Christopher Lee: Today's stars are too inexperienced

15554__brokeback_lOne of the perks of being an 83-year-old screen legend (who’s appeared in five of the top-grossing movies of the last five years): People have to listen respectfully to you. So it is with Christopher Lee, who is blasting Hollywood for casting young, lightweight stars in lead roles they’re not mature or experienced enough to play. As a result, he says, audiences tire of these disposable actors before they’ve had a chance to ripen. ”So many of these good-looking — sometimes even pretty — boys and girls are getting these good roles and it’s not fair on them,” London’s Evening Standard quotes Lee as saying. ”At some point it’s going to catch up.”

Call me a crank, but I think Lee has a point. Exhibit A: Orlando Bloom, who, as per our discussion a couple weeks ago, seems like he’s being pushed into carrying movies before he has the chops to shoulder them. But it’s true even in non-lead roles. Exhibit B: Brokeback Mountain, an otherwise excellent movie handicapped by the story’s requirement that its dewy young actors age 20 years over the course of the film. Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams manage to pull it off, but not so much Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. They’re fine as the younger versions of their characters (shown), but when Jake pastes on a mustache and sideburns and Hathaway puts on a frosty blond wig to convey that their characters are middle-aged, they just seem like two kids playing dress-up; they only hint at the gravitas and world-weariness their characters are supposed to have acquired.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Gyllenhaal and Hathaway aren’t going to be given a chance to age into suitable roles. On the other hand, when you look at how boyish or girlish some of our top stars remain well into their 40s and beyond (thanks in part to face-smoothing medical procedures), you wonder if even those stars who don’t get used up when they’re young will ever actually mature into roles that fit their calendar ages.

Am I wrong?


Comments (42 total) Add your comment
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  • Josh

    Why does everyone get to bent out of shape about Anne Hathaway’s charater’s aging. I’m from Texas, and I think it was pretty spot-on. When it comes to true Texas matriarchs, the older they get, the bigger the hair and the heavier the make-up. She was like Sue Ellen Ewing… ahhh…

  • jon

    Are you kidding me? First EW praises ‘Brokeback’ as something wonderful (plus commenting several times about how Gyllenhaal was left out of the Golden Globes) and now he and Anne Hathaway aren’t good enough… make up your mind EW… I thought they were fantastic (and hathaway was probably better than Michelle Williams given how subtle and layered her performance was). Old people need to stop complaining!

  • jim

    What the hell, EW. You just today decided Gyllenhaal and Hathaway couldn’t pull off the forty something look? You would have preferred a couple of fortyish actors playing twenty for 60% of the movie. You’ve been gushing over Jake for weeks. You pointed out his cuteness, named Jake and Heath best screen couple, and best hankie moment and considered him a lock for an Oscar. This is where I go for all things Jake.

  • Adrian

    I have to agree with my fellow posters and speak out against EW (a first!!!). I also happened to be one of those people who was very impressed with Anne Hathaway and actually preferred her perfomance over Michelle Williams’. Also, Michelle doesn’t look a day older than she did on Dawson’s Creek (though obvioulsy her performance is better). She still looks exactly how she did when she played 16! Either way, I think both Jake and Anne were amazing in the film.

  • James

    Yeah, I think you’re wrong and had it backwards. By the end of the movie, Heath looked pretty much the same with Jake and Anne looking realistic for their ages and time periods. It was the 70s/80s and Jake had to have a salt and pepper mustache that looked crappy. Where was Heath’s?

  • mike

    In the previous item, Anne Hathaway’s performance was one to not be forgotten. Then in this one, she and Jake were too pretty to pull off aging. Don’t quote bitter 83yr. old actors. By the way, since the globes, Brokeback has been the #1 movie both Tuesday and Wednesday. It is still playing in only 683 theaters compared other movies playing in four or five times as many screens.

  • Jay

    I agree with this statement completely. The stars are young and lightweight. Thank your lucky stars Russell Crowe is still around and he didn’t really break until The Insider and Gladiator, where he was already around 30.

  • jim

    Me again. You currently have a role call about Jake. I think he been give a chance to age into suitable roles. From Lovely and Amazing to Brokeback and Jarhead in seven years is amazing. You should read your own site.

  • Jeric

    You are right about Orlando Bloom, but dead wrong about Gyllenhaal and Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain. They did a tremendous job.

  • Jeric

    You are right about Orlando Bloom, but dead wrong about Gyllenhaal and Hathaway. They did a tremendous job in Brokeback Mountain.

  • MJ

    I agree with my fellow posters. I thought both Jake and Anne did a fantastic and believable job in Brokebback. Your magazine has not only praised Jake’s performance, but in the review specifically stated that it was a GOOD idea to cast young actors in the movie. How about some consistency?

  • jon

    just wanted to add that I think it’s stupid to criticize young actors in lead parts because unless they cut their teeth on some lead roles, how can they grow to become BETTER actors… it’s hard to improve your acting by playing the son/daughter or best friend over and over again… p.s. at some point in time I’m sure Christopher Lee played a lead role someone thought he wasn’t qualified for…

  • brandonk

    Jake Gyllenhall (and/or his makeup artist) did a good job, but I do agree about Anne Hathaway not conveying the age. There should have been a bit more aging makeup done. Acting-wise, she did a fine job of conveying a more brittle and business-y demeanor as she got older.

  • Erin

    Anne Hathaway was AWESOME in Brokeback, I thought her character at the end offered much more of an emotional punch than Michelle Williams character ever did. Sorry, EW, but you’re way wrong on this one.

  • Tim

    I believe Anne Hathaway’s performance was amazing and convincing in Brokeback. I can understand where you are coming from though… Angelina Jolie as Colin Farrell’s mom in Alexander… YEAH RIIIGHHHTTT!

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