Joe Roth: We Should Nurture a New Generation of Movie Stars

This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

I think maybe Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio are the last versions of movie stars. Put them in a movie, and people want to come see them. What we have now is what I call “conditional movie stars,” because they have not been given broader roles. The only time they are stars is when they are in a situation where the audience knows how they are going to behave. Stars are important because nobody is going to take a risk on an expensive movie if the actor doesn’t have the right pedigree.

There’s a difference between a celebrity and a star. People don’t go to see celebrities in movies. They go to see stars. On one hand, it’s a reflection of the culture. But I don’t think the actors themselves are doing a good enough job of protecting their privacy. This generation of actors doesn’t understand privacy. The more available you make yourself, the less mystique there is. Stay out of social media, because that’s not going to help your movie career. Julia Roberts stays out of it. Angelina Jolie stays out of it. She makes a movie, and she goes away. You find out about her again when she promotes the next movie.

And be very careful of the parts you choose. If you’re a young actor coming up, you should look at the career of people like Dustin Hoffman, who developed his best parts himself.

Hollywood is reluctant to take a risk on somebody it doesn’t know in a major role. There is no nurturing of stars anymore. Everything is a one-off. It takes Angelina Jolie as a director to get Jack O’Connell to be the lead of “Unbroken.”

Why is there such an aversion to risk? The movie business is no longer a central business to conglomerates. It’s only a fraction of what these companies generate. There’s no reason to take a risk on an area that generates only 8% of revenue, which I think is completely the wrong way of thinking. It’s only 8% of revenue when all you do is low-risk and obvious. When a “Frozen” happens, it’s a hell of a lot more than 8%, and it drives all kinds of business. The hits come from the fringes.

When I came into the film business in the early ’70s, it was more about show and less about business. The show people are sitting on the bottom of the see-saw, and the business people are now on top. It’ll change back again.

More Biz

  • Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com 22/01/2020 -

    NATPE 2020: TV Biz Looks Back and Forward as Streaming Wars Ensue

    MIAMI — The atmosphere at the annual NATPE conference this year was a bit of old school and a lot of new school. In keeping with NATPE’s remit as a content market, hopeful stars of new fall talk show prospects pressed the flesh in a flurry of meetings and receptions with station buyers. MGM TV’s [...]

  • Annabella Sciorra

    Annabella Sciorra Testifies That Harvey Weinstein Raped Her: 'My Body Shut Down'

    Annabella Sciorra said in court testimony Thursday that Harvey Weinstein raped her more than two decades ago. Called as a witness for Weinstein’s rape trial in New York, the actor — at times visibly very upset and crying — recalled the incident shortly after she appeared in Miramax’s “The Night We Never Met,” released in [...]

  • Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com 22/01/2020 -

    Tartikoff Honorees Call for Commitment to Diversity and Protection of Press Freedom

    MIAMI — Jeff Zucker didn’t mince words. “Nothing is as important than what I’m doing now,” the CNN Worldwide chief said of his long career in media as he was feted Wednesday night as one of five Brandon Tartikoff Award honorees. Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide and chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports, sounded the [...]

  • Deborah Dugan

    How Deborah Dugan Sealed Her Fate at the Recording Academy

    Deborah Dugan’s ouster from the top job at the Recording Academy, just ten days before the Grammy Awards, was a shock to nearly everyone not directly involved in the decision. But according to multiple sources and the bombshell complaint her attorneys filed on Tuesday, she and the Academy establishment were working at cross purposes almost [...]

  • The Crown Season 3 Oliva Colman

    Record Intl. Growth Sees Netflix Beat Q4 Earnings Forecast

    Fast growth in international markets, contrasting with only sluggish subscriber gains in North America, was a major factor behind streaming giant Netflix’s better than forecast growth in the last quarter of 2019. The company is set on keeping up that international momentum. Globally Netflix added 8.76 million new customers in the three months to December [...]

  • Harvey WeinsteinHarvey Weinstein court hearing, New

    Weinstein Trial: Everything We Know About the Three Supporting Witnesses

    The prosecution laid out its rape case against Harvey Weinstein on Wednesday morning, spelling out the allegations in detail for the first time. In her opening argument, Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast also described the testimony of three “prior bad acts” witnesses. Such testimony was critical in the prosecution of comedian Bill Cosby, and it [...]

  • Donna Rotunno, Harvey WeinsteinHarvey Weinstein court

    Harvey Weinstein's Defense Focuses on Emails in Bid to Discredit Accusers

    Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorney showed jurors friendly emails between their client and his accusers in an opening statement on Wednesday, arguing that the accusers are trying to “have it both ways.” Attorney Damon Cheronis asked the jury to rely on their “God-given New York City common sense,” and to find that the women had consensual [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content