Beware being dubbed the “next” anything.
Consider the “next Spielberg,” AKA director M. Night Shyamalan. “The Sixth Sense” auteur is currently under heavy fire for making the abysmal “The Last Airbender.”
Topher Grace is suffering a similar letdown.
The sitcom star got dubbed the “next” Tom Hanks after he broke out on “That ’70s Show.”
He hasn’t landed a consequential film role since, and now he’s simply another face in the jungle in the new film “Predators.”
Grace plays a smart-aleck doctor caught between human mercenaries and the titular beasties. It’s not the kind of role a star would take, but Grace’s big screen career hasn’t earned him such stature. Yet.
His best chance at big screen gravitas came via “In Good Company,” an underrated drama co-starring Dennis Quaid. The film went nowhere, as did “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, ” a throwaway rom-com that showed he could hang quite nicely in the genre.
The actor may have hurt himself twofold with his appearance in “Spider-Man 3.” The film couldn’t match the excellence of the first two Spidey chapters, and his nebbishy character helped solidify a stereotype that doesn’t serve his future leading man aspirations well – the unlikeable antihero.
So now he’s left to throw a quip or two around the set of “Predators,” a role far beneath someone like Hanks – or Grace himself three years ago.
Grace is still young, but his struggles to find leading man glory is another indicator of how brutal the competition is to ascend to the A-list – and the perils of early praise.
(Photo: Edwin (Topher Grace) is a doctor who finds himself trapped on an alien planet with a group of tough-as-nails mercenaries, including Isabelle (Alice Braga)–all of them being hunted by alien creatures in “Predators.” Photo credit: Rico Torres)