Rihanna, the Actor
Are we past the point of rolling our eyes at pop stars who also want to be actors? Or is our eye-rolling strictly reserved for Justin Timberlake? New photos of Rihanna in character on set of Bates Motel in Vancouver were released yesterday and while I didn’t roll my eyes at them, I did wonder if she’s capable of solidifying herself as an actress.
Rihanna is playing Marion Crane, Janet Leigh’s role in the OG Psycho. In theory, I like the casting a lot. I like it because I like Rihanna a lot. And that’s the problem. Rihanna’s recognisability has been a detriment to her acting in the past. In Battleship, if you could get past how sh-tty the movie was as a whole, you still couldn’t get past that it was Pon De Replay/ Umbrella / We Found Love RHIANNA on a ship with Tim Riggins, right? She was pretty good as the voice in Home (my 6-year-old niece’s second favourite movie) and she was great in This is The End but in Home we couldn’t see her iconic face and in This is The End, she played herself. So, neither of those count.
But if Lady Gaga can be an Emmy nominee, why can’t Rihanna? Truthfully, I haven’t seen Gaga on American Horror Story because the only horror I can handle is what’s playing out in America. In Gaga’s case, she reinvents herself every five seconds so transforming into a character doesn’t seem that far off from what she does on the regular. I know Rihanna’s cadence and mannerisms almost better than I know my own. Can she disappear? Madonna never could. Neither could Britney or Mariah. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Justin Timberlake has been trying for years to shed his JT-ness and become a Serious Actor. I really don’t know if Rihanna can pull it off but I am rooting for her. I would LOVE it if Rihanna was recognized for her acting chops and accepted as a Serious Actor before Timberlake.
We’ll see what Rihanna can bring to the big screen next in Ocean’s Eight. When Lainey wrote about her role, she guessed that Ri will be playing a nerdy Livingston Dell type character. Aesthetically, I’m into everything going on with her Ocean’s Eight character, and not just because that hair is life. She looks comfortable, confident and close enough to the cool, laid-back Bajan beauty that we already know and love. So maybe it’s about Rihanna not playing too far outside of her wheelhouse. Lainey has written for years that she would be perfect to reprise Whitney Houston’s role in The Bodyguard. She’d be playing one of the most famous pop stars in the world so, again, basically herself. We know she can do that well. With Bates Motel, it will be a chance for Rihanna to prove whether she can deliver on screen and I really hope she does. If for nothing else, we know she would SLAY the Emmys red carpet.