James Marsden: Hollywood’s Sloppy Seconds
There is such a thing as typecasting. We know this. An actor or actress becomes well known for a certain role and not even casting directors can see past that character even though it’s their friggin’ job.
Sometimes the actor does this to themselves, other times, if they want to work in “the biz” (That’s what I call it), they take what they’re offered. And actor James Marsden has evidently become known for being the other guy the girl doesn’t want. She might think she does at first…but she doesn’t.
And he’s a master at it.
Robert DeNiro may love playing a mobster toughguy and Tyler Perry loves playing a fat woman (Don’t all black men?) but James Marsden can’t help but play the guy that gets passed over in favor of the real deal. Let’s commend the man that has dedicated his career to almost getting the girl.
Oh, he wasn’t passed over in the X-Men films you say? Arguably his biggest role, you say? Jean Grey and Cyclops only broke up because she KILLED him you say? Yeah, right. Let’s see.
Like we were supposed to think his collared, tucked-in shirts and khaki pants was as cool as Wolverine’s devil-may-care attitude. When Wolverine asks “Aren’t you gonna tell me to stay away from your girl?” Marsden comes back with “If I had to do that, she wouldn’t be my girl.”
The scene continues but is really just all blah blah blah until Marsden ends it with a “Hey, Logan? Stay away from my girl.” We can’t see it through his visor but chances are, he winked at the camera. See what he did? Obviously, since he said it, Jean Grey is in fact, not his girl. This is a subtle taste of what’s to come.
He spends that second movie MIA as his woman flirts with Wolverine in the woods, until they reunite for a moment before she dies. In the third movie, he spends it dead after Jean Grey kills him and then makes out with Wolverine, even attempting to telepathically rip his pants off. So yeah, you could say he was passed over.
Why wasn’t he in more of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) you ask? Because it wasn’t enough to play the losing rival/romantic failure in the first two X-Men movies for Singer and he needed to complete the trifecta.
Marsden left to play the incredible Richard White in Superman Returns, or as I like to call it Action Figure Superman You Never Take Out of the Package. Here we observe Marsden raising Superman’s kid for five years while that D-bag was out exploring space to find out that his home planet is gone and nothing else.
The movie takes the perspective that Richard White is raising Superman’s kid (who he thinks is his) and we’re meant to believe Lois should dump this non-powered loser and get back with Superman. It’s how Marsden rolls and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Often times Marsden’s role is relegated to snapping Lois out of her “I wish I could be with Superman again” daze she finds herself in most of the movie. It’s a tough job but somebody’s had to do it, and they have to do it as though they’re unaware. Are you the man for that job? Nah, I didn’t think you had the balls.
And I’m sure you’ve seen The Notebook. Do I need to go into this one? Of course he was going to lose out to the doughy-eyed Ryan Gosling who had yet to fill in his shoes as the Driver and become the man he was born to be.
But Marsden was already the man he was born to be and had his woman taken from him again. He plays Lon Hammond Jr., who’s the perfect man, but not the right man.
The film’s narrator describes him as this- “He was handsome, smart, funny, sophisticated, charming. He also came from old Southern money.”
As luck would have it, Wikipedia describes him similarly. Lon Hammond Jr. was “a young lawyer who is handsome, sophisticated, charming, and comes from old Southern money.” Who says Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source? Your professor? Well, he’s an idiot.
So as the narrator’s voiceover begins to somehow speak the inner thoughts of Rachel McAdam’s character in that moment, who has just said ‘yes’ to Marsden’s question of marriage, we hear this- “She agreed with all her heart, but didn’t understand why at the very moment she said ‘Yes,’ Noah’s [Gosling] face came to her mind.”
Did you read that? The moment this guy gets a girl to commit to him, she thinks of another dude. We could also talk about McAdam’s commitment to playing women that plan on getting married to guys they hardly even like but that’s another article.
So in 2007’s Enchanted, Marsden was going to break his trend of being “the other guy” and being the guy because, dammit, he was cast in the role of a Disney prince. It was finally going to happen for him. It was time for a change in his career.
But nope- an evil queen bends all rules of their reality to keep it from happening. Once everything is in it’s place and the heroine of the story is set to get with Patrick Dempsey instead, Marsden’s Prince Edward is given the go-ahead to make his movie on Patrick Dempsey’s ex. Good for him, I guess?
And for the final straw, we have the 2011 remake of Straw Dogs, with no pun intended. Marsden plays David Sumner, whose entire role is geared toward getting you to scream “DO SOMETHING!” at him as a crew of redneck thugs harass him and his wife until one of them has sex with her.
His wife is played by Kate Bosworth who also played Lois in Superman Returns so we may be onto something here.
Straw Dogs is an intense story of survivalism, defiance, standing up for yourself, and the message that if you’re James Marsden, someone else will have sex with your wife no matter what. In fiction of course, I don’t know this guy’s life.
In fact, some rumors speculate that Marsden’s character of David Sumner knew that his wife would cheat on him whether he did anything or not because he was being portrayed by James Marsden.
The scene initially consisted of Sumner breaking in and snapping the redneck’s red neck with his muscular thighs when he was going to be played by another actor. Matthew McConaughey, perhaps? Hm?
But after the recasting, the producers made the necessary script changes to accommodate Marsden’s previous roles and decided that the disgusting sweaty hillbilly should just have sex with her instead.
From what I understand, Good Luck Chuck is based on Marsden’s unreleased memoirs. I can’t confirm that and I refuse to list sources but I’m pretty sure that’s the absolute truth with nothing to say otherwise.
What I’m trying to say here is that Marsden’s lifelong career of sloppy seconds is something to applaud, not forget before we move on to the right actor.
Because if you’re never with the perfect person first, you’ll never know that the better, more annoyingly flawed person you’ll end up with is actually right for you. James Marsden is that perfect person people. And these movies only serve as a testament that the reason people leave James Marsden is because they know they’re not ever going to be good enough.