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Why isn’t Sofia Vergara a bigger movie star?

I always wonder about this kind of stuff. Sofia Vergara is everywhere right now — she’s by far the top-earning actress on television (she was actually the top-earning person on TV last year, ahead of Ashton Kutcher), she’s got the advertising world around her finger (and only somewhat because she’s bilingual), and she’s on one of the 15-or-so highest-rated shows on TV. You would think that she’d be a prime candidate to flip over to more starring film roles — in that Ad Age article, there’s a note about how the Hispanic market could represent $1.3 trillion in entertainment advertising across the next 10-15 years, for example. George Clooney was a beautiful person and made the jump from TV to films. Tom Hanks is less beautiful (more affable) and did the same. Katherine Heigl’s career has flatlined a bit, but she made the transition successfully in parts (comparing her and Vergara is essentially like apples and oranges, but it was a recent example). Jennifer Lopez, who many would contextually associate with Vergara, was on TV (theoretically) as a Fly Girl and now has an empire and endorsements only slightly behind the Modern Family star.

Vergara has Chef (a Jon Favreau movie) and Heat (a Jason Statham movie) coming up; her character’s name in the latter is “D.D.” (think DD), which leads me to believe it could be a throw-away sexpot role, which is what she seemed to be cast in for Machete Kills (I didn’t actually see that movie). Otherwise she’s been in The Smurfs and New Year’s Eve, best I can recall. Could she top-line a rom-com? She’s on a sitcom and she’s attractive and gets a lot of attention from brands; the idea of her “playing in Peoria” seems to be less of a concern these days. I’d rather watch her stomp around for 82 minutes than Rachel McAdams or Elizabeth Banks, if I had my personal druthers; I assume other men would probably say the same — and one concern on the rom-com front has always been getting men in the door.

There is a current belief that television, not movies, is the best place for women in Hollywood these days:

“Because you’re allowed,” she says. “You’re allowed to make things for women on television and there’s not like … you don’t have to go through the humiliation of having made something directed at women. There it’s just accepted, whereas if it’s a feature, it’s like ‘So, talk to me about chick flicks.’”

That seemingly contradicts my previous idea, but I still wonder — is the issue that when Vergara is approached about doing films, all the slack-jawed dudes in LA want to sexualize her in a PG-13/R way as opposed to giving her some legit material? Or is it the old “TV is TV, movies are movies” stigma? (Johnny Depp did a little thing called 21 Jump Street back when, and Leo did a little thing called Growing Pains.) Maybe it’s all a gender double standard. Maybe she doesn’t hop into movies because of her fiancee’s impending political future. Or maybe she just likes to work a full year on Modern Family and then head to Greece, France, Mexico and South America with her time off. Whatever it is, though, I hope some young scribe out there has an idea for a rom-com (or even ensemble comedy) with a wise-cracking hot Latina. Seeing what numbers a Vergara-driven movie could post on ‘the big screen’ would be interesting.

Ted Bauer

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