Can an actor get into a slump?
You hear the term all of the time with regards to athletes, whether it’s the baseball player who has gone cold at the plate, or the NBA superstar who can’t hit a jumper to save his life.
But do actors endure the same hardship every once in a while? I ask because Steven Zeitchik writes in the L.A. Times about the box-office disappoints of Jason Segel and Jason Statham in The Five-Year Engagement and Safe, respectively. In the column, Zeitchik notes that a few years back, both actors appeared to be unstoppable at the box office, playing to their strengths and pleasing their dedicated, target audiences. But after a string of financial letdowns that include Jeff Who Lives at Home (for Segel) and Killer Elite (for Statham), one wonders if these actors have gone back to the proverbial well one too many times.
"Studio executives like to say that actors should stay on brand," Zeitchik writes. "But the truth is that many performers can only play the same character so many times before audiences start to feel like they've seen it before, and turn away."
It’s true, some actors lose favor with fans by playing the same character over and over again. This is nothing new. It’s how Pauly Shore was able to maintain a screen career for a short amount of time. But other actors actively think outside the box and still struggle at the box office. Take John Cusack, whose film The Raven also tanked over the weekend ($7.2 million to open). For every 2012 – which was an event picture – Cusack has a Martian Child ($3.3M opening), Ice Harvest ($3.7M opening) or Hot Tub Time Machine ($14M opening). Is that a legitimate slump?
Ironically, a recent appearance by Mel Gibson on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno also reminded me of slumps … the self-inflicted kind. At one point, Gibson was on top of the world, from Hollywood’s perspective. Now, his latest movie Get the Gringo opens on DirecTV instead of reaching theaters. Ouch.
So yes, I do believe in slumps. And it’s possible Segel, Statham, Cusack and Gibson are mired in one as we speak. They could pull out of them. Or they could go the way of Pauly Shore. What do you think? Do slumps exist in the Hollywood community? And what do these actors need to do to change the courses of their sagging careers?