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Whatever happened to Hollywood's hot young guys?

Whatever happened to Hollywood’s hot young guys? Like Chris Klein and Joshua Jackson and James Van Der Beek? Jessica Shaw rates the chances of the actors who were supposed to be the Next Big Thing

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Chris Klein
Chris Klein: Tammie Arroyo/AFF/Retna

Whatever happened to Hollywood’s hot young guys?

It happens a few times a year. A movie comes out with big name stars, but there’s some no-name actor who suddenly appears onscreen and steals the hell out of the scene. And so the buzz begins, with the hype machine turning this nobody into the Next Big Thing. Either the actor ends up like Brad Pitt and turns a bit part into A-list leading man status, or he ends up like the male version of Julia Ormond and turns promise into career suicide. A few years ago, there were a bunch of young guys who were dropped overnight on the fast track to fame. Needless to say, they didn’t all fare so well. Let’s take a look at their chances of a career past age 25.

CHRIS KLEIN
For a guy who was literally plucked out of his high school hallway to star in ”Election,” he hasn’t done that badly. (The ”American Pie” movies weren’t chicken liver.) Then again, when your first movie is brilliant, there’s only one way to go from there. Hello, ”Say It Isn’t So.” Last weekend’s ”Rollerball” isn’t exactly a tour-de-force for Klein either, but he may redeem himself in ”We Were Soldiers” later this spring.
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 68%

JOSHUA JACKSON
Morphing from TV series regular into movie star isn’t always the easiest transition (see James Van Der Beek, below), but this ”Dawson’s Creek” star has the right idea: playing non-Paceys. Sure, he had a misstep in ”Gossip,” but how clever did he look with his self-mocking turn in Steven Soderbergh’s ”Ocean’s Eleven”? If he continues to distance himself from TV land with this year’s ”Lone Star State of Mind” and ”The Laramie Project,” Jackson could be another Will Smith.
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 95%

JAMES VAN DER BEEK
Unlike Josh, this ”Dawson’s Creek” star had the exactly wrong idea. He somehow managed to find — and continues to find — the lamest projects coming out of Hollywood. He followed up his one hit, 1999’s ”Varsity Blues,” with a straight-to-video drug movie, ”Cash Crop.” His ”big” Western, ”Texas Rangers,” limped into theaters last December to savage reviews (EW’s Owen Gleiberman called it ”hunks on horsies”). Instead of working with a quality director or trying an indie, Van Der Beek will next appear opposite his former WB networkmate Jessica Biel in a collegiate romance, ”Rules of Attraction.” Spare us.
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 8%

JASON BIGGS
He couldn’t have asked for a more memorable role than the pastry-lovin’ part he got in ”American Pie.” And he couldn’t have chosen less memorable parts to follow it up with. ”Boys and Girls”? ”Saving Silverman”? ”Loser”? Exactly. Unfortunately for him, the losing streak may continue with the bad-word-of-mouth-inflicted ”Prozac Nation.” There may be a lifeline, though. Biggs is on board to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s ”Kill Bill.” If anyone can save Jason, it’s Quentin.
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 41%

JASON SCHWARTZMAN
It’s almost impossible to imagine the movie ”Rushmore” without Schwartzman as the ever-innovative Max Fischer. And yet, now that we’ve seen him act in other projects, you wonder if he was meant to play that role and no other. ”Slackers” was an insult to our collective intelligence; now he’s scheduled to appear in a biopic about a speed addict to be directed by video auteur Jonas Akerlund. Schwartzman has said he’d like to work with ”Rushmore” director Wes Anderson again. We’d like to see that too. In fact, we’d only like to see that.
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 53%

ASHTON KUTCHER
What can you say? The guy from ”That ’70s Show” could not be more likable. Those eyes, those lips, that goofball sense of humor. You could begrudge him the success of the moronic ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” But why bother when he’s so endearingly silly? Plus, he’s going to star opposite the always-excellent Brittany Murphy in ”Just Married,” about young newlyweds and their disaster honeymoon. Aw, isn’t he just so cute?
CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 89%

How do you rate these guys?