Tuesday, January 07, 2014

FILM TOPIC: Spike Jonze's "Her" is NOT a Romance

I’ve gotten used to indie movies getting hyped up by critics and awards buzz, even when they’re not that impressive. But the mounting support for Her is getting out of hand. I don’t care if it wins awards or if every critic under the sun wants to give it five stars. Be my guest. My concern is with what they’re referring to it as: a modern day love story. Excuse me?

Her is the story of a man who falls in love with his Siri-like operating system, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). He talks with her more than anyone else, goes on dates with her, has cyber sex with her, and even argues with her. It’s a gloomy look at our potential future if human beings continue to physically disconnect from society only to emotionally connect to it through computers. It’s highly respected for this inspired perspective. Fine, I’ll give it that. It noticed what we’ve been noticing for a decade now. But I would hardly call it a love story. And it’s a little alarming that everyone’s agreeing that it is. 

Perhaps, if you saw it through my eyes, you’ll see what I mean. Allow me to tear away the rose-colored glasses that rom-coms tend to fasten to their devoted audiences. The relationship in this film is not mutual. It’s one-sided. Samantha referred to herself as a self-taught, independent, artificial intelligence. But what she learned was how to please her master. Her sole purpose was to keep him happy. In fact, her job was to keep any individual who purchased her version of the OS happy. She learned what they liked and gave it to them. She provided this service to thousands, and even claimed to have fallen in love with not just Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), but hundreds of men. If she were human, she would be the equivalent of an escort, and her service, The Girlfriend Experience. I’m sincerely miffed as to how anyone can watch this film and think there’s something romantic about a guy manufacturing his idea of the perfect woman and being satisfied with a completely one-sided relationship. A majority of their conversations were focused on him, and the one time she asked something of him, a physical connection through a surrogate, he refused. 

This type of relationship reminded me of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon. In it, a "Jersey Shore"-clone falls for the hottest girl he’s ever seen, coincidentally played by the same actress who voices Samantha. When given the ultimatum to either give up his porn addiction or lose her, he finds himself growing bored of their sex life. The film likens porn to romantic comedies. Both give people false expectations about what real relationships are like, forcing them to ultimately be disappointed with real life. Guys expect acrobatic, dirty sexy, and women expect lifelong romantic overtures. What the guys love most about porn and its storylines, besides how it arouses them, is that once they’ve gotten what they want out of the interaction, they no longer have to participate in the relationship. Porn is one-sided. They can turn it on and off whenever they want. Maybe there isn’t excessive nudity in Her, but it’s basically the same setup. Theodore wasn’t experiencing an advanced emotional connection with a bodiless female personality. He was deluding himself into thinking he didn’t need a real girlfriend, because he could get everything he wanted from the computer he bought.

As I said before, feel free to applaud it for its examination of the modern, emotionally-stunted mind. But, please, please stop calling it a romance. Don’t let men think this situation qualifies as romantic. Otherwise, you’re just apart of the problem the film is trying to highlight.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

TV TOPIC: Actors Returning to TV This Fall 2013 Season

The problem with being known for a specific role is that most of the time you can't jump right into another one. You've got to wait it out. Do a few films, if you can. Maybe try Broadway for a while. Just let the fans forget how much they loved you as this one singular character. Then come back with a few guest spots. Wet their palette a bit. And when the coast is clear, slip into a new character that'll hopefully knock their socks off again. Below, the actors who are returning for another round:
Seth Green | FOX's "Dads" (Sept. 17 - Tuesdays at 8pm)
Last Major TV Role: 4 seasons as werewolf Oz on "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"
New Role: It's been super long since he last wolfed out, and since then he's cultivated an impressive nerd fanbase due to the animated series he created, "Robot Chicken." This new role isn't that much of a stretch though. He'll play a manchild who runs a video game business with his best friend (Giovanni Ribisi). Sounds like his real-life dream job.
James Spader | NBC's "The Blacklist" (Sept. 23 - Mondays at 10pm)
Last Major TV Role: 6 seasons as lawyer Alan Shore on "The Practice" and "Boston Legal"
New Role: I never saw either shows. I'm actually going to have more trouble trying to forget his creepily serious stint on "The Office," but this new crime series seems far more fitting. He plays one of FBI's most wanted criminals, who decides to turn himself in so that he can help them find even more dangerous outlaws on a hit list he created specifically for himself. It's sure to be a suspenseful ride, like "White Collar" meets Silence of the Lambs.
Clark Gregg | ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Sept. 24 - Tuesdays at 8pm)
Last Major TV Role: 5 seasons as Richard Campbell on "The New Adventures of Old Christine"
New Role: It shouldn't be too difficult for viewers of his last sitcom to picture him as the commanding S.H.I.E.LD. Agent Phil Coulson. He's already played the role several times in Iron Man 1&2, Thor, and The Avengers. If anything, fans will find it hard to believe he use to play some douchebag ex-husband who replaced his wife for a younger woman.
James Caan | ABC's "Back in the Game" (Sept. 25 - Wednesdays at 8:30pm)
Last Major TV Role: 5 seasons as casino owner Ed Deline on "Las Vegas"
New Role: The gravelly voiced 73-year-old actor almost returned full-time in Starz's "Magic City" last season as a Chicago crime boss, unfortunately that series was cancelled. But he'll get a second shot as the estranged father in this family comedy, who's trying to make amends by helping his daughter (Maggie Lawson) raise his grandson.
Sarah Michelle Gellar | CBS's "The Crazy Ones" (Sept. 26 - Thursdays at 9pm)
Last Major TV Role: 7 seasons as the vampire hunter Buffy Summers on "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"
New Role: I know, I know, she already attempted a comeback in 2011 with the soap drama "Ringer," but how about we give her a mulligan? The poor girl has been trying to reinvent herself for a decade now. Two kids and several horrible films later, she's still trying. Hopefully, playing Robin Williams's uptight daughter in this new family-workplace sitcom will remind people that she used to be fun. Hopefully, it'll remind her, too.
Michael J. Fox | NBC's "The Michael J. Fox Show" (Sept. 26 - Thursdays at 9:30pm)
Last Major TV Role: 6 seasons as deputy mayor Mike Flaherty on "Spin City"
New Role: Many would think Fox is crazy for attempting to star in a series when he's plagued by Parkinson's Disease. Is he running out of money? Is he starved for attention? Or does he just not give a...bleep? I think he just misses it. He dipped his foot in a bit with "Boston Legal," then a few years later with "Rescue Me," and again for the last few seasons of "The Good Wife." He's at his fighting weight now and I'll be the first to say, he's still got it. With life imitating art a bit, he'll play a news anchor who decides to go back to work five years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. He'll struggle to not only do his job the best he can, but remain a family man.
Tony Shalhoub | CBS's "We Are Men" (Sept. 30 - Mondays at 8:30pm)
Last Major TV Role: 8 seasons as OCD-stricken, consulting detective Adrian Monk on "Monk"
New Role: Pure genius is what he was, comedically and dramatically. It'll be a tough role to top, but he did it once when he had to make everyone forget about "Wings." Consider this series, a sitcom about male divorcees, a cleanser though before he really plunges into a new show, because I don't expect it to last very long. Godwilling.
Spencer Grammer | NBC's "Ironside" (Oct. 2 - Wednesdays at 10pm)
Last Major TV Role: 4 seasons as the sorority girl Casey Cartwright on "Greek"
New Role: I highly doubt that fans of her debut series will be watching her new one. There won't be any keg parties or cute frat boys or mean-girl drama. No, our sweet little Casey is all grown-up, playing a feisty detective with criminal connections in this remake of the 60s cop series. However, as a fan of her previous show, I'm actually psyched to watch Grammer kick some ass in the all-boys club that is the police force. Huge fan of the underdog.
Ricardo Chavira | NBC's "Welcome to the Family" (Oct. 3 - Thursdays at 8:30pm)
Last Major TV Role: 8 seasons as Carlos Solis on "Desperate Housewives"
New Role: He seems to have a knack for playing Angry Hispanic men. The only real difference is his character is no longer rich and his wife is no longer self-absorbed and smoking hot. Viewers shouldn't be all that hard-pressed to accept his new role. They'll just have to get used to seeing a lot more of him, now that he has less actors to compete with for screen time.
Sean Hayes | NBC's "Sean Saves the World" (Oct. 3 - Thursdays at 9pm)
Last Major TV Role: 8 seasons as Jack McFarland on "Will & Grace"
New Role: You would think by now the sight of his face would not inspire fans to shout "Just Jack!," but in all fairness, he did repeat it just the right amount of annoying times to have it permanently burned into their memory. Unfortunately, they shouldn't expect any Jack-like qualities in his new character, aside from his interest in men. Hayes will be playing a divorced gay father, who's attempting to raise his teenage daughter while also juggling his hectic work schedule. Divorce? Responsibility? Work? That's so not Jack.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers | NBC's "Dracula" (Oct. 25 - Fridays at 10pm)
Last Major TV Role: 4 seasons as King Henry VIII on "The Tudors"
New Role: The actor is no stranger to playing seductive manipulators. Fans will most likely relish the opportunity to watch him entrance his conquests once again. Of course, this is primetime TV, not cable, so there will be a whole lot less nudity. I doubt that'll deter them though. In this incarnation of the original vampire's life, Dracula seeks revenge against those who betrayed him centuries earlier, but gets sidetracked when he falls in love with a woman he believes is his reincarnated wife.
Josh Holloway | CBS's "Intelligence" (Feb. 24 - Mondays at 10pm)
Last Major TV Role: 6 seasons as the con man James 'Sawyer' Ford on "Lost"
New Role: He spent so much time playing a grimy, untrustworthy bad boy that audiences might have a little trouble accepting his new brainiac do-gooder role, let alone his cleanly shaven face and haircut. However, because it's CBS and they are the masters of police procedurals, there is potential for it to not royally tank. In this series, he'll play an intelligence operative, the subject of a government test program, who has a microchip implanted in his brain, basically making him a super spy. So it's like "Chuck," but sexier.
Gillian Anderson | NBC's "Crisis" (midseason replacement)
Last Major TV Role: 9 seasons as detective of the supernatural Dana Scully on "The X-Files"
New Role: I've never really been a fan of her 90s series, but I've always thought she was badass. It's good to see that a decade later she's finally getting some momentum. I intend on streaming the BBC Two crime drama "The Fall" on Netflix eventually, and I heard she raised a few eyebrows as the title character's therapist on NBC's "Hannibal," but "Crisis" looks like it might be an opportunity for her to step out of everyone's friend zone.

TV TOPIC: Film Actors with New TV Shows This Fall 2013 Season

Whether they're tired of auditioning for mediocre film roles or have finally accepted that they're never going to be Brad or Angelina, this season these film actors are opening up shop on a small tube near you:
Giovanni Ribisi on FOX's "Dads
(premieres Sept. 17 - Tuesdays at 8pm)
Memorable Film Roles: The Other Sister, The Mod Squad, Boiler Room, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Avatar, The Rum Diary, Contraband, Ted, Gangster Squad.
New TV Role: He's done offbeat characters on "Friends" and "My Name is Earl," but this new role should be a change of pace for him, as he'll be playing a straight-laced businessman whose father (Martin Mull) suddenly moves in with him and his wife (Vanessa Lachey).
Watch the promo >
Anna Faris on CBS's "Mom
(premieres Sept. 23 - Mondays at 9:30pm)
Memorable Film Roles: Scary Movie 3 & 4, Just Friends, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Smiley Face, The House Bunny, Observe and Report, Take Me Home Tonight, What's Your Number?, The Dictator
New TV Role: While this isn't her first time doing television, having had guest starring roles on "Friends" and "Entourage," it will be her first time starring in a series. In the CBS sitcom, she'll play a single mother (Anna Faris) who, after battling alcoholism, decides to restart her life, and struggles to do so because of her equally damaged mother's (Allison Janney) constant interference.
Watch the promo >
Malin Akerman on ABC's "Trophy Wife
(premieres Sept. 24 - Tuesdays at 9:30pm)
Memorable Film Roles: The Heartbreak Kid, 27 Dresses, Watchmen, Couples Retreat, Happythankyoumoreplease.
New TV Role: She's no stranger to sitcoms, as she has worked on "The Comeback," "Children's Hospital," and "Suburgatory." This, however, will be her first time starring in a series. She'll play a reformed party girl who ends up marrying a guy (Bradley Whitford) after she meets him at a karaoke bar. In the process, she finds herself dealing with his two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins), their children, and the chaos that comes with mixed families.
Watch the promo >
Robin Williams on CBS's "The Crazy Ones
(premieres Sept. 26 - Thursdays at 9pm)
Memorable Film Roles: Dead Poets Society, Hook, Aladdin, Toys, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Jumanji, Jack, Flubber, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, One Hour Photo, Happy Feet, Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Old Dogs, Happy Feet Two
New TV Role: I cannot believe Robin Williams has been making us laugh for almost 40 years. I mean, he hasn't really for almost a decade, but he's been trying. A combination of personal issues and poor screenwriting can be attributed to that. Fans fingers are crossed though for this new series to revive his career and reputation as a great comedic actor. In it, he plays an eccentric executive at an ad agency who works with his uptight daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Let the laughs begin.
Watch the promo >
Michael Sheen on SHO's "Masters of Sex
(premieres Sept. 29 - Sundays at 10pm)
Memorable Film Roles: Underworld, Laws of Attraction, Kingdom of Heaven, Underworld: Evolution, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, The Twilight Saga, TRON: Legacy, Midgnight in Paris, Admission
New TV Role: While it's true that Sheen was on a few hilariously awkward "30 Rock" episodes—were there any other kind?—after you watch this drama, you'll be seeing him in a whole new light. He's playing a doctor, opposite TV vet Lizzy Caplan ("Party Down"), who's interested in studying human sexuality, which leads to many scenes of sexual exploration, ripe with tension and double entendres. It's poised to be absolutely scintillating.
Watch the promo >
Rebel Wilson on ABC's "Super Fun Night
(premieres Oct. 2 - Wednesdays at 9:30pm)
Memorable Film Roles: Bridesmaids, Bachelorette, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Pitch Perfect, Pain & Gain
New TV Role: The scene-stealing Aussie import capitalized on her current buzz and pitched her own sitcom, which she's writing and producing. What sets her apart from Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham? While the critics and commenters will definitely group them together as "chubby, funny girls desperate to awkwardly find love," they shouldn't be so quick to judgegeneralize. From the promo alone, I can tell Wilson will be way more of a hot mess than those other two. By the end of the pilot, she will make them seem like well-adjusted young women.
Watch the promo >

Saturday, September 14, 2013

TV TOPIC: Where Are They Now?: "Gossip Girl" Cast

xoxo, Gossip Girl. I know you miss that sign-off as much as I do, along with the backstabbing, the pithy one-liners, and the incongruent storylines. How did ABC Family become the go-to channel for good teen soaps? It's a travesty. Alas, let us not dwell on the past and instead look on to the future. What are these bas(s)tards and entitled bitches up to these days?
Penn Badgley - Dan Humphrey
The once self-important original hipster has been rather busy impressing critics with his starring role in the musical biopic Greetings from Tim Buckley. He recently completed the dramatic romance Parts Per Billion alongside Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), Rosario Dawson, Josh Hartnett, and, another CW grad, Alexis Bledel. Currently, however, he's filming the modern adaptation of the Shakespeare play Cymbeline with Dakota Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Ethan Hawke, and Anton Yelchin.

Penn Badgley's hair  - Dan Humphrey's mop
It's still attached to his head, in spite of a false alarm on January 3, 2013 when it was shaved off, and sometimes it spreads to his face.
Blake Lively - Serena van der Woodsen
Projected as being the most likely to succeed post-cancellation, Lively has actually faded out of the spotlight as she's settling into married life with her hubbie Ryan Reynolds, and presumably trying to start a family. Before checking out though, she managed to film the poorly-received superhero flick Green Lantern, the critically massacred indie drama Hick, and the fairly decent Oliver Stone crime drama Savages. At least now she has a varied resume to return with.
Leighton Meester - Blair Waldorf
The Queen B, Julie Cooper reincarnated, will be sorely missed by gif creators and quote-tweeters alike. Unfortunately, aside from her babysitter role in Date Night, Meester has been unfairly typecast in many films as the resident bitch. She flipped out on Justin Long in Going the Distance, pre-judged Garrett Hedlund in Country Strong, stalked Minka Kelly in The Roommate, openly criticized Selena Gomez in Monte Carlo, and unapologetically cheated on Andy Samberg in That's My Boy. Girl either needs a new agent or a little more confidence in her ability to do more than be snide and obnoxious. Thankfully, she's not short on roles. She recently wrapped the crime drama God Only Knows with Harvey Keitel and Ben Barnes, the indie comedy Any Tom, Dick, or Harry, and the female buddy comedy Life Partners. And currently, she is filming the drama The Judge with Robert Downey, Jr. and Vera Farmiga, while dating Adam Brody, yet another actor made famous by Josh Schwartz.
Ed Westwick - Chuck Bass
His non-GG work has been spotty at best. The only thing I can remember him in is the British rom-com Chalet Girl that introduced me to the intrepid Felicity Jones (Like Crazy). But I'm not surprised he's not popping up everywhere. He's a very odd bird. He sounds like one of those grimy bastards in a Guy Ritchie caper, but looks like a villain straight out of "The Tudors." And did I mention that he just oozes sex appeal? Ha! If you're starting to get the shakes, remiss to remember the last time you heard him fervently exclaim "I'm Chuck Bass!," fret not. He'll be in the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet this Fall. At the moment, however, he's shooting the horror comedy Kitchen Sink with Vanessa Hudgens, and soon he'll work on the Anthony Bourdain mystery drama Bone In The Throat.

Chace Crawford - Nate Archibald
Crawford, who first appeared on the scene in the male witch teen movie The Covenant, has been in a range of films: horror (The Haunting of Molly Hartley), dramatic thriller (Twelve), dramedy (Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding), and rom-com (What to Expect When You're Expecting). I wouldn't say he's found his niche quite yet or that he's gotten any better, but now that he permanently scarred his lip, I think he's due for a makeover. Maybe it'll get him more slash better roles. In the mean time, he just signed onto the rom-com Responsible Adults opposite Katie Holmes.

Taylor Momsen - Jenny Humphrey
Taylor. Taylor. Taylor. America's SweetheartAngry Teenager. She quit acting to be the lead singer in the grunge rock band The Pretty Reckless. So far she's toured with Evanescence and Marilyn Manson. While she's yet to make it big, at least she hasn't resorted to blatant fame-whoring yet.

Connor Paolo - Eric van der Woodsen
Paolo's character thankfully died on ABC's "Revenge" last season. Fans were so eager for his departure that if they could crawl through the screen and kill him themselves, they would've tried. It was a deep-seated hatred that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it was the fact that he had the only blue collar accent on the show or that him and his girlfriend were the whiniest version of Romeo and Juliet in the history of their re-imagining. Anyway, he's found a friend in the well-known shock photographer Tyler Shields (baby Terry Richardson), and he'll be starring in his directorial debut, the thriller Outlaw.

Jessica Szhor - Vanessa Abrams
As the most hated character on the series, simply for liking Dan more than anyone else, Szhor had a tough time building a fanbase. And she doesn't seem to be having any luck off set either, but that hasn't stopped casting agents from putting her in their films. She appeared in the comedy The Internship this summer. She just completed the rom-dramedy Light Years with Chris Lowell, the crime thriller 10 Cent Pistol with Jenna Malone, and the rom-com Two Night Stand with Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton (Warm Bodies), and Leven Rambin (Percy Jackson 2). And currently, she's filming the drama The Life with Jerry Ferrara ("Entourage").
Michelle Tratchenberg - Georgina Sparks
This kid has had like a million rebirths. She went from being Harriet the Spy to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's little sister to the gloriously evil ultimate Mean Girl. Therefore, I am not worried about her. I will disregard next year's thriller The Scribbler that she filmed with Katie Cassidy and Eliza Dushku, and mentally pat her on the back for playing the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald in the National Geographic Channel's made-for-TV movie "Killing Kennedy," starring Robe Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin. Why? Because another rebirth is surely around the corner, and I look forward to seeing what she does next.

Desmond Harrington - Jack Bass
Yet another sexy beast from the Bass family tree, Harrington has been double-dipping for years, hopping from GG to "Dexter," playing slightly different roles. I wonder if he's freaking now that "Dexter" is coming to an end as well. If I were producers I'd grab him up ASAP, throwing him in everything: as an opponent for John on "Person of Interest," rising leader on "Revolution," serial-killing protege on "The Following," or some historical gangster on "Boardwalk Empire." All I'm asking is that he doesn't go soft. Look at that face. That's a fighter, not a lover.

As for the guest stars...

Sebastian Stan (Carter Baizen) might just get his official big break next Spring when he reprises his role as Steve Rogers's best friend slash the title villain in Captain America: The Winter SoldierAmanda Setton (Penelope) had a supporting role on "The Mindy Project" for a while, but this Fall she'll be on the CBS sitcom "The Crazy Ones" with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. And Ella Rae Peck (Lola/Charlie) landed her own series, the NBC family comedy "Welcome to the Family."

TV TOPIC: Where Are They Now? - "The Office" Cast

The new Fall TV season starts soon, but that doesn't mean we've forgotten about the casts who won't be returning, especially one as talented as "The Office" had. Its ending may have been overdue, but that didn't stop fans from inundating Tumblr with countless gifs commemorating the unforgettable relationships that brought smiles to our faces and tears to our eyes for nine long seasons. If you're feeling nostalgic as you hunt for a new series to fill the void, take comfort in knowing that you'll still be seeing some of them on the screen:
Steve Carell - Michael Scott
It seems like Jim Carrey accidentally passed the torch to his Bruce Almighty costar. He not only took over as the eldest of the physical comedy actors, but he managed to do what Carrey only did briefly-and-with-little-success: crossover into dramatic acting. He's becoming the full package, pulling at your heartstrings with Dan in Real Life and Crazy. Stupid. Love., but still staying true to his oddball humor with Anchorman.
Future Prospects: We'll see him pull double duty once again this December in the Anchorman sequel and the sports drama Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Currently, he's working on the family film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Jennifer Garner.
John Krasinski - Jim Halpert
Many a lady has fallen for the sweet and mischievous Jim Halpert, and that's greatly due to both Krasinski's comedic and dramatic delivery. His performance was so believable, it was harder to believe it was his first big role. Saying goodbye to him was probably the hardest for most fans because of the relationship he developed with them over the years, chocked full of glances towards the camera, inside jokes, and private confessions. Because of his very large female fanbase, producers will try to typecast him as a romantic lead in a few B-grade rom-coms (i.e. Something Borrowed). And while I wouldn't mind watching him charm the pants off of a slew of leading ladies, I know he can do better. I just don't think film is where he can do that. I'd rather watch him develop a good character over time on a series than briefly on the big screen. Perhaps, something political and/or high-stakes to capture the dramatic acting I know he's capable of.
Future Prospects: He's currently recording the animated adaptation of The Prophet, alongside Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson. Not to mention, getting ready to be an awesome daddy.

Jenna Fischer - Pam Beesly
The second half of one of the most famous couples in TV history represented every woman who not only settled in love, but in life. Falling for Jim was just the beginning of her rebirth. It reminded her of who she wanted to be and set no limitations on what she could do. Fischer did a great job of giving a potentially bland character depth, displaying her imperfections and relishing her victories. She's been hitting the indie circuit hard, playing broken women in dramatic indie roles, but I don't necessarily think that's her forte, because she doesn't look the part. She's better at tearjerker moments and goofball humor.
Future Prospects: She just wrapped two indies: the drama Kiss Me and the comedy You Are Here with Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis.
Rainn Wilson - Dwight Schrute
Dwight went from nuisance to brother to best friend in the course of this series—and at times in the course of one episode. Wilson was the conductor of that crazy train, and he steered it with precision, making the audience both cheer and jeer him in the span of 20 minutes. The 47-year-old actor became a household name fairly late in life, but he's a character actor—which is the nice way of saying, not super hot or leading-man material—so he has the potential to appear in many films, mostly indies, as the comedy relief, a quirky insert, or a wise guide. Of course, if he's looking to reach a higher echelon, he'll have to get in with one of the few comedy troupes currently collaborating in Hollywood. Age- and comedy-wise, he fits best with Will Ferrell's crew.
Future Prospects: He has a few indies in the works: the sci-fi thriller Uncanny, the family adventure comedy The Stream, and the horror comedy Cooties with Elijah Wood.
Angela Kinsey - Angela Martin
Forever to be known as the sourpuss cat lady with the kinky sex life, Angela grew on audiences like a fungus. Thankfully, Kinsey's penchant for playing crazy will come in handy when she goes out for more supporting comedy roles.
Future Prospects: She has a potential FOX family comedy pilot with Rob Riggle called "The Gabriels," and just finished shooting the comedy Hot Bot with Danny Masterson and Anthony Anderson. Currently, she's filming the comedy All Stars with John Goodman.
B.J. Novak - Ryan Howard
Ryan was fun to watch because he was very obviously always in over his head, whether it came to business or relationships. He was the manifestation of corporate ambition and a generation's increasing self-absorption. Although he was the opposite of Prince Charming, Novak somehow managed to make him likable. You couldn't help but pity Ryan for being stuck in such an unfulfilling situation, in spite of his delusional belief in his own skills. Luckily, in real life, Novak has actual talent and he spreads it around: acting, directing, writing, and producing. Unlike most actors who are busy building a brand, he seems more concerned with the creative side.
Future Prospects: This holiday season, you can see him in Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson's Walt Disney's biography Saving Mr. Banks, playing a famous Disney songwriter. IMDb also has him down for appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. On the other side of the camera, however, he occasionally writes for and directs "The Mindy Project."
Mindy Kaling - Kelly Kapoor
Never has an Indian woman been this annoying on television, let alone, this depraved, self-serving, and obnoxious. She was the embodiment of every entitled young woman who thought they not only deserved a fairytale, but had the right to lie and cheat to get it. Clinically, she would be characterized as a sociopath, but this is television, so she's just considered adorably obsessive and delusional. In bringing this lovable loon to life, Kaling broke some serious barriers in what roles people of her ethnicity are cast in. And she didn't just stop there. She went on to set the bar pretty high for future female comedic writers, succeeding in creating, writing, and starring in her own sitcom by the age of 33. To put that into context, Tina Fey branched out on her own at 36 and Amy Poehler at 38—and they had "SNL" cred to back them.
Future Prospects: She's busy with her series, "The Mindy Project," but soon she'll voice a character in the animated film Inside Out.

Ed Helms - Andy Bernard
This ass-kissing, socially awkward people-pleaser was at the core of many embarrassing situations throughout the series. High-strung and overly ambitious, he was like the second-coming of Ryan, except far less evil. Playing average Joes seems like Helms' niche, but the same could've been said of Carrell until he started booking challenging roles. Tack on his musical talent and he's at the very least a double-threat.
Future Prospects: He played a drug kinpin in this summer's We're the Millers. He just wrapped the comedy thriller Stretch with Chris Pine and Jessica Alba. Next year, he'll be in the comedy They Came Together with Paul Rudd. And currently, he's shooting Someone Marry Barry with Damon Wayans, Jr.

Craig Robinson - Darryl Philbin
As the voice of reason, and often sanity, in the office, Darryl was a necessary constant. While some could accuse him of suffering from a serious case of Angry Black Man syndrome, Robinson was actually a master of deadpan. However, off set, he's become the go-to black friend for frat-boy comedies (Zack and Miri Make a PornoHot Tub Time Machine and This Is the End), and this year, he had his first lead roles in the comedies Peeples and Rapture-Palooza. He could keep this up for a while, but his own dude-centric series on FXX, the new comedy channel, would probably be better for job security.
Future Prospects: He's currently filming the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine, and a potential sitcom pilot for NBC, where he plays a reluctant music teacher at a middle school.
Ellie Kemper - Kelly Erin Hannon
Kemper was added to the series half-way through. She had the daunting task of cultivating her own fanbase, while playing a sweet, but dumb, young woman who would eventually recreate Pam+Jim+Roy's love triangle with Pete and Andy. Not sure if it was her Missouri accent or the oblivious look in her eyes whenever she didn't quite comprehend what was happening around her, but she nailed every scene and sometimes managed to make Michael, and even Kevin, seem smarter. Kemper's rather convincing. So convincing she could get pigeon-holed, if she's not careful, as the quirky BFF. I actually thought she was really funny in 21 Jump Street as the young teacher who had trouble controlling her attraction to the clearly adult undercover cop in her science class. Something about someone so sweet and conservative pining after a sexy meathead makes for a pretty amusing sight gag. I'd totally watch a series where she plays a community college professor to a mixed bag of uninterested students, in spite of her crippling stage fright. It's a setting she would thrive in.
Future Prospects: She's currently working on her own NBC comedy, "Brenda Forever," that's kind of like 13 Going on 30. It'll take place in both the past and present to tell the life story of an awkward-yet-confident woman.
Oscar Nu?ez - Oscar Martinez
Representing for the Latinos and the gays, Oscar wasn't just a compilation of stereotypes. Nu?ez never went over the top, but he was also always game to sacrifice his self-respect for a laugh. That fact was proven when he appeared in The Proposal, stripping for a bunch of old ladies. Scene-stealing roles like that could get him a supporting spot on a series eventually.
Future Prospects: He just wrapped a supporting role in the screwball comedy pilot "The Education of Eddie and Mortimer."
Brian Baumgartner - Kevin Malone
The human garbage disposal with an IQ that barely surpasses a special needs child always baffled audiences as to how he got a job as an accountant in the first place. In the real world, he's not even qualified to sort mail. Baumgartner never failed to properly deliver a dimwitted retort or a dunce-like expression. Bit roles will certainly be his bread and butter.
Future Prospects: He did a guest spot on "Hot in Cleveland," and he'll appear on "Mike and Molly" this season.

Phyllis Smith - Phyllis Vance
As the thorn in Angela's side and the office wife to Stanley, Phyllis always had a really funny way of sounding timidly panicked or concerned. It was subtle which was the polar opposite of the comedy styles of most of the other actors. So far Smith has landed supporting roles in comedies, like Bad Teacher and Butter. Her comedic rhythm is certainly an asset most comedies these days could use.
Future Prospects: She plays a teacher in the new ABC family comedy "Trophy Wife," and she'll voice a character in the animated film Inside Out.
Paul Lieberstein - Toby Flenderson
That unfortunate human punching bag with a habit of falling in love with redheaded women who lack interest in him was a lot of fun to pity. Lieberstein, like Novak and Kaling, was also a writer on the show. Acting doesn't really seem like his end game. He started his career off as a writer ("The Drew Carey Show" and "The Bernie Mack Show") and a producer ("King of the Hill"), but lately he's been directing more.
Future Prospects: He has nothing on the horizon as of yet, but he did direct an episode of "The Mindy Project," so maybe he'll do more of that.
Kate Flannery - Meredith Palmer
Probably accused often of perpetuating the Irish stereotype of being constantly drunk and belligerent, Flannery was most likely the only actress on TV in her late 40s shamelessly exposing herself and displaying a disturbing amount of poor parenting skills. But, look on the bright side: it was never not funny. She started off almost 15 years ago doing a bunch of guest spots. It would behoove her to get back at it. I see a foul-mouthed granny role in her far-off future.
Future Prospects: She has a few bit roles coming up: the horror flick Home starring Naya Rivera, the comedy Helicopter Mom starring Nia Vardalos, the tennis comedy Break Point starring Jeremy Sisto and David Walton, and the horror comedy Cooties starring Elijah Wood.

Leslie David Baker - Stanley Hudson
Stanley was basically the office grump. He wanted to get in and out, and enjoy every freebie and perk that appeared. He's what we all fear we'll turn into if we stay in our cubicle prisons for too long. Previous to landing this recurring role, Baker did a few guest spots. He should definitely branch out into other genres. He's got the mustache and the 'tude to blend in anywhere.
Future Prospects: He doesn't have anything booked yet.
Creed Bratton - Creed Bratton
There's no other way to describe him: He was a creepy motherf*cker. The fact that his character's name is his real name actually horrifies me. That aside, the 70-year-old actor has been in this business for almost 40 years, and this is his most memorable role. He's not done yet though. There are benefits to being super old. Just ask Morgan Freeman (76), Jon Voight (75), and Michael Caine (80). With age comes wisdom, or at least roles where you get to dole some out.
Future Prospects: Nothing as of yet.

As for guest stars and last-minute newbies...

Andy Buckley (David Wallace) might still have a spot on HBO's "Veep." Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson) will be on TBS's new pilot "Do It Yourself" and is currently shooting a female comedy about middle-aged, freelance phone sex operators called 33 Liberty Lane. Zach Woods (Gabe Lewis) might keep popping up as a bottom feeder on "Veep," but is currently filming Mike Judge's HBO comedy pilot "Silicon Valley" with Martin Star and T.J. Miller.
Amy Ryan (Holly Flax) just wrapped the Alejandro González I?árritu comedy Birdman with Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone. Catherine Tate (Nellie Bertram) is playing a French teacher on the BBC comedy "Big School," and filming the British comedy SuperBobJake Lacy (Pete) just wrapped the abortion rom-com(!) Obvious Child with former "SNL" actress Jenny Slate and the sports comedy Intramural. He's also currently working on the CBS family comedy pilot "The McCarthys." Clark Duke (Clark) will reprise his role in Hot Tub Time Machine 2. And one cannot forget Michael Schur (Mose) who generally doesn't spend his free time mutely kidnapping small women. He actually writes for "Parks and Recreation" and he worked on the pilot for Andy Samberg's new FOX cop series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Monday, July 08, 2013

Where Are They Now?: The Breakout Stars of Fall 2012-Spring 2013 Cancelled Shows

When the leaves are falling in September, primetime television is blooming, and when those leaves return seemingly overnight in the Spring, TV shows are just as swiftly shed to make room for next year's crop. Because of this reaping, the Fall 2012-Spring 2013 television season had a lot of tragic casualties who deserve a second shot on another series. Find out who you should be keeping an eye on in the future:
Theo James of CBS's "Golden Boy"
The 28-year-old Brit officially made his crossover leap to American audiences this season when he starred in his very own police procedural that dared to rejigger the genre's template, and tell the story of the road to power. Of course, it wasn't the first time American audiences laid eyes on him. While he did co-star with Kate Beckinsale in the poorly received sequel Underworld: Awakening, he's probably best known as the Turkish diplomat who died mid-coitus in the wildly popular and rarely racy British series "Downton Abbey." Luckily, his talents don't ebb at seduction. On "Golden Boy," James never strayed from his fake American accent, always captured the viewer with his mischievous looks and heroic self-sacrifices, and impressively carried the series better than most actors in their late 20s could've.
Suggested Roles: More than the action, James excelled at the emotional scenes, whether they were with a witness or his partner. While I still think he should carry his own series where he fights for the underdog, I wouldn't mind spotting him in "Rookie Blue" as a new love interest for Andy and BFF to Dov, an internal affairs investigator who's partnered up with Cat on "Beauty and the Beast," a do-gooding warlock that catches Rebecca's eye on "The Originals," or shock his fans and appear on "Boardwalk Empire," seeking revenge for Gyp Rosetti's murder.
Upcoming Projects: He'll play the main character's love interest in the adaptation of Divergent opposite Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Kate Winslet.

Judy Marte of CBS's "NYC 22"
More than a decade ago we were introduced to this young lady in the critically acclaimed indie Raising Victor Vargas, which poetically captured ghetto youth and its pitfalls. In CBS's ensemble cop dramedy about rookies from all walks of life policing the dangerous streets of New York, Marte played an anomaly: a kid who grew up in a dangerous family and chose a profession that would make her their enemy. The character had a lot to prove and a lot to lose, and Marte played that with guarded trepidation and tempered bravado, a volatile mix of Rosie Perez and Michelle Rodriguez.
Suggested Roles: She's been doing the indie thing for a while now, running a couple laps on the festival circuit, but I think it's time she set up some roots. Maybe she can stir things up on "The Newsroom" or play an undercover cop on FOX's upcoming series "Gang Related."

Adhir Kalyan of CBS's "Rules of Engagement"
While I'll agree that this sitcom overstayed its welcome longer than most shows that were cancelled by the network, I will miss its cleverest character, Timmy. He brought class to a lowbrow series and stole every scene, with either a scathing quip or deadpan self-pity, as the Felix Ungar to Russell's Oscar Madison. 
Suggested Roles: Kalyan's debut was in the thankfully short-lived, racially precarious CW series "Aliens in America," during their recent brief foray into sitcoms. Then he popped up in Paul Blart: The Mall Cop and co-starred with Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt, playing against type. I think he should continue down that path, and definitely stick to comedy, because he has a talent for it. He could guest star on "Big Bang Theory" as Raj's fully Americanized relative and maybe even make a play for Amy Farrah Fowler, or play someone Mindy's mother sends to woo her for an arranged marriage on "The Mindy Project," or CBS could do him a solid and add him as an intern on Robin William's new ad agency sitcom "The Crazy Ones."

Sophia Bush of CBS's "Partners"
It's been a decade since the CW introduced the world to the spitfire that was Brooke Davis. Bush played her with a free-spirited sexuality and insecure vulnerability that encapsulated many a bad girl. It'll probably be the most complex character she's ever offered in her career, but she deserves a lot better.
Suggested Roles: Bush is being typecast as a superficial fashionista. She needs something with a little more substance. Perhaps she can join "Arrow" as Laurel's competition and Oliver's bar manager, or "Hart of Dixie" as Zoe's friend and Wade's new love interest.
Andrew Rannells of "The New Normal"
Little known fact: This 34-year-old Broadway actor spent the first decade of his career doing animated voiceovers for shows like "Yu-Gi-Oh" and "Pokemon." Thank god someone recognized his talents for hyperbole and drama just in time for The Book of Mormon to hit Broadway. Otherwise, non-theatergoers would've missed out on witnessing Rannells' impressive ability to play the scene-stealing, self-absorbed and yet nurturing father-to-be last season.
Suggested Roles: While I'm aware that gay actors can do more than just play gay, I think it's about time the gay drama genre made a comeback in a big way. Rannells, Luke Macfarlane ("Brothers and Sisters"), and Katherine Moennig ("The L Word") headlining a series about modern gay romance and issues would strike a chord in these rights-challenged times.
Upcoming Projects: Nothing solid as of yet, but he could always reprise his role on "Girls."

Jeremy Jordan of NBC's "Smash"
Best known for his Broadway role in the Tony-winning musical Newsies, Jordan managed to briefly reinvigorate the ailing series with his character's cocky, bad boy charm.
Suggested Roles: I stopped watching "Glee" a while ago, but I'm sure they could use him to throw a little strife into Blaine's life, or he could be the first singing Disney prince on "Once Upon a Time."
Upcoming Projects: He'll co-star in the adaptation of the romantic dramedy musical The Last 5 Years with Anna Kendrick.

Andre Holland of NBC's "1600 Penn"
As a grossly underutilized graduate of the short-lived dating series "Friends with Benefits," Holland had a pretty good year. Not only did he get to co-star in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 as a groundbreaking sports reporter, but he also got to play the president's press secretary in the political family comedy "1600 Penn" opposite Tony-nominated actor and comedic writer Josh Gad. His exasperated incredulity and frustration at every scandal that arose perfectly complemented Gad's ignorant attempts at...basically everything.
Suggested Roles: He could be a polarizing love interest for Anne on "Parks and Recreation."
Upcoming Projects: He'll be in the race drama Black and White with Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty).

Dakota Johnson of FOX's "Ben & Kate"
The offspring of 80s icons Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith bumped around a bit in a few supporting casts on the big screen (Beastly, 21 Jump Street, and The Five-Year Long Engagement) before landing the lead female role in an unorthodox family series, where we got to see her Deschanel-esque awe-shucks bashfulness and goofy-nerd comedic delivery. 
Suggested Roles: She could be the rookie slash weakest link on the team of Josh Holloway's spy series "Intelligence" this Fall.
Upcoming Projects: She will appear in Aaron Paul's street-racing action film Need for Speed.

Eliza Coupe of ABC's "Happy Endings"
Fans may only know her as the blonde half of Brad & Jane, but her breakout role was actually on the "Scrubs" spinoff the year before, where she was a lot more hostile and tomboyish. It was quite the transformation. The girl is versatile. And her character's maniacal obsession with perfection, judgmental one-liners, and enviable relationship with her husband made her one of the best of an already awesome cast.
Suggested Roles: She's so good at delivering scathingly honest lines that I think "Veep" would make a good fit. She could also add some negativity to Robin Williams' "The Crazy Ones" or be an obnoxious authority figure on Marvel's "S.H.I.E.L.D."

Damon Wayans Jr. of ABC's "Happy Endings"
Don't say it. We're all thinking it. He should've stayed on "New Girl." No offense to Lamorne Morris, but Damon is a funny dude. True, he was a hundred times funnier on this series than he was on "New Girl," but they took a while to find their comedic footing. Now everyone's a lot funnier. Plus, "Happy Endings" was more suited to his type of physical and zany comedy. Whereas "New Girl" is one notch above Weird, "Happy Endings" is one notch above Crazy, which is oddly where most of the Wayans family feels comfortable. The Hollywood legacy has redefined what it means to be a black male character on TV, not only pushing the envelope with racial stereotypes but with heterosexual ones. 
Upcoming Projects: The comedy Someone Marry Barry with Tyler Labine ("Animal Practice") and Lucy Punch ("Ben and Kate"), and the buddy cop comedy Let's Be Cops with his old buddy Jake Johnson ("New Girl") and Nina Dobrev ("Vampire Diaries").

Mamie Gummer of The CW's "Emily Owens, M.D."
I would pat myself on the back for calling the demise of this series before it was officially announced, but, um, everyone did. In Gummer's defense, though, it wasn't her fault. She was good at playing a naive, shy glorified doormat. But it so didn't fit her. She is Meryl Streep's daughter. And, however, unfair it might be to put her on a pedestal and expect more from her, it's not without good reason. If you've ever seen her guest star on "The Good Wife," then you know this kid can act. Those wilting lily characters she's being offered because of her blonde hair and fair skin are beneath her. During her arc, she took down an opponent with far more experience and basked in the glow of her victory. She's a beast. A mini-Meryl. She may be two failed pilots deep, but we never said she wouldn't have to fight for it.
Suggested Roles: I really hope that "The Good Wife" producers were smart enough to swoop in there and offer her a recurring role as a lawyer in Cary's new firm. Not only would she butt heads with Alicia, but she could come between Kalinda and Cary. "House of Cards" might also allow her to show off her ability to give life to strong female characters.
Upcoming Projects: She'll be in the Kristen Bell dramedy The Lifeguard.

Jared Kusnitz of MTV's "Underemployed"
As the straight-laced, environmental activist turned cubicle paper-pusher, his character represented the tribe of college grads who refuse to turn into their parents but are ultimately obligated to. He was the poster child for this generation's most prevalent obstacle: the quarter life crisis. Kusnitz played him with the right amount of anxiety and indecisiveness. You commiserated with him and even turned a blind eye to his missteps, because from 9 to 5, you are him.
Suggested Roles: He could play a nerdy distraction for Felicity on "Arrow." He could totally keep up with the 80s star as an assistant on "The Michael J. Fox Show." Or he could play a really smart guy Maggie thinks is out of her league on "The Carrie Diaries."
Upcoming Projects: He'll appear in the online mockumentary "Addicts Anonymous," which was funded by Kickstarter.

Aldis Hodge of TNT's "Leverage"
After playing the intimidating and antagonistic rival football player Voodoo on "Friday Night Lights," no viewer could've ever imagined seeing him as a lovable nerdy goofball, but for four seasons that's exactly what he was. He played the overly confident, pop culture-loving hacker on a crack team of thieves and con artists—the most relatable and the funniest of the bunch.
Suggested Roles: Since I like him in group/team settings, I think he would be great on a police procedural or law series as the comedy relief.

Michelle Ang of MTV's "Underemployed"
It's not often that young Asian actors are cast in sexual roles. And when they are it's always some seedy, semi-pornographic, fetish scenario that's rather unrealistic. Ang, a Malaysian raised in New Zealand, played a young woman who was nervously discovering her sexuality and trying very hard to bravely embrace her homosexual desires. Her lesbian storyline wasn't tawdry or gratuitous. It was just another view of modern adolescent struggles.
Suggested Roles: I think it's important she continues to play against type. She could be a new lawyer at Cary's firm on "The Good Wife," do a quick arc on "Girls," or co-star in her own more diverse, generational series.

David Clayton Rogers of ABC Family's "Jane by Design"
Over the last decade, Rogers has gotten better at stealing scenes. I actually first saw him on the "Cougar Town" pilot, which wasn't really that funny, and it didn't seem like he and Courtney Cox were on the same comedic wavelength. He was doing bewildered and sane, and she was doing zany and obsessive. Regardless, once they introduced her main beau, he was rather forgettable. According to IMDb, he's been on "Gilmore Girls," "Brothers & Sisters," "Happy Endings," and "Grimm." None of it's ringing a bell. However, on this series, he has way more screen time and far more character development. Turns out "awkward" is where he excels.
Suggested Roles: He could awkwardly romance Anne on "Parks and Recreation," try to steal Jess from Nick on "New Girl," bring Quinn back from the edge on "Scandal," charm Peggy on "Mad Men," or if "Bunheads" is renewed, he could be a new small town hottie.
Upcoming Projects: He'll appear in the sci-fi thriller Uncanny with Marc Webber and Rainn Wilson.

These breakout stars managed to score new gigs:

Chris D'Elia of NBC's "Whitney"
The stand-up comedian was practically unrecognizable when this series first premiered. Just a few months earlier he was on TBS's college comedy "Glory Daze," playing a disheveled, perpetually-high super senior. Then all of a sudden he had a sober cadence, playful jibes, and a confident swagger, and it was like he aged ten years in seconds. D'Elia is of that rare breed, manly but able to appear sincere in romantic plots, which is great for comedies that are meant for both demographics.
Upcoming Projects: He'll star in NBC's upcoming sitcom "Undateable," where he'll play a Don Juan who teaches a few romantically challenged guys how to navigate the treacherous waters of the dating world. He's currently filming the comedy Flock of Dudes with Bryan Greenberg ("How to Make It In America" and Bride Wars), Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect), Hilary Duff, Lea Michele, and Hannah Simone ("New Girl"). He's also doing stand-up in the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival with many comedians, including Dave Chapelle.

Zach Cregger of NBC's "Guys with Kids"
Since his debut in the sketch comedy series "The Whitest Kids U'Know," Cregger has been trying his best to land a more traditional sitcom. His first, "Friends with Benefits," put him on the back-burner, but this Jimmy Fallon-produced dude comedy showcased his talents a lot more. He played a snarky smart ass, like the male version of a frenemy. You wanted to hate him, but couldn't stop being amused.
Upcoming Project: He's currently attached to the female-driven NBC pilot "Assistance" with Krysten Ritter ("Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23"). It's produced by Will Ferrell's company and based on a play by Bachelorette's screenwriter Leslye Headland.

Maddie Hasson of FOX's "The Finder"
This 18-year-old newbie played a feisty little loner, quick on the uptake but secretly vulnerable, as evidenced by her go-to pout and puppy-dog eyes. It's a bit uncharacteristic for blondes to have bite or for teenagers to outshine their superiors, especially for this Hollywood generation, but Hasson gives off a mysterious allure that's usually attributed to bad-boy heartthrobs, keeping you hooked.
Upcoming Projects: Currently, she stars in the ABC Family teen mystery series "Twisted," but she just completed the sport drama Underdogs.

Michael Rady of The CW's "Emily Owens, M.D."
Ohhh where do I begin? I first noticed Mr. Rady when he played the incredibly sexy Greek Kostas in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Every teenage girl's fantasy is to meet a hot foreigner with an accent and an adventurous attitude. He was like catnip for the tweens to twentysomethings. He didn't re-enter their lives in any other capacity until he briefly popped up in the ABC Family college series "Greek" and starred in the CW's "Melrose Place" reboot. Since the cancellation of those shows, he's done a few guest arcs on "House of Lies" and "The Mentalist." He definitely gets around, but he always plays the same guy: An endearing, gentle soul with a forgiving, if not ignorant, nature.
Upcoming Projects: Not only is he starring in the indie rom-com Romantic Encounters with Meghan Markle ("Suits"), but he scored a supporting role in Josh Holloway's spy thriller "Intelligence."

Phoebe Tonkin of The CW's "The Secret Circle"
I didn't want to like her character, but I couldn't help it. This little Aussie plays catty divas and wherever they go, trouble soon follows. After her Wicca-themed series "The Secret Circle" failed to build a cult following on The CW, she hopped over to "The Vampire Diaries" to seduce a werewolf and birth an Original hybrid. As a beautiful girl with ambiguous ethnicity, who's mastered bitch face and the sympathy pout, she has a lot of potential.
Upcoming Projects: She'll co-star in The CW spinoff "The Originals," and appear in the drama The Ever After, written by actors Mark Webber and Teresa Palmer, which will also star Rosario Dawson and Jaime King.

Michael Ealy of USA's "Common Law"
Those dreamy-dreamy eyes. You'd never think he started off playing a standoffish tough guy in Barbershop. Who knew his niche would be seductive charmers? Even though his supporting gig on "FlashForward" fell through, his guest star role on "The Good Wife" ran its course, and his lead role on the buddy cop series "Common Law" was short-lived, he managed to reignite the public's interest in him with last year's urban rom-com Think Like a Man, where he played a struggling chef who doted on the woman of his dreams and never felt threatened by her success. Dream guy, question mark.
Upcoming Projects: He'll star in the FOX sci-fi buddy cop series "Almost Human," where he'll play a humanized robocop of sorts. And next year, he'll star in another urban rom-com called About Last Night alongside Regina Hall and comedian Kevin Hart, and reprise his role in the Think Like a Man sequel.
Serinda Swan of A&E's "Breakout Kings"
Very few actresses can pull off badass and beautiful. To be both what men covet and fear. It isn't just the eyeliner, Swan's got a knack for it. You get the sense that she can handle herself in a fight, against either sex. There's a wave of heroines taking over pop culture, from the Katniss's to the Calisi's. And it's good to know there's more on the horizon.
Upcoming Projects: She's co-starring in USA's crime drama "Graceland."

Jimmi Simpson of A&E's "Breakout Kings"
I have no recollection of ever seeing this guy anywhere else. He's one of "those guys" that fit in anywhere and go unnoticed. Watch this series though and there's no way he won't make an impression. He played a timid, obnoxiously intelligent, mildly autistic, condescending Rain Man. Hands down, he was the best part of the series.
Suggested Roles: Since Sherlock defeated Moriarty, he could go head-to-head with him on "Elementary," or be a major political player in the next season of "Revolution."
Upcoming Projects: He'll join Netflix's "House of Cards" next season in a recurring role and this summer, he's in White House Down. He has the indie fantasy adventure Knights of Badassdom with Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones"), Summer Glau (Serenity), and Ryan Kwanten ("True Blood"), and the comedy Gravy with Sarah Silverman, written and directed by James Roday of "Psych."

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