Poor Taye Diggs. A week after topping the movie charts with his relationship comedy The Best Man, he was unceremoniously bumped as No. 1. The new winner: House on Haunted Hill, a horror flick starring an up-and-coming actor named…Taye Diggs.
Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t feel too bad for him. In fact, the 28-year-old Diggs — who first appeared on the radar as Angela Bassett’s stud-muffin in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back—is clearly the flavor of the moment in Hollywood. After his rare one-two punch at the box office last weekend, the chiseled, critically praised star is now being mentioned in casting lists alongside Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.
Best Man director Malcolm Lee recalls discussing Diggs with Stella director Kevin Rodney Sullivan. ”He described Taye as ‘the black Tom Cruise,”’ says Lee. ”I said, ‘That’s good enough for me.”’ Echoes director Doug Liman, who cast Diggs in 1999’s Go, ”It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at him and say, ‘This guy is a movie star.’ And he totally crosses color lines because he appeals to everyone.”
While Best Man has earned a respectable $17.9 million so far, Hill scared up a Halloween-record $15.9 million its first weekend. All of which translates to a serious pay raise. The former soap star (Guiding Light, 1997-98 season) from Rochester, N.Y., will see his asking price jump from $350,000 to upwards of
$1 million, insiders say. Coming up next for Diggs: The Way of the Gun, a kidnapping caper with James Caan, and New Best Friend, a drama about a college-town murder.
It’s a well-deserved success, says Hill coproducer Terry Castle: He’s ”delightful and a good actor. And he’s got a great tush.” — Tricia Johnson, with additional reporting by Rachel Fischer