Siren call wins Kate another risque role
BY WHAT metric does one determine whether a model is "super"? If it is name recognition, Forbes list ranking, magazines covered, campaigns fronted or some algorithm of them all, Kate Upton probably qualifies.
Last year, she was named model of the year and appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the second straight year. This year, she was demoted to the inside cover, pictured wearing a bikini in zero gravity.
In The Other Woman, Upton appears alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. It is Upton's third and by far most substantial screen credit. When she debuted in the surprisingly pleasant Tower Heist, she played a mistress in what was by definition no more than a cameo.
In her second picture, the Farrelly brothers' The Three Stooges, she played a swimsuit-wearing nun - the less said, the better.
In the new film, Upton, now 21, again plays a mistress, though this time, she is merely one of several for a serial philanderer played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
When the characters played by Mann (the wife) and Diaz (another mistress) discover they are being three-timed, they recruit the charming but scatterbrained Upton in a plot to take down the transgressor.
In a way, Upton's casting is part of the joke of the movie - that smarmy men will always smarm their way towards younger and more beautiful women.
There are the famous, symbolic cameos: Christie Brinkley in National Lampoon's Vacation; Claudia Schiffer in Love, Actually; and Victoria's Secret angel Alessandra Ambrosio as Tennis Girl, checking out James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Casino Royale.
However, fully fledged starring roles for top models are fewer and farther between.
In 1995, Cindy Crawford played the lead in the lamentable thriller Fair Game. Similarly, Estella Warren travelled with Mark Wahlberg to Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes in 2001 and seemingly never returned.
Still, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley preened and pouted for Michael Bay's leery lens in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and hardly suffered for it - she has a starring role in the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road.
Meanwhile, Shalom Harlow (Vanilla Sky, Melinda and Melinda) and Saffron Burrows (The Bank Job, Shrink) are putting together varied bodies of work after sterling careers as top models.
In The Other Woman, Upton's character is an extension of her public persona - it capitalises on an existing perception that she is the kind of buxom and brainless woman whom guys like (or, really, whom women think guys like) - more than a role model whom other women envy and want to emulate. She is the "ugh"-inducing ideal for whom Diaz and Mann's man will leave them - injustice incarnate.
Even so, her addition to the movie is easy math for a casting director, in the same way that the casting of rapper Nicki Minaj as Diaz's friend and conscience brings with it a built-in fan base.
Upton's appearance is very nearly product placement, with the product being a branded personality who might secure ticket sales.
In these days of celebrity endorsements and brand ambassadors, it is nearly impossible to tell an actress from a model from a "personality".
Indeed, actresses seem to be grabbing all the coveted modelling jobs these days: Oscar winners Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard have all been the face of Dior, and Lupita Nyong'o just signed on for Lancome.
Why shouldn't the models try to gain ground on the actresses' turf?