Billy Crudup is one of the best actors in Hollywood; so it's a shame to discover, when one glances his resume, that he's 38 years old and has had only 2 big roles (3 if you count -- which I don't -- his voice acting on the English dub of Princess Mononoke): his outstanding turn in Almost Famous and his portrayal of Steve Prefontaine in Without Limits (I think I'm one of 2 people who saw the latter).
Still, Crudup himself, or his agent, have to be at least partially to blame. Who wants to watch a movie starring Billy Crudup, or one starring Billy Tomahawk?
Our second subject is a man for whom I have what may be called a geek's affinity: Scott Bakula. Despite oftentimes being heavy-handed to the point of cringe induction, I unabashedly love Quantum Leap. Sure, the show had its flaws and tended to beat one over the head with its message of tolerance, but the premise and the rapport between Bakula and co-star Dean "Al" Stockwell are of a class unmatched, and which together made one of the most singular, most-underappreciated, hour-long television shows in the medium's history. I should and probably will dedicate a future post to QL, but for now let's stick to the subject: Scott Bakula.
I've always considered Bakula a poor man's Harrison Ford*. If you squint the right way they even resemble one another. But whereas Ford has starred in some of the most successful and most acclaimed films in movie history, Bakula is either a cult-hero actor (for his roles on Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise, the latter of which I've never watched), or, though it pains me to admit, another Hollywood That Guy.
Multi-talented (he can sing, has won acclaim on the stage, and, among other things, plays a mean piano), Bakula's career in film hasn't born much fruit. And while I'm sure he isn't bitter (by all accounts, on and off-screen he's one of the classiest guys in the biz), I am. You'd think that after 20 years someone would have noticed that this guy has gravitas. Sadly, the sole film (not counting Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions, which was fairly decent, actually, but nobody saw) in which Mr. Bakula has shined was his portrayal of a gay neighbor in Sam Mendes's American Beauty. Watching Bakula in that film, I was both happy and saddened; happy that one of my favorite actors was in such a big-deal film, saddened that his role was so minor.
(And, again, I can't help but think that the surname Bakula is partly responsible. Would you -- assuming you're a lobotomized moviegoer -- rather see a film starring Scott Bakula, or one starring Scott Sharp?
I'm a selfish person. I want neither Billy Crudup nor Scott Bakula to achieve stardom because I believe they deserve it (which they do), rather because I want to see more of them onscreen, preferably in acting roles of great import. I'm sure both men are well fulfilled with their careers, lead successful lives and have great families; and while they'd undoubtedly, given the opportunity, take the leap (pun acknowledged), I'm equally sure that neither gentleman will lose much sleep if they don't.
I will, though. I do.
Please, Hollywood, lavish these men with choice roles. Failing that, make the long-rumored and much-delayed new Quantum Leap series (A Bold Leap Forward) a reality, and make Billy Crudup change his name. Seriously, whenever I mention it in the presence of company, they look at me as though I said a bad word.
* And whereas Ford's career in recent
years has followed a downward trajectory, I hope Bakula's brings balance to the universe by taking an upward one.