So I am reading a banner story on our sister publication Variety today which opines that Justin Timberlake should stop acting and no one should send him scripts. It’s by the publication’s new Gotham film editor Ramin Setoodeh. I was thinking about how much I hate it when journalists place their own judgments and shackles on talent, and how the last time I read something troubling and reactionary like this, it was when some genius wrote on Newsweek.com that gay actors like Sean Hayes should not even try to play straight characters, because they just can’t pull it off. That seemed hurtful and kind of homophobic. Then it hit me. Same genius wrote both articles.
Look, nobody is going to stand in line to defend Runner, Runner. But if journalists like this were in a position to determine who works or doesn’t work, they would have put Ben Affleck (ironically Timberlake’s costar in this flop-arooney) out to pasture when he lost his bearings a few years ago. Affleck directed and starred in and produced the reigning Best Picture winner Argo. Actor careers ebb and flow. Who knows if those guys took the movie because they got to stretch, or if they just got paid, or if it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun. Who knows why Robert De Niro has made so many questionable choices? All I know is when he’s on like he was in Silver Linings Playbook, all of the forgettable stuff melts away and you realize you are not going to see a better actor at work. Timberlake is no De Niro, but he has done daring and very funny stuff on Saturday Night Live, and compared to singers-turned-actors, he stacks up favorably. He shows an admirable lack of vanity, and has done good work in films like The Social Network. You could run a reactionary ban-this-actor story every week based on what film craps out at the box office. Actors will always have films on their resumes where they wish they could take a mulligan, and I guess it’s no different for journalists who cover them. And Ramin, welcome to the PMC family!