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EMILE HIRSCH: Young Upstart
by Nancy Simon

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A Photogenic albeit Media Shy Hirsch

A Photogenic albeit Media Shy Hirsch
Well, one cannot exactly call 21-year-old Emile Hirsch an upstart for over the past ten years he has amassed a most successful portfolio of acting roles.

And true to his career trek to date, the honest-faced brunette Hirsch may play the lead but other actors seem to attract more attention.

Take for instance, the impending release of ALPHA DOG, in trailers and publicity junkets, the film's writer\ director, Nick Cassavetes and, in terms of fame and notoriety, many of the co-stars, e.g., Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone tend to overshadow Hirsch. However, it is Hirsch's conviction and likeability that ultimately manage to draw in viewers.

Within ALPHA DOG, Hirsch plays Johnny Truelove, a young drug dealer who becomes one of the youngest men on the FBI's most wanted list. Loosely based on the real-life Jesse James Hollywood and true events, the film depicts incident leading up to and throughout a kidnapping.

According to Hirsch, "ALPHA DOG is a really wild story. It's something that I think that people should see and especially kids. It's like a definite wake up call. Don't be passive. Don't be a follower because if you follow the alpha dog and you don't go in a good direction look at what can happen....People should be their boss."

Born and raised in Topanga Canyon, California, and presently living in Venice Beach, through his many memorable roles, Hirsh has exhibited many of the stereotypical 'California' traits. He played a rebellious youth in THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS (2002), an idealistic student in THE EMPEROR'S CLUB (2002), the son of the free-spirited, marijuana smoking Sigourney Weaver in IMAGINERY HEROES (2004), the guy with a crush on the knock-out blonde in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2004) and learned how to skateboard for the popular teen flick, LORDS OF DOGTOWN (2005).

Hirsch began his acting career at the age of ten. It was not long after that he appeared in an episode of the series Kindred; The Embraced which he immediately followed up with a roster of guest appearances in such television shows as: "Two of a Kind," "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and "Third
Timberlake and Hirsch in a scene from ALPHA DOG

Timberlake and Hirsch in a scene from ALPHA DOG
Rock from the Sun."

In April of 2004, Hirsch relayed in Interview Magazine that his passion for acting did not come right away.

"I started acting when I was 10, but I never had a total fascination with it. It was just kind of a fun thing I did. When I was 14, I saw A Streetcar Named Desire [1951] with Marion Brando and Vivien Leigh and it was like a slap in the face; a real wake-up call," stated Hirsch.

After the comedic episodic television shows, Hirsch began to move into dramatic work appearing on the small screen in "NYPD Blue" and "ER." This more serious work set forth a chain of events that led to Hirsch's being known within independent film-making circles as the teenage drama king.

Perhaps it is because of Hirsch's work ethic whereby he says, "What's important to me is the performance," that has allowed him to be taken so seriously as a young actor in Hollywood.

Even seasoned actors get uptight when doing scene. And Hirsch, when asked if he is confident all of the time responds by saying, "No. Well, it depends. Sometimes I'm totally sure of myself, and other times I think I don't know anything. Confidence can be very elusive at times."

Yet, whatever he is doing seems to be working extremely well. For after ALPHA DOG, Hirsch has two more projects in the pipeline—THE AIR I BREATHE (2007), based on a Japanese proverb that intertwines the four elements: happiness, sorrow, pleasure and love; and INTO THE WILD, which directed by none other than Sean Penn, pits Hirsch opposite Vince Vaughn as an another young idealist who abandons the modern conveniences of civilization for a'roughin' it' existence in the Alaskan wilderness

By maintaining a low-profile in the media, Hirsch has found a way to not only safeguard his privacy but also hone his acting abilities without having to constantly content with being thrust into the limelight.

While not an overnight success, the term 'upstart' does, however, apply to Hirsch in the sense there certainly seems to be no downside to Hirsch's impressive career.


Emile Hirsch on MatchFlick


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Every other Friday

A capsulized profile on an emerging talent, i.e., actor/director in the film world and a snippet as to why he or she is destined to soon become a household name.


Other Columns
Other columns by Nancy Simon:

SIENNA MILLER:B-day Girl\ Factory Girl

DJIMON HOUNSOU: A Diamond in the Rough

ABBIE CORNISH: Who's That Girl?

DARREN ARONOFSKY: Daring to go further

SOFIA COPPOLA: Stylish Filmmaker

All Columns


Nancy Simon
A Chicago-based freelance writer and film enthusiast, Nancy has an insatiable curiousity and knack for picking out talented, promising individuals.


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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Nancy Simon by clicking here.


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