More than a pretty face? Models have mixed record in the movies
Kate Upton, the sunny 21-year-old model who twice graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, makes her bid for big-screen success as one of the many other women in "The Other Woman," which opened Friday.
But the track record of successful models making the leap from the catwalk to the movie set has been spotty, to say the least, with such luminaries as Cindy Crawford, Estella Warren, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley stumbling when it came to creating a character behind their picture-perfect images. For every Halle Berry, let's say, there are probably two Fabios.
Berry stepped off the runway and onto the screen in the 1989 TV series "Living Dolls" (about, no surprise, models) but proved herself more than just a pretty face playing a crack addict in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever." She has since made film history twice: as the first African-American woman to win the Oscar for best actress in a leading role ("Monster's Ball" in 2002), and as the first performer to show up and accept in person a Golden Razzberry Award for Worst Actress ("Catwoman" in 2004). Which proves that along with her ambition and talent, Berry is also a good sport. She's back on the big screen this year as Storm in "X-Men: Days of Future Past."
We all know that Channing Tatum spent time grinding out a living as a male stripper, thanks to "Magic Mike," but before he brought those moves to the big screen, Tatum was a hot model appearing in national campaigns for such clients as Abercrombie & Fitch and Armani. His good looks and dancer's athleticism made him the hunk of the moment, an interchangeable cog in action films and romantic dramas both, until "21 Jump Street" showcased his knack for comedy and "Magic Mike," a project he developed, proved his show-biz savvy. He is, of course, developing a sequel: "Magic Mike XXL."
Cameron Diaz, who stars alongside Upton in "The Other Woman," had never acted before landing the female lead in 1994's "The Mask." Her ability to hold her own opposite Jim Carrey and the special effects that turned the comedy dervish into a live-action cartoon character spoke well to her future. She went on to forge a screen persona that combined sexy and sweet and just a little raunchy in such films as "There's Something About Mary" and "Charlie's Angels," and showing a much less sweet side in the comedy "Bad Teacher" and the savage "The Counselor." Upton could take some lessons from her veteran co-star: good looks can get you a movie but a career takes intelligence and talent.
Dude, where's my career? Calvin Klein model-turned-sitcom star Ashton Kutcher found success playing a boyishly handsome doofus on "That 70s Show." His forays into serious roles (Steve Jobs in "Jobs") have been less successful, but he's done surprisingly well as a reality TV entrepreneur with "Punk'd" and "Beauty and the Geek." Now he's back where he's most comfortable: holding down his side of a hit sitcom on "Two and a Half Men" so well that hardly anyone even misses Charlie Sheen.
One of Victoria's Secret's original Angels, Tyra Banks is a true supermodel. She strode the catwalks of Paris and Milan as a teenager, graced the covers of Elle, Vogue, GQ, and two Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, and broke barriers as an internationally celebrated and wildly successful African-American model. As an actress, her best role was arguably as a hot bartender in "Coyote Ugly," but she found her true calling as an entrepreneur and businesswoman; creator, producer and host of the daytime chat series "The Tyra Banks Show" and the hit reality show "America's Top Model."
Apart from a couple of "Vacation" comedies and an appearance in onetime-husband Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" video, original supermodel Christie Brinkley hasn't shown much interest in acting. Which is just fine; she really hasn't much aptitude for doing much more than looking pretty and smiling good-naturedly while Chevy Chase pratfalls around her. She has, however, enjoyed poking fun at herself as the impossibly gorgeous wife of office schlub Jerry Gergich in the TV sitcom "Parks and Recreation."
The famed Italian model for countless romance novel covers, Fabio was a self-parody the moment he tried to parlay his looks into an acting career. His best screen performance is still on the small screen, hawking "I Can't Believe It's Butter" with a sly smile, a bare chest, and an expression that says "Yes, I know I'm selling margarine, but I look so good doing it that no one cares."