Remember when it was common wisdom that TV stars couldn't cross over and become movie stars? The boundaries between TV and movies have been shattered, with actors freely crossing over between the two mediums. Over the next three weekends, we'll see a host of actors who made their mark in television stepping up to starring roles on the big screen. Tomorrow, fans can support Miley Cirus in Hannah Montana: The Movie, next week Zac Efron will pretend to be 17 Again, and later in the month, the heroic Ali Larter and the wired Idris Elba will tangle in Obsessed.
With that in mind, here are seven TV stars who should be in more movies. Not all of them currently play lead roles, but they all have the capability of dazzling audiences worldwide. For this edition, we're focusing on the gentlemen of the dramatic arts.
1. Jon Hamm
As Don Draper in the superb, eloquent Mad Men, Hamm has been crafty, elegant, and far too sexy when he's puffing on a cancer stick. He also has that rare gift of allowing viewers to peer through his eyes into his soul, which is a scary thing when you consider what Draper has done on the show. Hamm amply demonstrated his comedic ability on the episode of Saturday Night Live that he hosted last year, and again on a recent run of 30 Rock as a gorgeous, clumsy doctor living in a "bubble." He had nothing much to do in the disastrous remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, so he's ripe for some good movies. Drama, comedy, romance ... is there anything he can't do?
2. Matthew Fox
Before the current season of Lost, I would not have nominated Fox for this list, but I think I was guilty of associating the actor too closely with the character. Jack Shepherd has been pompous, self-righteous, and insensitive for years, and Fox played him to a T. This year, however, Jack has displayed a humble, more tender side, and, again, Fox has captured every nuance, which is a reminder that he did under appreciated, yeoman work as "the responsible one" on Party of Five. He appeared in two movies last year: he was lost (no pun intended) in the crowd in Vantage Point, and Speed Racer woefully underperformed at the box office. Still, he has bright prospects for the future. An indie comedy might be just the thing for him.
We've been pulling for Fillion for years -- read, once again, the love letter / fan rant by Scott Weinberg on the actor's inability to catch a break nearly two years ago -- but, dang it, it may be happening again. He's appearing in Castle, a cool new TV show, in which he plays a mystery writer who tags along with a NYC detective, and the ratings have been going down instead of up. If the show survives and becomes a hit, I'm OK with that, but, really, Fillion has plenty of charm, charisma, and dramatic chops to essay the lead role in any number of blockbusters, not to mention handle whatever indie parts are offered to him. Someone, please, keep this guy employed with more movies.
4. Damian Lewis
If you've been watching Lost, you may have been missing Life, which airs at the same time. Thanks to the wonders of my DVR, I've been able to keep up with both, and Damian Lewis's portrayal of Charlie Crews has steadily grown into one of my favorites. He has an air of quiet authority, and he actually appears to spend a good deal of time thinking, which you don't see police detectives do very often on television. He has good, yet different chemistry with each of his co-stars, including the gorgeous Sarah Shahi, the cautious Adam Arkin, and the blustery Donal Logue. I didn't remember that Lewis was in the awful Dreamcatcher, but he's also appeared in other, better-regarded productions (Band of Brothers, Keane), and he seems to have limitless potential.
5. Ken Leung
I've sung the praises of this fine actor before, and I will continue to do as long as he continues to deliver the goods. Since my original article appeared, Leung has taken on the prickly Miles Straume on Lost, and has demonstrated his comic chops and intense dramatic persona in a fairly small role (next week's episode will reportedly focus more on his character). Since Lost is filmed in Hawaii, his availability for other roles may have been somewhat limited, but I certainly hope he will get to do more and bigger parts in movies.
Really, the entire list could have been filled to overflowing with any number of marvelous actors from The Wire, but I'm picking Lance Reddick because his two most notable post-Wire jobs (Lost, Fringe) haven't shown his range. As he demonstrated as Cedric Daniels in The Wire, Reddick can ramp it up from restrained to explosive in a heartbeat; he can also play warm, charming, and romantic. He's played plenty of authority figures, so we know he can do that with aplomb, but I'd love to see him in a comedy: he'd be a great, beleaguered father with misbehaving children and a bemused look in his eyes.
7. Larry David
His lead role in Woody Allen's upcoming Whatever Works has already received some positive comments, though I'm sure that will be balanced out by the "ick" factor because he's romancing the much younger Evan Rachel Wood. If there's anything multiple seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm proved, however, it's that the co-creator of Seinfeld isn't afraid to be the odd man out. He's explored his own neuroses long enough; it's time to see what he can do as the comic embodiment of other people's neuroses. Or, he could go dramatic. He'd certainly be a more convincing professional assassin than Darrell Hammond in Damages.