‘Group surge’ stellar phenomenon
Once in a rare while, a new movie topbills relatively unheralded talents who do so well in the production that they not only make it a big hit—they also use the film as a springboard for their own eminently successful careers. Past examples include “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Star Wars,” which helped launch the careers of some durable stars; “Grease,” and the “High School Musical” franchise.
A more recent example of the “group surge” stellar phenomenon is “The Social Network.” Justin Timberlake was already a star when he costarred in it, but some of his fellow actors were relative newbies—Jesse Eisenberg, Armie Hammer, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, etc.—who have since done better than most newcomers in the highly competitive world of the movies.
Eisenberg got the lion’s share of the attention in “The Social Network” because he played the pivotal role of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. He surprised viewers with his unusually deep take on his character, because his previous screen outings in silly teen roles had been relatively skittish and unimpressive.
It was no surprise, therefore, that his portrayal of Zuckerberg won the Boston Society of Film Critics’ award for best actor, among the other honors and citations.
In 2011, Eisenberg voice-acted the role of Blu in “Rio,” played Nick Davis in “30 Minutes or Less,” and was guest host of “Saturday Night Live.” This year, he has three films in postproduction—“Predisposed,” “Free Samples” and “To Rome with Love.”
Hammer similarly impressed viewers and critics in “The Social Network” when he played the twin roles of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss with remarkable delineation and contrast.
His next role was in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” in which he portrayed J. Edgar Hoover’s assistant and lover (Hoover was played by Leonardo DiCaprio).
Hammer’s followup characterization was a personal triumph for him due to its complexity, and it won him due to its complexity, and it won him a number of nominations for best supporting actor.
This year, he’s just played Prince Andrew in “Mirror, Mirror,” and will next appear in “The Lone Ranger” (as John Reid/Lone Ranger) and “By Virtue Fall.”
For his part, Garfield (Eduardo Saverin in “The Social Network”) made headlines when he won the plum role of the teen lead in the 2012 super hero caper, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which is about to open in town. Last March, he also made his American stage debut as Biff Loman in the revival of “Death of a Salesman,” directed by Mike Nichols.
On the distaff side, Mara—who played Erica Albright, Zuckerberg’s exgirlfriend in “The Social Network”—was next cast over other contenders like Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson to portray a computer hacker who helps Daniel Craig’s character solve a series of murders in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Mara’s edgy portrayal won critical acclaim and was even nominated for Golden Globe and Oscar awards.
Next up for the new star is Terrence Malick’s new film, “Lawless,” in which she costars with Ryan Gosling, Portman and Cate Blanchett. Mara will also play a key role in Stevan Soderbergh’s “A Bitter Pill” where her costars include Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
When it rains, it pours!