My family was discussing movie stars the other day because we were trying to explain to our daughter who Renee Zellweger is, because she married a favorite country star of ours, Kenny Chesney - whom we were a little worried about because he never seemed to be able to get a date. It came to our attention that - outside of voicing an animated fish - Renee hasn't really been in a single movie that is kid friendly (see for yourself).
Stuff like this gives me teeny tiny little thrill because I've just discovered a little factoid that is evasive unless you look directly at it. I feel like I'm viewing tiny stitches in the weave and pattern of the universe when I put something like this together. Is it important? No. Is it a waste of brainspace? Prolly. Do I still dig it? Sock it to me, baby!
One of my daughter's recent favorite movies is I, Robot. This love/love/(fear!) (as opposed to love/hate) thing with robots appears to be genetic, because they captured a lot of my imagination when I was a kid, too - and just a little dread. Asimov was correct in that the primary reaction humans would first have to humanoid robots of sufficient sophistication would be fear. Because of I, Robot (and Shark Tale), my daughter definitely knows who Will Smith is.
While flipping through the channels the other night, we passed the opening song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. (Hey Hommes! Smell ya later!) Our daughter perked up and said, "What's he doing there?" And we explained that's how Will started out as an actor, and that he'd made it as a rapper first (which didn't impress her since we as a family abhor rap (even though I do like some of Will's stuff)), and that he became a big star over time.
For a while now, I've been pondering just how big a star he is, because he really is ubiquitous. As I write this, he has another CD on the charts, I, Robot is still selling well on DVD and cycling on the movie channels, "Fresh Prince" is in syndication, this early movie season's romantic comedy Hitch is still in the bargain theaters and is due on DVD. Will Smith once claimed he owned the 4th of July weekend ever since Independence Day, and the first time I heard it, for a brief moment, I thought it was kinda arrogant, until I realized he was merely stating fact.
So when I would see lists of "who are the big stars" kinda things in the tawdry entertainment mags I consume like a diabetic committing suicide via cotton candy, I would wonder why he wasn't grinning back at me more than he was. It just felt like he was bigger than his press.
So, today, in Roger Ebert's review of Kicking & Screaming, this interesting little tidbit was dropped:
Will Ferrell is now a major movie star, with nine more new movies in the pipeline. I learn of his status from the industry analyst David Poland, who has crunched the numbers and come up with the "real" list of box office heavyweights. He says top 10 stars in terms of actual ticket sales are, in order: Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Denzel Washington. The highest-ranking woman on the list is Reese Witherspoon, at No. 12. [Emphasis added.]
AHA! I knew it!
I also thought Denzel would be in this kind of a list, though I don't often see him in those entertainment strokefests, either. I must say I'm kinda surprised that Ben Stiller's on the list, but it makes sense. I'm very sad to see Tom Cruise is. I am also shocked that there aren't any women, and the first one on the larger list (which I would love to see) is at number 12. Other than that, this looks about right.
Note that 7 out of the 10 come from comedy or sitcom backgrounds. Hmmmm. More fabric of the universe?