Academic journal article The Upstart Crow

Ordinary Stardom: The Tragic Duality of Julia Stiles's Ophelia

Academic journal article The Upstart Crow

Ordinary Stardom: The Tragic Duality of Julia Stiles's Ophelia

Article excerpt

In 2010, Julia Stiles joined Stolichnaya Vodka's ad campaign under the tagline "Would You Have a Drink With You?" (1) Both the print advertisements and the television commercials feature two sides of Julia Stiles who meet at a ritzy club. The "Hollywood dish" Stiles, as she is labeled in one of the print ads, wears a short black one-shouldered cocktail dress. Her hair is slicked back in an elegant ponytail, her smoky eye makeup is red carpet-ready, and her demeanor is aloof and preening as she sips a martini. The ads' "Hollywood-ish" Stiles wears jeans and a loose-fitting tank top, her makeup is minimal, her long hair hangs loosely around her shoulders, and she is relaxed and smiling as she orders a glass of Stoli Razz and soda. In the thirty-second commercial spot, girl-next-door Julia is late for her night out with Hollywood Stiles. (2) Their conversation focuses on Stiles's acting choices and allows her to joke about her star image: the "serious" Hollywood actress reveals that she has "learned everything [she] know[s] from watching reruns" and is not making indie films anymore, just "movies--big, fat, expensive movies. Films are nice," she says, "but movies make sick money." Girl-next-door Julia looks taken aback and asks, "What about artistic fulfillment?" "Overrated," Hollywood Stiles says. "Besides, with all the money I can make, I could do something really meaningful." Julia retorts, "So what you're saying is you'd buy shoes." With a slight shrug, Stiles raises her eyebrows and sips her drink, and the commercial cuts to the tagline, in which a deep male voice asks, "Would you have a drink with you?" The next shot is of the words "Julia Stiles Hollywood Original," while the voiceover continues: "The most original people deserve the most original vodka."

The Stoli ad campaign builds on the idea of originality by posting the following criteria on its website:

   It's not about [her] fame or fortune. It's that [she] dare[s] to
   challenge convention, unafraid to break new ground. [She's] bold
   enough to attempt things that most say couldn't, or even shouldn't,
   be done--and [she's] passionate enough to achieve them. But most of
   all, [she has] truly lived life. (3)

According to this description, Julia Stiles somehow transcends her acting career, her media presence, and the money she has made from her work. She is seen as someone who breaks the rules in order to pursue her dreams and who is world-wise and daring. She represents a certain type of young female celebrity, someone who is self-aware, passionate, intelligent, and bold. Even when she is criticized for her choice of roles or her public statements, Stiles nevertheless has a sense of humor about her image, as the Stoli campaign demonstrates: as a down-to-earth and respected artist, she can challenge the integrity of her Hollywood-starlet side. She can admit to loving money as long as she acknowledges that such pursuits are subject to criticism.

The commercial plays on the dual nature of Julia Stiles, which has become a part of the image she has cultivated since becoming an actress at a young age. On the one hand, the "serious actress" has played three of Shakespeare's most iconic women in a trilogy of teen films that launched her career: The Taming of the Shrew's Katherine (Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You), Othello's Desdemona (Desi in O), and Ophelia in Hamlet. (4) Stiles has a thriving stage career and has formed a close partnership with writer David Mamet, and she has worked to build a reputation based upon her work ethic, not her social life. On the other hand, she is a product of Hollywood who confessed in 2011 that she ran out of money in Cuba because she was unaccustomed to operating on a cash-only budget, (5) who has made lots of money by starring in big Hollywood blockbusters, and whose most recent Golden Globe nomination was for her work on the Showtime television series Dexter. (6) Julia Stiles is simultaneously the glamorous actress and the fresh-faced girl next door, the big-time star and the independent artist, the earnest scholar and the self-deprecating prankster, the upscale shopper and the outdoorsy philanthropist. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.