I don’t watch television often, but when I do, I notice the change.
I hadn’t been watching television for the past few years unless I was binge-watching something like Orphan Black or Downton Abbey, but I slowly started to come back to television around last year, and I saw something interesting. And I’m starting to see it more often.
Movie stars are shifting to television. And I’m not talking about that one actor from a romantic comedy who’s going to be in a new, slightly obscure television show. I’m talking about actors and actresses who have hardly touched the silver screen in their entire careers, or I just never expected to go to or never saw on television ever. Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Jude Law, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, the list goes on. Most of those are just on premium channels like HBO or Starz though, who have more time to craft good, hearty television, and that’s what I tend to watch more often.
If you want to get me to watch most things, the magic words are “Jude Law.”
But it’s not just those networks. Damon Wayans is doing Lethal Weapon on Fox, Susan Sarandon is doing the premier season of Feud on FX as Bette Davis alongside Jessica Lange’s Joan Crawford, and Viola Davis is the star of Shonda Rhimes’s How to Get Away with Murder on ABC, to name a few.
I feel like this does something big for television by attracting fans of those well-known and/or prestigious actors and and attracting those curious about the quality of the shows that these actors have picked. Fans of Dwayne Johnson might check out Ballers even though he hasn’t done much television if any at all. Just as well, people who know Anthony Hopkins and how carefully he chooses his work are either going to assume that Westworld will be a good show if not a great one, or they are going to wonder what Westworld has to offer considering that Anthony Hopkins even agreed to do it.
Why are these actors making this shift? Well, probably because they can. Most of the actors shifting to television, like Susan Sarandon or Diane Keaton, have amazing careers and can completely afford to do whatever they want, television or movies. They probably have parts written with them in mind at this point in their careers. Tom Hardy has had enough success in the past 7 years to go ahead and partner up with the probably even more qualified Ridley Scott and do Taboo on FX. They might just want to spice up their careers and try something they haven’t really done before, which I totally support.
I like this trend because it’s slowly reintroducing some quality and class back to television that I had been missing or might not have been old enough to watch. I think that slowly, very slowly, more people are trying to craft good television as opposed to just throwing wet pasta at the wall and seeing what sticks, which isn’t uncommon, believe me.
This could also be an indicator of people who are able to come up with good ideas for television and even more importantly, having the budget and credentials to do so. I would love to see how far this can go. Maybe I’ll be more interested in television again; I don’t know.