5 Top Talents and the Stars They Resemble From Yesterday
Celebrity is an endlessly renewing resource. When one source is depleted or becomes mainstream, another one takes its place. While these five celebrities are recognizably unique, if you look at them long enough, you can see something — a physical attribute, a career path — that they share with the illustrious celebrities of the past.
Even the characters of "Mad Men" have made a note of it: Christina Hendricks is nearly more Marilyn Monroe than Monroe herself. Both possess perfect hourglass figures; both dye their hair (Hendricks is a blonde, Monroe a brunette); both have cheekbones worthy of a Renaissance statue. But whereas Monroe struggled with the way she was perceived, Hendricks seems to have taken her sexuality in stride, using it to transform and subvert roles. She's used her natural appeal for the purposes of broad comedy, most memorably on Joss Whedon's "Firefly," and her "Mad Men" character, Joan Harris, is one of the most soulful and conflicted ever on television. Monroe would have understood her completely.
Ryan Gosling, the star of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "The Ides of March," is something of a two-fer: He has a Paul Newman-esque profile and bearing, but there's something burning behind his eyes, uncontrolled, that's more Steve McQueen. He's taken roles that evoke the both of them: A young McQueen could easily have played the enigmatic antihero of "Drive," and a young Newman could have found the poetic heart of his character in "The Notebook". Other actors have tried to strike a balance between these two sensibilities in recent years — Ben Affleck comes to mind — but Gosling has come closest to hitting the target. It's not about looking good; it's about looking good doing the work.
The pop star born Stefani Germanotta has a fairly large collection of antecedents, among them Madonna, Grace Jones, and Debbie Harry (truly, Lady Gaga is a human jukebox). But Gaga has a more obvious relative: She's the new Prince. Both are deliberately androgynous, both feed misleading information to the press, and both make dance music that grows increasingly more complex as they advance in their careers. And like Prince, Gaga has a restless curiosity that leads her to reinvent her persona and sound every year. Just as "Kiss" is a different beast from "Purple Rain," so Gaga's future music will be radically different from "Poker Face" … but still recognizable as her own.
Director Tony Scott put Brad Pitt directly alongside Robert Redford in 2001's "Spy Game" as if to say, "Aw, c'mon. Am I the only one who's seeing this?" But the two actors have more in common than their blond hair and easygoing screen presence. Pitt is following Redford's lead in going behind the camera — just as Redford became a force as a director, so too is Pitt making his mark as a producer, helping to shepherd to the screen such critically acclaimed films as "The Departed," "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." And like Redford, Pitt gives a substantial amount of his time and effort to charitable work.
The more you look at the two men, the more it becomes clear that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the new Robert De Niro. There's the squint in their smile; there's the slight downturn in the mouth when their expression turns sour. Gordon-Levitt has yet to find his "Taxi Driver," but he will … and when he does, get ready for a career of Oscar wins and acclaimed performances, with the occasional "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra" sprinkled in every now and again to provide contrast.