Generation Over: Actors I’d Like to Take Early Retirement

Leo, Cameron, Julia … even Chris Evans and Channing Tatum — this means you!

In my last piece, “Generation Under,” I wrote about actors that I’d like to see work more or do better quality work. The response was only slight less heated than a massive volcanic eruption. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment – whether you were adding a thoughtful response or questioning my sanity, it’s great to hear from you. And while I’d always rather hit a nerve than put you to sleep, I do feel the need to add that it’s just my opinion, no need to take it so … personally.

Now that we’ve seen to getting some actors back to work, I started thinking about the reverse — actors, and I use that term loosely, that I’m sick of seeing.

Some of them long for a meaningful career but aren’t able to get the respect their agent keeps telling them they deserve. Some of them are great at being celebrities — they’ll walk a red carpet at a car wash opening — and they give great interview but the likelihood of any of them ever thanking the Academy is minute.

It’s not so much the snobbishness of not being serious thespians — God knows popcorn movies need casts too — it’s that these perpetually overemployed stars just don’t do it for me and I’m sick of studios trying to shove them down my throat. Since we’re all in this recession together, here are a few actors that I’d like to see take an early retirement.

Cameron Diaz: Yes, boys, I get the appeal — she’s a tomboy with the body of a Victoria’s Secret model and you’d be happy to watch her deworm a dog. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, in comedies, she’s not particularly funny and in the very occasional serious role, she’s not believable. What she’s great at is being a celebrity. She’s accessible, gracious and poses often in short skirts. While these are all marketable qualities in a star, it has nothing to do with the two movies are a year she inflicts on us.

Channing Tatum/Liam Helmsworth/Garrett Hedlund/Ryan Kwanten/Chris Evans: Believe me when I say that ladies are entitled to their own eye candy, but acting with your abs isn’t exactly Method. With names so marquee-ready and looks that are nearly interchangeable, it’s not surprising that they’ve made their way to Hollywood. It’s as if they were genetically engineered to be as blandly appealing to as large an audience as possible but most of the time, their acting ranges from robotic to painfully inadequate. There are plenty of pretty boys (hello, Chris Pine!) able to flex their way across the screen while emoting something other than “need protein shake now.”

Ben Stiller: In the pantheon of irritating actors, Ben can stand tall and proud. For a one-note actor who’s makes you realize what Woody Allen would have been like without a sense of humor, it’s astonishing that he’s had this kind of longevity. In his early days, there was a crass, cruel wildness that was stridently different and compelling to watch. But when you combine a kind of pseudo sad-sack persona with a simmering barely-controlled rage, it’s like a roid rage Garry Shandling shtick that ranges from uninspired to eyeball-searing pain.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Yeah, that’s right, I said it. I know he’s supposed to be the actor of my generation and that Scorcese doesn’t buy a cannoli without a thumbs up from Leo but sometimes, despite all the accolades in the world, it comes down to this: I just don’t like that guy. I don’t know if it’s his looks — that never come off as leading man — or what I see as his limited emotional range — blank stare/squinty eyes — but it’s a prejudice I’ve never been able to get past and the reason why some great movies are permanently banned from the Netflix queue.

Julia Roberts: This is a tough one because I feel like I’m betraying my younger self because I grew up on “Mystic Pizza” and “Pretty Woman.” Class wars and hookers — how can you not love the ’80s? For a time, I thought there was no one cooler — probably up until the time she married Lyle Lovett — and despite cloying performances, you couldn’t deny that this chick lit up the screen with her 100-tooth smile. But somewhere around the Oscar win, Jules just seemed to lose that sparkle and got a little full of herself. After an aborted attempt to watch “Eat, Pray, Love” — which at my house became Fast Forward, Faster, Faster — I decided that to better cherish what we had, I need to forego any more toothy grins and hooting laughs. It’s just better that way.

Kate Hudson: I was thrilled when she got knocked up because I knew it would put her out of commission for awhile and spare us the agony of having her nearly single-handedly destroy the romantic comedy genre. A perfect example of the evils of nepotism, she ruins every film she’s in with her screechy and over the top performances. She’s constantly in the running for worst ditzy-bitchy performance but does occassionally lose out to Sarah Jessica Parker. In the spirit of sharing, I say let both blondes retire.