Chances are you've come across James Marsden's dimples on the big screen and been charmed by the man behind them. There's a boyish quality to Marsden, but there's also strong leading man potential, which Marsden is finally beginning to enjoy.
After playing a string of good boys who can't quite hold onto the girl in films such as X-Men, Superman Returns and The Notebook, Marsden joked to Entertainment Weekly that his action figure line would be called, "'The Other Guy Series'-the guy-that-doesn't-get-the-girl action figures."
Marsden isn't destined to be "The Other Guy" much longer. His first romantic leading man role opposite Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses is out in theaters right now, and the future seems bright for the rising star.
The last year was good to Marsden, who is a man of many talents. He got to show off his singing abilities in Hairspray and Enchanted, which features his deadpan rendition of "That's Amore," pretty much summing up Marsden's daft, but likable and funny Prince Edward. Marsden, who also sang during his stint on Ally McBeal and for the movie Gossip, even gives a bar-pleasing version of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" in "27 Dresses" that literally brings him and Heigl to the top of the bar.
Marsden's hard-earned, recent film successes have been long in the making. The Oklahoma native's career began with a chance meeting in Hawaii, where Marsden was vacationing at the same hotel as Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron and his sister Candace Cameron Bure of Full House. The encounter led Marsden to begin exploring the acting game.
"Kirk made me realize that acting was something I might be good at," Marsden told Hollywood Life in 2003. "I went back to my high school and started doing some plays, and I liked it."
After a year and a half at college, Marsden quit and went to Hollywood in search of that elusive dream, the same one that had brought so many before him. He lost out on the role that eventually went to Edward Norton in Primal Fear and turned down Ryan Phillippe's part in 54.
But Marsden, a former Versace model, got small breaks on TV in the made-for-television movie Bella Mafia and ABC's short-lived "Second Noah" about a family with a lot of adopted children and animals. The anti-7th Heaven, Marsden's "Second Noah" character, one of the adopted children, also fathered the youngest adopted child at 14.
Next came roles opposite then hugely popular Dawson's Creek stars. Marsden starred alongside Katie Holmes in Disturbing Behavior and Joshua Jackson in "Gossip." Neither film was a financial or critical success, but the underrated, black comedy Sugar & Spice would be a precursor of things to come. In the film Marsden got to show off his comedic chops as the all-American football star, Jack Bartlett, who gets his cheerleader girlfriend pregnant.
Roles in big Hollywood films such as "The Notebook" (having to choose between him and Ryan Gosling, we sympathized with Rachel McAdams) and "X-Men" soon followed, as well as a daring, sexually confused turn in Heights from Merchant Ivory Productions.
Now married with two children, Marsden is enjoying the recognition he deserves out of the spotlight while being name-checked on Ugly Betty and continuing to jump between genres with the thriller The Box, directed by Donnie Darko helmer Richard Kelly, forthcoming.