Given how passionate fans of the TV drama 'Mad Men' are, it's easy to forget that the cable show's audience is so limited that its stars aren't, like, stars.
Sure, Jon Hamm appeared in a moderately successful movie last year ('The Town') and has hosted 'Saturday Night Live' multiple times. But as of yet, no box-office heroes have emerged from 'Mad Men.'
Which leads us to ask: Will January Jones (aka Betty Draper) be the first to break out? With big roles in a trio of promising films due out this year -- the Liam Neeson thriller 'Unknown' (Feb. 18), the potential blockbuster 'X-Men: First Class' (June 3) and the Nicolas Cage drama 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps' (release date TBD) -- Jones has a real shot at transitioning from small-screen favorite to bona-fide star.
In honor of her 33rd birthday -- she isn't named December Jones for a reason -- let's take another look at Miss January (enjoy the photos!) and debate a burning question: Will the 'Mad Men' actress's upcoming films push her over the movie-star hump?
Will January Jones become a movie star in 2011?
Argument 1: NO WAY!
The thing that all three of Jones' upcoming roles have in common is that they all see her in a role that, at least on the surface, isn't all that different from Betty Draper.
In fact, the biggest difference is that none of them is likely to be as complex or interesting. She plays the lead character's wife in 'Unknown,' the lead character's wife in 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,' and a frigid anti-hero in 'X-Men: First Class.'
Filmmakers looking for some surprises from Jones' 2011 movies aren't likely to find them, and they're not likely to consider her for the sort of roles that go to actual movie stars, such as Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie or Drew Barrymore.
Argument 2: ABSOLUTELY!
Familiarity breeds success in Hollywood, so the fact that Jones is appearing in three different movies is a good start.
'Unknown' looks like it's aiming to be the next 'Taken,' which would warm audiences up nicely for her role as Emma Frost in 'X-Men: First Class.' That geek-fest is virtually guaranteed to be a hit, and the fact that the White Queen tends to spend most of her time in a corset and thigh-high boots probably won't make her appearance any less memorable.
While the Roger Donaldson-directed 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps' is more of a question mark (especially since it's still lacking a firm release date), an indie starring Nicolas Cage could help her come off of 'X-Men: First Class' with some added, well, class.
The transition from TV star to movie star is a tough one, so it's hard to predict if she'll be able to pull it off -- especially since none of these movies is in theaters yet. We don't even know how much screen time Emma Frost will get in 'X-Men: First Class,' or whether Jones has a particularly memorable scene in 'Unknown.'
Still, her worst case scenario is that she's relegated to playing Betty Draper on a cult cable TV show, and that she enjoys a nice under-the-radar career as 'Mad Men' fans-turned-filmmakers start finding roles for her. Either way, we'll take it -- and I'm sure she'd be okay with that, too.
What side do you fall on? After checking out the photos in the gallery above, take part in our readers poll and sound off in the comments -- we'd love to hear what you think.
|Yes -- she'll make the jump this year.||21 (39.6%)|
|Maybe -- but not this year.||18 (34.0%)|
|No -- but at least there's 'Mad Men.'||14 (26.4%)|