Re: Julia Roberts's success (was JR is *average* looking?????)

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films,rec.arts.movies.current-films
Date: Monday, January 26, 1998 12:03 AM

Swish76 responded to my earlier message in
>>Streep told the "Los Angeles Times" that
>>she thought it terrible that 15-year-old girls were seeing "Pretty Woman"
>>dozens of times, then a few paragraphs later, Streep is saying how unfair it
>>is that the top women stars weren't earning the big money of the big men
>Big box office women actresses deserve the same pay as the Tom Cruises, but
>they shouldn't have to play the victim/whores and other stereotypes in order
>to get that paycheck. They deserve to
>play the challenging roles. Meryl was right on!!

Your comparison was scarcely a parallel one, and the flaw in your reasoning follows from this. Meryl Streep's male equivalents would not be Tom Cruise but William Hurt, Matt Dillon, Martin Sheen, John Cusack, John Hurt--actors who choose projects that challenge their abilities as actors, just as Streep does, and often with just the same cost to their popularity. These actors don't earn the money of the big action stars, either (and in an interview, I think it was either Andrew McCarthy or Johnny Depp who admitted point-blank that he didn't think he had the soul to pull off such a role).

Don't feel sorry for Meryl Streep. She still earns a salary per movie in the mid-seven-digits, and thus makes more with one film than most people earn in a lifetime.

It's not so much that Julia Roberts succeeded by playing a stereotype (you partially acknowledge this when you implicitly noted that there were stereotypes other than the victim/whore one, not that I think that stereotypes are being played when an actress invests her energy into fleshing out a role, making each unique), but that an emotional persona unifies most of the various Julia Roberts roles, and that this common emotion becomes like a brand name having many varieties but all reflecting the same taste and thus standing out as a badge-of-quality that tells moviegoers that those who were captivated by one Julia Roberts charater will likely be by the next.

David Hayes


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