The road from dramatic action star to non-action dramatic actor hasn’t always been common and only seems to work in reverse. If you go by dramatic actors Charles Bronson from decades ago and recent Daniel Craig, the road from dramatic thespian to action star ignited a brighter flame of stardom. With comedians, it worked nearly identically from the era of Eddie Murphy to Bruce Willis to Dwayne Johnson.
It’s Johnson’s name above who might have the most interesting path considering he started from the world of movie comedies rather than TV comedy. There couldn’t be a more dramatic shift going from playing the Tooth Fairy just three years ago into a troubled father who’s falsely accused of being a drug dealer. But when you have the expressive personality of Dwayne Johnson, it may be much easier to bridge those gaps in movie genres.
Having such a personality negates the possibilities of anybody with flatter speech patterns forging action star careers as Schwarzenegger and Stallone did. It’s evident that Johnson has a compelling gift for communicating he obviously fostered when in the wrestling ring. A personality like that should easily transform him from being typecast in a dramatic action movie star to more human dramas.
Then again, his new “Snitch” shows the world of drug dealing and the human stress of being caught up in such a ring. Audiences have never seen Johnson look so serious while still doing car chases. Instead of seeing that raised eyebrow and bug-eyed look in those juvenile comedies he’s done, we now see a furrowed brow and grimace to remind us how focused he was with the “Snitch” role.
As we saw with his comedies, though, Johnson can work well in a family environment without looking like a giant fish out of water. How he’d do in a family drama where there’s nary a stunt would be a revelation in how far Johnson wants to go in his acting career. If he can ever get there, he’d be the first action star next to Daniel Craig to have potential in bringing at least accolades if not awards.
In the meantime, Johnson isn’t leaving the action genre soon if you go by his upcoming (and delayed) “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”, “Empire State” and “Hercules: The Thracian Wars.” And while these are all dramas, he’s now a part of the new process of seeing actors we thought had no potential slowly develop promise. We’ve seen the same transformation with Bradley Cooper recently who now will never look the same in any role he does after “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Yes, that transition from middling actor to seriously focused actor frequently shows in the face and how an actor carries him or herself. Whether there’s a special acting school somewhere helping these actors become more focused is likely a trade secret. In the case of Johnson, his path to success seems based strictly on a personal drive of natural talent.
And with natural talent beginning to transform the acting profession itself lately, that makes Dwayne Johnson one part of the transformation of those committed to making the art of acting better.