What (or who) makes a superstar?

I’m going to ignore my usual tendency not to start more than one thread a day to ask another question that’s been on my mind. It’s not a deep question, but it’s one that makes me curious.

What makes a superstar?

It’s not hard to become a celebrity. Do something interesting, get enough exposure, and you’re a celebrity. It’s fleeting, for most of the people it happens to, but it’s still celebrity status. It’s also not impossible to be an actor. There are tons of working actors in Hollywood, people with as many credits to their names as some of the biggest named actors out there, but people who can still run to the grocery store without attracting attention. (I recently emailed a voice actor whose work I admired just to let him know. He responded (himself, presumably) a couple of days later. I bet even Dan Castellanata (Homer Simpson, et al) can go places without even a second glance his way.)

But what makes a superstar? How do the Brad Pitts, Angelina Jolies, and Tom Cruises of the world get there? Sure, these people have talent, but they’re not the most talented actors out there by any means. A lot of actors are as pretty or prettier than they are, too. But what makes them the cream of the crop, the $20 million a movie actors?

(Feel free to substitute musicians, painters, or authors, if you so desire.)

It’s publicity and a timultuous personal life. Pitt, Jolie, and Cruise are currently all over the place because of their lives beyond filmmaking.

Further, the better known you are, the more you can get for your roles. If your name is all over the tabloids, it’s presumed that you will draw people into theaters.

But there are other actors whose personal lives aren’t quite as much front page news, but who command similar attention: George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Tom Hanks, for example. These are actors whose talents range from extraordinary (Depp and Hanks) to good (I don’t think Clooney is as versatile, but I’ve never had a complaint about anything he’s done). Out of those three, only Depp is both incredibly pretty *and *incredibly talented.

So I’m curious what put Clooney ahead of his fellow *ER *stars? How did Hanks make it instead of Peter Scolari, his *Bosom Buddies *co-star? Depp has had an extraordinary career compared to his *21 Jumpstreet *cohorts.

Is it just sheer luck? “Someone’s gotta win the lottery” type of luck?

In those cases, talent is #1. Hanks is definitely better than Scolari, for instance. There’s also things like knowing a good script for them (helped with Arnold a lot) and the ability to come across well in interviews.

Note that in the case of Depp, he had a stretch where he wasn’t a superstar: his popularity declined when he started making films with Tim Burton, but rose again after Pirates of the Caribbean was released. If it weren’t for the latter role, he’d be considered a good actor, but not a star.

You make several good points, and I thank you for your insight into the subject.