There are a lot of crappy roles in Hollywood, and I’m not just talking about Oil Boy #3 in awful, low-budget TV movies like Bikini Bimboes in Space (actually, nevermind, that would be an awesome role). There are also crappy roles in legitimate movies, like Oil Boy #3 in Driving Miss Daisy (now that’s an awful role).
So what does it take to get cast in one of Hollywood’s actual good roles? This weekend marks the beginning of the third season of Mad Men, a show that’s won a ton of awards and as far as I can tell, doesn’t have any Oil Boys. All the principles actually get to do what they starved their way through drama school for: deliver articulate lines and embody real characters. But that wasn’t always the case. Even Don Draper and company had to pay their dues.
1) January Jones (Betty Draper) in American Pie 3
After getting her start as ‘Number One’ in the awesome show Sorority, but before making it to playing Don Draper’s sultry wife, January Jones spent 85 minutes getting hit on by Stifler in American Pie 3 as the Maid of Honor Cadence Flaherty. That’s right, Jones had to step up and fill in for the painful final chapter in a crashing trilogy that Nadia and Oz had decided they were too good for. But at least Stifler was still around.
JANUARY JONES: So, can I see the ring?
STIFLER: Nope. Promised to keep it safe. It’s not leaving my pocket.
JANUARY JONES: Okay, Frodo.
The upside is that Jones had a big part in a well-known series, but it has to be a downer knowing one of your first big movies was passed on by Shannon Elizabeth because she was too busy posing for Playboy and never being heard from again.
2) John Slattery (Roger Sterling) in Eraser
After acting alongside Kevin Bacon, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Brad Pitt in the dark classic Sleepers, John Slattery was ready for the big time. And he showed it by taking a part as FBI Agent Corman in Eraser, with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I’m pretty sure I was drunk when I watched ‘Eraser’, but I don’t think Slattery ever got to fight the Governator, which is really the only way this could have been worth it (besides the money). Then again, who else can say they acted with De Niro, Hoffman, Pitt, and Schwarzenegger all in the same year?
3) Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) in Suburban Commando
Elisabeth Moss has done about a million things, from the girl who sets herself on fire in Girl, Interrupted to President Bartlet’s daughter in West Wing to random voice-overs in Animaniacs… but by far the most hilarious movie she’s ever been in was when she played a
Little Girl in Suburban Commando.
Amazing. Since her credit was just “Little Girl” (Moss was probably only about 8 at the time), I couldn’t figure out exactly which little girl Elisabeth played, but I’m pretty sure it was one that Hulk Hogan scared the crap out of.
4) Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) in Indian in the Cupboard
A native of my home city of Minneapolis, Vincent Kartheiser, bless his soul, had one of his first roles in Little Big League, a movie shot in the Twin Cities about a fifth grader who somehow becomes the owner of the Twins baseball team (I wish this were true – maybe we wouldn’t have lost Johan Santana). Vince then went on to play a ton of other kid roles, including my personal favorite as Gillon in The Indian in the Cupboard.
You know, that movie about the wooden chest that brings plastic toys to life. Vince is in it for about 30 seconds, as the older brother who gets his rat kicked down a flight of stares in a hamster ball.
5) Jon Hamm (Don Draper) in Space Cowboys
Last but not least, what could Jon Hamm possibly have done to top his acclaimed role as Mad Man Don Draper? Nothing, but he was in a couple episodes of Gilmore Girls. And, in a hilarious twist, he also had a bit part as a Young Pilot in Space Cowboys, that movie about geriatric astronauts. Truly, how far he has come.
I tried to find a screenshot of Hamm getting yelled at by a decaying Clint Eastwood, but I couldn’t find one without watching all of Space Cowboys again. And lord knows I’m not doing that.