Shining in Shadows
Movie Stars of the 2000s
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Series Information, Copyright
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Introduction - Stardom in the 2000s
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These pages contain discussions of twenty-five stars of Hollywood cinema who flourished, all to a distinctive degree in the international eye, in the decade between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009. Although these stars were as bright as stars have ever been in Hollywood, producing a kind of illumination that had staying power and global effect, the book itself is called Shining in Shadows because all of them shone within...
1 - Wonder BoysâMatt Damon, Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey Jr.
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In the decade from 2000 to 2010, cinemagoers witnessed the ascension to superstardom of Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey Jr. All three are intense, to varying degrees; disarmingly handsome, to differing effects; and talented, in various modes and rhythms. Additionally, in many of their best and most memorable roles all three pulse...
2 - Clint Eastwood and Morgan FreemanâMillion-Dollar Seniors
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Shortly before Clint Eastwood received an award from the Museum of the Moving Image, the Hollywood Reporter dubbed him âThe Elder Statesmanâ (30 November 2009). Soon afterward he was on the cover of AARP Modern Maturity, in which he told an interviewer, âYou get to a certain age and you go, âIâm the last man standing.ââ Hearing that his friend...
3 - Jennifer Aniston and Tina FeyâGirls with Glasses
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As figures who initially rose to prominence on television in the mid-1990s, Jennifer Aniston and Tina Fey starred in top box-office features in the 2000s, each receiving prestigious industry awards, serving as a high-profile spokesperson, driving magazine sales records, and being hailed as, respectively, âthe one woman who we find most compellingâ...
4 - Puerile Pillars of the Frat PackâJack Black, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller
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In June 2004, USA Today gifted a group of comedic actors with a name and bankable identity, the Frat Pack. Comprising a set of primarily television-turned-movie actors, including Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller, the âFrat Packâ gained its currency from starring in a series of films that largely deploy fraternity-type puerile humor...
5 - Javier Bardem and Benicio Del ToroâBeyond Machismo
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When Benicio Del Toro was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2001 for his role as Mexican police officer Javier Rodriguez in Steven Soderberghâs Traffic (2000), he dedicated his award to the people of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico. (The sister cities, divided by the U.S.-Mexico border, provided locations for the production of Traffic, a crime...
6 - Philip Seymour HoffmanâJesus of Uncool
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âThe only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when youâre uncool,â declares music critic Lester Bangs, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, in Almost Famous (2000). I am, by Bangsâs rather unforgiving standards, uncool. And if youâre reading this, itâs a good bet that you are, too. Critics, after all, are inclined to be spectators, perched on the sidelines...
7 - A Postfeminist PrimerâMaggie Gyllenhaal, Hilary Swank, and RenÃ©e Zellweger
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The 2000s were good to Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hilary Swank, and RenÃ©e Zellweger. Three of the most active and acclaimed actresses of their generation, they worked continually over the course of the decade, and, in turn, each was richly rewarded for her efforts, be it with largely laudatory reviews, copious attention, or at least one (Gyllenhaal) and as many as three...
8 - Heath LedgerâIâm Not There
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At the time of his death, Heath Ledger was twenty-eight years old, with the looks that Lasse HallstrÃ¶m once summed up as âthat physicalityâ perfectly intact (Belinda Luscombe, âHeath Turns It Around,â Time, 28 November 2005, 68). He had recently wrapped the role that sent the âruggedâ and âmischievousâ dimension of his star image into overdrive, but at this moment he lost the tenuous control...
9 - Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean PennâActing Authentic
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The star personae of Sean Penn and Leonardo DiCaprio are built around a publicly celebrated ability to act. Each established early in his career performances that were remarked upon as revealing a character while concealing the actor. They are consistently described in the press as disappearing into their roles. Both are also connected, although in different...
10 - Kate Winslet and Cate BlanchettâThe Performance Is the Star
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In a decade that saw the potency of stars challenged, as franchises and action films seemed to monopolize the attentions of both studio executives and audiences, who would believe that the career of a female star who concentrates on serious drama could thrive throughout a ten-year stretch? Yet the examples of Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet proved that...
11 - BrangelinaâCelebrity, Credibility, andthe Composite Ãberstar
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There is a stratum of stardom so elevated that it needs only the simplicity of the given name. There is no other Elvis or Arnold or Britney of any real significance. This is paradoxical: the more stratospherically remote a star gets, the more familiar their popular monikerâtabloids and celebrity media deal such names to us as if we were personal friends. Some stars are...
12 - George ClooneyâThe Issues Guy
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George Clooney has the looks of a classic Hollywood star, somewhere between Gary Cooper and Cary Grant, and his most memorable rolesâthe eponymous Michael Clayton and Danny Ocean, for instanceâ take full advantage of the fact. Yet his most significant contribution to American cinema comes less from his appearances in crowd-pleasing entertainments like The Perfect Storm (2000) and Oceanâs Eleven (2001)...
In the Wings
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In the last days of 1919, the star of âFattyâ Arbuckle was most spectacularly on the ascendant, and his legion fans were hardly in a position to suspect that before another two years were out his fame would collapse almost overnight in the harsh glare of the RappÃ© scandal. A somewhat similar fate befell Errol Flynn in the 1950s, the early (and as yet unreconstructed) career of Rob Lowe late in the 1980s...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 64 photographs
Series Title: Star Decades: American Culture/American
Series Editor Byline: Adrienne L. McLean, Murray Pomerance