Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What about the rest of the 15 minutes?

The other night, I was thinking about the movie "Aliens," my favorite movie, and it got me thinking about something else:

Why is it that some people can be a major (or at least well-known) part of a hit movie, and then just disappear off the face of the Earth, careerwise?

Think of the Marines in "Aliens."

Michael Biehn (Hicks), you know.
Bill Paxton (Hudson), you know.
Jenette Goldstein (Vazquez), you know.

If only as character actors, you've seen them in plenty of movies.

Mark Rolston (Drake), you probably don't know by name, but you've seen him, too.

The others... they've never done anything else, really. Sure, William Hope (Gorman) and Daniel Kash (Spunkmeyer) have done some minor stuff, and Trevor Steedman (Wierzbowski) is a stuntman, and poor Tip Tipping (Crowe), another stuntman, died in an accident.

But Ricco Ross (Frost) has been reduced to B-movies and Al Matthews (Sgt. Apone) to bit parts. Colette Hiller (Ferro) and Cynthia Scott (Dietrich) have pretty much never done anything else.

It's not like these were minor roles. These guys had lines. Serious lines. Well, maybe not the two stuntmen... Wierzbowski even has a Web site devoted entirely to spotting his three or four appearances on-screen.

But outside of the leads, famous actors all (except the child star Carrie Henn, who gave up acting), these guys are the heart and soul of the movie. I suppose it's easy to draw parallels between the size of their roles and their future career prospects, but still.

It just makes me think about that whole "where are they now" bit and why some people just don't make it despite having a top movie role on their reel.

There are other examples. "Platoon." Think of the movie. You've got Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen. If you look, you can spot Tony "Candyman" Todd and Kevin "Entourage" Dillon and even a young Johnny Depp. Then there's the commander of the titular platoon, Lt. Wolfe, the out-of-his depth ROTC. Until he scored a plum role on "Desperate Housewives," some 15 years later, poor Mark Moses had never advanced past the TV guest star stage and roles like "Guy in Coffeeshop" and "Football Dad," even as everyone around him became a movie star. What did he do wrong that delayed success so?

If you ever want to amuse yourself, Google a favorite genre star from the '80s or whenever your childhood was. It's funny to see where they turn up - if at all.

When I was a kid, I had a crush on a scream queen named Juliette Cummins, a redhead who mostly got naked and dead in movies like "Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning" and "Slumber Party Massacre II." Her seminal role was probably a victim's part in "Psycho III" that featured an extended sex scene and a startling, brutal death scene. It showed up on pay cable when I was in the throes of puberty and my parents' cable box was descrambling the wrong channels, and I was in love with her, feathered hair and all.

Her movie career pretty much ended after 1991, based on the IMDB, but...

Some poking around reveals she's an acting teacher out in L.A. (and still lovely). What she could teach, based on the roles I've seen her in, I have no idea, but on the other hand, she's been in about a half-dozen more studio-backed horror films than most aspiring actors. OK, so she popped her top in most of them, but still.

Anyway, you get the point. Not every memorable role turns into something better. Funny how fickle Hollywood fate can be.

"Aliens," if you don't believe me
The Wierzbowski Hunters
The Carolyne Barry acting school, where Juliette Cummins apparently used to teach


Freak Magnet said...

Oh, come on. With a name like Juliette Cummins, it's amazing she got a role in a film that didn't have nothing BUT sex scenes.

Stewie said...

I wonder whatever happened to Ally Sheedy from the breakfast club.

The others you see on occasion (and Charlie and Anthony have their own shows), but Ally is just gone.

Freak Magnet said...

Ally did a couple of Lifetime movies. I'm surprised you haven't seen them.

Stewie said...

Lifetime - TV for Lesbians.

Ace said...

Hey, hey, no talk of lesbians here without pix! Er...

And didn't any of you people see "High Art"? Brilliant performance from Sheedy in a stretch as a ... drug-addicted artist. Er, OK, maybe not.

Yes, it's a chick flick, but it's on HBO and she gets with Radha Mitchell (who went on to "Pitch Black") so not all is lost. But I guess maybe that makes it a lesbian film, too.