Are TV Celebs The New Movie Stars?

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need-for-speed-aaron-paul1Photo: Courtesy of DreamWorks.
Yesterday, we reported that Olivia Wilde was joining Martin Scorsese's latest collaboration with HBO, an as-yet-untitled rock-and-roll saga set in 1970s New York. Wilde joins True Detective's Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, Ballers' Dwayne Johnson, and How I Met Your Dad's Greta Gerwig as the latest movie stars to migrate to the small screen at the height of their powers. It's a perfect illustration of the narrowing gap between the two mediums. While the Golden Age of Television shows no signs of slowing down, movie studios have become increasingly reliant on franchises, sequels, remakes, and reboots to draw in audiences. So, actors looking for meatier roles and more auteur-driven scripts, inevitably turn to television.

This paradigm shift also means that television stars looking to become movie stars may be out of luck. Gone are the days of George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, and a handful of other actors parlaying their starring roles on television into bona fide movie careers. When was the last time that actually happened? Some of television's biggest stars have tried and failed to make their mark in film. The latest example is Aaron Paul, whose new movie the Need For Speed looks like B-movie dreck compared to the magnum opus that was Breaking Bad. No matter what Paul does, he seems destined to live in the shadow of Jesse "Yo Bitch" Pinkman for the rest of his career. The same goes for the likes of Jon Hamm, Taylor Kitsch, Kit Harington, and even Bryan Cranston, all of whom have little chance of finding roles as challenging or iconic as the ones that made them famous.

Even established movie stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Buscemi, and now Matthew McConaughey have reached new levels of popularity for their work on television. So, what does that mean for actors like Paul, now that his series has ended, and Hamm whose show Mad Men is about to ride off into the sunset this summer? Paul, for one, perhaps realizes that nothing he does will ever top the work he did on Breaking Bad, which explains why he's been in serious talks to star in the show's spin-off Better Call Saul. But, what about Hamm? Grumpy Old Mad Men? Hey, we'd watch it. (Vulture)