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Filmism.net Dispatch December 11, 2011

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I reviewed a 1989 film called Slipstream the other day, notable for no reason other than because it starred Mark Hamill in a secondary role.

Some online chatter leads you to believe that the reason Hamill didn't enjoy anything like the success of his Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford was because producers were afraid audiences wouldn't see anyone on screen but Luke Skywalker if they cast him.

Christopher Reeve suffered the same fate, never reaching the career heights Superman offered him, but typecasting is a funny thing. Ford went on to play one of the most iconic characters in cinema, but Indiana Jones didn't become a chain around his neck keeping him from further success.

I was thinking about Hamill and Reeve recently while thinking about the characters of Bella Swann and Harry Potter. Kirsten Stewart's done some really interesting projects, from playing Joan Jett in The Runaways to the damaged leading lady in slacker love story Adventureland. She's also set to play the titular soldier/princess heroine in the violent revisionism of Snow White and the Huntsman, which looks like it'll be huge.

If the character and script are right, another high profile adventure pic will erase any career baggage from sparkly vampires and Stewart will be firmly on the road to A-list stardom. It doesn't hurt that she has real (if raw) talent that should take her far.

Daniel Radcliffe trod a slightly different path. Throughout the Potter years he did some theatre that got a lot of attention, but filmgoers with no interest in plays only new he flashed his wand in Equus. His only other film project was the sweet but forgettable Australian production The December Boys.

I think Radcliffe's on shakier ground than Stewart. For one thing, he's simply not a very good actor (yet), and without a blizzard of special effects and the cream of British acting talent surrounding his shortcomings will be only too visible. He looks stiff but serviceable in the trailer for the upcoming The Woman in Black, but it's not going to stop audiences seeing a grown up version of the boy wizard.

If I had to bet one way or the other I'd say that in one or two years, Stewart will be well on the way to being the 21st century's Julia Roberts and Radcliffe will be starring in straight to video cop thrillers. But I've been wrong before. Who could have guessed what nuanced, culturally sensitive role Mickey Rooney would play as the Japanese neighbour in Breakfast at Tiffany's?

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