Even though here at Crushable we cover actors more often than directors, would you be surprised to learn that you could sum up most actors’ screen careers as merely “meh”? Using Rotten Tomatoes’ film ratings, Slate compiled several graphs comparing Hollywood career trajectories for, you guessed it, the average actor and director.
While directors receive higher acclaim as they make more and more movies — honing their skills and really getting to the heart of the stories they want to tell, presumably — actors seem doomed to forever hover around the 50% rating no matter how many movies they star in. And with the exception of the most prolific directors, actors make far more flicks over the course of their careers. So, that’s kind of a slap in the face.
I think the results do come out a bit skewed, because there are certainly actors whose performances have undeniably improved with time — like Ben Affleck, though some of that could be attributed to his directorial debut in 2007. I dare you to tell me how Meryl Streep can’t garner more than a lukewarm reaction.
Or what about someone like Heath Ledger, who got almost universal acclaim for roles like 10 Things I Hate About You and especially The Dark Knight Returns? You’d think that would elevate him out of the 50% mark, but that could be the flipside of all this: In with the honest opinions are those who say they disliked a movie simply to be different.
Make sure you also head over to Slate and try out their Hollywood Career-O-Matic, where you can punch in names like Jennifer Aniston, Matt Damon, or Woody Allen and see the specific spikes and drops in their individual careers. You can even compare stars from similar genres or age ranges — up to at least 10, if you can read the chart by then — and see who reigns supreme.