What's In It For Me?
A Who-Done-It And Why In Any Given Sunday
Back in the 80's, studios only needed one big name actor to guarantee
a successful opening weekend for their films. Billboards around
town would cryptically proclaim "SCHWARZENEGGER-SUMMER" or the subliminally-sexual
"STALLONE-COMING SOON". They never mentioned the movie's name. They
never had to. People would go see these marquee stars regardless
of what the story was. Whether these actors were playing unintelligible
Vietnam sympathizers or unintelligible androids from the future,
people associated with a name brand and duly lined up.
after, oh, about 12 years, audiences wised up to the fact that they
were seeing more of Arnold's stuntman in movies than Arnold (watch
the horse chase in True Lies and prepare to be embarrassed). Then
with the success of Scream, Hollywood learned that they didn't have
to shell out 20 million twice a year to aging Hollywood veterans
when they could pepper the cast with one big name, one or two hot
television stars, and a handful of has-been character actors (for
kitsch value), all for a much lower price. This trend made such
unforgettable casting coups like Phantoms, Best Laid Plans,
and Disturbing Behavior possible. You can spot most of these
movies by their ads which all share the now-standard actors' disembodied
upper torsos lined up in a geese formation on the poster ala the
pictures are the stuff of film marketers' dreams. All they have
to do is spotlight the cast member who is "hot" at the time, and
build the trailers around the star du jour. But when there is no
one true lead in the movie, it usually requires concessions from
the actors (less screen time).
In this column, we put the latest ensemble money-maker, Oliver
Stone's Any Given Sunday, on the hot plate and serve up the
who and why the cast agreed to this noise.
Al Pacino: What's in it for him?
Counter-balances his real acting job in The Insider. Gets
to yell like he has in every movie since 1972.
Cameron Diaz: What's in it for her?
Going head-to-head with the Godfather in a few scenes lets her show
just how good of an actor Russell Crowe is.
Dennis Quaid: What's in it for him?
Will finally get Meg Ryan off his back with all of her "Honey, when
are YOU going to be in a number one movie at the box office?" talk.
Jamie Foxx: What's in it for him?
A chance to be seen by more than the eleven people that normally
watch him on the WB.
Aaron Eckhart: What's in it for him?
The opportunity NOT to play the biggest prick in a movie.
LL Cool J: What's in it for him?
The chance to become "the edgy Will Smith", or so his agent said.
Lawrence Taylor: What's in it for him?
Let's just say L.T. wasn't paid in cash and leave it at that.