One of the perks of being an 83-year-old screen legend (who’s appeared in five of the top-grossing movies of the last five years): People have to listen respectfully to you. So it is with Christopher Lee, who is blasting Hollywood for casting young, lightweight stars in lead roles they’re not mature or experienced enough to play. As a result, he says, audiences tire of these disposable actors before they’ve had a chance to ripen. ”So many of these good-looking – sometimes even pretty – boys and girls are getting these good roles and it’s not fair on them,” London’s Evening Standard quotes Lee as saying. ”At some point it’s going to catch up.”
Call me a crank, but I think Lee has a point. Exhibit A: Orlando Bloom, who, as per our discussion a couple weeks ago, seems like he’s being pushed into carrying movies before he has the chops to shoulder them. But it’s true even in non-lead roles. Exhibit B: Brokeback Mountain, an otherwise excellent movie handicapped by the story’s requirement that its dewy young actors age 20 years over the course of the film. Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams manage to pull it off, but not so much Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. They’re fine as the younger versions of their characters (shown), but when Jake pastes on a mustache and sideburns and Hathaway puts on a frosty blond wig to convey that their characters are middle-aged, they just seem like two kids playing dress-up; they only hint at the gravitas and world-weariness their characters are supposed to have acquired.
Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gyllenhaal and Hathaway aren’t going to be given a chance to age into suitable roles. On the other hand, when you look at how boyish or girlish some of our top stars remain well into their 40s and beyond (thanks in part to face-smoothing medical procedures), you wonder if even those stars who don’t get used up when they’re young will ever actually mature into roles that fit their calendar ages.
Am I wrong?