25 September 2003

Today's pop culture question: Who is the most beloved actor in America?

My nominee: Christopher Walken. Having recently seen Gigli and sat through trailers for Envy and this weekend's The Rundown, I can attest that there's no other actor whose unexpected appearance onscreen sends such a frission of pleasure through a New York audience. We're just happy to see the guy in a movie. Not sure when this happened, but I'm guessing that his scene with Dennis Hopper in True Romance may have been the turning point.

Other possibilities: Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson. Depp, of course, is famous these days for finding plum roles in Hollywood action spectaculars and making movies watchable just by being in them. Nicholson has been around forever, but I was reminded of why he's such a star by the trailer for Something's Gotta Give. Not the most promising movie, I'll admit: it's an older female-skewing romantic comedy co-starring Diane Keaton, for chrissake, but when Nicholson came onscreen, an audience that had been sitting with mild boredom through a series of uninspiring previews suddenly got happy. That's what makes someone a movie star; it's like enduring a dull party only to have your best friend walk through the door.

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