The action stars who tried to be taken seriously
The movie business is full of serious actors who became action heroes – if Russell Crowe can be a gladiator, anyone can – but making the transition the other way, from action hero to serious actor, is much trickier. Jason Statham does his level best to prove his acting chops this week in 'Hummingbird', a movie with significantly less ass-whomping and neck-punching than he's used to. With visions of The Stath accepting ALL the Oscars, we look at the tough guys who tried to get serious, and ask if anyone bought it.
Statham gives a rare show of emotion in Hummingbird (Credit: Lionsgate)
Jason Statham in Hummingbird (2013)
The role: Trading on his movie hardnut persona, Statham plays ex-special forces soldier Joe, who's homeless and on the run dodging a military court martial. It's a part that requires him to look like he could snap your knees off, but Joe is actually a gentle soul who becomes the Robin Hood of Soho after assuming a rich man's identity. Also he hangs out with a nun so you know he's kosher.
Did it work? The jury is out as far as critical analysis goes, but the trailer for 'Hummingbird' does tend to focus on the punchy bits (of which there are few) in order to sell it. What's more, the movie's poster features quotes from two vastly different sources – Nuts magazine and Reader's Digest – which does suggest the makers aren't quite sure who to market it towards.
Sly received some of the best reviews of his career for Cop Land (Credit: Miramax)
Sylvester Stallone in Cop Land (1997)
The role: With the failure of 'Judge Dredd' still ringing in his ears, Stallone gave bicep-flexing and lip-gurning a break in James Mangold's classy cop thriller. As partially-deaf small-town sheriff Freddy Heflin, Sly's hero uncovered corruption and crime but this time resisted the urge to punch the crooks through windows before making witty, contextual quips.
Did it work? It did: Stallone received some of the best reviews of his career, and he held his own opposite the likes of Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta (back when that was actually something to be proud of).
Junior from doomed to fail from the start (Credit: Universal)
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior (1994)
The role: Arnie has always played to his strengths – those strengths being the rather obvious bulging muscles beneath his puny clothes. However, even a bona fide action hero needs a change sometimes, hence this comedy drama in which Schwarzenegger becomes the world's first pregnant man – a role that required considerably more emotional range than "Hyagh!"