Monday Morning Quarterback
By BOP Staff
February 22, 2010
Reagen Sulewski: I'd say he's someone you still have to match with the right project, but when you do, he can elevate it. He's no action star, and he's unlikely to have a Will Smith-like breakout on an I Am Legend level, but as long as he continues to pick interesting work he's got a Johnny Depp-like career out there waiting for him.
Jim Van Nest: I don't think Leo will ever be the textbook definition of a "movie star". What his name above the title has come to mean to me is a quality performance in what should be a quality film. I think the Johnny Depp comparison is pretty good. A fine actor who picks good roles for him. It wasn't until Jack Sparrow that Depp really became a "movie star". And I'm not sure that Leo will ever have that role.
Jason Lee: Culturally, there are few celebrities that have the cache that Leo does. For the rest of his life, he will be an uber A-list celeb. And even if he doesn't necessarily have the box office pull that a Will Smith has, I think that his strength is the ability to bring tons of publicity and attention to any project he's in. He makes you take notice of his film projects -- and then if it's something you want to watch, great. If it's not, then you won't go see it. But you'll know it exists.
Max Braden: I'd compare DiCaprio more to Daniel Day-Lewis than Clooney. They both have name recognition and can definitely open movies, but they're also so particular about their projects that they've become big stars in small ponds. Despite Titanic and this opening for Shutter Island, I don't think it would be smart to just through giant budgets his way and expect to see great returns. Put Will Smith or Tom Cruise in the right projects and the box office works almost on autopilot. With DiCaprio it takes more crafting. He's got three Oscar nominations under his belt and decades more career ahead, so he'd certainly appear at the tops of those 'quality' types of casting lists as a heavy hitter.
Kim Hollis: He reminds me a lot of Jack Nicholson as far as talent and career trajectory. DiCaprio is similarly keen in his ability to pick projects that match up well with his skill set. I'd even say that Shutter Island is a nice combination of Chinatown and The Shining in terms of tone and the type of acting he is being asked to do. DiCaprio is what we think of when the classic definition of "movie star" comes to mind, and there aren't many other guys in Hollywood whose name comes up in that conversation other than George Clooney and perhaps Tom Hanks.
David Mumpower: When I consider the term movie star, the first place my mind goes is whether their participation in a project automatically heightens its awarenesss and perceived pedigree. I'm not talking about box office or anything like that for the moment, just how much saying "It stars Actor X" makes a person go "Oh, I want to see that". In other words, how much does a person's presence on a production fundamentally enhance its reputation. The point I believe Josh wanted to make earlier is that Taylor Lautner is the flavor of the month, the current actor whose name comes up first due to the limited imagination of so many people in casting. DiCaprio is an entirely different beast. He is that rare talent whose presence is enough to quantify a project as important. To wit, the lazy thought would be to say that Revolutionary Road earned about $23 million domestically; ergo, DiCarpio isn't that much of a draw. The reality is that there aren't five people in Hollywood whose presence in that feature allows it to earn double digits in theaters. It's a (grim) play masquerading as a movie. Similarly, he offered Blood Diamond exactly the level of gravitas needed to make that title intriguing, even if it did wind up being a significant box office loser. Without him, that would have been one of the biggest bombs in recent memory. DiCaprio matters not just because he's a lot of the reason Titanic earned what it did but also because he has stubbornly decided to pick the best movies rather than the ones that appear to be the most commercial on paper. That's what the best movie stars throughout the eras have done.