Search for the first name Ryan on IMDb and four names will stand out from an endless sea of CW extras. All youthful and athletic during their peak, these four Ryans share nothing in common other than an inexplicable box-office success that only translates to romantic movies but not much else. Some of you will stop reading right here and start writing comments on how pointless this piece is. Go right ahead, but know this before you fail to resist the temptation of online message board negativity: I have a point to make about Hollywood’s inner workings and only those with enough virtue to sit through this seemingly irrelevant exercise in trivial comparisons will get to comprehend it. Are we all ready? Let’s start with the first Ryan then – The true original.
STUD RYAN NUMBER ONE: Ryan O’Neal
Academy Award nominee, father of Tatum and all around classic good-looking stud. Love Story (1970) – a film primarily targeted at setting unrealistic relationship expectations for the young female demographic – propelled him into stardom. He was able to sustain relative mainstream success and critical accolades in the early part of the 70’s and was lucky enough to star in the timeless classic Barry Lyndon – the period piece Kubrick always wanted to make. Not too long after that, he found himself going back to the well in order to regain commercial appeal with Oliver’s Story, an unnecessary sequel to his original chick flick surprise hit. He eventually was passed over by movie studios as a once bankable name and his career faded over a span of ten years. He later found a second life by starring in various television series.
STUD RYAN NUMBER TWO: Ryan Phillippe
Also better known as Mr. Reese Witherspoon back in the early 2000’s, he’s been in a number of movies that you probably forgot he was in – including Crash (the surprising Best Picture Winner from Paul Haggis). With the acting ability of a Johnny Depp and the looks of a more restrained Justin Timberlake, Phillippe enjoyed supporting roles in high profile projects like Altman’s Gosford Park and Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers. Commercially however, his obvious appeal to the female population never translated into Hollywood stardom and he was not able to recapture the role that put him on the map: A stud-looking stud who discovers he has inhibited feelings in 1999’s teen hit Cruel Intentions. Soon turning 40 next year, he followed the Ryan curse by redirecting his career to television as he expertly plays Channing McLaren on the TV Series Damages.
STUD RYAN NUMBER THREE: Ryan Reynolds
Reynolds has been voted sexiest man alive so there’s no denying that Hollywood invested big dollars to make him a bona fide movie star. Shouldn’t that be enough to draw a crowd to the box office and average more than $48,231,858? Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper were the winners around his year and their average gross $76 million $93 million and $90 million. I personally feel like he chooses bad projects to work on even though he is constantly given plenty of opportunities. Reynolds was supposed to use Green Lantern to establish his box office fortune. Playing Hal Jordan once every 2-3 years would have established him as a longer-term, star, but that movie’s box-office failure put him back to square one. His true hit came with Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal”, whereas “Safe House” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” inflated his average because of Denzel Washington and Hugh Jackman, respectively. Denzel could’ve made Safe House with Justin Bieber and I still would have seen it because Denzel is a great actor. And Deadpool was replaced by another actor at the end of the X-Men Origins. Ryan Reynolds still has a marketable name, and if they can recreate Green Lantern with a better story or give him the Deadpool franchise to run away with, he’ll be where he should be at the box-office rankings.
STUD RYAN NUMBER FOUR: Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling is a great actor who has already proved through a variety of projects that he isn’t afraid to play against type. However, I was a little surprised when I went onto Box-office Mojo and noticed the average box office revenue from the films he starred in was only $23,752,875. Sure, this average counts movies like All Good Things, The Slaughter Rule (?) and The Believer (?!?). These three movies opened in only eight theaters – COMBINED. Actors are still artists and they like to do work they believe in. However, I only consider this as a good idea after they’ve established themselves as a top grossing stud. Ryan Gosling has been thrown into the draft pool of Bruce Wayne candidates by Warner Bros, and his agent should be doing everything he can to make that happen (much to the anger of most fans) for his client’s sake. While we appreciate his Refn collaborations and streak of great indie films, it’s clear that studios want to make him a true movie star and branching out into genres other than chick flicks hasn’t worked for him. Not yet at least.
OK. WHAT’S THE POINT?
Too often we watch movies and wonder why the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow somehow remind us of the ones of yesterday. Perhaps it is coincidence that Brad Pitt bears a striking resemblance to Robert Redford. Or perhaps it is not. Beyond the similar names, similar faces, and similar parts are Hollywood career formulas that work like assigned seating – young actors get invited to sit into chairs for a number of years and are asked to move on eventually. The Hollywood Stud Ryan is one of these chairs. It’s just another formula of a career that fills theater seats by catering to an audience that will never grow tired of it.
Because Hollywood wants to keep churning out roles for a young Nicole Kidman even after she’s become a seasoned veteran, they found us Amy Adams to fill into these brainy superhero love interest shoes. Scripts for a young Michelle Pfeiffer are still up for grabs and Amanda Seyfried is getting them all delivered on her front porch. Rob Lowe’s still looking good but we might as well go with Zac Efron to play that charming lead. The screenplays keep coming, and the roles always call for the same fit. So who the hell is young Pacino, you ask? We don’t know yet and we might never actually find one. While you can’t look at this forward, you can definitely look at it backwards. In other words, classic movie stars might never meet their match but the majority of the young movie stars we have today relate back to a famous Tinseltown A-list name.
That all four actors covered in this piece were named Ryan is nothing more than a fluffy factoid – I am sure their parents had other reasons for choosing that name. Speaking of parents, Ryan O’Neal’s career high was in Paper Moon in 1973, a movie in which he co-starred with his daughter Tatum O’Neal. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and young Tatum walked away with the Best Supporting Actress statuette. Nowadays, Tatum is a name audiences associate to Channing Tatum, another Hollywood Stud Ryan who broke out in romance chick flicks and has defeated the curse by starring in a number of various box-office hits.
What a Ryan couldn’t do, a Tatum did… Your mind can safely blow up now.
– The Silent Shark