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Lecture 9: Stars. Professor Michael Green. Ocean’s 13 (2007) Directed by Steven Soderberg. Previous Lecture. Stage and movie Acting Robert De Niro as “Star Actor” De Niro’s performance in Raging Bull (1980). This Lecture. Movie Stars and their Images Film stars and Society

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lecture 9 stars

Lecture 9: Stars

Professor Michael Green

Ocean’s 13 (2007)

Directed by Steven Soderberg

previous lecture
Previous Lecture
  • Stage and movie Acting
  • Robert De Niro as “Star Actor”
  • De Niro’s performance in Raging Bull (1980)
this lecture
This Lecture
  • Movie Stars and their Images
  • Film stars and Society
  • George Clooney
stars and their image
Stars and Their Image

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Lesson 9: Part I

what is a star
What is a Star?
  • A star image consists of what we normally refer to as his or her 'image', made up of screen roles and obviously stage-managed public appearances, and also of images of the manufacture of that 'image' and of the real person who is the site or occasion of it.
  • A film star is a featured performer in a film but also an image that generates interest beyond individual films.
complex and contradictory
Complex and Contradictory
  • Each element is complex and contradictory, and the star is all of it taken together.
    • Watch the clip from A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • What elements of the performance made Marlon Brando a star?
a film star s image
A Film Star’s Image
  • The star phenomenon consists of everything that is publicly available about stars. A film star's image is made not just in films but in the promotion of the star and those films through:
    • Merchandise
    • Public appearances
    • Studio press material
    • Interviews
    • Biographies
    • Tabloids
using the image
Using the Image
  • “Further, a star's image is also what people say or write about him or her, as critics or commentators, the way the image is used in other contexts such as advertisements, novels, pop songs, and finally the way the star can become part of the coinage of everyday speech [Brangelina, The Gipper, ‘I’ll be back’].”
    • Richard Dyer
stars across platforms
Stars Across Platforms
  • Star images are always extensive, multi-media, intertextual. Not all these manifestations are necessarily equal.
    • Barbara Streisand
    • Frank Sinatra
    • Hugh Jackman
    • Eddie Murphy
    • Queen Latifah
    • Madonna
    • Watch the clip from 48 Hours
star histories
Star Histories
  • Not only do different elements predominate in different star images, but they do so at different periods in the star's career. Star images have histories, and histories that outlive the star's own lifetime.
    • James Dean
    • Marilyn Monroe
    • John Travolta
    • Orson Welles
films stars and audiences
Films Stars and Audiences
  • “The audience is also part of the making of the image. Audiences cannot make media images mean anything they want to, but they can select from the complexity of the image the meanings and feelings, variations and contradictions, that work for them.”
    • Richard Dyer
  • “Fanship – particularly as manifested on the Web – as well as box office receipts and audience research, mean that the audience's ideas about a star can act back on the media producers of the star's image.”
    • Dyer
made for profit
Made for Profit
  • Stars are made for profit. Interms of the market, stars are part of the way films are sold. The star's presence in a film is a promise of a certain thing that you will see in the film – Bruce Willis as wisecracking action hero with a heart, for example.
  • Equally, stars sell newspapers and magazines, and are used to sell toiletries, fashions, cars and almost anything else.
    • Watch the clip from Die Hard
using the image1
Using the Image
  • Paul Newman used his star image for political and charitable work
  • He gave away $250 million earned by Newman’s Own company.
  • Many movie stars trade on their image and popularity to help others: Angelina Jolie, Leonardo Dicaprio, George Clooney, Matt Damon.
  • “Sometimes a star image becomes so fixed that even when he or she tries to break it by doing roles directly opposed to that image, the public ignores such deviations and continues to support the original image.”
    • Peter Lehman and William Luhr
e g sylvester stallone
E.g. Sylvester Stallone
  • Stallone tried to move beyond his action image with comedies like Oscar (1991).
  • Their box office failures forced him back into action roles.
  • Other stars, such as Bruce Willis, have been more successful.
the contender
The Contender
  • In 2005, Stallone returned indirectly to the role that defined his image more than any other, Rocky, by producing and starring in the TV show about boxing The Contender.
return of the action hero
Return of the Action Hero
  • Stallone’s return with Rambo (2009) and The Expendables (2010) reaffirms his star image as an action hero.
  • Both films were box office hits.
  • Stallone directed both films, controlling his star image.
  • “Star costs often account for disproportionately large percentages

of [film] budgets.”

  • “The escalation of star salaries has been one of the major factors driving up the cost of production in recent decades.”
    • Geoff King

George Clooney’s Paydays:

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) $15,000,000

Intolerable Cruelty(2003) $15,000,000

Ocean's Eleven(2001) $20,000,000

The Perfect Storm (2000) $8,000,000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000 ) $1,000,000

Three Kings (1999)


Out of Sight (1998)


Batman & Robin (1997) $10,000,000

why pay stars so much
Why Pay Stars So Much?
  • The film industry assumes they draw viewers.
  • A star’s Q Score measures star’s

familiarity and appeal with audiences.

  • Will Smith’s last eight films have made over $100 million each.
  • The three Pirates of the Caribbean films have earned $2.76 billion worldwide.
early cinema
Early Cinema
  • For the first 15 years of commercial cinema (1895-1910) there were no stars.
  • Early producers worried if actors were publicized, they would ask for big salaries.
  • Other producers introduced the concept of movie stars because they believed audiences would pay to see them.
classic hollywood 1930 1950
Classic Hollywood 1930-1950
  • Saw the creation and control of stars by studios.
  • Stars were under exclusive contract.
  • Studios built their images by selecting film roles and publicity campaigns.
independent producers
Independent Producers
  • As the studio system declined in the 1950s and 60s, major stars became independent producers.
  • This is still the a common practice today.
stars and race
Stars and Race
  • Before the 1960s very few Hollywood stars were African American – or non-white.
  • Sidney Poitier broke this barrier in the late 1950s and 1960s.
film stars and society
Film Stars and Society

Lesson 9: Part II

why are we interested
Why are We interested?
  • Dyer:

Stars intrigue us because they offer models of individual identity.

confirming the individual
Confirming the Individual
  • “The fact that the star is not just a screen image but a flesh and blood person is liable to work to express the notion of the individual. A series of shots of a star whose image has changed - say, Elizabeth Taylor - at various points in her career could work to fragment her; but in practice it works to confirm that beneath all these different looks there is an irreducible core that gives all those looks a unity, namely Elizabeth Taylor.”
    • Dyer
how to be a man
How to Be a Man
  • John Wayne represented a traditional notion of masculinity based on:
    • self sufficiency
    • toughness
    • physical dominance.
how to be a woman
How to Be a Woman
  • Audrey Hepburn represented a traditional notion of femininity based on being:
    • Graceful and demure
    • The embodiment of male romantic fantasy
    • Deferential to men
stars endorse social values
Stars Endorse Social Values
  • Work
  • Gender Roles
  • Social Responsibility
  • Honor/Loyalty
  • Integrity
  • Sacrifice
  • Love
    • Watch the clip from Erin Brockovich (2000)
george clooney
George Clooney

Lesson 9: Part III

tv star
TV Star
  • Clooney got his first big role in a TV series, ER 1994-99.
  • His character, Dr. Doug Ross was attractive, charming, talented – but a rebel.
rebellious but caring
Rebellious but Caring
  • “As Dr. Ross in ER, Clooney was a “sometimes prickly, awkward, rebellious, womanizing, but essentially decent and caring pediatrician . . . prepared to break the rules in his treatment of children.”
  • This is essentially Clooney’s star image.
charming outsider
Charming Outsider
  • Clooney has maintained this attractive rebel image in numerous roles.
  • He has played thieves in six films.
  • Clooney’s thief character was introduced in Out of Sight (1998).
    • Watch the clip
expanded range
Expanded Range
  • He has also modified his leading man image with self-deprecating comic roles in O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000), Welcome to Collinwood (2002), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and Burn After Reading (2008).
  • Clooney’s image has been that of a fun-loving bachelor.
  • Voted Sexist Man Alive by People Magazine
  • Bet Michele Pfeiffer and Nicole Kidman $10,000 he wouldn’t be a father before 40.
  • Bought a villa on Italy’s Lake Como.
downplaying stardom
Downplaying Stardom
  • Clooney downplays the idea of stardom as mainly a commercial phenomenon:
  • “It’s not about the opening weekend, It’s about career, building a set of films you’re proud of. Period.”
  • Unlike some actors, Clooney has backed this up with ambitions projects such as Syriana (2005) and Good Night and Good Luck (2005), for both of which he received Oscar nominations.
three kings 1999
Three Kings (1999)
  • War Film
  • Directed by David O. Russell
  • Stars: Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube
  • Action film
  • But also a political film and a social critique
adding to the star image
Adding to the Star Image
  • As you watch the following scene from Three Kings, look for what this role added to Clooney’s attractive rebel star image.
  • Produced the HBO series on Washington lobbyists, K Street.
  • In 2004 he supported his father Nick’s candidacy for a congressional seat in Kentucky.
  • Addressed the U.S. Congress about war in Dafur.
social agenda
Social Agenda
  • Several of Clooney’s recent films have emphasized his liberal political views:
    • Syriana (2005)
    • The Good German (2006)
    • Michael Clayton (2007)
    • Up in the Air (2009)
end of lecture 9
End of Lecture 9

Next Lecture: Writing About Film