ONE RISKY CAREER move that never gets talked about much is smiling. We hear a lot about the pros and cons of doing a nude scene or appearing in a no-budget independent film playing a less-than-sympathetic character, but it is openmouthed evidence of joie de vivre — a genuine gosh-it’s-great-to-be-alive grin — that can scratch the image of a ”serious” actor, sultry sex symbol, or studly action hero. Some stars know better than to try, some give in to temptation, and some get away with it, which is known as stretching.
SHOULDN’T GRIN AND DOESN’T
Sharon Stone Casino proves again that audiences prefer their Stone diamond-hard.
Robert De Niro Even when he’s falling in love in Heat, only his eyes smile.
Laurence Fishburne Riveting as Othello’s tortured Moor, he knows to bare his soul, never his molars.
SHOULDN’T GRIN BUT DOES
Ray Liotta That hyped-up, compromised GoodFellas smile haunted him even in Operation Dumbo Drop.
Sylvester Stallone Sly has a flair for the sly, but when the fighter’s lips uncurl, as in Oscar, viewers’ cheek muscles slacken.
Gary Oldman When the man’s sweet, he looks confused. Joy worked best for him in Bram Stoker’s Dracula — as an 800-year-old.
GRINNING’S WORTH THE RISK
Clint Eastwood It was a higher form of squinting that he employed in The Bridges of Madison County, and that’s why it worked.
Angela Bassett With a 1,000-watt smile, you’ve got to use discretion, or wait to exhale.
Sean Penn He gave up Fast Times at Ridgemont High for heavier work, but a reserve of Spicoli sunshine remains.