The EX FILES: Where Are They Now?
Ten years before them, it was Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd (remember Moonlighting?). Back in the mists of the late 1970s, I guess their closest counterparts were probably Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart).
In their day, these were the toast of the town, eyeballed on a weekly basis by many millions more fans than would ever shell out for a cinema ticket. For some of these small screen stars, TV was a last hurrah. Cybill Shepherd had tasted movie stardom in her late teens, in The Last Picture Show and (later) Taxi Driver. Robert Wagner was groomed as a matinee idol in the 1950s - he was Prince Valiant, and played the title role in The True Story Of Jesse James back in 1957. Yes, he was - briefly - the Brad Pitt of his day. Now he's probably better known as Austen Powers' Number Two.
For Bruce Willis, on the other hand, TV was his first break, and proved a stepping stone to bigger and better things: Die Hard, Pulp Fiction and a long and varied career in the spotlight. See, a hit show will buy you a window of opportunity, and if you're lucky and talented enough you find yourself a big screen role like John McClane and run with it.
But it's a gamble. When do you bail from the show - often it's impossible to squeeze a movie into a busy TV schedule - and what happens if that hit movie doesn't take?
Mulder and Scully haven't fared too badly in this game. David Duchovny starred in the Ivan Reitman would-be (but wasn't to be) blockbuster Evolution in 2001, then devoted most of his energies to writing, directing and starring in the poorly received drama House of D. He had a supporting role as the perfect husband in Things We Lost in the Fire earlier this year, but is currently enjoying a bit of a comeback -less to do with the new X Files movie than another hit TV show, Californication.
As for Gillian Anderson, she hasn't quite cracked Hollywood wide open either, but she's established her acting pedigree in British film and TV like Bleak House, The Last King Of Scotland, A Cock and Bull Story and (her best performance) The House Of Mirth, and has How to Lose Friends and Alienate People coming up. It's probably fair to say she has the career she would have wanted.
Not everyone has been so fortunate. There are countless examples of TV stars who have gone from hero to zero almost overnight. Some may remember when Erik Estrada (CHIPS) was being hyped as the Next Big Thing. The next big nothing, more like. Or what about Luke Perry… in fact there was a time when half the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 was talked up for movie stardom: Jason Priestley, Shannon Doherty, Jennie Garth.
Who would have guessed that Hilary Swank (who appeared in 16 episodes in the 1997-98 season) would be the one to bring home a couple of Oscars?The irony is that while the stars often fall off the radar, after a while the shows themselves are recycled into big budget movies: Sex and the City, Get Smart and The Incredible Hulk to mention just the most recent examples.
Here then are some selections from our Where Are They Now? files: Some winners, some losers, and many betwixt and between, anxiously waiting for that phone to ring…
The Where Are They Now? Files
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Commander John Koenig, Space 1999 (1975-1978)
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