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Discuss: Can Taylor Kitsch's 2012 Be Saved By 'Savages?'

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 3, 2012 10:03 AM
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We suspect the film will be fairly well-received, and do moderate-to-disappointing box office, without setting the world on fire; enough to not be a third disaster in a row, but probably not enough to restore confidence in Kitsch completely. So the question is, what's his next play?

After Ryan Reynolds' disastrous 2011 summer, the actor went to ground somewhat. "Safe House" was already in the can (and thankfully proved to be a big hit), and shooting was already pretty much underway on "R.I.P.D." But since then, the actor's been quiet, with only animated gigs on "The Croods" and "Turbo" (and **spoiler** a self-deprecating cameo in "Ted," clearly from the Tom Cruise/"Tropic Thunder" school of rehabilitation **end spoiler**) actually in production. He has signed on to some other gigs, including the indie drama "Big Eyes," and he's been rumored for the "Highlander" remake (although it's worth noting he's not yet confirmed for that movie). But it's clear that the bruising performance of last year's films made Reynolds and his management take stock a bit.

Kitsch would be well advised to do the same. The actor only has one film on his slate at present, reuniting with "Battleship" director Peter Berg on another military-themed project, the Afghanistan-set "Lone Survivor." The film is shooting this fall, and will see the actor in a more comfortable second-fiddle role to proven draw Mark Wahlberg. We suspect that there's a degree to which Kitsch, like Jude Law and Colin Farrell before him, is a character actor being forced into leading man roles, and may find he's having more fun if, like them, he starts taking more interesting supporting parts. The relatively healthy international box office for his two films suggests he has some value in terms of pre-sales, so he could still be an asset to independent producers putting together a package.

Kitsch was also linked to fan-favorite role Finnick Odair in "Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire," and while it was swiftly denied by all involved, including the actor, it might have been a smart move to pursue it; walking into a pre-made franchise with the pressure off is probably preferable to trying to launch a whole franchise on your own shoulders. But the better template Kitsch should try to follow is that of Mr. Channing Tatum.

Taylor Kitsch

A year ago, Tatum was seen as a wooden himbo, whose blockbuster attempts with "G.I. Joe" and "The Eagle" had been pretty unsuccessful. But now, Tatum has had three (wildly different) films opening above $35 million in five months, has won critical acclaim, and is pretty much Hollywood's hottest new star. And in part, he did it by taking his destiny into his own hands, working with smart filmmakers and developing his own projects, while not neglecting the core of his audience by making a film like "The Vow."

He's had as good a year as Kitsch had a bad one, but serves as a demonstration that the "Battleship" star is far from down and out yet, and taking a few hints from the Tatum playbook wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. Find a cameo or an expectations-defying role in some Apatow-type comedy. Chase the next Nicholas Sparks adaptation, the best possible way to establish a fanbase among young women (because Kitsch's biggest problem right now is that he doesn't really have a fanbase, other than "Friday Night Lights" fans out there). Hook up with some smart filmmakers and take a small, memorable role. If he follows some of those steps, Kitsch may be around for plenty of time to come.

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  • Nate | July 19, 2012 1:10 AMReply

    Taylor Kitsch is Canadian.

  • Vince | July 9, 2012 4:25 PMReply

    ALY stop trying to act like you know what you are talking about.. All leading men need a good personality and charisma..? is this leading men who can't act and have no depth and their characters are cardboard. I'm pretty sure directors do not want some who acts like them selves off the screen over somebody who can actually act. Say what you will about Tatum the guy has become a star! Now that he is getting into he comedic side his possibilities are end less and for him playing the same role in every movie it's kind of weird he is the only young star that can clean 100 million every movie. Taylor Kitsch was great in FNL but no, not a movie star and never will be percieved by one because he plays the same character on-screen and off. Ps. his performance in savages as chon was a joke he is suppose to be feared and you almost laugh when he stabs travolta.

  • Xas | July 11, 2012 1:11 AM

    Hats off, Vince!! Say what you want of Tatum, but the guy is charismatic and good comedian. Also he's interesting in interviews. Taylor Kitsch, on the other hand, wooden acting, zero charisma, boring in interviews... even he sound like a prick -Rejected Catching Fire in that way as he's the biggest star-

    Also, I'm so tired of people defending him for FNL. FNL was one of the best shows, but Tim Riggins isn't exactly a difficult or even demanding role. Every average actor could pull off with a good direction. Even they make one of the most bimbo actresses compelling -Minka Kelly-. If you want a good young actor - Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, David Kross... Not only good looking actors -Actually Hammer is gorgeous- and talented enough

  • tash | July 6, 2012 1:12 AMReply

    Aside from his pretty face and abs, Taylor has the work ethic, determination and natural talent to pull through. JC was a decent film, the CEO of Disney quit because it was marketed so badly and Battleship only under performed in the US on opening weekend because of the Avengers. Both releases were hammered by the media but not because of Taylor's performance, even though he's been the common denominator, he's never slated for his performance. There's a reason why director's like Oliver Stone are backing him.

  • Anna | July 11, 2012 1:01 AM

    Maybe he has work ethic, but sorry, he's NOT leading man material... Stop making excuses. He's talented as a block of wood and even when I think he's hot, I prefer watch him in A&F than movies.

    There's a reason why director's like Oliver Stone are backing him

    Oh, come on, like Oliver Stone means quality in these days. Since Nixon, Stone hasn't a good film in YEARS. Even put in his films terrible actors -Thandie Newton in W. is a perfect example

  • JD | July 5, 2012 12:32 PMReply

    @Aly, yeah I agree, it takes a force of character to navigate through to the right roles, right now Kitsch and Reynolds are the type of guys who are considered sex symbols but lack pretty much everything outside of that. As for Tatum he maybe on a charmed run at the moment but he can't play versions of himself forever (a la Step Up & Magic Mike). At best Kitsch could hope to find a role like the one he had on FNL and run with it

  • sp | July 5, 2012 11:49 AMReply

    Kitsch has potential, just like Matthew Mcconaughey. He was so good on "Friday Night Lights."

  • v | July 4, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    First of all, no one is going to see “Savages” the same day “Spider-Man” comes out, especially with how well it’s being received by fans. Secondly, Channing Tatum – while he may not be that versatile – is still a good performer. And, he has a very likable personality and is viewed as a humble man. Kitsch is flat-out a bore to listen to in interviews. He hardly smiles, cracks a joke. He has zero APPEAL. Channing has it all.

  • Lou | July 4, 2012 3:20 PMReply

    It should be borne in mind that what is poison to some is food to others. I happen to find Reynolds a very talented and versatile actor. He was great in Buried. If I am not wrong, The Proposal made 320M USD, which was Sandra Bullock's highest grossing comedy. Definitely, Maybe is, in my view, one of the best romantic comedies of the decade. The Change-up was a bit over-the-top as raunchy comedy, but it was very well acted, as even the detractors of the movie had to admit. As far as Safe House is concerned, some European critics (e.g. Cinema Teaser) praised his performance OVER Denzel Washington's. But you are right. Looks and hot body irritate some male spectators, who are more inclined to accept more 'normal-looking' leads. Can we please use a synonym for 'charisma' (and, possibly, for 'gravitas')?

  • Aly | July 4, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    To be a leading actor, you should have something beyond looks and hot body. You need to have charisma and personality. People should be drawn to you regardless of the character you’re playing. Taylor Kitsch and Ryan Reynolds both suffer from the same problem: actors who look like leading men but lack the personality to be leading men.

  • Sasha | July 4, 2012 12:06 PMReply

    He has not been received well for his turn in Savages. Aside from a few reviews he, along with Lively, have been panned by most critics as blank and uninteresting.

    If Savages is going to be good to anyone, it's going to be Stone.

  • lenij | July 4, 2012 4:55 AMReply

    Please, just fire your agent.

  • Lou | July 3, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    When a film fails to make much money the leading man is the culprit/scape goat? Jude Law and Colin Farrell are character actors/second fiddles while Channing Tatum is a full fledged leading man, a paragon? What a paean!

  • Nolan | July 3, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    Savages might end up being reasonably well received, but I don't see any way it makes money. It looks like a generic drug action/drama. Oliver Stone's name carries absolutely zero box-office clout. The film itself doesn't have any real star power.

  • Amelia | July 3, 2012 12:23 PMReply

    With decent material, Colin Farrell is a superb leading man. Or don't you realize that he was the leading man in In Bruges, Tigerland, Phone Booth, among others? He's choice of projects have, however, not always been great, and some esteemed directors have let him down. If Kitsch has the talent (I've never seen him act), I hope he has better luck.

  • Iris | July 3, 2012 11:34 AMReply

    Tatum and Kitsch are not good actors.

  • Ryan Sartor | July 3, 2012 11:06 AMReply

    Also, I think the reception of Savages has been downplayed slightly. It's 100% on rotten tomatoes (though that will almost certainly drop as reviews pile in) and two of the three reviews on Metacritic are 80s, which I think falls under rave status (though Pete Hammond obviously doesn't count).

  • Yeah, However | July 3, 2012 11:40 AM

    Give it a second. All the reviews haven't hit yet. It's a certifiably piece of shit.

  • Ryan Sartor | July 3, 2012 10:58 AMReply

    Very good piece. I like the Tatum model. As much as I like Tatum, I think Kitsch could exceed him in terms of consistently compelling performances. That's just based on his "Friday Night Lights" work.

  • easy company | July 3, 2012 10:43 AMReply

    also he is 31

  • Mr. Sweet | July 3, 2012 10:29 AMReply

    Just a minor nitpick... Kitsch is Canadian.
    Good piece.

  • Creamer | July 3, 2012 10:29 AMReply

    Actually, he's Canadian.

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