Oscar Gold No Guarantee of Future Success

HOLLYWOOD ~ A passport to plum roles or a weighty albatross? They might be the most coveted awards in showbusiness, but winning an Oscar is no guarantee of future glory if history is any guide.

From Cuba Gooding Jr. to Adrien Brody, Hollywood is littered with stars who have struck Oscars gold only to discover that their celebrity remains ephemeral and does not suddenly guarantee a pick of Hollywood’s most sought-after scripts.

“I don’t think that winning an Oscar is any kind of guarantee for a future career,” said Lew Harris, a consultant for hollywood.com.

Gooding is a prime example. Despite winning a best supporting actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire in 1997 at the age of 29, he has failed to score a major hit since then, appearing in such critically panned comedies as Daddy Day Camp and Norbit, roles that earned him nominations for the Golden Rasperries (Razzies), the anti-Oscars.

Even actors like Marisa Tomei, who won a supporting Academy Award in 1993 for her role in the comedy My Cousin Vinny and who is nominated again this year for The Wrestler, spent several years in relative obscurity.

“If you look at Cuba Gooding Jr. and Marisa Tomei, you’ve got two different things,” Harris said.

“You’ve got one who was a guy who never was able to follow with a good part. He did terrible things. Marisa Tomei just couldn’t get a footing.”

According to Harris, an Oscar at a young age can sometimes adversely impact an actor’s career trajectory.

“If you’re a young person, if you are a nobody, and you win an Oscar, it puts everybody’s eyes on you,” he said. “It puts you in a spotlight that you’re not ready for.”

Before winning his best actor Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, Brody had largely appeared in small films or character-driven ensemble pieces. After his Oscar win, Brody has mostly landed the same kind of roles.

An Oscar win “doesn’t just change what roles are offered; it changes what roles you think you can get,” one manager told entertainment industry journal The Hollywood Reporter.

“In other words, while there may be more scripts, actors will seek precisely perfect parts – eliminating the risk-taking that led to the Oscar-caliber role in the first place,” the daily’s Steven Zeitchik commented.

In recent years, a string of actors have landed Oscars and subsequently faded from the limelight.

Halle Berry has yet to follow up her Oscar-winning performance in 2001’s Monster’s Ball with a genuine hit while Charlize Theron, a best actress winner for 2003’s Monster, has featured in a series of low-key films since.

After earning plaudits for a series of commercial and critical hits, including Bridget Jones’ Diary and Chicago, both of which earned her best actress nominations, Renee Zellweger finally won an Oscar for 2003’s period drama Cold Mountain.

But since her win, she has not entered the Oscars reckoning, demonstrating how hard it can be to enjoy a sustained level of success.

Harris meanwhile says other actors fall into the trap of seeking to cash in on the short-term afterglow of an Oscars win, concentrating on quantity rather than quality.

Actors “try to capitalize on their Oscar very quickly, and end up taking roles that are going to hurt them in the long term,” Harris said.

“They’re so anxious to keep their career going that they’re taking bad advice, thinking that their Oscar is going to absolve them from their bad choices. And in a sense, it amplifies them.”

The 81st Annual Academy Awards will be held in Hollywood this Sunday.

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