Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hump Day Hottie: James Marsden

It's not technically 'hump day' today but if you have to go back in to work today after the 4th, it probably feels like you're only halfway through the week. While you're in that self-pity "woe is me" mode, shed a tear for / feel superior to / or consider an actor nobody ever talks about: James Marsden.

There was once a time when this now 33 year old actor was occupying a spot on the prettyboy Hollywood ladder somewhere below Chris Evans' current 'favored beefcake' rung and above a young William McNamara (remember him?) style 'generic pretty' rung. Paul Newman and Warren Beatty are the Classic Hollywood standards for actors who are too pretty to exist but few young upstarts ever achieve those stratospheric heights. They're phenomenons for a reason: as gifted with talent as they are with beauty... Brad Pitt might well be their only true modern counterpart.

So, the "It boy" crown never settled over Marsden's floppy bangs but as "hot up and comer" status faded (around about the time he convincingly sold us on that huge stick up Cyclops' ass in the X-Men franchise --like Orlando Bloom's role as "Paris" in Troy, the role wasn't doing the actor any favors) Marsden went and did something unexpected. He started acting. The "working actor" phase is starting to reap more interesting results.


He's tried gay roles in small dramas like Heights and The 24th Day. Most impressively he came out of Superman Returns with dignity intact. Usually that "not the right guy" role in romantic stories is a drag, as thankless as any role gets. But he didn't come across as a loser just...well, he wasn't the right guy for Lois [tangent: in my opinion he was dating down].

Now he's reinventing himself as a musical comedy man and methinks it's a smart move. He sang previously in Ally McBeal (but then, who didn't?) and has done a few comedies, including Zoolander. You can't judge a performance by a trailer but he appears to be having a great deal of fun with his "Prince Edward" role in the animation/musical/romcom mishmash Enchanted. In this trailer he's frequently threatening to burst into song while in pursuit of Amy Adams fairytale princess. And, finally, I'm happy to report that he's just swell singing and dancing the "Corny Collins" role in Hairspray .

Marsden's cheshire cat grin has always been the one genuinely odd-looking thing about him. Either his range doesn't extend to the evil register or he just hasn't been asked to harness that face swallowing grin in the service of danger the way say Jack Nicholson is expected to. But his grin is demented, so --bless him -- he's found a way to use it for the sake of comedy instead. For Corny he's perfected a character appropriate and funny mix of ego, plasticity, and forced enthusiasm. I'm hoping Hollywood rewards him with more song & dance.



Are you looking forward to this latest incarnation of an actor who has never quite hit the A list or have you never thought about him for a good reason?

19 comments:

StinkyLulu said...

I will always love James Marsden for playing the central character in a soaptastic tv mini-series from the 1990s, Bella Mafia, opposite such divas as Nastasia Kinski, Ileanna Douglas, Jennifer Tilly and VANESSA REDGRAVE no less. Marsden more than held his own against each of those women and their variegated acting styles, using his formidable power of pretty for evil. Pretty damn entertaining, too...in a big 90s kinda way. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

lawyer tony fernando said...

Oh I was at the movies yesterday and I saw this huge Michelle Pfeiffer poster of I could never be your wonam and it reminded me of you, hear in Brazil will be called Not To late to love, but no release date (soon), god are u enjoying your holiday(celebrate!)
P.S: I watched 28 WEEKS LATER, did u enjoyed?

Anonymous said...

Enchanted either looks like a big mess or a lot of fun - I just may have to go see it, but Marsden looks like he's throwing him into himself in a go-for-broke, Baz Luhrmann would appreciate this performance kind of way.

BTW do my eyes deceive me (the clip is too short to tell) or is that Susan Saradon as the wicked witch? (Why are actresses over the age of 45, Helen Mirren and Dame Judith excepted, always relegated to understanding but extraneous mothers, evil mothers or stepmothers or witches?)

RedSatinDoll

NATHANIEL R said...

your eyes do not deceive. that is actually SARANDON

Marius said...

Yeah, I've always loved James Marsden. Remember Second Noah? Ah, James is such a hunk.

Anonymous said...

Even Beatty's and Newman's butts are prettier than Pitts face.

JP said...

I love me some Marsden. I regret the X-Men films not using him to the best of his abilities. Heck, he is the 'leader' of the X-Men.


Too bad we got 3 Wolverine movies instead.

Anonymous said...

Please don't call Pitt talented.

Barry said...

Enchanted doesn't look that bad. I want to see it now.

Barry said...

Brad Pitt is talented. Babel anyone?

rural juror said...

If a cockroach was dating Kate Bosworth it would be dating down.

Damselfly said...

I have to say I did write him off as a pretty boy a long time ago...But maybe I should reconsider. For me he always looked like that guy in high school who every girl loved and guy wanted to be...which was lways a huge turn off for me...his acting kinda reflected that for me...a sarcastic smirk is always on his face when I picture him in my mind...soo...

Middento said...

I had written him off as well. But I just finished watching that Enchanted trailer for the third time in a row and the last bit made me giggle each time.

I am also constantly amused at how my wife continuously mixes up James MarsDEN with James MarsTERS. (Mmm, would anyone else like to contemplate a Cyclops vs. Spike Celebrity Deathmatch? Yippee!...)

c.p. iñor said...

Brad Pitt IS REEEAAAALLY TALENTED!!!!

If you don't think PITT is talented I bet you haven't seen FIGHT CLUB, SEVEN, SNATCH,...

Alanna said...

James Marsters > James Marsden

Anonymous said...

James Marsden is about as vanilla and bland as they come. Next.

Anonymous said...

Thought he was pretty great in Ally McBeal - great voice too. Career on the stage, please.

Rob

Catherine Cantieri said...

He does look to be having a marvelous time in the Enchanted trailer, doesn't he? (Just saw it last night.)

I've watched Superman Returns about 15 times this month (it's on heavy rotation on Cinemax) and every time, I find more to love about Marsden's portrayal of Richard the also-ran. He's such a great guy! But how can he possibly compete with Superman? He can't, he knows it, but he's going to try anyway. Really good stuff.

(I'm not sure how Brad Pitt came up in this thread.)

schwul-und-liberal said...

James Marsden is the sexiest man alive!!!