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Is Supporting Actor the Charm?

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At the dawning of the decade, Jude Law and Colin Farrell seemed to be the actors to beat for every leading-man role. Their ubiquity and overexposure were so extreme that Chris Rock memorably mocked them at the 2005 Oscars: “You want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law? Wait! You want Russell Crowe and all you can get is Colin Farrell? Wait! Alexander is not Gladiator.” True enough, each actor flamed out in his own way: Farrell with Alexander, Miami Vice, and Daredevil onscreen, and a sex tape, weight gain, and a rehab stint off. Law released five movies in 2004 (including the dreadful Alfie), but more memorable was the 2005 news of his affair with a nanny, which broke up his relationship with Sienna Miller. In December, both actors seek to restore their credibility with humble turns as supporting men: Farrell as the country-singing protégé to an old coot (Jeff Bridges) in Crazy Heart; Law as Dr. Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes. Then they pay tribute to their lost peer, Heath Ledger, by playing looking-glass iterations of Ledger’s suave con artist in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.


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