Michael Cera: How would you break his hipster-nerd pattern?

Oh that Michael Cera. He’s such a chameleon on the big screen!Youth-in-Revolt-Cera_l

I’m kidding, of course. We’ve all been reading/hearing/saying for months now that Cera has been playing pretty much the same nerdy-awkward-hipster since breaking out in Arrested Development six years ago. New York magazine’s “Same Dude, Different Hoodie” piece from August is a hoot. And the New York Times Arts Beat blog recently posted a quick video interview with the actor in which he (awkwardly, natch) posits that it’s all just a question of what roles he’s offered. In any case, with yesterday’s news that his latest movie, Youth in Revolt, has been pushed to next year, Cera’s habit of playing uncannily similar characters has cropped up yet again.

In Youth in Revolt, Cera plays Nick Twisp, an intellectually sophisticated, yet unlucky-in-love high schooler with the hots for a pretty girl he meets over the summer. To muster up the courage to woo her, he imagines a mustachioed alter-ego named François Dillinger who has no problems seducing the ladies. (That’s Cera as Twisp and Dillinger in the picture above.) The movie got strong reviews out of Toronto, and I stumbled upon at least one blog today that claims that with Youth, Cera finally gets a break from “his character rut.” Presumably, that’s a reference to Dillinger who, yes, is the farthest thing from George-Michael Bluth that Cera has ever played. That said, we’re not talking departure on a Halle-Berry-in-Monster’s Ball scale here. Dillinger might smoke cigarettes and encourage Twisp to crash cars, but as you can see in the trailer below, he’s still a guy who speaks with that deadpan clipped irony — in other words, exactly what we’ve come to expect from Cera.

Adorable as he might be, audiences’ patience with his shtick is likely to wear thin soon. And I find it hard to believe that there won’t come a time when even Cera himself gets sick of playing the same backpack-toting cutie-pie nerd-hero. Personally, I’m curious to see what else the guy can do with his talents. So what should his next step be? Force himself to stretch beyond his comfort zone in a drama? Convince Sofia Coppola to write a Lost in Translation For a Twentysomething Boy-Man dramedy for him? What kind of role would you like to see Cera take on? And what do you hope he doesn’t do?


Comments (79 total) Add your comment
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  • DavidJ

    He doesn’t have to play wildly different characters; as long as he ditches the bumbling/awkward thing now and then and talks like a regular person, that would be enough.

    In any case, the trailer for this one looks hilarious.

    • Emma

      Ditto. Can’t wait to see this film.

  • Leslie

    I LOVE Michael Cera, but the nerdy boy thing is getting tiring. I think hes being handed those scripts, because we all still see him as George Michael, but older.. I want too see him a drama.. Something that makes me wanna cry, and say THAT ISN’T GEORGE MICHAEL… But in a good way

    • Molly

      I agree. It’s Hollywood that is typecasting him, I don’t think that is what he wants. I think he is talented and hasn’t been given the opportunity to show it.

  • Nick

    Scott Pilgirm. That is all.

    • Jessica

      So very true. He’s going to rock in that movie. I’m looking forward to seeing SP.

  • Cole9219

    I know this is kinda off topic…BUT…that movie looks awesome!!!

    • ami

      OMG. This movie was based on a book with the same name! Although in the book, Nick disquises himself as a girl to run from the law. I’ve thought it should become a movie ever since I read it!

      • Cole9219

        I just read the book!!! It was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • toonaspie

    It would be nice to see him do something new but I think he’s doomed to his type-casting (as least for now).

  • Chris

    Yeah, get this guy some breadth in character. Otherwise, Will Ferell, part deux (but at least Will had “Stranger Than Fiction”).

  • Meier

    I’d like to see him play a historical figure. Unfortunately, I have no idea which figure that would be (Reply section?).

    • Meier

      Napoleon maybe?

    • Cole9219

      Archduke Francis Ferdinand…

      • gael

        that would be franz ferdinand.

    • Kerry

      Your wish is granted! He plays Alexander Hamilton in the very first episode of “Drunk History.”

      (NSFW but dang funny)

    • Sarah

      Been there, done that. He’s in the drunk history series on Funny or Die.

  • JC

    Have him play a domestic terrorist.

  • lauren

    single persona worked for jerry lewis, jerry seinfeld, ben stiller, vince vaughn, etc. give the kid a break, he is very good at what he does. why should he tinker with what he has going on?

    • mscisluv

      Yeah…who says he even wants to “branch out,” lest he be deemed a failure at that?

  • MyLisa

    He needs to find an unsentimental role in a war, crime, or period film. A crewcut and a uniform will take away a lot of the geekiness. Perhaps there’s a baby-faced villain role out there?

  • Jacques

    Throw him in a current war/conflict movie. That outta bust his cherry.

  • Jeff

    This is true. But “Scott Pilgrim” next year will give him a chance to spread his acting wings. Edgar Wright’s direction, the great source material and Michael Cera’s excellent comic timing will make for a perfect match.

  • Ceballos

    I desperately want to see Michael Cera do something different (I’m a fan, but come on, let’s see something else.)

    I don’t necessarily want to see him go the Shia LeBeouf route and have him battling Transformers or anything like that. I’m also not necessarily expecting a radical departure where he shaves his head or stars in a costume drama – something tells me he just doesn’t have the range (yet) for that radical of a departure.

    As a result, I think I’d like to see him tweak his current image. Instead of using the hipster/nerd thing for comedies and young adult dramas, I think he could play a truly disturbed character in some kind of thriller.

    • Lissa

      I think you nailed it. He’s not quite ready for the kind of artistic stretch that I’d like to see from him a few years down the road, but I think a twisted sort of villain in a thriller could really work for him. It’d be just the first step he needs. (Although I love him as is, too.)

      • ?

        Agreed. I want to see him in something along the lines of ‘Midnight Express’ or ‘The Beach’… something with massive quantities of pot, trippin’, and legal fees. Then I want to see him in something like ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ (Google it). Is Van Sant still doing Tom Wolfe’s ‘Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’? He was made to play a beatnik.

        Or a mentally retarded person who plays the trumpet at a Seattle high school and secretly makes beats in his room and revolutionizes the indie-music scene. It would have an amazing soundtrack.

        His stuff still kicks Eisenberg’s ass (the kid from Adventureland), so it hasn’t lost all of it’s steam. This convo is too premature, but yeah… the future.

      • orville

        You know, one of the CSI or Law and Order series might be a good place to try that new persona out. They’ve been good vehicles for actors wanting to try new directions.

      • ?

        Orville. No.

      • orville

        And why not? A lot of A-list actors and actresses have played “against type” on these shows to great effect.

      • ?

        Orville, you make a great point… I do agree to a certain extent, but I don’t see basic television as an answer to what isn’t even necessarily a problem. Maybe an HBO miniseries would work, but he isn’t Law and Order or C.S.I. desperate. Evan Rachel Wood did the C.S.I. guest spot, it was an excellent episode, but it didn’t land her the role in the Woody Allen film or add to the Across The Universe hype. It was a blip, I doubt anyone knows she was even on that show. For Cera to go that route it would be obvious desperation for me. Cera really has something going for him, he’s already become an icon for American teenagers (Superbad, Juno, and Nick and Norah speak to present day youth). If he can find something along the lines of ‘The Graduate’ for the 21st century he’s set for life. He needs to find a role with almost non-existent comedy that opens the door to other doors. He can totally make it in film right now, he doesn’t need to worry about a scripted drama guest spot.

  • Crystal

    I see the point BUT if it ain’t broke…

    • Mark

      it becomes Will Farrell.

  • gmcfly

    There’s nothing wrong with being a character actor. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson. Or Jackie Chan. Or Steve Buscemi.

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