Andrew Lowry in his Telegraph Blog thinks he knows why.
The mechanics of stardom are tricky to elucidate, but one of the core principles is the creation and maintenance of a persona. Humphrey Bogart didn’t actually spend his days cracking wise with endless dangerous dames, but he spend 20 years doing it on screen. Clint Eastwood is, by all accounts, a friendly and loquacious chap, not a cold-blooded killer in a poncho. It happens in music, too, except that the persona is (usually) far closer to the star’s actual self – which spells disaster when they expand into movies.
Movie stardom – real, proper, old-school stardom – depends on mystery. Can you seriously tell me one thing about George Clooney, other than that he thinks genocide is A Bad Thing? Music, on the other hand, is aside from very few cases about the artist expressing their true selves. Whether it’s delta blues or some hipster moaning about his parents’ divorce, there’s no mystery. They’re not playing a character. When one of these musicians appears on screen, then, they can never get lost in the character the same way a movie star can. Sure, there’s as much facial recognition, if not more, but the difference is that you know Tom Hanks through a succession of characters he might have something in common with, and you know Jon Bon Jovi from hoofing himself around singing Livin’ on a Prayer. Since you’re so familiar with him playing himself, the quasi-anonymity needed to be a successful film actor just isn’t there.
Photo: Bogart and Bacall
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.