Hollywood is full of people for whom being pretty is a profession, but it’s the full- throttle-funny pretty people who deserve more airtime. As demonstrated by Marilyn Monroe, Goldie Hawn and their heir Anna Faris, pulling off the dizzy blonde act with panache is an art. Pulling off the dizzy blonde act with panache while poking fun at the idea that the beautiful inherit the earth? Self-referential gold.
In The Smart One, an upcoming sitcom produced by Ellen DeGeneres, the Stockholm-born, Toronto-raised actor Malin Akerman stars as a former beauty queen turned big-city mayor. Meanwhile, her more intelligent but less attractive sister – played by Arrested Development‘s Portia de Rossi (only in Hollywood) – is forced to endure the ignominy of joining her sib’s staff.
Akerman, who began her career as a model, has put a lot of effort into turning her physical appeal on its head. “I grew up in a very sarcastic family,” she says. “I have never defined myself by my looks.” A classic deflection, yet Akerman seems to mean it: She shaved off her eyebrows for the dramedy Happythankyoumoreplease and spent the majority of the Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid sporting a fake third-degree sunburn.
With The Smart One and 12 film releases in 2012 and 2013, Akerman is on the verge of breaking into territory held by Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Wiig, gorgeous headliners who revel in the ridiculous. She’s angling for household-name status with this month’s Rock of Ages, based on the wildly successful Broadway show about big dreams and big hair on the Sunset Strip.
A deceptively lightweight 1980s jukebox musical, Rock of Ages has a lot riding on it. The film’s lead, newcomer Diego Boneta, is positioned to catapult from tween heartthrob to A-list actor. Tom Cruise, whose profile recently received a much- needed boost with the success of Mission: Impossible 4, now wants to remind critics and fans that he still has a sense of humour. And Akerman, who plays a Rolling Stone journalist who belts out Foreigner and beds Cruise’s jaded rocker, just needs one unforgettable blockbuster on her resumé. It’s hard not to hope that Akerman, beautiful though she may be, gets everything she wants.
Malin Akerman Fast Facts:
Home Base: Los Angeles
Breakout Role: Lila, a bundle of neuroses whose crazy comes shining through on her Mexican honeymoon, in the 2007 Farrelly Brothers comedy The Heartbreak Kid.
Hidden Gem: In 2010, Akerman went high drama as The Bang Bang Club‘s Robin Comley, the real-life photo editor who published pictures of the violence in South Africa at the end of the apartheid era.
Recent Highlight: Commune-dwelling free-love devotee Eva in January’s Wanderlust, opposite Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux.
Upcoming Gig: 1970s porn star Linda Lovelace in the buzzy biopic Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story.
(Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment)