Which Hollywood Careers Need to Get Reel?

Hollywood Homicide's paltry $11.7 million opening weekend may not mean professional suicide for its star, Harrison Ford (search).

But someone should call 911, because his formerly robust career is starting to look green around the gills.

The 60-year-old actor, one of the biggest box-office draws in Hollywood history, joins a growing list of A-list stars whose most recent movies have flat-lined.

It's time for the defibrillator paddles because, as Hollywood producer Steve Tisch says, "It's a slippery slope if you start making the wrong decisions."



Past history: His films have grossed a total of $5.6 billion worldwide and he was nominated for an Oscar for 1985's Witness.

Symptoms: K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), Hollywood Homicide (2003)

Prescription: Act your age! Ford, who turns 61 next month, should kiss the vigorous action roles goodbye in favor of character-driven movies that showcase his tremendous acting talent.

"I think actors have to look at their own careers and not try to be someone else," says Tisch, who produced Forrest Gump and the upcoming Alex and Emma.

"Harrison Ford should not look at a script like Hollywood Homicide and say, 'If Mel Gibson can do it, I can do it,' because it's not necessarily what the reality is."

Ford fares better in stouthearted roles such as those in Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Fugitive and Air Force One.

"He's a hero. He's very masculine. He's an, 'I can get the job done and you can trust me' kind of guy," Tisch says. "That's what the audience likes to see him doing."


Past history: He won the Best Actor Oscar for Wall Street and turned in critically lauded performances in Wonder Boys, The Game and Traffic.

Symptoms: It Runs in the Family (2003), The In-Laws (2003)

Prescription: No more Mr. Nice Guy. Douglas scores playing flawed, vaguely sleazy characters - especially when they're succumbing to feminine wiles, such as in Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and Disclosure.

"The upscale businessman with women problems playing some suspenseful game -- those are the types of movies he does well in," says Anthony Kusich, a box-office analyst for Reel Source Inc.


Past history: She managed to overcome her ignominious Beverly Hills 90210 past to nab an Oscar for a bang-up, gender-bending performance in Boys Don't Cry.

Symptoms: The Affair of the Necklace (2001), The Core (2003)

Prescription: "She needs to pick a part that really does showcase her as an intelligent and independent person. I think that's where her strengths are," says Kerry Barden, a casting director with Hopkins, Smith and Barden, the company that cast Boys Don't Cry.

Broadway would be a shrewd move for Swank, who was attached to a Broadway production of The Miracle Worker until it was derailed in an out-of-town tryout this spring.

"It would be fun to see her on the stage in something like 'Night Mother [a harrowing play about a woman contemplating suicide], or any of the Tennessee Williams plays," Barden says. "She has that kind of rawness his heroines require."


Past history: Gwyneth's luminous screen presence and knack for flawless British accents found her favor in Emma, Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love, for which she won an Oscar.

Symptoms: Shallow Hal (2001), View From the Top (2003)

Prescription: Run like the wind whenever the phrase "dopey comedy" is mentioned.

Donning fat suits and performing pratfalls is beneath the woman once considered the new Grace Kelly.

Her upcoming role as the troubled daughter of a mathematical genius in Proof should play to her strengths.

"It will be a great part for her because it allows her to showcase the intelligence we haven't seen in her past couple of movies," says Barden.