Radar reports that our favorite box office trailblazer, Josh Hartnett, has finally given up hope of nailing zingers on 30 Rock or appearing in a mildly successful movie and moved on to simpler pursuits: the London theater. In a role that will certainly pay homage to Tom Cruise’s former career as an actor, Hartnett will appear as Rain Man’s Charlie Babbit opposite a less-heartthrobby Brit filling Dustin Hoffman’s pigeon-toed shoes. Most interesting of all? Hartnett manages to say, “It has always been my intent to work on the London stage,” without laughing. But the bigger question remains (ahem, Katie Holmes): why do movie stars assume tackling the theater will be a breezy little side-job guaranteed to build acting cred? The track records of Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, and David Schwimmer beg to differ, after the jump.
Amanda Peet: Even a Neil Simon script and eye candy provided in the form of Patrick Wilson couldn’t save Peet’s 2006 role in Barefoot In The Park from critical ridicule and a very brief run. The NY Times equated the theatergoer’s experience to watching paint dry, and said of her performance: "She's trying, really hard, to be funny and freewheeling, but it hurts.” Ouch.
Kathleen Turner: You would think no one could dare attempt to reincarnate The Graduate's Mrs. Robinson other than Nicolas Cage defamer Kathleen Turner. The husky voice, the stiff hair, the scent of desperation — all right up Turner’s alley. Sadly, the dame spent most of her off-stage time downing vodka and passing out on the theater’s bathroom floor. Watching Luke Perry fondle the elderly is painful enough — watching him fondle the elderly and unconscious? Impossible.
Denzel Washington: Denzel’s 2005 appearance as Julius Caesar wasn’t a flop per se, but, as is the case with too many of his movies, making a whole bunch of money does not a success make. Fanfare ensured the limited run filled seats, but reviews handily laid out the Unwelcome Mat for the unimpressive star on the Great White Way.
David Schwimmer: The NYT struck again, ripping to shreds Schwimmer’s attempt to erase Ross Gellar from our scarred memories by making his Broadway debut in a heavy military revival. Labeled a bland “pouty puppy,” Schwimmer didn’t let the swift exit of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial deter him from killing off The Producers opposite the wildly high-regarded vocal talents of Larry David.
Julia Roberts: When being called a “lamppost” is the highlight of your critical fallout, you know it’s time to tidy up the stage and quickly put your total failure of a Broadway debut to bed. But not Julia Roberts! “Hated” by reviewers, unable to sell tickets for half of their going rate, Roberts’ blindingly bright star power dimmed considerably for what felt like the first time after boldly starring in Three Days Of Rain.