One thing you hear a lot in Hollywood is how “so-and-so is the new so-and-so.” Like “pink is the new black,” except with people. Channing Tatum is the new Brad Pitt. Megan Fox is the new Angelina Jolie (remember when that was happening? Me neither.) Delirium is the new Hunger Games.
It’s not often that anybody asks you to think about it the other way around, but since my new book Starstruck (the first in a trilogy!) is set in the glittering Golden Age of Hollywood 1938, I thought it would be fun to do exactly that. Which new stars are the modern day equivalent of Starstruck’s (fictional) old stars? Did that sentence even make any sense? Is this all a little too meta? You’ll see what I mean in a second!
The protagonist of the novel, Margo (née Margaret Frobisher) is a classy ingénue who, deep down, is lot tougher than her starry-eyed exterior suggests—you’ve got to be to leave your whole sheltered life in Pasadena behind and go it alone in the wilds of Olympus Studios. She’s a tough act to follow, but I can think of one actress currently embodying Margo’s angelic looks, impeccable breeding, and will of steel: Emilia Clarke, AKA Danaerys Stormborn of House Targaryen on HBO’s smash hit Game of Thrones.
But these characteristics aren’t the only thing the two have in common. Both have had meteoric rises from total obscurity to the top of the Hollywood pyramid—Margo is just a movie-mad schoolgirl when Larry Julius, Olympus’s powerful Head of Publicity, discovers her at the soda fountain of Schwab’s Pharmacy in Starstruck’s very first chapter; Emilia was an unknown straight out of drama school when she landed Game of Thrones. Both also made their mark in role originally intended for more established actresses: Margo replaces the missing Diana Chesterfield in The Nine Days Queen. I seriously hope Emilia’s family is more supportive than Margo’s though—if the Frobishers disowned their daughter just for going to Hollywood, I’d hate to see what would happen if they got a load of her in those khaleesi outfits.
Oh Amanda. Fan favorite. Sultry siren with a checkered past, a heart of gold, and hair the color of a burning flame. There’s only one person I’ve ever really associated with her, and that’s everybody’s favorite new actress and imaginary best friend: Jennifer Lawrence. True, Amanda would be the first one to tell you she doesn’t have J-Law’s acting chops, and she’s certainly not expecting to win an Oscar any time soon. But they have the same down-to-earth approachability and tough girl sexiness, and as Jennifer has proved in films like Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games (Are you as much of a dork about The Hunger Games as I am? Because I’m a huge dork about it!) she certainly can internalize Amanda’s hardscrabble Depression-era upbringing better than pretty much anyone out there. Also, if that bananas gorgeous Christian Dior wedding cake of a dress (and I mean wedding cake in the best possible way) she wore to the Oscars is any indication, she also shares Amanda’s abiding and ruinous love for couture. With all the going from blonde to brunette to blonde again, is it too much to hope J. Law might try being a redhead?
Look, I wouldn’t have said this a year ago, or even a month ago, before I binged out watching Nashville on Hulu, but think about it: a brunette Hayden Panetitere. Big voice and big ambition? Check. Legendarily pushy stage mother? Check. Very very short? Well, check.
But then I thought, no, that’s not right. Much as I’ve grown to love Hayden over the years, she’s always going to look like that girl who was mean to you in high school and you’ll never quite forgive, and that’s not Gabby. Gabby is desperate for people to like her; she’s not someone who takes the adoration for others. So I thought: Lea Michele. Gorgeous voice, blazing determination, and obviously desperately insecure.
But again, no, that’s not our Gabby. Gabby is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, a girl who is desperately trying to transform herself into something the world has never seen before, to amass of legion of followers who hang on her every word, who only feels truly alive when she’s on stage. If Gabby Preston was a star today, she’d be Lady Gaga.
And the boys . . .
An adorable, lovable, mega-multi talent who has won America’s heart and knows he’d lose it in a second if he ever came clean about who he really was, imagine Jimmy Molloy as an in-the-closet Chris Colfer. How sad is that?
Image sources: Emilia Clarke by NI Executive; Jennifer Lawrence by Tom Sorensen; Lady Gaga by Image by Yne Van De Mergel; Ryan Gosling by Tom Sorenson, Chris Colfer by David Shankbone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt by gdcgraphics.