I have often found myself lying in bed at night pondering the difference between an actor and a movie star (I know, let’s all try to move on from how cool I am). I’ve heard it said that an actor is able to completely disappear into a role (see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote) while a movie star is never able to completely shed their celebrity image (see George Clooney in anything other than O Brother, Where Art Thou?).
Now this isn’t a comment on which one is better, it’s just a fact of the business. These categories are, as most things tend to be, fluid: actors can become movie stars fairly easily. However, with a few notable exceptions, it’s odd to see a fully-fledged movie star go back to disappear into a role so completely you forget who you’re watching.
You might have noticed that I mentioned a few notable exceptions. The first one that comes to mind is Jim Carrey. Now let me be the first to tell you that I think Jim Carrey’s career is immensely disappointing.
Movies like Ace Ventura and Liar Liar are just so broad and stupid that I was ready to write off his entire professional body of work. I was, of course completely wrong. I had no idea what kind of performance the man could give. Then, I just happened upon Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Yeah, I know: this isn’t a film one just “happens” on. I’d had it recommended to me countless times, but I always put it off because Jim Carrey was in it. For some reason, I decided to give it a chance, and boy was I glad I did.
I was completely floored by how raw and emotional the future Mr. Popper could be. It actually made my opinion of him worse though: why was he debasing his talent with such tripe all the time? Of course the answer is the paycheck, but it still didn’t sit right with me. As long as I could keep thinking of Eternal Sunshine, I would know that there was good in the world.