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?