Actor Spotlight: Jay Baruchel

3/23/2010 Posted by Admin

Actor Spotlight

Jay Baruchel

By our guest blogger, Spencer Morton

Jay Baruchel should be imprisoned for how often he steals scenes in his movies. The man is a lanky, awkward, pile of hilarity. While Baruchel is relatively new to the acting world, his impact is being felt.

In the early 2000s, Baruchel had bit parts in the highly touted “Almost Famous” and the romantic comedy “Rules of Attraction.” From 2001-2003, Baruchel starred in the underappreciated Judd Apatow television series, “Undeclared.” Since Apatow’s rise to stardom in the film world, “Undeclared” has garnered a bit of recognition. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that Baruchel earned the ‘scene-stealer’ title.

He played the enthusiastic yet unskilled boxer, Danger Barch, in the Best Picture winner “Million Dollar Baby.” His role was small, funny, and extremely powerful. The praise for his acting was universal, but it didn’t translate to any major gigs in the following years. 2005 and ’06 saw Baruchel star in a few movies that slipped through theaters quietly and an unwatched television series, “Just Legal.”

Baruchel teamed up again with Apatow in 2007 for the hit comedy “Knocked Up.” Baruchel outshined his bigger named cast members with his goofiness and randomness. His daring move to enter the hospital room while Katherine Heigl’s character is giving birth is disturbingly hilarious.

Speaking of upstaging big names…

It’s hard to best the absurdity of Jack Black, the slapstick humor of Ben Stiller, or the subtle comic genius of Robert Downey Jr. Baruchel managed to do just that, all in one film. His turn as Kevin Sandusky in “Tropic Thunder” showed Baruchel could hold his own among some huge names. He put smiles on faces of viewers everywhere with his innocence, naivety and unintentional humor.

“She’s Out of My League,” released two weeks ago, showed audiences what Baruchel would look like as a comedic leading man. It’s a promising proposition. Baruchel overcomes a clich├ęd script and familiar story and makes the film work with his loveable performance. He’s certainly got the awkward guy role down pat. He does it better than Michael Cera and Jonah Hill combined. The question is whether he ever will be more than that?

Change could be afoot in the future for Baruchel. In “How to Train Your Dragon,” he is the voice of Hiccup, a curious young Viking who thinks before he acts. That animated 3D spectacle will be released on Friday (3/26). He also is set to star opposite Nicholas Cage in Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” He plays, as you may guess, the apprentice to a sorcerer who is out to save the world from evil.

Thus far, the main gripe with Baruchel, as slightly touched on before, is his one-note characters. It’s been a short career and he’s absolutely dominated the screen time he’s been given. So, will he ever be more than just an actor who plays awkward guys? Does it matter? Enjoy it while it lasts. Young actors of Baruchel’s caliber don’t come around too often.

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