Nowadays, television series and sitcoms are becoming as watched as feature films, with a vast array to choose from. We become engrossed in episode after episode of plots and characters. Many actors rise to fame this way and will often be best known for their particular character. Who knows the real name of the actor who played Chandler Bing in Friends, for example? (It’s Matthew Perry, by the way). Do you immediately think Ally McBeal when you see Calista Flockhart? Let’s face it, these shows are what they will mainly be known for, even though they’ve had other roles since.
More recently, Aaron Paul has become something of a household name, after his rise to fame in the addictive phenomenon that was Breaking Bad, where he was known as the unpredictable yet brilliant Jesse Pinkman. Whilst still riding the Breaking Bad wave, Aaron has now hit our screens in the recently released film Need for Speed. Although the movie was exciting and enjoyable viewing, I can’t help but wonder if many people flocked to see it simply because of who the main actor is. Only time will tell if Paul truly manages to break away from his Pinkman character and become known for his wider acting abilities, rather than that one key role in an intensely popular crime drama series.
Another great example of actors known primarily for their television series character is Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. The show was the actor’s breakthrough role he had been waiting for, at the age of 36, and he has become somewhat inseparable from his Don Draper character. Apart from Mad Men, his filmography portfolio is relatively small, with appearances in episodes here and there, and less major roles in films.
With an ever increasing popularity of TV series over films, actors such as Pinkman and Hamm may have struck it big where they are, but it does beg the question of whether such actors can break away from hit TV shows and make it big in film…or if they even want to? Indeed, Paul has expressed his enthusiasm if there were to be additional scripts written for a Breaking Bad spin off. The trend is, in fact, fast reversing, with movie stars now moving away from major film roles to get parts on TV, due in large part to the consistency and reputation of many long running shows. Examples of this include Kiefer Sutherland, Martin Sheen, and even Glenn Close.
For now, the battle continues between film and television. So what would you prefer? To go to the cinema or sit in with six back to back episodes lined up? Having just finished the Breaking Bad journey, and with five more major shows lined up on my media player, I know which one I’ll be choosing…