I've noticed something curious about the television ads for the romantic comedy New in Town. They don't seem to think anyone will care that Harry Connick Jr. is in this movie. Voiceover Guy fails to bring Harry's presence in the film to our attention. And it doesn't help that for the few seconds he appears on screen in the trailer, he's wearing a face-obstructing hat. Apparently, whoever is doing the marketing for New in Town seems to think of poor Harry as the fat kid that gets hidden in the back of the class picture instead of the handsome, charismatic leading man he is, or at least should be by now.
No one can deny that Harry's got movie-star good looks and oodles of southern charm. His impressive musical accomplishments have made him a household name, but strangely, he doesn't have all that much to be proud of on his acting resume.
Here are my theories on why Harry Connick Jr. never became the movie star he should have:
1. He was born in the wrong era.
If Harry had only been born a few decades earlier, it would've been easier for him to find roles that catered to his musical talents. He's clearly most comfortable standing in front of a microphone or sitting behind a piano, and would be a natural fit to star in the types of swinging musicals they just don't make anymore. But unfortunately, Harry lives in an era where the musical isn't taken seriously as a movie genre. Sure, every now and then we get the inevitable movie version of the latest Broadway hit, but the producers of these movies would rather cast big stars with so-so voices (see: Mamma Mia!) than talented musical actors who may not have as much clout at the box office. Harry's the type of star that could help restore the genre to glory, if someone would just cast him in one. For example, I know I'd feel a lot better about the Best Picture Oscar that went to Chicago in 2002 if Harry had been given the role of Billy Flynn over Richard Gere.
2. He gets by too much on charm.
Harry's acting career can be summed up in three words: eternal love interest. Whether he's the rebound guy (P.S. I Love You), the one who got away (Hope Floats), or the dashing stranger who rides into town on a white horse (Will & Grace), Harry's roles have required him to do little more than to stand around and look handsome while he waits for some A-list actress to fall in love with him. Why not change it up a little? I'd love to see him play a silky-voiced villain or a conflicted antihero.
3. Maybe he's just not that into it.
Harry is a musician, actor, humanitarian, and a father of three young children. Since Hurricane Katrina, he's also been very much involved in efforts to help rebuild his home city of New Orleans. With so many talents and passions to pursue, maybe being a big movie star isn't all that high on his priority list. Maybe he enjoys acting in films, but not enough to aggressively pursue the kinds of roles that would make more people start paying attention to his acting career. It's great for him that he's got so much on his plate that he doesn't need to attain true movie stardom. But it's a shame for his fans, who probably feel like they're stuck sitting by the phone all the time, waiting for him to call and say he's finally going to take on that perfect movie role, and show us all what he can really do.