What the Hell Happened to Sean Young?
In the 80’s, Sean Young was a rising star. She co-starred with Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, Kevin Costner and James Woods. She worked with directors Ridley Scott, David Lynch and Oliver Stone. She was cast in the star-making role of Vicki Vale in the 1989 Batman. And then, she became a cautionary tale of career implosion.
What the hell happened?
After debuting in the Merchant-Ivory film, Jane Austen in Manhattan, Young appeared in the 1981 comedy classic, Stripes:
Young was cast based on her look. Director Ivan Reitman liked what he called Young’s “sweetness” which he thought would go well with Harold Ramis on-screen. It was a small part, but Young made the most of her screen time as the future Egon Spangler’s girlfriend.
Stripes got mostly positive reviews and was a hit at the box office.
The next year, Young appeared in two films. The first was the forgettable Garry Marshall spoof, Young Doctors in Love. The movie had a talented cast and attempted to do for daytime soaps what Airplane! did for disaster movies. But alas, it just wasn’t very good.
As you can see from the clip, it comes close to getting a laugh. But the timing is off. Whereas Airplane! fired off gags at a machine-gun pace, YDiL just limps from yuk to yuk. And that’s probably more than anyone has written about Young Doctors in Love in at least a decade.
The other movie Sean Young made in 1982 was Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
Blade Runner was a visionary sci fi film that wasn’t appreciated when it was released in 1982. But today, it has gained mainstream acceptance from critics and audiences alike. It has influenced countless films with its dystopian view of a future where it never seems to stop raining.
Young played Rachel, a replicant (robot) who doesn’t know she’s not human. She’s obviously beautiful, but Young also manages to be vulnerable and mysterious.
Although Blade Runner was not a hit in 1982, it will probably be the part Sean Young is most remembered for.
Young’s next film was another sci-fi fantasy that would take on a cult status. Unfortunately, 1984’s Dune did not grow in popularity over time. Even its visionary director, David Lynch, would come to view it as a missed opportunity.
Dune had a long and troubled past even before Lynch came onboard. Before Lynch was hired, Ridley Scott took a crack at adapting Dune for the big screen. He planned to divide the story into two movies, but ultimately left the project to make Blade Runner instead.
After the success of The Elephant Man, Lynch was being courted by studios for several different projects. Among them were The Return of the Jedi and the long-gestating adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, Dune. Lynch felt that Lucas would be watching over him too much on Jedi, so he opted for Dune instead.
Lynch’s final version of the film was deemed too long by the studio. They hacked it down to just over a two-hour running time. But the shortened film didn’t make a lot of sense.
Given Lynch’s track record, I’m not sure the original cut would have been any more coherent, but I would love to have seen it!
Posted on May 21, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged blade runner, david lynch, Dune, entertainment, Harrison Ford, kevin costner, movies, ridley scott, sean young, Young. Bookmark the permalink. 168 Comments.