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Former soap opera star Josh Duhamel (All My Children) has been popping up in movies since 2004, when he played the titular heartthrob in the mediocre rom-com Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. With his blandly handsome good looks, he's become a recurring performer in the genre, appearing in the celeb-stuffed Romantics, the Kristen Bell vehicle When in Rome, the Katherine Heigl dreck Life as We Know It, and the celeb-overstuffed New Year's Eve. But it looks like Duhamel is working hard to make 2013 a turning point away from rom-com shenanigans.
Deadline reports Duhamel will follow up the success that was the Nicholas Sparks romantic-drama Safe Haven with an indie drama from first-time director, Daniel Duran. Titled simply Strings, the drama penned by Oscar Torres stars Duhamel as Alex, an Army veteran who has become a counselor in small town. Lucas Till (Alex Summers in X-Men: First Class) plays one of his patients, Josh. The two build camaraderie until the latter makes an alarming discovery. Maria Bello, practically a high priestess of independent cinema, will co-star, as will Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do!) Production begins June 9th in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
While critics predictably sneered at Safe Haven, the $28 million romance fared well at the box office, drawing in more than $71 million. It's worth noting a similar pic helped kick off Channing Tatum's star-making year, early in 2012. (Technically, Duhamel's first film of 2013 was Movie 43, but I'm betting he's hoping we didn't notice.) Next up, the leading man known for his looks offers a real shake-up with Scenic Route, where he strips away his dashing exterior and chunks of his hair to front the gritty thriller. Finally, expected to hit before year's end is You're Not You, a tearjerker about female friendship and terminal illness.
Add to this slate Strings, and it seems clear Duhamel is looking to stretch. While it's highly unlikely this will be his year the way 2012 was Tatum's, it's good to see him making bolder choices than predictable romances.