In the 2000s, new technologies transformed the experiences of movie-going and movie-making, giving us the first generation of stars to be just as famous on the computer screen as on the silver screen.
Shining in Shadows examines a wide range of Hollywood icons from a turbulent decade for the film industry and for America itself. Perhaps reflecting our own cultural fragmentation and uncertainty, Hollywood’s star personas sent mixed messages about Americans’ identities and ideals. Disheveled men-children like Will Ferrell and Jack Black shared the multiplex with debonair old-Hollywood standbys like George Clooney and Morgan Freeman. Iconic roles for women ranged from Renee Zellweger’s dithering romantics to Tina Fey’s neurotic professionals to Hilary Swank’s vulnerable boyish characters. And in this age of reality TV and TMZ, stars like Jennifer Aniston and “Brangelina” became more famous for their real-life romantic dramas—at the same time that former tabloid fixtures like Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. reinvented themselves as dependable leading men. With a multigenerational, international cast of stars, this collection presents a fascinating composite portrait of Hollywood stardom today.