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Music sensation and sometimes actress Jennifer Lopez has been working steadily since the 1980s in television, music and movies. In the mid-90s, she got her first foothold in acting with a celebrated turn as the tragic Selena, which earned her a supporting role in the giant snake movie Anaconda, a far cry from her singing and dancing background but one that surprisingly put her on the map. It was the following year though when she landed the part of Karen Sisco, a U.S. Marshal who chases bank robber Jack Foley (Clooney) after he breaks out of prison, taking her along in his trunk. Steaming up the screen, the Latin beauty won critics and audiences over with her natural and charismatic performance that was far more than just a love interest. A deeply-developed character, Sisco has come to define Lopez’s limited film acting career. She really should have had a series with that one.
What She’s Done Since: A pop music juggernaut, Lopez has been queen of the charts and music video industry for years, using her beauty and sexual allure to help sell her already engaging singing voice. She continues to take part in the occasional movie, but sticks mostly to television work these days. There is lots more to come from this multi-talented entertainer who we’re pretty sure has made some nefarious deal with the underlords for eternal youth.
Australian actress Nicole Kidman was already well on her way to stardom in 1997, having starred with her then husband Tom Cruise in two big films, Days of the Thunder and Far and Away, not to mention her turn as Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever. Here, she stars with another Batman and as another doctor, that of Dr. Julia Kelley, a White House nuclear expert who teams ups with U.S. Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Devoe (Clooney) to stop a Chechen terrorist intent on blowing up the United Nations. Tough, smart, and independent, Kelley isn’t written to be a love interest, rather an equal in the dangerous game, holding her own with the resourceful Devoe. While the film has flaws, Clooney is effective, made more so by Kidman, who gives the story authenticity and a powerful female presence. Plus she does running from explosions as good as any action star.
What She’s Done Since: How about winning an Academy Award and getting nominated twice more? One of the more busy actresses in this generation, Kidman has found great success, continuing to land roles that are challenging and inspiring. A true leading lady, she is one of Hollywood’s most respected actresses. Peacemaker 2? Probably not.
The raven-haired stunner that is Catherine Zeta-Jones, burst onto screens in her second theatrical release playing Elena in the 1998 comedy-adventure film, The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas. With that one sultry performance, she began a string of high-profile movies with some of the biggest names in the business, including the coveted role of Marylin in the Joel and Ethan Coen directed black comedy Intolerable Cruelty opposite Clooney. Playing the jilted but clever wife of a wealthy philanderer, she becomes involved with her husband’s attorney (Clooney). Dark and biting, the movie didn’t find the success that other Coen brother’s films had, mostly because audiences, seeing the couple on the movie poster, thought they were in for something lighter. Still, a great movie, and Zeta-Jones absolutely lights up the screen as the beautiful and intelligent woman with some schemes of her own. We’re pretty sure Clooney was in this movie–the poster has him on it–but honestly, we couldn’t take our eyes of Zeta-Jones so don’t quote us.
What She’s Done Since: After marrying screen legend Michael Douglas, Zeta-Jones largely moved away from acting though between years took parts in big films, including a stint the year after this film to star with Clooney again in Ocean’s Twelve. She won an Academy Award in 2003 for her part in the critically-acclaimed Chicago and continues to pop up in major titles. We can expect more for sure.
It might seem unfair to put two women together for this list and some might even argue that in fact Clooney is the supporting actor in this comedy/drama about a man named Ryan who travels the country working for a company that fires people. He gets entangled with two important women in his life. One is Alex (Farmiga), a fellow frequent flier whom he has casual sexual encounters and has grown to have feelings for, though it’s not quite reciprocated. The other is a younger woman named Natalie (Kendrick) an up-and-coming hotshot at his firm that sees a new future of video-conferencing rather than one-to-one firing. She travels with Ryan to learn the business first hand. Both women are entirely different and reflect the polar ends of his un-grounded life. While Clooney is superbly well-cast, it is Farmiga and Kendrick who steal the show with sensual, intimate performances that are deeply honest and wholly convincing. They keep this film, um . . . up in the air. Had to be said.
What Have They Done Since: Academy Award-nominated (for Up in the Air) Vera Farmiga is a filmmaker at heart and has put time both behind and in front of the camera. While she is perhaps best known now for her part in the successful horror series The Conjuring, she is a regular on the Bates Motel television series as well and continues to land roles in many high-profile films. The woman can do horror.
Also an Academy Award-nominated (also for Up in the Air) actress, Anna Kendrick has been working steadily in all genres, though perhaps is best known for the Pitch Perfect series. Multi-talented, she has found great success both as a singer in movies and an actress. A full schedule ahead, there is lots more to see of this young star. We await patiently.
Young Shailene Woodley stars as Alex, the oldest daughter of Matt King (Clooney), a troubled 17-year-old girl with a history of substance abuse and a secret about her now comatose mother. While the story centers on the King character, a man with much to discover about his life, marriage, and daughters, the heart of the film really comes from Alex. Woodley, in her first significant film role, earned a Golden Globe nomination for her moving performance, coping with the changes she, her family, and father are experiencing. While Clooney usually stars opposite beautiful love interests, here it is a young woman playing his daughter and the dynamic is electrifying. A powerful, star-making role, Woodley became a critical darling and the film opened a whole new set doors for the actress. Okay, some we aren’t so thrilled about, but good on her for bringing YA book-adaptations to the big screen. Hopefully when that phases passes, we’ll see some of that talent in other more interesting projects.
What She’s Done Since: A familiar face now, she is the lead in the current popular young adult film series Divergent, though has made other contributions, including work on television, where she actually got her start. The youngest on this list, she has a long career ahead. Hopefully.
Julia Roberts is one who needs no introduction but here’s one anyway. A list of hits than span decades, Ms Roberts was a screen legend well before her part in Clooney’s 2001 remake of the classic 1960 caper film, Ocean’s Eleven. Playing Danny Ocean’s (Clooney) ex-wife and new girlfriend of the casino boss Terry Benedict (Andy García), the current target of Ocean and his band of ten other criminal misfits, she has a small but crucial role in the story, being the only female lead. Glamorous to be sure, she is also powerfully independent and sees right through what the men around her are up to. While the film focuses on the many escapades of the large male cast, the breaks in-between with Roberts shine because she is the motivation and the only thing that rattles the otherwise always in control Ocean. Plus, come on. She’s Julia Roberts. Instant win.
What She’s Done Since: Having won an Academy Award the year before (Erin Brockovich), and already being one of the most recognized movie stars in the world, Julia Roberts continues to work steadily as a hugely popular actress, establishing herself as one of the best in the business and a sure-fire way to get people in the theater. And she starred with Clooney again with Money Monster, which sadly is not about a 90-foot tall creature that nibbles on currency.
Tildaw Swinton has become known as an acting chameleon of sorts, as she continuously re-invents herself for nearly every role, making dramatic swings in her appearance to the point where she is nearly unrecognizable. None though have lessened her incredible skill as an actress. That is perhaps (arguably) most notable in 2007’s Michael Clayton, about a legal ‘fixer’ for a prestigious law firm that runs afoul of a cover-up that involves betrayal and murder. Swinton is Karen Crowder, an agricultural products conglomerate lawyer who is also heavily involved in the case and is looking to implicate Clayton in the incident. A cold and icy portrayal of menace, Swinton is a towering figure in the already tension-filled story. Despite her limited screen time, she delivers one of the decade’s finest performances, earning an Academy Award for her work.
What She’s Done Since: The question might better be posed as what hasn’t she done since, as Swinton has created a lengthy catalog of eccentric and intriguing characters in many highly-acclaimed films. Seemingly always exploring the depths she can reach and bending expectations. Sure to continue to influence and innovate, Swinton is a special breed of actress and will be a name long remembered in cinema.