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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Can't Get Enough of You Baby"

This was last week's TITMT question...Which actors do you love despite the fact they essentially play the same character over and over?

In some ways this was a hard list to compile. On one hand, the following actors and actresses, in my opinion, deliver the same role over and over. But then again, should they be punished for knowing what they do well and keeping the public happy by doing it again and again? After all, if the demand is there, who is really to blame for the lack of diversity?

But then there's the jealousy factor. How many times have we seen really diverse actors who could totally do a better job, seemingly not get it, simply because they aren't big enough box office draws? What happens is that viewers are forced to sit through another movie season with the same ten actors who are hot at that moment. But they know what they do and they do it well which could be worse. For instance, about the best things we can say about the Lindsey Lohan's of the world is at least we know they aren't playing themselves.

So here you have top ten guy and top ten girl picks for the actors who are one trick ponies, although we just may love their tricks.

The Guys

1. Old Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson- Once upon a time, actors like Pacino, DeNiro and Nicholson were the guys you went to when you wanted to get the job done. But as the years waned on, so did their careers. While it's still fun to watch their movies, eventually it began to seem like they were phoning in their performances. Crazy Robert DeNiro became crazed Deniro, a la Meet The Parents. With Nicholson his crazy mellowed, too. In fact, unlike the others, I'm also convinced Nicholson is playing himself half the time, though I still love him. Meanwhile, with Al Pacino, there is quite possibly sheet music than can recreate his predictable inflections and outbursts down to a science.

2. Matthew McConaughey- Not only does McConaughey play the same roles, he often utters the same dialogue, too. Seriously, has there ever been a movie where Matthew McConaughey hasn't said the words, alright alright? I didn't think so.

3. Hugh Grant- Hugh Grant is my favorite inclusion on the list. This is because he totally plays the bumbling Brit role over and over, but I don't care, I still can't get enough of his flappy hair and dry wit. For a few years it looked like Grant was going to stop making movies. Lucky for us he got back into the game again. Sometimes I appreciate an actor who knows what they do well and do it over and over again. Hugh Grant is that type of man.

4. Christopher Walken- If you want a creepy older guy to play your hit man, your uncle or your worst nightmare, enter Christopher Walken. Just like terror alert, Walken has different levels of creepiness that he can turn up or dial down if you so desire. Just want a semi strange man to think a nuclear bomb destroyed the world? Enter Walken in Blast From The Past. Do you need a guy who likes ot sing and dance and doesn't care if he looks odd doing so? Consider putting Walken in you next Fatboy Slim video. In essence, it doesn't matter what it is. If creepy is what you want, Christopher has it.

5. Jeremy Piven- For years, Jeremy Piven floundered around Hollywood looking for the right vehicle for him. Those who have been a fan of Piven's work for awhile now figured it was just a matter of time considering he's so good at being semi-conceited and condescending. In fact, I actually thought he might have found it when he starred in the awesome, but canceled show, Cupid on ABC. Then enter Entourage. Here Piven can finally shine as the sarcastic wise ass he was meant to play. Does he play himself? Probably. Does that mean he'd be a pain in the ass in real life? Quite possibly. But when you were playing a sarcastic ass of a football player as far back as twenty plus years ago in Lucas, I have to say it must feel good to have finally arrived.

6. Edward Burns- When Edward Burns first came out with The Brothers McMullen I thought he was cute. Not only was he cute, he was talented. Here he was, a former Entertainment Tonight intern who made it big with his own screenplay about an everyday man in his early thirties who couldn't quite commit. But then he made She's The One, followed by No Looking Back, Sidewalks of New York and Looking for Kitty. Every movie is slightly different, and he gets slightly older, but other than that, Edward Burns still delivers the same "tired, hardened by life early on, working class Irish man" type part. Making it seem even more magnified is the fact that Burns also began to appear in other people's movies besides his own. Suddenly he got to play the same character for other people, too!

7. Vince Vaughn- Vince Vaughn first made it big in the now classic, Swingers, co-starring Jon Favreau. But while Favreau went on to have success mostly behind the screen, Vaughn went on, ultimately becoming associated with the "Frat Pack" of actors, a group of guys namely the Wilson Brothers, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell who seemingly have the silly movie formula down. Not unlike Hugh Grant though, I enjoy Vaughn playing the sarcastic guy who can't quite seem to grow up. Has he come a long way from Swingers? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it isn't still fun to watch.

8. Ben Stiller- Basically anything you can say about Vaughn you can also say about Stiller. Even when he is flying solo and doesn't have his comedy buddies in tow, he's still in his slightly neurotic element. If I had to watch a Stiller marathon it might begin to get on my nerves but otherwise, he does neurotic like nobody else.

9. Samuel L. Jackson- Let's say you are a big time director and you want to hire an actor who is going to clearly deliver the message he can kick some ass. Once upon a time you might have called in Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean Claude Van Damme to do that job for you. But in the past few years, ass whopping took on a whole new dimension with the rise in popularity of Samuel L. The setting might change in Jackson's movies, but the ass kicking ass element does not. Whether he is kicking ass on the courts in Coach Carter, kicking it old school style in Pulp Fiction or taming a tangle of snakes in Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. has it all.

10. Tom Cruise- Some might argue that Tom Cruise does not belong on this list. After all, Cruise has played everything from a high school quarterback in All The Right Moves, to a Hollywood agent in Jerry Maguire to a wounded vet in Born on the Fourth of July. Cruise is an interesting subject though. That's because while his roles themselves are diverse, his portrayal of such roles really is not. No matter who he is supposed to be, he always portrays the character with unparalleled amounts of intensity, and he's always running somewhere. Never forget the running.

The Girls

1. Cameron Diaz- The most diverse I've ever seen Diaz be when was she died her hair and made herself mousy for Being John Malkovich. Then she opened her mouth and I realized she was still playing Cameron, only with prosthetics and nappy hair.

2. Julia Roberts
- For years, I simply did not understand America's fascination with Julia Roberts. To me she's pretty, but not overly so. The same applies to her talent. It's there, but I always felt she was really lucky to have gotten the role in Pretty Woman, instead of them being lucky to have her. In her body of work she has showed some signs of diversity so I do give her credit for that. For the most part though, if I rent a Julia Roberts movie, I know more or less what's in store.

3. Sandra Bullock- In the mid to late nineties, Sandra Bullock ruled the silver screen. She's another example of an actress I love, but who definitely was in the right place at the right time. When I watched her gawky performance with then beau, Tate Donovan in Love Potion No. 9 I never would have predicted her breakout success. From there, she went on to play the same kooky, girl next door over and over again. I actually think Bullock got sick of it herself since she's maintained a low profile for the last few years. She never claimed she was diverse though so who can blame her really?

4. Goldie Hawn- Ever since Goldie Hawn bust on to the scene in the late sixties, her face has become synonymous with the slightly ditzy blonde who gets what she wants. In the early days, she was more ditz than substance. But in the eighties, Hawn made blondes seem smart, even though they clearly had their blonde moments from time to time. You don't see Hawn as much as you used to, but if you take out any of her old films, you are pretty much getting the gist of what she's all about.

5. Jennifer Lopez- Sometimes Jennifer Lopez wears her hair light. Sometimes she wears it dark. Sometimes she wears it short. Other times long. Many times she sings and dances, but not always. She knows how to release the fiesty Latin attitude on cue and when to keep it in check. And this my friends concludes the element of diversity to Lopez's entire career.

6. Drew Barrymore- When Drew Barrymore was little, she stole America's hearts as the adorbable Gertie in E.T.. Her teenage years were not nearly as adorable though and she briefly had a reign as a sexy teenage siren with a troubled past. But once Drew entered her twenties and cleaned herself up, something odd happened. She reverted to the five year old Gertie all over again. Oh sure, she's gotten taller, but apparently she still speaks like a kindergartener although she's now in her mid thirties. Poor thing. Don't get me wrong, I like her, but I also feel like she likes eating paste and painting pretty pictures just as much as she makes movies. I actually have a Drew Barrymore impersonation. It's quite simple actually. I say. "Hi I'm Drew Barrymore. I'm five!"

7. Early Molly Ringwald- In the eighties, no one did teenage angst better than Molly Ringwald. To be fair, it was the winning combination of her and John Hughes that really made it work. Neither one, however, has had the same amount of success without the other. I don't know how much longer they could have soldiered on together though. Molly did have to grow up and unfortunately, once the angst was gone, we all wondered what was left.

8. Ashley Judd-Not only does it seem like Ashley Judd often plays the same role, she often plays it opposite the same actor, Morgan Freeman. When she's not starring opposite Freeman though she's showing off her "sensitive side". I don't see her has being all that sensitive though. I see her as rather hard and self absorbed. Now if only she'd play that role more often, maybe I'd take note.

9. Meg Ryan- It's weird to think that there was a time, not too long ago, where most major movies that were made starred Meg Ryan. She played the quirky but lovable leading lady over and over again, sometimes opposite the same actor, namely Tom Hanks, too. When Meg Ryan more or less bowed out, Sandra Bullock took her place. I don't know who has since replaced her, but I do know that the role of the reluctant leading lady is one in itself that will be played over and over, just by different people.

10. Jennifer Aniston- Don't get me wrong, I like Jennifer Aniston. I really loved her as much of America did, as Rachel on Friends. I think the chemistry there was perfect, but once you take the kids out of the coffee shop, the jury is still out on if they can still brew their own individual perfect blends. While she played that role perfectly, I'm not sure that makes her a great actress. I've yet to see any kind of range from her. In fact, we don't see much from anyone who was on Friends at all. Paparazzi does spend an awful llt of time talking about her though, not as much for her work on screen, but for her personal life, first with Brad Pitt and then Vince Vaughn. Who she shacked up with is more cause for buzz than her body of work itself.



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