Career Prospectus: Joshua Jackson
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Every time we do one of these career prospectuses (prospecti?), we get a bunch of requests for Joshua Jackson. I know from this site and others that he is a popular Celebrity Person, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. I’m assuming this is some leftover affection for Pacey. And maybe also that he’s one-half a Darling Celebrity Couple, which is actually equally baffling to me. But you guys ask with admirable frequency, so here is a Career Prospectus on Joshua Jackson.
First, if you’re a fan of Jackson, I get why you’re frustrated. He’s famous enough to get photographed at the airport, he’s famous enough that photographs with his also-famous girlfriend are very popular, and he’s famous enough that you feel like he ought to be more famous. Right? You get that, “Hey that guy, why isn’t he more famous than this?” feeling when you see him in the “Darling Celebrity Couple does something darling” column in PEOPLE. At this point, Jackson is mostly famous for being famous, for being with a famous woman, and for working just enough to count as a “working actor”, which is harsh, but true. Jackson’s resume is not distinguished and it is not impressive and I don’t see it getting much better.
He had Dawson’s Creek, sure, and Fringe, which was a genre hit and ought to keep him in convention money, but his resume also includes one of the single worst movies I’ve seen in recent memory, Lay the Favorite, in which Jackson wasn’t particularly memorable. But with Fringe over, there’s nothing on the horizon. I’m sure the residuals from Dawson’s and Fringe are enough to live comfortably—although in a celebrity lifestyle “comfortable” is relative—and I’m curious about how much he and Diane Kruger get to make personal appearances. Because though the movies aren’t good (I mean seriously, Lay the Favorite SUCKED), his choices suggest either he’s got enough money coming in from other sources that it doesn’t matter that he only makes tiny movies no one sees, or he really has nothing better on offer.
I imagine this isn’t what you, the Pacey-fans, want to hear. This isn’t even a case, like Ellen Page, of an actor simply not wanting to be as famous/available as her fans want her to be, but more of a “this is as good as it’s going to get, so get used to it” scenario. Because barring a late-stage breakout not unlike, say, Jon Hamm, this is as good as it gets for Jackson. Which isn’t to say it’s that bad—he does work, and he’s not become a self-parodying buffoon like Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek. And he’s a proven TV star, which is his best bet going forward. Jackson himself said he was electing to sit out the recent pilot season to recharge after Fringe’s run and look for something as good as Fringe (which…Fringe was that good? Really?), so he knows that sticking with television is the way to go.
What he needs, though, is a prestige project. He can carry a network show, which is no mean feat as the hour-long drama schedule is a hellacious work week, but network TV is dying. It’s getting crushed under the weight of cable and streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon Instant, which are starting to offer shows of their own, so that is where he needs to go. One day, the networks will adapt to the change in how we watch TV, but right now they’re just a depressing wasteland of tired concepts and too-niche-for-network shows. (Don’t believe me? Take a look at how bad the 2012-2013 season went for the networks here.) So get away from that. Standing in quicksand is never advisable.
If I’m in development at a cable network (or streaming company), and I’m casting a new show, I would absolutely want to talk to Joshua Jackson. He’s never going to be a movie star or as famous as you want him to be, but he’s a decent actor, he comes with a built-in fanbase, and though his quote is likely on the high end for TV actors, because he is a proven commodity, the fan interest would be worth it. The question is, does Jackson have the taste level and star power required to pick a plum project? That resume is not encouraging, but it is the next step for him, to anchor the kind of project that succeeds in the modern television environment, something built on quality over quantity. He needs a Mad Men or a Justified or a Walking Dead, or even a House of Cards.
There is another avenue open to Jackson—he could be the pioneer voice for men in celebrity lifestyle management. Seriously, think about it. He’s got a likeable, ready-made celebrity persona, there’s a pre-existing fanbase to listen to him, and he’s widely regarded as a “perfect boyfriend” to Diane Kruger, so that could be his hook. “How to hold her purse”, or “Dressing to match your fashion-conscious better half”. I don’t mean to sound snarky—I’m dead serious. Celebrity lifestyle is exploding as a commodity (see also: GOOP, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner), but where is the masculine POV in that world? He already participates in the public nature of his relationship, and it’s not a big step from that to writing about being a celebrity boyfriend. One of the lad mags ought to look into this.
I feel this was a rather upsetting prospectus. I’m sorry Joshua Jackson’s career isn’t more interesting.
(Lainey: me too! I love him! Maybe Sarah just doesn’t get it because she’s not Canadian. Or… gulp…maybe I just don’t get it because I am Canadian…?)
Attached -- Joshua Jackson with Diane Kruger at Joel Silver’s annual Memorial Day party yesterday.