PopMatters gives a nifty guide for B-List movie stars who want to maintain their B-level status. Hey, it's better than being considered a D-List star, right?
- You're not that bankable, and you probably never will be: You have enough fingers to count all of Hollywood's truly bankable blockbuster actors: Cruise, Hanks, Gibson, Carrey, Will Smith, and even Adam Sandler. There aren't many of them, and they don't come around often. Go ahead and assume you won't be one of them…
- You're a movie star, not an actor: There are two famous people named Ewan McGregor. One is a fine actor, one is a mid-level movie star. Aside from a brief fling on the set of Moulin Rouge, they've never met. Johnny Depp and Sean Penn can go years without a hit and still find success somewhere down the line. They're marvelous actors and will always be able to find work, even if their star power ebbs and flows somewhat. That was never their point of emphasis, anyway. You, on the other hand, are probably not nearly as talented…
- Prestige won't pay your electric bill: … Jim Carrey and Will Smith could afford unsuccessful forays into drama because they knew subsequent movies like Men in Black II and Bruce Almighty could bring them right back to the top. And hey, Tom Cruise sure seemed to enjoy Magnolia. But unless you're at the Tom Cruise level, hits make stars, not the other way around.
- Ride the coattails, share the blame: This is where Richard Gere's career proves most instructive. Is Gere a box office draw? Not especially, but he knows how to hitch his wagon to one. Notice how he scores big hits and paydays with Julia Roberts, but does lackluster business when paired with Wynona Ryder or Jennifer Lopez. Gere is great at appearing to be an elite star as long as he isn't actually the one responsible for deciding a movie's fate…
- Jerry Bruckheimer is your friend: If you want to get famous, stay famous, and make money, Bruckheimer is your man. You may not like what he does, but he's damn good at it. Think it was Good Will Hunting that made Ben Affleck a big star? Nope. That got him in the door, but that was just a screenplay and a supporting role. Affleck has headlined four movies to cross $100 million domestically, and the first two were Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. Josh Hartnett broke to wider audiences with Pearl Harbor as well, and scored his one real hit with Black Hawk Down. Josh Lucas just did the same with Glory Road, another Bruckheimer production.
- Know thine own mediocrity: Some people can do comedy. You might not be one of those people — Josh Hartnett, I'm looking at you. After all, we saw you fail at it twice. Granted, comedy worked out well for Vin Diesel in The Pacifier. But that was family comedy, where all you have to do is pander a little and follow the Kindergarten Cop motif. Paul Walker similarly scored with Eight Below, where all he had to do was sit back and good-naturedly let the huskies do all the acting. But Hartnett tried to make grownup comedies, when 1) He doesn't have any comedic talent, and 2) Grownups don't know who he is.
- If Mark Wahlberg can do it, so can you: The beauty of the middle is that any idiot can make it work. Wahlberg's had an amazing run for someone whose supporting cast used to be The Funky Bunch. There's no reason you can't determine whether you'll be Wahlberg or back to oblivion. From William Holden to Matthew McConaughey, Hollywood history is littered with second-raters who carved out nice careers for themselves.
The rest can be found here.