Monday, February 08, 2010

Fitts and Starts

Patrick Healy has a great interview in today's Times with the actor Wes Bentley, who is currently starring in the off-Broadway play "Venus in Furs," his first role sober as he attempts to rebuild his career after shooting to stardom in "American Beauty" before spiraling out of control into drug addiction. (For someone strung out on cocaine and heroin for the better part of a decade, he sure looks good.)

In the article, Healy mentions Tony Zierra's documentary, "My Big Break," which chronicles Bentley, Brad Rowe and other young actors who shared a group house in Los Angeles in the mid to late '90s. I happened to see the film at last year's ACEFEST and found it to be a fascinating and often startling look at the price of fame. In it, you see how Wes -- whose portrayal of stoner-voyeur Ricky Fitts was widely praised and became a bit of a pop culture phenomenon -- rapidly withdraws from the overnight stardom and mass adulation, at one point choosing to watch his "American Beauty" cohorts clean up at the Golden Globes on television rather than attending the event. While I frequently have little patience for the "I couldn't handle it" whining of minor-league actors and musicians (I'm sorry, but being on "The Real World" Season 48 does not seem like a legitimate foray into "fame" that could justify a breakdown), you do begin to understand why an insecure kid might feel like he's in over his head and unravel after hearing Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg gush about wanting to work with him, while Kevin Spacey declares him the next great actor of our time. It's great to see that he's sober and working again. Am hoping to get to the Classic Stage Company before the show closes in early March.

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