Hollywood turns to British actors like Jason Statham and Christian Bale for action men

Category: Misc./General Career News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 31, 2008 | Publication: The Telegraph | Author: Anita Singh
Publication/Article Link:Daily Telegraph

Hollywood is turning to British actors for leading action roles because of a dearth of American macho men.

While the US film industry was once dominated by "men's men" such as Steve McQueen, today's homegrown stars have difficulty portraying tough guys.

As a result, directors are looking across the Atlantic and to brawny British actors including Gerard Butler, star of historical war epic 300, and Jason Statham, who has carved out a niche in high-octane action movies.

The star of the year's highest-grossing film, The Dark Knight, is Britain's Christian Bale as a brooding Batman who despatches his enemies with an array of martial arts skills.

In its latest edition, Variety asks plaintively: "Where did America's tough guys go?" It goes on: "Not so long ago, Hollywood's male stars were men's men.

"Think John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart and Steve McQueen...

"These days, studios are hard-pressed to find home-grown traditional male leads to carry their pictures. Their star rosters include countless boy-men who, even after they turn 40, are less than credible macho movie stars."

They include the "fey" Johnny Depp and the "goofy and boyish" Brendan Fraser, star of The Mummy franchise.

The only US actors capable of playing tough guys are now on the wrong side of 50, the magazine added, naming Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford and Samuel L Jackson.

Identifying the trend for using non-US actors, Variety notes: "Not atypically, the year's top-grossing film, The Dark Knight, stars Brits Christian Bale and Michael Caine alongside the late Heath Ledger, from Down Under.

"Two of the top rising stars right now are both from the UK - 300 star Gerard Butler and Jason Statham."

Butler, a 38-year-old Glaswegian, played King Leonidas in box office hit 300 and recently signed up to play a police officer who takes on Al Capone in Brian de Palma's prequel to The Untouchables.

Statham, 35, is a former Olympic diver who performs many of his own stunts. He made his debut in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and has since appeared in a string of action films including The Transporter series and Death Race.

Robert Relyea, a veteran producer who worked with McQueen on Bullitt, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, said: "My directors always tried to seek out people who had 'it', which does not exist today.

"You've got copycats trying to be McQueen. They don't get it.

"These guys had a masculinity and toughness that came across. McQueen didn't give a damn who his make-up man was. It's not fashionable for actors to be all-American men now. They have to be strange and different."