New In Theaters – Derek Luke Trumps Anthony Mackie + The Latter’s ‘Leading Man’ Prospects

New In Theaters - Derek Luke Trumps Anthony Mackie + The Latter's 'Leading Man' Prospects

I didn't care much for either film, but if you had to see one new movie opening this weekend, I'd recommend Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World over Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The former features Derek Luke in a supporting role; the latter has Anthony Mackie, also in a supporting role. 

Neither is doing especially well with critics, although the numbers agree with my suggestion: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World has a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Abraham Lincolm: Vampire Hunter is lower at 36%.

It's tough to muster up the will to write reviews for films you feel little to nothing for, so I won't; sue me :)

But as an aside… I will say that I'm left wondering what Anthony Mackie's career trajectory is at this point. Will he be forever relegated to these thankless roles in films that won't even acknowledge his presence in them (trailers and posters, leading up to each film's release, specifically), or will he someday break free of the restraints that are seemingly getting in the way of his coming out party, and become a Hollywood leading man?

Is he even leading man material, or is he perfectly suited for character and supporting roles, while occasionally starring in smaller indie films like Night Catches Us, where he has been able to flex his leading man muscle?

I recall having a conversation with a casting director some time ago in which the term "mass-fuckability" was used. Essentially, the point the casting director made was that, the one trait leading men and women in Hollywood have is their "mass-fuckability." I hope it's clear enough what that means.

And so the question was/is whether Anthony Mackie has that quality? The answer to that question will then answer the question of whether Mackie will ever become a Hollywood leading man like a Denzel Washington for example. 

Although, I'm wondering just how much "mass-fuckability" actually influences these matters, because I think I'd say that Idris Elba probably has that quality, given how women of all colors become seemingly orgasmic just at the sound of his name, voice, or, God forbid, seeing him in person. 

And yet, despite his "mass-fuckability," Idris is still relegated to supporting roles in Hollywood movies; aside from his work in Luther (a British mini-series) and *smaller* black films like Obsessed and the upcoming No Good Deed (although he plays a baddie in that one, it seems), as well as indies like Legacy, he has yet to be the STAR of his own Hollywood studio-backed project.

His upcoming work does nothing to change that fact; the Nelson Mandela film he starts shooting this summer, is backed primarily by an European company (Pathé). No Hollywood studio has anything to do with the project. It doesn't even have a Stateside distributor yet, but is already locked in for British and French audiences.

But of the two actors, Mackie or Elba, I'd say Elba is in a stronger position to be the heir apparent to the Denzel Washingtons of Hollywood lore (not that there are many of them to begin with).

Anyway, feel free to dish on any of this in the comments section, and if you've already seen early screenings of either film opening this weekend, you can share your thoughts on either of them in the comments section below as well.

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Comments

anon

I agree i dont really know athony mackie but idris is definately more star material than mackie however, I dont belive ANY of them will break through i belive its gonna be someone else completely out of the blue who will who makes better choices takes more risks and plays the hollywood game in fact i think micheal ealy or someoe who looks like him has more of a shot than either of them to be honest.

JTC

ARTBIZZY, I feel you. I saw the fear you speak of in many black writers, directors, and producers that I met while living in LA. I was repeatedly told by my peers that Hollywood would not let me make the kind of films that I wanted to make. It was rather depressing. The problem is that for our work to have that creative fire which could to turn craft into art which can transcend its humble beginnings; going there is, from my perspective, the only way to do it. Fear is fine, and even expected when you attempt to break new ground, but fear leading to inaction is, with I hope not sounding too cliched, the death of the artist. The trust in your creative voice is paramount. Our people are the masters of crossing supposedly impenetrable barriers. The complexities of racism should be in our films, but sometimes it feels as though we can become so focused on racism that it locks us up in the language of victimization. I have enjoyed seeing more writers and directors pushing deeper into the heart of drama. They inspire me. But we are barely scratching the surface. I also feel you reading great writers. I feel the same way about the great directors (Tarkovsky, Bunuel, Godard, Kurosawa, Kubrick) and another too long for this post.

JTC

To ORVILLE, I really feel what you say about blackness not being the source of conflict. I think you said something very crucial there. With a large number of our films, there seems to be a tone which either directly or indirectly says to the audience, DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS A BLACK FILM? I think that it is this tone which makes our films harder for people of other cultures to relate to. The issues around coming out, which Pariah addresses, are something which any person who would have had to come out about their sexuality could readily tap into. For that matter, any person who has felt the need to hide the kind of secret which could change the way the world sees you could relate to. I think of the western genre. For decades, the notion of the cowboy was the white hat wearing gunslinger who fought evil from the purity of his heart. It took Clint Eastwood, one of the superstars of that genre to make UNFORGIVEN; and thus carry the cowboy film into the realm of high art, IMO. In UNFORGIVEN, the cowboy story was only a canvas; the real story was of a harsh man who sincerely wanted to keep his promise to his wife (his internal conflict), who realized that the killing he had done in the past has stolen a major part of his humanity. It seemed as though he understood that once he dove down into that violent space again, there would no more chances for redemption. Compare this to the typical black gangster film. The black gangster kills without remorse, feels little if any fear in face of death, and when the night is over, services the area beauty so savagely and expertly that she never even thinks to question. Having work as a counselor and a mentor to African American men for nearly a decade, I feel comfortable saying that no such man exists in the adult world of reality. Where is the black gangster's source of conflict? Is it due to the fact that he is black? Criminal underworlds have formed in every culture around the world. Although there are social, political, and economic issues which impact all humanity. The decision to open fire into a crowd of people to kill one person is not because America still carries a racist underbelly. It comes from a internal conflict which is born of a much more personal level with that individual. I'm sorry for going on so long, but all this is to say that I really feel you. The source of conflict is a KEY ISSUE.

filmchick

Hmm. This is a layered question that goes beyond race (an earlier commenter said that Mackie should have the same career trajectory as Jeremy Renner. Keep in mind that Renner had been acting for 20 years before The Hurt Locker blew him up–no pun intended). Anthony Mackie is an attractive (IMO) and VERY talented actor who will either do one of two things: 1) Have a career as a strong character actor who happens to be good-looking (ex: Jude Law, James McAvoy), or he will have a breakout lead role in the next 5-7 years (most likely in an indie film) that will get him an Oscar nomination and/or critical acclaim, take him off of the bubble and officially christen him as the latest "it guy" (ex: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender–but because of casting racism they will ALWAYS have more options than Mackie). If Mackie can get the financing together and a great director/script, I think Jesse Owens could and WOULD be that role. I hope he doesn't give up on it. RE: Derek Luke? Whatever. He's a one-note actor who I don't think is even in the conversations of most directors or casting agents for the "big" roles, nor is he on the minds of most women I know. "Antoine Fisher" will be his one big hurrah, and I don't have a problem with that, frankly.

JTC

I think this discussion needs to take a look at black screenwriters. I spent several years in LA and I met many black screenwriters who would lament about Tyler Perry and then they would tell me that they had a screenplay which they were sure would make for a groundbreaking movie. However, except for a few exceptions, the majority of scripts and treatments I read were the same romantic comedies, or poorly considered gangster films which helped to create all typecasting that black actors are buried to this day. I read a couple of sci-fi scripts, but it was clear that the writers had done their months of research to really get the science right. I think of films like Crash, Magnolia, or the Royal Tennebaums; ensemble films which really gave multiple characters an ability to shine. The problem is clear when you think that so many of the great black actors had serious and intensive training in their crafts. I have met another of black screenwriters who hadn't read a single screenplay before writing their magnum opus, and it shows. I expect that there are some screenwriters who are stalwarts on this blog and to those of you who have been reading screenplay after screenplay, who have been writing script after script, who have been researching every piece of info they could get their hands to ensure that the details are right, who have learned to become one with your characters, keep pushing cause we need you, but I remember being told early on, STORY IS KING. I have met more than a few brothers who were drug dealers and because of some strange self deception think that they have an insight into the game that would make for unique film. I love my people. But so much of our art is buried in cliches that although our films can be entertaining, many of the concept are lacking in terms of depth. Even a great cast, and a magnificent director can do so much to bring life to a story that is on life support. The problem is that to take the craft of screenwriting to level of art is thing indeed. If you as a writer or director wishes that you got the same level of pussy that the gangster you looked up to got, you are probably gonna have a hard time writing a script about gangsters which has any power. As for pimps, I worked as a drug counselor for several years and what pimps really do is commit acts of violence and terror upon women to get them to do what they want, films glamourizing pimps? Most men who are focused on nailing anything that moves are often dealing with sexual abuse or tremendous low self-esteem. Women who allow men to run through with little respect, are often dealing with the residue of not having the love of their fathers or a response to their sexual abuse. The writer Ishmael Reed once told me that a culture can be no healthier than its story. How often are we really telling the truth in over movies? Seriously. If we were, I think that we would start making truly groundbreaking films which could transcend many of the problems of what is lacking black films. IMHO.

AccidentalVisitor

"Mass-fuckablity". What a splendid, Hollwood term. It gets to the point. I did not use this particular expression myself when writing about the dearth of black leading men, but all the same that was part of the problem I was addressing. By using the word "mass" the people relying on this description are saying (obviously) that the person in question must have potential widespread sex appeal across all racial groups or at least sex appeal to mainstream audiences. In other words if he/she is Chinese he/she needs to be seen as desirable by folks other than Asians. If he/she is black then it must be more than just blacks who would find him/her attractive. I suppose the rule would apply to white stars too but then again white folks may make the assumption that as long as white filmgoers would want to fuck them that would either be good enough or that that would automatically mean all non-white people would find them just as hot. Now this view of a person's fuckability may be shallow but it is how stars have been made for an eternity. Sex appeal puts butts in seats. Period. As a result sex appeal becomes the first thing Hollywood looks for in new discoveries, rising stars and established veterans. Granted in the end it may not be the main reason why an actor gets a job. Often times talent will previal. And if a talented person gets an opportunity at a meaty, sexy role and does well with it he by extension could become an unexpected and unconventional sex symbol. The problem with black actors over the last fifteen years however is that those who have the undoubted looks rarely get cast in any major films or TV shows, and those that have the talent don't get the desirable roles that could turn them into leading man material. And those that may have both ala Denzel will have a hard time getting any opportunity to display it. As I wrote last year Hollywood has no interest in finding,, grooming, developing black actors with leading man looks. Take a guy like Cory Hardrict. He had one scene in "Gran Torino" but it was a terrific one, a moment filled with confrontation. Not only did Hardrict stand out in that scene, he also managed to hold his own mano-to-mano with star/director Clint Eastwood. Perhaps that sholdn't have been a surprise considering Eastwood cast Hardrict himself. The movie was so successful one would think it would propel Hardrict to bigger and better things as it would for a white actor. Of course it did not. But I cannot blame only white people for stuff like that. The responsibility falls in the lap of black folks as well. I am of the opinion that such black male stars is not a priority in general for short-sighted black filmmakers and moviegoers. At this point I do not feel like causing any arguments about why that may be so I will not expound any further on that subject. Maybe later. As for Anthony Mackie I recall once picking up a GQ issue with Halle Berry on the cover years back. Inside there was a photo spread of "rising star" Mackie (that title appears to be stuck with him for life) in various designer threads. Without that unnecessary thin mustache and dressed in such fantatsic suits and lit perfectly as only the stars are, it made me take notice. He looked great. No, he was not on a Denzel-type level but seeing him presented like that (suave, intelligent, confident) and knowing of the tremendous acting talent he had I said to myself this guy could be a true movie star soon. And yet six or seven years later he is still in the same position. Actually he could be going backwards. He should at least be in the same position as his Hurt Locker co-star Jeremy Renner: an unconventional leading man with talent to burn and abundant opportunities to prove himself. But Mackie is nowhere near that position. .In the Daily Beast interview of him this week the white writer pointed out how ridiculous that is. He is not alone. Virtually every time Mackie is picked for a supporting role the writers of movie blogs will first point out how talented he is and then follow it up by claiming he should be a bigger star by now..They know it but Hollywood refuses to provide him chances. So he is stuck in limbo playing supporting roles so unimportant that he often is vacant from the trailers. Sadly Mackie seems almost resigned to his fate in that Daily Beast article. I feel for the guy. Hollywood is not about to put him as the lead or one of the leads of a blockbuster tentpole flick, is not about to give him a leading role in an Oscar seeking drama and is not about to pair him as the boyfriend/husband of leading ladies such as Scarlett Johansson. Fuck it. They would not even cast him as the boyfriend/husband of a Zoe Saldana or Zoe Kravitz either if those ladies got the lead role of a major movie. So unless there is a movie in which he can play Denzel's son or something he may be out of luck.. For all we know his one shot at stardom may be in a years old film that still resides in the editing room of a millionaire-turned-filmmaker. Arguing about whether Mackie has that mass-fuckability quality may be worthwhile, but there is not any point of debating if he is an unconventional leading man. We will not know until those opportunites ever present themselves to him. The discouraging thing is that even if Mackie had that mass-fuckability quality to go along with tremendous acting chops it still probably would matter very little difference because he would still have to overcome the Hollywood casting system. What would the industry do with a black guy like that? Throughout Hollywood history there was only one black male who fit that description who kept getting high profile roles for an extended time and that was Denzel. And it worked out for him mostly because in movies he comes across as a man who does not have a dick in the first place.

misha

"You either have it or you don"t… can't be bought… can't be taught… and he aint got it." >>> Enough said! Thank you, Lauren!

Orville

I heard Anthony is very interested in making a biopic about Jesse Owens and Anthony has similar features to the great Olympic legend. It is just a matter of acquiring funding. Maybe Anthony should consider going on Kickstarter or something?

jeni

Loved The Hurt Locker and Half Nelson. Mackie was good in those. I think that he and other well-trained young black actors just need meatier roles to show their range.
If he wants to be a leading man, he's probably going to have to take the initiative and produce his own work. As he's mentioned before, relying on Hollywood to create those types of opportunities for him would be ludicrous.

onyx

A marriage of good looks, talent and a great role can be a wonderful thing to behold. I remember when Denzel was competing against the likes of Howard Rollins (Ragtime, The Heat of the Night TV series) as the next big thing. By then Denzel had got his front teeth fixed (you can see a very young Denzel before dental work in Wilma, a 1977 TV movie about gold medal winning runner Wilma Rudolph) and with a star making turn in A Soldier's Story, he jumped to the head of the class.

I really like Anthony Mackie, and as far as looks go, he's hot imho. But he needs, like some of the others mentioned roles that do them justice. It may take longer because good roles just aren't as plentiful these days. We (girlfriends and I) spotted Denzel in Wilma and knew he had something (we joked that he was so fine he could just keep his mouth closed, it didn't matter).

In the beginning Denzel had a dog of movie like Carbon copy, but he also had Cry Freedom.
Billy Dee was still the man as far as looks were concerned for some even when Denzel's star was rising. And boy was there debate when he got the role over Lawrence Fishburne for Malcolm X. It was brutal (some people maintained that Lawrence looked more like Malcolm X).
My personal favorites never did achieve big stardom (James Edwards "Home of the Brave" TV favs Harry Rhodes, Don Mitchell) but they made a lasting impression to me. Sigh. Fine as wine and just my kind.

Mark&Darla

Derek Luke look like a black Donald Duck.

Orville

Well I like Anthony Mackie because unlike A LOT of black male actors he is so versatile in his film roles.
Have people seen the Hurt Locker? I was so disappointed Anthony didn't get an Oscar nomination because he is so talented and gorgeous!

I applaud Anthony for being unafraid to be the star of the gay black film Brother to Brother. Anthony received A LOT of media praise and attention for his performance in that film. It is so rare to see a young black male actor not afraid to kiss or have intense sex scenes with another man. I love Anthony Mackie and YES he's better looking than Derek Luke because I say so that's my opinion!

Adam Scott Thompson

It's a running joke of mine that whenever my friends and I play "Who Should They Cast?" I always throw out Derek Luke for a black male lead ("Black Panther," for example). Don't know why but I've just wanted that brotha to succeed since I saw him in "Antwone Fisher."

LeonRaymond

I think it has to do with the overall men Hollywood is casting, they are casting more boys then Men, Denzel and Idris are men, that's only 2 Sam yeah, but all the others White or Black ate young boys leading the boxoffice. Franco, Downey, Depp does not say Man, the guy who played the first Spider man-Boy, all these huge box office films are being lead by boys wanting to posture as a man, and Mackie still screams young Man-Boy, In the film Heat, the moment of Pacino and DE NEIRO facing off in that diner was cause you accepted 2 men who are bad asses. This might have nothing to do with Black White but that fact that Hollywood execs are casting close to home of what they see in the mirror !!!

Priss

I caught Mackie on Jimmy Fallon last night. He irritates me. He's the type that we used to say this to back in the day. "You play too much!" LMAO. I'm sure he's a nice enough fellow but if he'd dial it down a notch in his interviews, I could get into him more.

Peggy

The Suits in Hollyweird determine which black actors become stars. And they aint hiring right now. If your face aint on the poster or in the trailer you aint shit. Macke keeps talking shit to black filmmakers and actors basically saying we need to hustle more and complain less, but that's only because he doesn't want to be seen as complaining by the Massa. They keep giving him crumbs and he disses all other blacks. He'll only be cast opposite a white woman as a lead if he makes an Indie. Holllyweird will NEVER let him be a leading man. Also, he doesn't do it for me, him or Derek Luke whom Hollyweird keeps pushing on us. I like handsome dudes. That is all.

lauren

You either have it or you don"t… can't be bought… can't be taught… and he aint got it.

Charles Judson

Speaking to Orville's points, it really comes down to that set of roles or one role that makes people really take notice. Denzel was around for awhile, but it was GLORY that really busted open the door. Lawrence had DO THE RIGHT THING, HOUSE PARTY and BOOMERANG. Snipes had MAJOR LEAGUE and MO' BETTER BLUES. I don't think Hollywood has stopped looking so much as they've stopped offering parts that allows an actor to cut loose and shine period. When's the last time an actor or actress really shined in a part. Tom Hardy suddenly pops on people's radar thanks to INCEPTION or Melissa McCarthy in BRIDESMAIDS, but in the last 10 years most films have been fairly bland in offering supporting roles that an actor can be launched to the next level. Idris has been in plenty of things, but other than his work on LUTHER I can't think of a part that has been both career defining and shouts leading man. Even Stringer Bell isn't a role that shouts leading man, it does shout great actor and those aren't always the same thing. Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldman, being a great or very good actor is not synonymous with being a "panty dropper." Not even the other actors on THE WIRE have moved into leading man status. Mackie's hurdle is finding that one part that allows him to just rip. The one element you can define about Murphy, Snipes, Lawrence and Denzel's early roles are how their characters are barely contained chaos. Jack Black was in a good 1o or 12 movies and even had a show on HBO, but most people didn't know who he was till HIGH FIDELITY. A role in which Black's character was all over the place and at points just takes over scenes. Unpredictably. It's an element that goes back to Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Poitier. Just look back at some of those early Poitier roles and even at his most gentle and "neutered", you still believe Poitier can smack the sh*t out of you to get the job done. In Prometheus Idris is one of the few standouts even with his limited screen time, but it's Michael Fassbender's David that's the most unquantifiable character and he draws your attention and if you're following the online discussions is at the heart of most of them. It's the Ryan Reynolds problem. You've got a guy who excels at playing characters who will pretty do anything at any moment for any reason and Hollywood keeps putting him in safe roles where we gets to "pretend" to be dangerous. Lastly, I agree with Laura, Mackie may need a few more years. As an example DiCaprio, nominations aside, I never bought as Howard Hughes, but in THE DEPARTED he had finally aged enough that he had distanced himself from his TITANIC years. Can you imagine a young Sam Jackson or Morgan Freeman? But, even then, a more mature Mackie still may not equate to a "dangerous" Mackie. It will be interesting to see what he's like in this flick.

CareyCarey

MASS-FUCKABILITY!? Damn… how did we even get here? I mean, I have to admit that I thought Laura dropped those words (I's sorry. I didn't even read the post). But when I saw the comments in the side column, I said "Damn… proud to say he's gay Orville, BrothaMan Darkan and The Black Police got something going on over there" so I came to find out why. And low and behold, it was Tambay — one mo again — talkin' all nasty and stirring up the roost. Anyway, as I said before, Anthony is a "lower" grade actor (never gonna be A-list, leading man, nothing) and to put him in any category of a "lover" is preposterous! Debonair and suave he is NOT. A voice like Berry White's, he does not have. Bondgirl said it right –> "As for Mackie, I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's not sending any woman (or gay man) running to the theaters. Chris Brown will do it before this dude". YEp,and besides, there is something really important to consider. For the most part, black men… black leading men… black man lover man… is a niche market, if you know what I mean. Denzel… Sydney… lights out, period.

incrediblejeff

I thought Mackie was great in BROTHER TO BROTHER,and showed leading man potential in SHE HATE ME.I wish Mackie would get better roles because I personally think he's a great actor with tons of potential.

Nawty

Denzel and Idris are easily identified as actors endowed with the sex appeal that makes them more marketable than most. But across the aisle, less studly guys like Johnny Depp & Robert Downey Jr. are even more successful. So even a Mandingo image won't help in a culture that doesn't allow a full depiction of love and emotions for your people on film. Naturally the assertions that Samuel L. Jackson & Will Smith have defied this notion will come about. But they've managed to have mass fuckability without the fucking that comes with it. Not a problem for white men.

Someone

thats the thing.. if you aren't fuckable.. you won't work.. marilyn monroe was the most faceable star of all time..even women hated her..the problem with hollywood is that people think its about quantity but truly the audience decides who becomes a star or not.

Emmanuel

I don't know if I agree with the idea of "mass-fuckability". Look at Morgan Freeman– he's been a leading man, several times, but I doubt that there's a queue of chicks waiting to jump his bones. And now that I think of it, Mackie could have made a decent "Alex Cross".

question

The issue is that Denzel is brought up at all. Apparently no black male has ever been more attractive than him. It hints at why athletes and rappers get movie roles. These young black cant afford that blowing money fast lifestyle where they meet groupies coast to coast. People dont know who these actors are unless your a film buff. As far as physically they cant compare to athletes. The black actresses chase athletes not there costars who dont make enough money to fly them around. Gabby, Sanaa, Meagan, Nia, and many more. Seem to fuck with more athletes.

Orville

The real problem is the paucity of young black men GIVEN the opportunity to be leading men.

I think Hollywood has changed for black men I believe in the 1980s and 1990s young black men WERE allowed to become A list stars. Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Samuel L Jackson, all emerged during that time period.

It seems to me like around 2000 Hollywood stopped looking for young black male talent.
People talk about Derek Luke but I don't think he's as versatile or as good an actor as Anthony Mackie is. Anthony Mackie is also better looking than Derek Luke too!
Right now NOBODY under the age of thirty five who is a black man has been lead in a Hollywood movie in a long time. I just can't think of anyone. I think Anthony Mackie is attractive he hasn't been given the opportunity to shine though. Mackie is also not afraid to take risks see the gay movie Brother to Brother he did a great job in that indie film.

the black police

I like Anthony. Not every actor will be a leading man. It is what it is. He is a niche kinda guy, doest have this mass-fuckability you talk about. I wish he didnt take this Abraham Lincoln movie role though… It looks gross.

Kai

I like mackie but I agree with Laura about his "slightness" …. Leading man material is possible but I m not sure about mass fuckability, then again, I guess it's the ladies that really decide that factor

Laura

I like Anthony Mackie. In terms of mass-f*uckability. There is a slightness about Mackie that I think hinders that. But I think age will take care of that. Ironically, his career trajectory reminds me Denzel's. Remember, Spike Lee made Denzel Washington superf*ckable. I think now is not the time for Mackie. He has to get a little older and physically more mature in the way that Denzel did. With the new crop of indie Black filmmaker, he will find his groove. I'll give it another 3-5 years for him to become A-list Hollywood leading man material.

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