Picasso’s "blue period" lasted for four years, and I bet it drove his dealer NUTS. Like, “Great! Another blue painting of a homeless man and a sad prostitute. Awesome. This'll sell.”It was a long time to do the same thing -- also because it was kind of a downer.
Whenever one of my favorite artists does the same thing for too long, I worry. Pretty much every Leonardo DiCaprio movie in the past decade could have featured him scowling on the poster. Seeing "Titanic" again reminded me that he has excellent comic timing. This is a person who was once on "Growing Pains." Can't you take a break from being intense?
Some people have their schticks, but I feel like so much of it is like, prestige-chasing Oscar grubbing. Maybe some actors only do epics because they think they're challenging, but I think a good test of mettle for any actor/band/artist/writer seems to be changing up their style and showing their versatility. My favorite actors are chameleons. Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Meryl Streep, Ryan Gosling and Jim Carrey turn every performance into something new and wonderful, consistently.
Sure, Jim reverts back to big paycheck/bad movies about penguins and Gary dumbs it down in Nolan’s “Batman” franchise and Harry Potter, but they make a lot of interesting, innovative films that set them apart as actors and show how good they are. See: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “The Professional,” and “Immortal Beloved” for Oldman; “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Truman Show,” and “I Love You, Phillip Morris” for Carrey.
I would love to see some of our current movie stars push the envelope a bit and do something different. How novel! Wouldn’t it be great to see Michael Cera play a 19th-century coal miner? Wouldn’t it be nice to see Denzel Washington stop playing a badass or unhinged villain? Could we ever cast Cate Blanchette in the next "Harold and Kumar" movie?
Actors get stale when it’s the same movie over and over and they’re only doing star vehicles which cater to their individual strengths. I would love to see some movie stars today take some risks. Whether it’s serious films that show they can act, or comedies that show they can be light and funny, there’s nothing greater than being at the movies and seeing a preview where an actor’s next role totally surprises you.
Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is actually a really great sport about this and takes risks that have the potential to belly flop: see “Rock of Ages” and a few years back in “Tropic Thunder.”
Without further ado, I have some requests for Hollywood below.
Will Ferrell: More Drama, Please
“Stranger than Fiction” is highly underrated and shows that Will Ferrell is more than a boob with chest hair resembling taco meat. He plays a lonely IRS nebbish with aplomb and heart. I’m a huge fan of his frat pack work: “Old School,” “Anchorman,” “Step Brothers,” etc…don’t get me wrong. But he has chops and I would love to see him use them in something without dick and fart jokes. His new movie out this summer, “Casa di Mi Padre,” is entirely in Spanish and seems one big rip-off from the Mexican season of “Eastbound and Down,” which Ferrell co-produces. C’mon, Will. You’re better than this.
Leonard Di Caprio: A Comedy, Any Comedy
I love Leo. I see everything he’s in. Ever since “Gangs of New York” and earning the role as Martin Scorcese’s new muse (now that DeNiro is too old) , everything he makes is super-serious and involves a scene with intense male crying or astronomical stakes. I suggest taking a comedic role that would totally surprise everyone. How about a lead in the next Farrelly Brothers film? Picture it: Leo as Curly in “The Three Stooges.” You know who else loves doing INTENSE roles? Nic Cage. Guess where he was at his best: comedies. It's possible to be funny AND prestigious. Like in the Charlie Kaufman-scripted "Adaptation," the Coens' "Raising Arizona," and let us not forget "Moonstruck."
Angelina Jolie: Anything Lighthearted, Preferably With No Accent
I don’t know about you, but I loved young and kooky Angelina as much as I can't stand her placeless non-accent in every movie. I’m sick of her playing the glamorous spy/action hero over and over again. I would like to see her play a normal lady. I know it’s hard to cast one of the most beautiful women in the world without being obligated to have her look like a Bond girl, but she has talent and should try something more down-to-earth and based in reality. It doesn’t have to be all creeptastic like “Girl Interrupted” either. Do something a little silly? Remember "Hackers?" "Foxfire?" "PLAYING BY HEART?" (If you haven't seen these, Netflix 'em.)
Robert Downey, Jr.: Arthouse Needs You
I’m a big fan of RDJ. I love the “Iron Man” movies and Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” films. I am thrilled that Downey is living proof that people can sober up and come back better than ever. He’s immensely attractive and talented and has the charismatic spark of all the great stars. (One of the few that men and women love, equally.) Now, RDJ, here’s my plea: Make more movies like “Wonder Boys,” “Short Cuts,” "Two Girls and a Guy," and “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.” I don’t want you to get sucked into only doing blockbusters. I know “The Avengers” is coming up in May and “Iron Man 3” is also in pre-production…but it would lovely to see you be kooky and weird and real like you used to be and why we all loved you in the first place. You’ve got an Oscar-winning performance in you, I just know it.
Did I forget anybody? Lemme know. THANKS IN ADVANCE, CELEBRITY PALS.