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USA | Aug 25, 2023

Where is the next generation of Hollywood action stars?

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In Hollywood, action films and summer blockbusters have always been the lifeblood of the entertainment industry.

Once a bastion of fresh faces and fresh performances, the industry appears to be grappling with a dearth of emerging talent to carry on the legacy of legendary action. Sadly, gone are the times when a film would feature a new young hero that an audience could fall in love with for the next couple of decades, excited to see their next appearance.

Today, every action film is some rehash of Liam Neeson being ‘dangerous’, Tom Cruise running somewhere, or someone else pushing 40 being touted as some major action star. Dwayne Johnson is 51, Jason Statham is 56, Tom Cruise is 61 and Liam Neeson is 71. I’d go so far as to argue that the only young stars (under the age of 30) with a major name in Hollywood right now might be Zendaya and Tom Holland.

Poster for film ‘Memory’ released in 2022, starring Liam Neeson (Photo: IMDb)

Think about the actors from the golden age of action cinema stretching from the 1970s to the 1990s. Among male stars, Bruce Lee had a short stint as an action star before passing at age 32; Sylver Stalone was 30 when he starred in Rocky; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career in acting took off when he was 35, starring as Conan the Barbarian; Jean-Claude Van Damme was 28 when he starred in Bloodsport and Keanu Reeves’ had just turned 30 while filming Speed.

Among black men, you had Wesley Snipes, who was 29 in Passenger 57; and Will Smith, who was 28 when he starred in Independence Day. Even among women, Angelina Jolie was 26 when she starred in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Michelle Yeoh was 35 when she played the first Chinese bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Will Smith at age 27 in ‘Bad boys’ (video: YouTube @Boxoffice Movie Scenes)

All hope is not lost, and it is known that potential for new action stars has been out there up to the 2010s with the likes of Evans, who starred as Marvel’s Captain America; and Chris Hemsworth, who starred as Marvel’s Thor. Also, Michael B. Jordan showed potential of becoming the next big action star in 2015 with Creed but in my opinion, today he seems more interested in transitioning to a director than remaining an action star.

Analysts have said that due to the greater reliance on CGI, and the space being saturated with sequels, studios now prefer to seek known quantity actors with a proven track record, leaving fewer opportunities for newcomers to make their mark. As a result, the pool of potential young action stars has become very limited.


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