There aren't that many former Versace models that can say their acting careers really managed to take off, but after fifteen years in the business James Marsden is finally starting to gain notice. With his movie star good looks and cheeky smile, it is only surprising it took so long! In 2000, Marsden first got blockbuster attention in "X-Men" as Cyclops, but he also found favor with audiences for his side roles in "The Notebook," "Hairspray," and "Enchanted." Last year he got a leading role in the hit romantic comedy "27 Dresses," and starting last week he stars in the dramatic thriller "The Box" with Cameron Diaz. Here's a look at the best and worst movies from Marsden's spotted (and musical!) career.



"Hairspray" is the fourth highest grossing musical film, and it is based on a musical play that was based on another movie from 1988. While the original film was something of a cult classic, the musical became so popular that it was inevitable the film would find great success and attention from a mainstream audience. It is a charming film about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, race relations, fame, and some pretty excellent music! Marsden played the handsome star of The Corny Collins Show, a teen dance show in Baltimore, and the focus for much of the drama and plot of the movie. Corny is charming, intelligent, and a strong advocate for black rights during the transition period of the early 60s. He tries to get his white sponsors to stop segregating the program and to mix the black and white dancers together, but he is met with racist resistance. Marsden plays just the right cross between a smarmy TV host and a sincere, open minded man. Plus he sings. Swoon!

Everyone was surprised when "Enchanted" came out and became one of the most popular films of the year. A lot of viewers were skeptical that a Disney film mixing live action and some animation would appeal to anyone but children, but it managed to bring out the child in every one of its audience members. Amy Adams rocketed to stardom in the lead role, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards that year. Marsden played Prince Edward, the handsome Disney prince who wins main character Giselle's heart in the beginning of the film, only to lose her thanks to his evil step-mother. She is thrown into the real world of New York City, and Edward follows her, determined to save the girl and live happily ever after. Edward is a toothy, self-centered, goofy, and entirely adorable character. You know he is not really destined for Giselle, but you can't help but enjoy his over-the-top personality and chivalrous nature. Marsden flexed his comedic talents, and he was something of a scene stealer in the film. Plus did I mention he sings?

"27 Dresses" might not have gotten high reviews from the critics, but the mainstream audience definitely loved it. The movie made over $150 million dollars worldwide, and it was a highly successful romantic comedy of 2008. Katherine Heigl starred, and this saw James Marsden as being the lead male for once. For such a handsome and charismatic actor, he rarely plays the lead in movies, and even more often he plays the sweet nice guy who loses the girl to the main character ("Superman Returns," "The Notebook"). In this Marsden was the grumpy and sarcastic Kevin Doyle, a writer who was left at the altar years ago and left cynical about love afterward. He still holds a soft spot for romance considering he writes the wedding section of a newspaper, but he plans to write an article about Heigl's Jane, who is always a bridesmaid but never a bride. He ends up falling for her, of course, but she's already in love with her boss and hates Kevin's general snippy attitude. Marsden proved he had the chops to be a leading man, and hopefully this means he'll be getting more opportunities to win our hearts over. Oh and he did sort of sing in this one too. Sensing a pattern?

Everyone has a few duds in their background, and this might be one of Marsden's. It came out the year after his success in "X-Men," so really, what was he thinking? Oh right, he loves comedy. Anyway, "Sugar & Spice" is a teen comedy about a cheerleader (Marley Shelton) who gets pregnant and disowned by her parents. She and her boyfriend, who Marsters plays, have no money to provide for their coming child. The cheerleading squad decide to rob banks dressed in bodysuits, fake pregnant bellies, and creepy blonde masks. It's a silly and sometimes amusing film, but ultimately forgettable. Marsden played a vapid, clueless teenager who accepts the vast amount of money his wife brings him to be lottery money. Then they have four children, which probably is a bad thing for the human genetic pool.

It's expected to have a few bad or silly movies in your past, but Marsden did this raunchy comedy only last year. He's been in "X-Men" and "Superman Returns" and "The Notebook" at this point; he doesn't need these duds anymore. Who knows what was going through his head. Anyway it's about a high school graduate who decides to drive cross country to lose his virginity to a girl he's met on the internet. Marsden plays his homophobic, bad mouthed older brother who gets seriously angry when his brother steals his precious car to do the road trip. It's unoriginal and fairly silly, although you know what you're getting into when you watch these kinds of films. Fun, brainless raunchy comedy. It was a box office failure. We expect better choices from you, James.

Tell no one, but this box office disaster is actually a secret favorite film of mine. Ahem. That being said, it stars Lena Headey as Cathy, Marsden as Derrick Webb, and Norman Reedus as Travis. They are three best friends who live in a stunning condo thanks to Derrick's wealthy family. They decide to start a rumor for a class project that goes wildly out of hand, leading Naomi (Kate Hudson) to believe she was actually raped by her boyfriend Beau (Joshua Jackson). When criminal charges start to be pressed, secrets about Derrick and his relationship to Naomi come out and Cathy has to decide what to do: betray her best friend, or hide the truth? It's an odd film and was mostly overlooked by audiences and critics, which is why this goes under the 'failure' category. Still, it must be said that Marsden pulled out a great performance as a dark and arrogant college student out for revenge. Maybe if he sang, this would have been a more popular film.

Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer

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