I wrote that headline mainly because I think the names of Jon Hamm and George Clooney should be mentioned early and often whenever possible, but the two do have a lot in common: handsome American actors who spent much of the early part of their careers playing one iconic role on television.
Clooney was long known for playing Dr. Doug Ross on “ER,” which he did for five seasons until movie roles began to beckon (he left in 1999, then in his late 30s); now a generation knows him only as a movie star.
Hamm, like Clooney, is a bit of a late bloomer (he was 36 when cast as Don Draper seven years ago, and before that had struggled to find acting work); now, as he begins his seventh and final “Mad Men” season, he’s clearly thinking about the next step.
Though he’s done some fine movie work in small roles — most notably “The Town,” “Friends with Kids” and “Howl” — he’s yet to play a leading role in a film. That’s about to change: “Million Dollar Arm,” from Disney, made its debut at CinemaCon yesterday (the annual convention of movie-theater operators) to a strongly positive reaction, and to Disney’s chair Alan Horn saying that the movie scored higher than any other he’s tested at Disney or Warner Bros.
That might all be just talk, but the movie sounds potentially irresistible: a family-friendly, fact-based story of a sports agent (Hamm) who decides to import Indian cricket players to become Major League Baseball stars, written by Tom McCarthy (himself writer/director of a wonderful sports movie, “Win Win”) and directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”).
Is Hamm, who accepted an honor at CinemaCon with “Thank you for not nominating Bryan Cranston for this award” (referencing their longtime Emmy rivalry), about to become a movie star? We’ll find out soon; “Million Dollar Arm” opens May 16.