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January 26, 2009 | Comments ()


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Five Great Television Actors That Should Stick to TV

A Seriously Random List XLVIII / Dustin Rowles

Seriously Random Lists | January 26, 2009 | Comments ()


There are certain shows around here that are beyond adored, and the characters within them seem to get a free pass from most of us, simply because they were so phenomenal in their signature roles. But you find that, when they attempt to parlay their success on the small screen into the nation’s movie theaters, that they make get a bigger paycheck, but they also cheapen themselves. Maybe it’s just that they were born to play those television roles, and we’re so used to seeing them there that they don’t look right on the big screen. More than likely, however, it’s that they choose — probably by necessity because some of them are adored in such a small universe — absolutely atrocious movie roles.

Here are the five worst offenders in recent memory:

John Krasinski: Signature Role: Jim Halpert in “The Office.” Cinematic Embarrassments: License to Wed, Leatherheads. How He’d Best Be Utilized: Krasinski would do well to stay on “The Office,” as long as possible and, afterwards perhaps, a Jim and Pam spin-off. In his two major cinematic roles, so far, he’s basically done variations of his Jim Halpert character, which worked in the woeful License to Wed, but he was seriously overmatched by George Clooney in Leatherheads. He’s clearly aiming for romantic leading man, but on the big screen, unfortunately, he seems more suited to best friend roles.

Will Arnett: Signature Role: George Bluth II in “Arrested Development.” Cinematic Embarrassments: Where to start: Let’s Go to Prison, Blades of Glory, The Brothers Solomon, The Rocker. How He’d Best Be Utilized: Stop making movies (except for the Arrested Development Movie). Arnett is the worst offender of the bunch, already almost completely demolishing the good will he built up on “AD,” and the only reason he hasn’t completely is because the movies he’s made have been mostly unseen, for good reason. He is great on “30 Rock,” and should probably stick to either television or voice work (he does both on Mitch Hurwitz’s next show, “Sit Down and Shut Up.”) He does, however, make a decent Sports Announcer, which he proved as the only redeeming part of Semi-Pro. He’d be great as the host of a satirical reality show, if it were skillfully done to effectively mock the entire genre. Or, perhaps a sitcom, in which he plays the host of a reality show who hates his job.

Idris Elba: Signature Role: Stringer Bell on “The Wire.” Cinematic Embarrassments: The Unborn, Prom Night, This Christmas. How He’d Be Best Utilized: He’d be great, again, on television if he’d just settle down with one of hundreds of procedurals; he’d be good as an ethically-challenged police officer or, even, as the eventual successor to Anthony Anderson on “Law and Order.”

Ian McShane: Signature Role: Al Swearengen on “Deadwood.” Career Embarrassments: Death Race, Agent Cody Bank, We Are Marshall, Hot Rod, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. How He’d Best Be Utilized: No one delivers a series of profanities better than Ian McShane, and he’s got a voice tailor made to say cocksucker. In fact, how great would he be as a play-by-play announcer for porn flicks? That said, McShane is also the best pure actor of the bunch, he just takes on atrocious roles. He needs to return to pay-cable dramas. In fact, the compound subplot on “Big Love,” has been played to death, and were he to somehow replace Harry Dean Stanton’s Roman Grant, it’d give the show a much-needed boost. Plus, how great would Ian McShane be as an amoral polygamist?

Kevin James: Signature Role: Doug Heffernan in “The King of Queens.” Career Embarrassments: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Paul Blart: Mall Cop. How He’d Best Be Utilized: I didn’t even like “The King of Queens,” but I can recognize that, in the right role, Kevin James can be funny. He hasn’t found the right role yet. He should definitely stay away from Adam Sandler and Happy Madison productions, but it might be amusing to see him take over as host of “The Biggest Loser,” as a player/manager. I could also see James as a decent character in one of the Coen Brothers comedies. Or hell: He and Patton Oswalt should team up with, say, Bill Lawrence, for a television sitcom on Showtime about incredibly ill-suited camp counselors who belittle campers.


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