There are always actors who Hollywood tries to make happen. They may be talented, attractive, charismatic—everything a “movie star” should be—yet for whatever reason, be it choosing the wrong movies or just plain bad luck, they don’t really connect with audiences. Ryan Reynolds was in this box forever: He had his early breakout with Van Wilder and then trundled along for over a decade, bopping around from independent movies to big-budget misfires that failed to establish him as a real A-lister. But still, Hollywood kept him around. (Arguably for longer than they should have, given the number of talented actors who were shuffled off the casting rotation while Reynolds kept landing superhero franchises, but that’s a post that will get me fired by Dustin.) There was a sense that this was someone who just needed the right project. Then that project came along in the form of Deadpool, and suddenly people got Ryan Reynolds. Those years of the celebrity-industrial complex gaslighting us into thinking he was a bigger star than he actually was became justified.
But for every Ryan Reynolds, there are five Sam Worthingtons or Taylor Kitsches: Actors that Hollywood tries to make happen, only to eventually realize that no one cares.
One of those actors is Scott Eastwood.
It’s time to let this one go.
Scott Eastwood, son of Clint and colonial fantasy boy toy of Taylor Swift, has his most recent film outing in The Fate of the Furious. It’s not the best Fast and Furious movie by any stretch, but it still displays one characteristic that’s defined the franchise from the beginning: Enthusiasm. The enthusiasm of its stars and of its characters. The enthusiasm of the behind-the-scenes team to continually up the ante in terms of batshit insane action setpieces. It’s a fun movie. And in the middle of that fun, Scott Eastwood—playing Kurt Russell’s secret ops sidekick who’s known only as “Little Nobody,” which is ironic, because that’s probably what Clint Eastwood calls Scott IRL—plops onto the screen with all the enthusiasm and energy of a wet fart.
There are certain elements of his character—namely being a slightly stiff lawman who’s an outsider in this world of Corona-chugging muscleheads—that make it seem like Eastwood is being set up as a quasi-replacement for early series Brian, played by the late Paul Walker. To which I respond: 1) NO. 2) NO. 3) through 10) NO. Walker was never the greatest actor there was, but he had charisma. Scott Eastwood eats charisma for breakfast, as in he takes whatever charisma there already was in the room and turns it into feces.
The relationship between Brian, Dom, and the rest of Dom’s crew was lovingly crafted over the course of years. It’s these relationships that are the beating, gooey heart the Fast and Furious movies, which intercut increasingly wacky stunts with a painfully earnest Vin Diesel waxing rhapsodic about how “I don’t got friends. I got family.” In Fate, there’s no hint of a relationship worth exploring between Eastwood and the franchise regulars, because you can’t have a relationship with a wet dishcloth.
Granted, there’s no indication that the intention is to make Eastwood a major player in the franchise like Walker was. Eastwood’s role in Fate is supporting and mostly oriented around comic relief. You’d think you’d want an actor doing comic relief to have a personality, but what do I know? Well, here’s one thing: Even money is on the scene where he’s bodily picked up and slammed into a wall by Dwayne Johnson ending up as Eastwood’s career peak.
Scott Eastwood’s character gloms onto the action scenes like a barnacle of crusty mayonnaise. Every time director F. Gary Gray cut away to him, I had a little “oh, yeah” moment. Oh, yeah. Scott Eastwood is in this movie. I had forgotten about him almost completely by the time the credits rolled. And that’s not new. IMDB tells me he was in Fury. I saw Fury. I do not remember him in Fury. Ditto Suicide Squad, in which he actually had a fairly decent-sized role. He was the guy who died while defusing the bomb at the end. You remember? No, don’t answer that. You don’t. Suicide Squad was full of recognizable actors popping up for a few minutes at a time—Ike Barinholtz, Common, David Harbour, Jared Leto—and of that set, Eastwood made the least impression. He’s knockoff Liam Hemsworth. He’s bland.
Despite all this, Eastwood continues to line up gigs. You’ll see him next year in Pacific Rim: Uprising, and he’ll presumably return in future Fast and Furious installments in some capacity. Why? Is there a reason that’s not pure and simple nepotism? There’s no hint at an untapped well of potential, like there was with Reynolds. He didn’t star in the most successful movie of all time, like Worthington. He wasn’t a TV breakout, like Kitsch. He’s attractive, in a male model sort of way, but tons of aspiring actors are. Nobody ever says, “gee, I really liked Scott Eastwood in [that thing Scott Eastwood was in].” Even Clint Eastwood doesn’t say that.
Can we please stop with this before Scott Eastwood fails upwards into a Star Wars movie? I’m scared.