I’m not sure if it’s going to happen for Liam Hemsworth, but one thing’s sure: he’s being given every opportunity to prove himself a movie star.
There are, of course, plenty of famous siblings who have managed to find places in the entertainment industry, but there are also plenty of cases where one person in the family eclipses everyone else in terms of fame and employment. Sometimes it comes down to the luck of the draw. Someone gets the right role at the right moment and they blow up. Sometimes it comes down to charisma. You aren’t always photogenic just because your brother or your sister is. And right now, with both Chris and Liam Hemsworth in the early days of their careers, it’s hard to tell if they’re both going to end up carrying movies.
So far, Chris has been way more high visibility, and it’s his work in films like “Red Dawn” or “Star Trek” or “Cabin In The Woods” that has me convinced he’s the real deal. Thor is certainly a very high visibility part, but Chris has shown that even in films that don’t completely work, he’s able to come in and create a magnetic, interesting performance that stands out. “The Avengers” isn’t just a gimme, where anyone could have done equally well in the role. Chris Hemsworth makes smart choices as an actor, and he has this great decency that shines through even in short appearances.
Liam Hemsworth strikes me as a guy who is solid, reasonably charming, and who certainly seems like he’s amiable enough, but I’m not sure I think he’s got the same gravity that his brother has, that thing that makes someone a viable lead in a film instead of just a pleasant character actor. “Paranoia” is the biggest test of him so far, and talking to him about that, about acting opposite his brother, and about playing scenes with Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford, he came across quite well.
Amber Heard is proof that being drop-dead gorgeous can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she is one of those people who the camera can’t even begin to do full justice to, and in person, she has an amazing presence. But part of that is a wry intelligence that doesn’t automatically show up on camera, and I don’t any filmmaker has made full use of that asset yet. Heard seems to constantly be wrestling with an awareness of how underwritten the parts offered to her are and an awareness that there’s very little room for her to fight that system if she wants to work.
She must get offered the role as “the girlfriend” non-stop these days, and it seems like the reason she took “Paranoia” was because it made that role a little more significant than usual. She and Hemsworth are basically in their own film, and I think she makes their scenes better because she suggests an inner life, something I consider the mark of a great film actor. I have no idea if Heard has greatness in her, but I do know that unless the right filmmaker writes her a great role, we may never get a chance to find out.
“Paranoia” opens this Friday, and I’ll have my review of the film here for you tomorrow.