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Just Wondering: Can Sasha Grey make it as a mainstream actress?

Wonderwall, Thursday, November 4, 2010, 2:54pm (PDT)
  • Back in 2009, a wise adult film star named Jenna Jameson told the "Oprah Winfrey Show," “Once a porn star, always a porn star.” It certainly seems to be true, since very few adult film actresses have made the flying leap from X-rated to mainstream films.

    Traci Lords may have been the most successful crossover star so far, but her prolific mainstream film career consists mostly of toned-down versions of her overtly sexual persona ("Cry-Baby," "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"). Casting Lords is more tongue-in-cheek than seriously dramatic. While she manages to land a large number of smaller roles, she's still "Traci Lords, adult film star."

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    But something is different about porn actress Sasha Grey. The 22-year-old is showing promise that she may be able to move on out of the San Fernando Valley and permanently take up residence in the Hollywood Hills.

    In the four years since she left her hometown outside of Sacramento for Los Angeles, Grey has already appeared as a recurring character in HBO's “Entourage” and as the star in Steven Soderbergh's “The Girlfriend Experience.” She's currently working on a few other mainstream films, including “I Melt With You” and “Skinny Dip,” opposite Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez. In between her jaunts on the big and small screens, Grey goes right back to the adult section.ction.

    “I enjoy the challenge of trying to do both at the same time. I think the climate is right,” Grey said in an interview with NewsBlaze.com. “My fans respect me. I have fans who don't even watch porn. So I think I've been able to kind of humanize myself.”

    It's this humanization and likability that is key to Grey's crossover success. She's a pretty girl from a decent family who doesn't come with the stigma associated with a sexually abusive past. She's a woman confident in herself, her sexuality and, above all, she's intelligent. Her name is inspired by Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM and Oscar Wilde's novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey." (Not overwhelmingly deep, but at least it's more conceptual than Misty Mountains.)

    We agree with FishBowlLA writer Pandora Young, who writes that the only thing Grey needs to do is hone her acting chops. For her performance in her first mainstream film, “The Girlfriend Experience,” Grey absorbed negative criticism from the well-respected Roger Ebert, who said she “was so wrapped in egotism that she forgot to give a performance." If Grey can prove to the masses that she's more than just a pretty albeit edgy face, she has a shot of having a successful and groundbreaking crossover career.

    RELATED: Porn star Sasha Grey stars in Soderbergh film

    And like Young points out, even if she is initially wedged into roles as a stripper, escort or prostitute, it's only a matter of time before someone in Hollywood takes a chance on her in a more serious role. We have to remember that she's still very young, she's still actively pursuing doing porn and she likely has a long career ahead of her (one way or another).

    Movieline offers an interesting hypothesis that Grey could possibly help shake off the negative connotation of the NC-17 rating. A film like "Skinny Dip" with a built-in fan base (thanks to Trejo and Rodriguez) and a hot porn star in a lead role has the potential to create a media frenzy. And as Movieline states, this overhyped, moneymaking scenario could be too attractive to movie theaters who might otherwise turn their noses up at a film with such a risqué rating.

    Of course, this is all speculation. We don't know much about "Skinny Dip" or "I Melt With You" yet, or what roles Grey will take in the future, but for the first time in a long time, an adult star's career is being covered in film industry trades and mainstream magazines. As Grey told New York Magazine, "I've got to diversify myself. Do I want to be 35, having sex on camera? No. I want ... my own successful company."

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