That Julia Roberts–boy, is she hot. Won the Oscar. Helped Ocean’s Eleven open number 1 a couple weeks ago. Now, if she’d only stop making movies–boy, then she’d be really hot.
Well, we’re just trying to digest the latest Harris Poll that tracks our nation’s favorite movie stars as determined by our nation’s presumed moviegoers. According to the poll, out today, eight of our most popular actors didn’t have a single fresh release in theaters in 2001. One member of the top 10, in fact, is dead. Way dead.
All righty, then.
Now, to be fair, Roberts was the list’s notable exception. Oscar’s reigning Best Actress appeared in three hit 2001 titles–America’s Sweethearts, The Mexican and the aforementioned Ocean’s Eleven. That stat not only didn’t disqualify her from consideration by Harris Poll voters, it perhaps even helped her capture the number one spot.
The 34-year-old Roberts, who ranked number four in the 2000 poll, is the first woman to top the list since Harris began tracking such things in 1993. Roberts was the top choice among women and Hispanic voters. She also was the top choice, along with Harrison Ford (number three overall), among the 18-29 set.
Denzel Washington, the number one pick among black voters, rated number eight overall. Aside from Roberts, he’s the only other Top 10 player who actually worked the multiplex in 2001. (His credit: Training Day.)
Harris says its poll was conducted online between November 9-14, “among a nationwide cross section of 1,065 adults.” Judging by the fact that seventysomething Sean Connery jumped five spots (from number 10 in 2000, to number five in 2001) on the strength of, well, nothing, we’re guessing that a lot of this “nationwide cross section” hails from a Palm Beach, Florida, retirement villa.
Sure, you could argue that Connery’s 2000 flick, Finding Forrester, didn’t play in many theaters until 2001. And, sure, you could argue the same goes for Tom Hanks (up four places from 2000, to number two), Mel Gibson (down a notch, to number four) and Sandra Bullock (a newbie, at number 10), for Castaway, What Women Want and Miss Congeniality, respectively.
But you can’t argue this: John Wayne has been way dead since 1979. Hasn’t made a movie since 1976. And, yet, according to Harris voters, he’s our sixth favorite movie star. (It’s worth noting, however, that the Duke’s way-deadness may be catching up with him. Prior to this year, Wayne had never ranked lower than fourth, and actually held the number one spot in 1995.)
Robin Williams’ career, meanwhile, has been relatively dead since 1999 and the twin bombs that were Jakob the Liar and Bicentennial Man. But has that hurt him in the eyes of the “nationwide cross section”? Hardly. Williams is now our ninth favorite movie star, per the poll–the first time he’s cracked the Top 10.
Lest you think Harris voters hate any kind of change, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert De Niro all fell out of the Top 10 this year. Why? Well, Willis and De Niro committed no-nos: They made movies (Bandits and The Score, respectively).
We’re guessing Schwarzenegger was penalized because he was supposed to have a new movie out this year–Collateral Damage, which got shelved in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks.
If you feel like reading and weeping, here’s the complete list of 2001’s favorite movie stars, per the Harris Poll:
1. Julia Roberts
2. Tom Hanks
3. Harrison Ford
4. Mel Gibson
5. Sean Connery
6. John Wayne
7. Clint Eastwood
8. Denzel Washington
9. Robin Williams
10. Sandra Bullock