In 1998, photographer Annie Leibovitz threw us for a loop. Boys and Girls. What a concept --but it was the first time the two sides of the gymnasium were forced to intermingle. (What? They say Hollywood is like high school, right?) The cover was called "The Hot Next Wave" but judging from the color scheme and styling, they were thinking more along the lines of new Oscar cool. 1998 Also marked the first year they started overstuffing the cover --11 people this time in place of the usual 10.
Vince Vaughn was a skinny 28 year-old, all the casting rage since his "money" breakthrough in the beloved indie Swingers (1996). He had four movies coming out in 1998: A Cool Dry Place, Return to Paradise, Clay Pidgeons and Gus Van Sant's Psycho. None of these dramas were what you would call "hits" but superstardom was still on its gradual (comedic) way.
From left to right
Joaquin Phoenix was 23 when this cover premiered. I'm old enough [gasp] to remember that he started his career as "Leaf" Phoenix. He had not yet moved out from under his brother River's long long shadow though people began to suspect that he might with his affecting work in To Die For (1995) as a none too smart and lovestruck teenager, coldly controlled by Nicole Kidman in her artistic breakthrough. He had just had a mild success with Inventing the Abbotts which was to launch both he and Billy Crudup as new Hollywood heartthrobs. And he was due in theaters twice later that year with Clay Pigeons and the grueling Return to Paradise (both with cover companion Vince Vaughn). But it would take his overheated villain in Gladiator (2000) to raise him to the next level in Hollywood and garner him the first of two Oscar nominations.
Natalie Portman, soon turning 17, had been cast as Luke & Leia's mother in the Star Wars prequels. In 1998 nobody knew that that would mean she would be giving terrible performances that we'd all love to mock for years to come! But Queen, excuse me, Senator Amidala aside... Natalie was already a big deal. She had hit the movies with pretenatural force in The Professional (also known as Leon, 1994) and had been the best thing about the ensemble dramedy Beautiful Girls (1996) with much bigger stars swirling all around her. Once Star Wars was behind her she was free to become an Oscar nominee and an all around badass superstah.
Djimon Hounsou who was turning 34 had already f***ed Sandra Bernhard ("onscreen!" he adds quickly) in Without You I'm Nothing, danced with Janet Jackson in the desert in the video "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" and, of course, sailed on that slave ship in Amistad (1997). He was still a decade away from modelling Steel underwear in his late 40s. Damn, he's aging well. Hollywood still likes to cast him in nothing muscled exotic parts (Eragon, Gladiator, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life) but when they give him a real opportunity (In America, Blood Diamond), they usually reward him with an Oscar nomination. So... one wonders why they don't give him more opportunities.
and now we've reached the first fold out.
Cate Blanchett was turning 28 and, though I haven't done the research, I feel safe telling you that this was the last time she didn't make the cover of anything. When this cover premiered she had just come off of kind reviews for Oscar & Lucinda (with Ralph Fiennes) which approximately 100 people, besides the reviewing critics, saw. Elizabeth was on its/her way, though, and that would change everything.
Tobey Maguire turning 23, had been working in the industry for about eight years at this point but had yet to "break." Spider-Man was still four years away from being a reality but big roles had already started to fall his way (though we hadn't seen them onscreen yet). Later this year he had the lead role in the black and white gone color drama Pleasantville and Cider House Rules and Ride With the Devil (for Ang Lee) were not so far off.
Claire Forlani nearing 26 had already been seen in Julian Schnabel's Basquiat and the action hit The Rock. But it was surely her impending co-starring gig with Brad Pitt (Meet Joe Black, the coming November) that nabbed her a coveted cover spot. The film was not what people were hoping for and an A list career never materialized for her. But she's never lacked for work since. Recently she's been veering toward television work (CSI was the main gig) but you'll next see her opposite Daniel Craig in Flashbacks of a Fool.
Christina Ricci, 18 had been a wee star since 1990's Mermaids, her film debut opposite Winona Ryder and Cher. She had already delivered two Oscar nomination worthy performances (in Addams Family Values --sheer brilliance-- and as a sexually curious teen in The Ice Storm) by the time this cover suggested she was a real star, not just a famous child. She had 7 (!) movies coming out that year including Pecker and Buffalo '66. By December she was winning critics awards and her wicked star turn as DeDe Truit in The Opposite of Sex (1999) won her her first and only Golden Globe nomination. Strangely, her career seemed to go into freefall almost immediately after this sensational year. But her recent work in Black Snake Moan (2007) and participation in the upcoming Speed Racer (2008) could return her to her former stature.
Edward Furlong, 20, had been famous since his debut (a leading role as the future savior of mankind no less) in the envelope pushing blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He hung around in leads or large supporting roles up until the time of this cover (when he headlined John Water's Pecker, opposite Christina Ricci and appeared with Edward Norton in American History X). He has appeared in several movies you haven't heard of since then, but 1998 was his last year of playing in the majors. Like so many young stars, there were drug abuse problems and arrests.
Rufus Sewell who was 30 had made a big name for himself on the British stage and Broadway, too. After well received turns in the 1996 Hamlet movie (there's soooo many of those) and Cold Comfort Farm he was in demand. In 1998 alone he had roles in Higher Love, Illuminata, The Very Thought of You, Dark City and Dangerous Beauty. He was less prolific with movies thereafter but you could spot him recently in The Holiday, Paris Je T'Aime, Tristan and Isolde, The Illusionist and Amazing Grace.
median age: approximately 25. Youngest: Natalie Portman ~ sweet sixteen. oldest: Djimon Hounsou @ thirty-four
collective Oscar nominations before this cover: Nada!
collective Oscar nominations after this cover: 10 (half of them are Blanchett's). 1 win (also hers)
fame levels in 2008, according to famousr, from most to least: Vince Vaughn, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Joaquin Phoenix, Christina Ricci, Claire Forlani, Djimon Hounsou, Gretchen Mol and Ed Furlong (Rufus Sewell is not listed on the website) ... I'm confused about how Forlani is more famous than Djimon. Hmmm
see also: 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001