No one will ever forget the iconic scene of Tom Cruise sliding across the floor in his tighty-whities, crisp white shirt and darker than dark sunglasses, rocking out to ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ in Risky Business. Without his presence, films like Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and Cocktail would have been totally different. I don’t know a man or boy on the planet who didn’t want to be him, or a woman who didn’t want to be with him. With Mission Impossible 4 shooting in Vancouver this December, is there any wonder why I have Tom Cruise on the mind? It also has me wondering, who could wear his crown as the next major movie star and leading man?
Cruise gave us Lestat in the flesh, and before Twilight, no one could breathe the word vampire without Tom Cruise’s face flashing to the forefront. A Few Good Men, The Firm, The 4th of July, Jerry Maguire, Minority Report, the Mission Impossible franchise. The list goes on and on, and no matter what you may think of him as a person now, you simply can’t deny he is a talented actor who has thrilled us again and again. Is there any other actor of our generation (people old enough to remember Risky Business) who has enjoyed such a diverse career as Tom Cruise? Is there another actor for this new era of cinema that can give us the same guarantee of consistent success Tom Cruise has?
Time marches on, even for the uber talented, and it’s inevitable that everyone who wears the crown must pass it on sooner or later. As a younger generation commands the box office, new faces rise to become the next big thing. Who in this new era of cinema could rule the box office and command the screen with the same authority Tom Cruise did?
I present to you a crop of leading men you may know, and here is the criteria needed to wear the title of uber leading man and major movie star. He must be the king of box office bankability, major in commercial success, be both a stylish and cool action hero that appeals to both men and women, and be a leading man with some serious acting talent for those compelling dramatic roles. It’s a hard act to follow and some large shoes to fill. So who in this roster stacks up as the next Tom Cruise?
Yes, I said Zac Efron. Maybe you just couldn’t hear me amidst the screams of all his female fans. Ever since his appearance in High School Musical, the slightest whisper of his name causes females to swoon. But don’t discount his box office power just because of all this. Teens can rule the box office and are a very powerful demographic, just ask Edward, a.k.a. Rob Pattinson. With roles in Me and Orson Welles, 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud, he is one young actor in high demand. Who knows, but I have a feeling we still have a lot to see from this young actor.
He’s definitely buff enough to be an action hero, and appealing to both a male and female audience. Just check him out in films like Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He’s got great charisma as proven in films like Definitely, Maybe and The Proposal, but can also take on darker roles (The Amityville Horror remake). He’s quirky, likable and his films do decent in the box office. He’s a real chameleon when it comes to the diversity of the roles he has chosen, and I can’t really say there is a Ryan Reynolds film I really didn’t like. But does he have the ‘X factor’ necessary to rule the box office? Well, he’s cool enough, and with films like Buried and Green Lantern on the horizon, this Vancouver native is definitely a contender.
This young actor brings his ‘A game’ up on the stealth attack. He may not have hit your radar yet, but he will once he suits up as the web slinging superhero Spiderman. Apparently the Spidey producers thought he had a certain something when it came time to fill the web-head’s boots and breathe new life in the Spiderman franchise. He definitely has that je ne sais quoi ingredient that it takes to capture the nuances of roles requiring sensitivity, vulnerability and believability. He is a mesmerizing actor of great depth, and with roles like Boy A under his belt, with Never Let Me Go and The Social Network, this is one actor you need to keep your eye on.
Jeremy Renner is no slouch when it comes to acting. You’ve seen him many times, but you may not connect his face with any movies, but this may remind you: The Hurt Locker. For his role as a member of a US EOD unit in the Oscar winning Best Picture, Jeremy Renner was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He’s also no stranger to action flicks as proven in S.W.A.T. His performances are always grade ‘A’ with a solid ‘E’ for excellence and I can’t imagine there is a role Jeremy Renner couldn’t handle. Next place you’ve seen him is in The Town as Ben Affleck’s best friend and fellow thief, and it’s already generating Oscar buzz. Who knows, maybe an Academy Award is in the cards for this competitor yet. Which means there would be no doubt as to the power of his acting talents.
Last but most definitely not least is Sam Worthington. He first made a splash as Marcus in Terminator Salvation. His next mission was as the universally likable Jake Sully in that little flick we all know and love: Avatar. His next role was the lead in Clash of the Titans where he played the demigod Perseus. His next major motion picture is The Debt, a remake of a 2007 Israeli film alongside Helen Mirren. Will it be here we’ll get a glimpse at the serious and dramatic side of Sam Worthington? He’s been dubbed 2009’s ‘It’ guy and there isn’t any question in my mind as to why. Sam is an actor who has proven box office bankability, majors in commercial success, has a universal appeal extending to alien planets and producers alike, knows action like it’s nobody’s business, and has no qualms about being a leading man.
Now I must ask, are times different now? Is the arena of film a completely different landscape than it was when Tom Cruise rose to the top? Will we ever see stars like that again? You be the judge.