Tom Cruise: Yes, he’s crazier than a ten-peckered hoot owl, he may or may not be living some sort of lie (honestly, I don’t care) and he worships Xenu (again, I don’t care), but I like Tom Cruise. I like to see him succeed. The reasons are twofold: 1) He makes good movies. Nobody in Hollywood is more consistent than Cruise. He doesn’t take sell-out pictures. He doesn’t make bad family films. He chooses his projects carefully. And he makes the very best of those projects, even if they’re not always winners. And 2) this may sound silly, but I like his story. He came from a modest, middle-class background in Upstate New York. And he worked to get where he is. I think that Tom Cruise is a model of perseverance, hard work, and of determination. Put aside his crazy, and he’s kind of the embodiment of the American Dream: A short kid with a good smile and modest talent who Rudy‘d himself into — at one time, anyway — the most popular actor in the world.
Justin Timberlake: There’s no way for any of you to know this, and it wouldn’t matter anyhow, but something that gets under my skin about writing reviews is spending two hours in a theater, two to three hours writing a review, enunciating the many reasons why a movie is good or bad, only to have a commenter dismiss a movie entirely because so-and-so is in it. This happens with Justin Timberlake more than almost anyone (except maybe Tom Cruise). I don’t know what it is about Justin Timberlake that annoys so many people, but I think he’s charming, gracious, and immensely talented, just not a very good dramatic actor. He was perfectly suited to Friends with Benefits, he was fantastic in The Social Network, he can dance, he can sing, and he’s another guy that will put in a lot of hours to ensure that something succeeds. Those History of Rap videos? You don’t just show up half an hour before your 12-minute interview on Jimmy Fallon’s show and improvise those. That probably involves two days of rehearsal, at least, and there’s no $9 million paycheck attached to that work. I also think he puts in a lot more effort than most for his “SNL” appearances: He doesn’t just show up and read the cue cards. He becomes an intricate part of the process, and that should be respected even if you do find his smirk obnoxious.
Vince Vaughn: I don’t know a lot about Vince Vaughn other than he’s a Midwestern conservative type who dated Jennifer Aniston for a while and is best friends with Ralphie from A Christmas Story (who produces many of Vaughn’s films now). What I do know is that his performances in Swingers, Dodgeball, Old School and Wedding Crashers are four of the funniest comedic performances of the last 20 years. With the right script and the right director, Vince Vaughn can be a comedy God. Unfortunately, not only does he make fewer films now than he once did, the projects he does choose seem driven more by a desire to make enough money to sustain his decision not to make a great comedy. But I want Vaughn to succeed; I want him to choose better projects, because there’s little I appreciate more than a great Vince Vaughn performance.
John Cusack: Rumors of Cusack’s prickishness abound, and once he took to Twitter, it became very evident that John Cusack is no more Lloyd Dobbler than Mickey Rourke. That was a painful realization, and yet … I still want his movies to succeed. Because his characters from High Fidelity, Grosse Point Blank and even Say Anything represent a heady combination of romance and cynicism that really only Cusack can provide. Many of us have traveled a long way with John Cusack, from Better Off Dead to to the upcoming Edgar Allen Poe flick, Raven. It feels like a Hollywood without John Cusack and the potential of one or two more iconic Cusack characters just wouldn’t be the same. Lloyd Dobler created a generation of men who will never be able to live up to expectations placed upon us by women, so it only seems natural that he continue that through his 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond so that the babes in the nursing home continue to expect more of us than we’re capable.
Keanu Reeves: Until Taylor Lautner came along, Keanu Reeves may have been the least talented actor in Hollywood. He also makes a lot of bad films. And yet, I’ve never missed a one. I don’t care how bad the movie is, and I don’t care how bad his performance is: I will go see a Keanu Reeves film. There’s something so joyous about a guy who knows he’s not a particularly good actor — he’s admitted as much in several interviews — who will nevertheless continue to get up every morning, put on his pants, and go out and fail in front of millions of people. Keanu Reeves doesn’t know when to quit, and I hope he never figures it out. Keanu Reeves is a testament to the fact that talent isn’t everything: Effort, doggedness, and a willingness to put yourself in front of millions of naysayers amounts for something too, goddamnit, and for Keanu Reeves, it amounts to a box-office hit once every six or seven years. And I hope that’s enough to keep him around for a few more decades.