilled actors but also big stars capable of filling a theater.

    For example, I'd call the following Stars, but not necessarily the best Actors:

    Meg Ryan
    Angelina Jolie
    Julia Roberts
    Keanu Reeves (I admit it)
    Arnold Schwarzenneger
    Mark Wahlberg

    Excellent Actors:
    Giovanni Ribisi
    William H Macy
    Philip Seymour Hoffman
    Judi Densch
    Steve Buscemi
    Cissy Spacek


    Movie Stars who can act:

    Anthony Hopkins
    Bruce Willis
    Meryl Streep
    Julianne Moore
    Jessica Lange
    Johnny Depp

    I'm sure there are many more in each category, those are just off the top of my head.

    I know there are many here who can contribute more names for each category and also many who disagree with my amateur movie buff choices.
     
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Good topic!

     
  3. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Location:
    "on a little street in Singapore"
    Real Name:
    Yee Ming Lim
    Stars:
    Harrison Ford
    Cameron Diaz

    Actors:
    Clint Howard

    Stars who can act:
    Al Pacino
    Robert De Niro
    Brad Pitt
    Marlon Brando (in his heyday)
    Ed Norton
    Reese Witherspoon
    Jim Carrey

    Is Dustin Hoffman an actor, or star who can act?
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Brando is almost sui generis in that he falls into all three categories.

    Actors
    Marlon Brando c. 1955

    Stars Who Can Act
    Marlon Brando c. 1975

    Movie Stars
    Marlon Brando c. 1995

    Changing topics slightly, with his Oscar last year (and with a likely Oscar-bait performance debuting today) Chris Cooper might one day make the difficult jump from "Actors" to "Stars Who Can Act".

    Here's my question. Into which category would YOU put the oft-Oscared Tom Hanks? I'll probably grant him "Stars Who Can Act" but it's a close call for me.
     
  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well, I agree that these distinctions between actor and movie star exist, but I think they always did. Just think of John Wayne and Laurence Olivier. Most people would agree that one of these was a much bigger movie star, and the other a much better actor. My point being that this is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination.
     
  7. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Stars who can act:

    Gene Hackman (I can't believe I'm the first to mention him)
    Denzel Washington (read above)
     
  8. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I think the main difference between a Movie Star and an Actor (and there's plenty of overlap) is that a movie star has a certain persona that they bring to their parts (and, sometimes, cannot escape). Even without seeing a preview for a movie, you sort of know what Jim Carrey will be like in it.

    Similarly, I wouldn't call Johnny Depp a movie star, not just because he can't open a movie, but because he doesn't really have that sort of pre-existing persona.
     
  9. Christopher P

    Christopher P Supporting Actor

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    In his commentary to Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan, Nicholas Meyer said something like "An actor is someone who pretends to be someone else, a movie star is someone who pretends that someone else is them." It's probably not usiversally accurate, but it was at the time in that he was talking about Shatner, and trying to get him to "be" Kirk instead of himself.

    Chris
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I would have written what George wrote, if (1) I had really thought of it and (2) he had not already done so.
     
  11. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Yes but which is which George, cause I'm much more impressed by John Wayne in Red River, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, etc than I am by Olivier in Hamlet, Wuthering Heights, or even Rebecca. Wayne was looked down on as a serious actor because he was almost exclusively in westerns and war movies, but he was capable of riveting, powerful performances as well as being adept at comedy, when the material and director called upon him to do so.
     
  12. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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  13. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

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  14. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    Star: Carrot Top. You watch "Chairman of the Board" and tell me that this guy isn't golden!
     
  15. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    I think his roles in "Road to Perdition", "Saving Private Ryan", and "Philadelphia" definately put Tom Hanks in the Stars who can act catagory. As far as John Wayne goes, check him out in "Fort Apache", that was a role he acted his butt off in as well as in "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." I agree that most of the movies he made in the 1970s were basically the same character, i.e., "Big Jake", "Chisum", "Rio Lobo" , "McQ", "Brannigan., etc. This fact though, doesn't make those movies any less enjoyable to watch. The most ironic fact is that the man, John Wayne, new what he should act in and what not to act in. The evidence is his irritation with Kirk Douglas when the latter made "Lust for Life." John Wayne told Kirk Douglas that actors such as they should stick with "action hero" type roles. I have to agree, I still find Kirk Douglas playing Vincent Van Gough kinda disconcerting.
     
  16. Mikel_Cooperman

    Mikel_Cooperman Producer

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    I always use the Gwyneth/Cate example. Cate Blanchette is an actress and Gwyneth is a movie star. Funny Gwyeth won the Oscar for Shaekespeare in Love over Cate Blanchette for Elizabeth the same year they were both nominated for an Oscar.
    There is no justice.

    Other actresses that dont get the notice they deserve and are Wonderful are:

    Mary Louise Parker, Jennifer Jason Lee and Lily Taylor. Are these actresses better than say Julia Roberts or Hallie Berry? Yes but they probably arent as Pretty.This is Hollywood after all.
     
  17. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Brook,

    I've been through this debate already (especially with Rain), which is why I left it vague. [​IMG] I will say that there are roles I like and ones I don't like by both of them, but with the exception of Liberty Valance, I find all of those Wayne westerns you mentioned vastly overrated, and his acting in them passable at best.
     
  18. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    This is soo depressing. [​IMG]

    Is Mark Wahlberg really a movie star? How many people here go to see a film just because his name is on the marquee?? This would be the definition of a true movie-star. I must be completely in the dark on this one. It's obvious he's been landing plenty of roles over the years but I'd give that credit to what must be the world's greatest agent. [​IMG]

    Now I admit I have a certain bias against Mr. Wahlberg as his acting always comes across as wooden (though it's always good for chuckle when you watch him try to emote) & he lacks anything that remotely resembles charisma or for that matter anything resembling a personality.

    I guess he wouldn't bother me so much if he just stayed away from the films I want to see. I'll probably skip seeing The Italian Job on the account of his participation. A shame as I really dig a good caper film.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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  20. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    The Cate Blanchett/Gwyneth Paltrow example is classic and so true. Oddly they both showed up in Talented Mr. Ripley, though the film might have been better if their roles were reversed.

    There are a number of non-Stars who can pull me into a theater.

    How about Actors who get enough critical acclaim that they are expected to be able to open a movie and it turns out they can't??

    I'm thinking specifically of Kevin Spacey, one of my favorite actors and one who can definitely make me buy a dvd of a movie I know nothing about. Got an Oscar, was capital S Starred in a couple of films that didn't do well at the box office, seems to have sorta dropped off the radar screen.

    And I like that some have mentionned Actors who became Stars who are back to being Actors, like Dustin Hoffman.

    How about Stars who desperately would like to be considered Actors?

    Burt Reynolds thought he had a chance at this transformation with Deliverance and again a decade or more later with Boogie Nights. I'm sure we can come up with some others.
     

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