Separating the Actor from the Antics
by, 07-10-2012 at 10:26 AM (531 Views)
Actor Tom Cruise is back in the news again – for all the wrong reasons. The recently turned 50-year-old was (if we are to believe the tabloids) blindsided by a divorce filing from actress Katie Holmes. Immediate internet chatter suggested it was Cruise’s insistence that daughter Suri was raised in the Scientology faith that sent Holmes packing. But let’s be honest, we never get the ‘real’ story as to the dissolving of a marriage and it could be for any of a myriad of events.
This is not the first time that headlines have splashed like a tomato in Cruise’s face. In May of 2005, Cruise became a YouTube sensation when his couch jump-for-joy antics on the Oprah Winfrey Show went viral.
Also in 2005, Cruise spoke to reporter Billy Bush and criticized actress Brooke Shield’s use of the anti-depressant drug Paxil citing her decision as ‘misguided’ and claiming that her career was over.
Whenever a celebrity hits the front pages of a tabloid magazine or an internet gossip page for anything other than a wedding or an update on a particular work project, it usually means bad news. And audiences are finding it harder and harder to separate the fallible man from the infallible actor.
That is not to say that all actors who become front page news for their off screen antics are destined to a doomed career. In January 2012, actor Russell Crowe threw a cell phone at an employee of a hotel to where he was staying. Media outlets went full throttle with the story and even with a war in Iraq/Afghanistan, Crowe’s phone thrust was the lead story. Crowe would plead guilty to the offense and his career has hardly suffered. Crowe is still one of the most sought after actors working in Hollywood today and has no less than six separate films in some form of production for 2013.
Another actor that seems to come out of the fire without fourth degree burns is Christian Bale. A leaked rant the actor had on a movie set towards a crew member trended on internet sites and forced Bale into apology mode. Bale seems to have been forgiven by the general public that is anxiously awaiting the release of The Dark Knight Rises with his tirade but a search engine memory.
Some actors have short term effects when their behavior goes public. Alec Baldwin had his answering machine conversation to his 11-year-old daughter recorded and broadcast to the world. He called her a “thoughtless little pig” and after the recording was released, Baldwin quickly jumped on the talk show circuit to explain his state of mind at the time of the call. Baldwin did become a whipping boy in the press for a few weeks, but his popularity (and Emmy wins) for the NBC show 30 Rock soon quieted down the villagers who eventually put down their torches and pitchforks.
Sometimes, actors can mute a potential TMZ story by simply staying quiet on the topic without throwing gasoline on the entertainment fire. Val Kilmer is known on set for being incredibly difficult and even got into a shoving match with director Joel Schumacher when filming Batman Forever. But Kilmer simply released a statement about being “passionate” about his craft and no one seemed to care much longer than it took an editor to approve the story.
In May of 1997, actor Eddie Murphy was driving his wife’s SUV in an area of Hollywood known for its homosexual prostitutes. Murphy picked up a transvestite and was soon after pulled over by police. Murphy was not charged with any crime and thanks to his recluse persona (when was the last time you saw Eddie Murphy on a late night talk show?) and his ‘no comment’ approach, the story died a quick and painless death.
Then there are those actors whose off screen actions are so morally repulsive that even the most forgiving of audiences have a hard time separating the personality from the profession. Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are maybe the two best examples of the modern day internet world where their consistent run ins with the public or law officials have hampered their careers. Lohan has still (somehow) maintained relevance and never seems to be without work offers. But her career has never taken off with the promise shown by the young girl in The Parent Trap and Mean Girls.
Charlie Sheen is practically in a category all himself. His volcanic outburst got him fired from the very popular CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men that made him the highest paid actor working at the time. Sheen in now back in the cable production comedy, Anger Management, but his erratic behavior and outlandish statements have clearly put Mr. Sheen in a different light amongst the pop culture forming public.
No actor may have been more harmed by their personal life antics than Mel Gibson. One of the most popular actors in the 1980’s and 1990’s with hits such as Lethal Weapon and The Road Warrior, Gibson has had run-ins with law enforcement and when pulled over for drinking and driving in 2006, he was quoted as saying "Fucking Jews... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.". Gibson went on probation but was back in the news in 2010 when he was accused by girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva of domestic violence. This accusation was followed by a recording of Gibson telling Grigorieva that she got "raped by a pack of niggers," she would be to blame. More recordings followed each revealing a rage on the cusp of going supernova. Since the recordings went public, Gibson has starred in a theatrical bomb (The Beaver), a straight to DVD dud (Get the Gringo) and has taken a small role in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills due out in 2013. Quite a fall from grace for an actor that was voted Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine in 1985 and was one of the highest paid actors of his generation.
Whether or not any of these actors can rebound completely is still to be written. After all, America is all about second chances. If a Chevy Chase can act like a spoiled buffoon on the set of Community and still be admired, if a Matthew Broderick can kill a mother and her daughter in a vehicular accident and not have it as a discussionary topic in every interview, if a Kiefer Sutherland can head butt a fashion designer and throw down on a hotel lobby Christmas Tree in a drunken stupor yet still all be rewarded with plum Hollywood roles then who is to say that the Gibsons, Lohans and Sheens won’t fully recover? What we can assert is that those with immature extracurricular activities have a tougher mountain to climb. And more alienated audiences to win back.