Why You Want to Escape With Denzel Washington - Bloomberg
In December, Denzel Washington, who is nominated this year for his performance as an alcoholic pilot in “Flight,” came in first when the annual Harris poll asked Americans to name their favorite movie star. It was his fourth time topping the poll.
To win that title, you have to be an excellent actor. But great performances aren’t enough. Your roles and what you seem to be off-screen also have to resonate with the audience — to represent something consistent about who they want to be.
A movie star isn’t just an actor. He or she is what the author Margaret Farrand Thorp, writing during the golden age of the studio system, called an “escape personality” — a stand- in for the audience. Movie stars reveal something about the audiences that embrace them. That was true when Thorp published “America at the Movies” in 1939, and it’s still true today.