Vanity Fair briefly killed my enthusiasm for the "Hollywood project" when they nixed the traditional cover for 2009. But time heals most wounds and I have reanimated the project's corpse. 2004's cover had 13 already peaking actresses on it. How'd they follow it in 2005? With another batch of goddesses, 60% of whom had already graced their "Hollywood" cover. In the case of the C/Kates, it was now thrice. Was Vanity Fair running out of ideas? Given the idiosyncratic pool the covers regularly pulled from you'd think there were only 40 actresses in Hollywood... but then, it's probably all in
For reasons that only pop culture archives will be able to fully explain to future generations this cover was called "Not So Desperate Housewives". Only two of these actresses were even married at the time (the C/Kates) and only six kids had sprung from their enviable DNA (two kids each for Cate, Kate and Uma).
Uma Thurman, about to turn 35, had appeared on VF's very first Hollywood issue back in 1995. Back then she was celebrating her deserved Oscar nom for Pulp Fiction. I like to think that her get up here, white shirt and black pants (the only one of the ladies eschewing a gown), was a nod to "Mia Wallace" in Pulp Fiction. It would make sense. Director Quentin Tarantino had just finished (momentarily) resuscitating her talent and fame with those thrilling Kill Bills and she was about to risk memories of that film with the John Travolta dance number in Be Cool. She had divorced Ethan Hawke in 2004 and the three films coming out (Prime, Be Cool and The Producers) were a nice range of drama, comedy and musical... on paper. Onscreen it didn't work out so well. More flops followed. Uma turns 40 in 2010, and she's undoubtedly looking for that third career wind. Next up: Motherhood, Percy Jackson and Eloise in Paris.
Cate Blanchett had just been won an Oscar (The Aviator) and was about to turn 36. Aside from the Oscar win, 2005 was quiet. Blanchett never stays quiet. The next four years would be jam packed full of Oscar bait and trips down the red carpet culminating in the two biggest non-Hobbity hits of her career (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). No films in 2009 (shocker!) but she'll be back in 2010 as Maid Marian in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood [see previous posts]
Kate Winslet was 29 years old, still Oscar-less and an old pro at the "Hollywood" covers. Uma & Cate are her superiors when it comes to behaving like models in photoshoots (think about it), but she wasn't letting them pull all the focus with her sleek über sexy look here. Her inarguable triumph in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) was about to prove very difficult to follow. Fascinating time capsule note: 2005 is the year wherein she guest starred on "Extras" as a foul mouthed narcissistic "Kate Winslet", bitching about having to do a Holocaust drama to win an Oscar.
Despite that hilariously written and performed prophecy, her next several films didn't truly catch on (The Holiday, Little Children, Romance & Cigarettes, Revolutionary Road and All the Kings Men). The happy ending punchline arrived earlier this year when she won her Oscar for the holocaust drama The Reader. Up next: Nothing. With Oscar in hand, I'm guessing she lays low for the next couple of years. She was never a ubiquitous celebrity to begin with.
Scarlett Johansson was just 20 and already a back to back Hollywood covergirl. She had skyrocketed in 2003 with the global success of Lost in Translation, the critical success of Girl with a Pearl Earring and her high profile relationship with another Young Hollywood star, Josh Hartnett. And though nothing in 2004 had added much to her mystique she had the lead in a would be summer blockbuster for 2005 (The Island, which flopped). No one at the time saw her Woody Allen's muse status coming, but Match Point (their first collaboration) was about to debut at Cannes and become the legendary director's biggest hit in over a decade. Cut to several Scarlett roles and three calendar years later: she's beloved as a celebrity, newlywed and spokesperson but who loves her as an actress, any more? Can she turn that around with her stint as The Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (see previous post)
<-- Rupert Everett, Claire Danes and Billy Crudup at the premiere of Stage Beauty in October 2004
Claire Danes, turning 26 appears to have been slain by ScarJo. And maybe she was. Hollywood only has room for a handful of young superstar blondes in any given time period, you know. Perhaps she's prone as sacrifice for Cate, Kate and Uma none of whom have ceded much space for up and comers, holding onto big fame with that iron grip combo of talent, beauty and the favor of important filmmakers. Or maybe Mary-Louise Parker had snuck in to lay her down? It had only been a year since the gossip machine had ground and spit Claire Danes and Billy Crudup out for splitting with their partners -- in Billy's case, the several months pregnant Parker.
Which is all along way of saying that her cover girl status was slightly puzzling. Despite Danes' absolutely stellar start in television's My So Called Life and a promising initial silver screen transfer (Little Women and Romeo + Juliet), the movie career never really worked out. Her career had slipped in the late 90s and the Aughts brought nothing but a string of well performed but small supporting roles (The Hours, Igby Goes Down) or lead parts that didn't do much for her (Terminator 3, Stage Beauty). This trend continued after this cover, too: The Family Stone, Stardust, Evening and Shopgirl haven't provided breakthroughs. Up next: Temple Grandin in which she plays an autistic scientist. Should she try headlining a TV series again?
Rosario Dawson about to turn 26, had been on the cover before and had just caused a mini-fuss with her scene stealing nudity and feral performance in Alexander (2004). Vanity Fair's cover indicated a good sized year for her and it was: Sin City and Rent "I wanna go ouu--uuuuuttt, tonight" both premiered.
Zhang Ziyi newly 26, had enjoyed a high international profile since her breakthrough in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, five years earlier. The preceding months had been very good to her with three well received successful imports: 2046 (her best performance if you ask me), Hero and House of Flying Daggers. But she was undoubtedly on this cover because everyone in the world seemed to be anxiously awaiting Memoirs of a Geisha, then only a blockbuster book and not yet a disappointing movie. She was making lists like People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful, she was a frequent object of lust in men's magazines. Once the Memoirs craze ended, things went quiet, though one can still spot her on red carpets or in paparazzi shots with venture capitalist boyfriend Vivi Nevo. Is an international comeback going to happen? She's only 30. Next up: Sophie's Revenge and possibly the romantic drama Waiting which would reunite her with her Daggers co-star, Takeshi Kaneshiro, her only co-star to ever challenge her for "prettiest person in this movie" contests.
Kerry Washington, 28, had just appeared in the Oscar nominated biopic Ray and was still dating actor David Moscow (pictured together right, Jan. 2005) Many people, including yours truly, were pulling for major stardom for Kerry. She's still high profile and highly castable (young, beautiful, talented, speaks multiple languages including very handy ones for the cinema: French and Spanish) and yet the cinema can't seem to figure it out. 2005 brought only bit parts in Mr & Mrs. Smith and Fantastic Four. When will Hollywood ever figure out big careers for the top black actresses? It seems hopelessly beyond Tinseltown's capabilities. Things are still about the same for Kerry. She'll give a great performance (The Last King of Scotland, Dead Girl) and it's like it didn't happen at all in the larger scheme of the star hierarchies. It's so frustrating. Will her new projects turn the tide? Next up: A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy and a possibly plum possibly Oscar-bait supporting role in Mother and Child starring Annette Bening.
Kate Bosworth, 22, was fresh off the underrated romantic comedy Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! and the flop biopic Beyond the Sea starring Kevin Spacey. She was very high profile in the celebrity-watching sector as Orland Bloom's girlfriend and Hollywood seemed to have faith in her. She was soon given the Lois Lane role in Superman Returns (unfortunate casting, that). Her film career has long since been smaller than her celebrity and she hasn't actually been making many movies. Next up: The Warrior's Way.
Sienna Miller, at 23 was, like Kate Bosworth, far more famous than her filmography would imply. She was Jude Law's new fiancé -- they had just made Alfie (Oct 2004, left)-- and he was at the peak of his celebrity. A few months after this Hollywood cover they broke off the engagement and their on and off again relationship has provided tabloid fodder for years now. She followed Alfie by romancing Heath Ledger in Casanova. She's been working a lot ever since (Factory Girl, Stardust, The Edge of Love, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) but it looks doubtful that her movie career will ever equal her celebrity. Or not. Maybe she's just the right role away from more legitimate stardom? Next up: playing "The Baroness" in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
PLEASE NOTE: If you'd like to read more about any of these stars, click the names in the labels section below.*
median age: 27. Blanchett was the eldest, Scarlett the baby.
noticeably absent: Who else was topical 'round mid 2004 to mid 2005? Let's see... Monica Bellucci (international profile raised with The Matrix films and The Passion of the Christ), Jennifer Garner (transferring to movies with 13 Going on 30 and Electra), Eva Mendes (had 4 movies coming out including Hitch), Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls) and maybe Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda)
collective Oscar stats before cover: 7 noms / 1 win (all by the front cover girls. Blanchett won for The Aviator)
collective Oscar stats after cover: 5 nominations / 1 win (3 for Cate, 2 for Kate)
fame levels in 2009, according to famousr, from most to least: Uma Thurman, Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, Kate Bosworth, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Rosario Dawson and Kerry Washington. Not listed in famousr for some bizarre reason: Kate Winslet & Zhang Ziyi.
previous episodes: 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.