The New York Times has proclaimed Justin Timberlake the new Cary Grant, which must make George Clooney the old Cary Grant.
The premise for the Times verdict is Timberlake’s suave new look, a tailored contrast to his earlier boy-band bagginess.
Grant, Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actor, set a standard, sartorial and otherwise, for later generations of actors.
The comparison is made with so many handsome, witty leading men that it has become a cliche.
Hugh Grant (no relation) runs a close second to Clooney as the chosen successor. The Daily Mail pointed out: “Both were born in England, have similar Byronic sex appeal, look good in suits, and excel at playing well-heeled characters.”
Others who have been promoted as the next Archibald Alexander Leach include Bruce Willis (when he had hair), Pierce Brosnan (before he serenaded Meryl), Mark Wahlberg, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ashton Kutcher and Ewan McGregor. (The McGregor analogy makes no sense whatsoever. He obviously is the next Christopher Plummer.)
Vanity Fair noted this trend almost a decade ago, identifying Frankie Muniz, TV’s Malcolm in the middle, as the most inexplicable nominee. When told that a critic had described him as “the Cary Grant of kid stars,” Muniz replied, “That’s cool… but I don’t know who Cary Grant is.”