Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Whatever Happened to …? – Vol. 2: Kip Pardue

In the early 2000s, after the smash success of Remember the Titans, I really expected Kip Pardue to break out and hit it big in Hollywood. His portrayal of laid-back surfer/golden boy Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass was incredibly charming, and Pardue oozed charisma in the role. Before becoming an actor, Pardue attended Yale University, where he played football. He was also a model, doing professional work for Armani, Polo, and Abercrombie & Fitch. His acting career began with a supporting role in the lesbian-themed comedy But I’m a Cheerleader (which I had seen only after Remember the Titans) as a gay teen, and he was good in that role as well.

Pardue's role in Remember the Titans brought him significant attention.

Pardue’s role in Remember the Titans brought him significant attention.

Film roles began to pick up almost immediately for Pardue, and in late spring 2001, he starred in what should have been his first real step to stardom, opposite Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds in the would-be blockbuster Driven. Unfortunately, despite positive notices for Pardue, the film received an overwhelmingly negative response and subsequently tanked, becoming one of the biggest busts of the year.  Due largely to the film’s well-publicized failure, Pardue’s once promising career seemed dead in the water before it even had a chance to take off.

Driven was expected to be a big hit, but notably flopped in 2001.

Driven was expected to be a big hit, but notably flopped in 2001.

Even after Driven bombed, Pardue continued to get film work, notably including a small role in 2002’s controversial dark comedy The Rules of Attraction. Pardue memorably played Victor, a globe-trotting, hedonistic college student who wins the affection of Shannyn Sossamon’s innocent, virginal Lauren. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the film didn’t translate into high box office numbers, and Rules of Attraction flopped as well. Pardue’s role in the film, however, is an absolute highlight, especially the following montage:

After Rules of Attraction, Pardue had a role in 2003’s Catherine Hardwicke-directed Thirteen, which gained both controversy and critical attention, but again failed to propel his career. After a few direct-to-video productions, Pardue then starred in 2005’s Undiscovered, opposite singer Ashlee Simpson. Undiscovered is notable in that it is the film with the largest second week drop off in ticket sales, at slightly over 86%. Ultimately, Undiscovered grossed just over one million dollars against a budget of nine million, making it yet another flop for Pardue. It was also his last theatrically-released film to date (what an ignominious end to a once-promising film career).

From 2005 to 2011, Pardue starred in a string of low-budget horror and comedy films, including the direct-to-video sequel Hostel: Part III. He worked on a low-budget comedy film with ex-SNL star Chris Parnell in 2010, and also did guest turns on both ER (where he had a recurring role in 2006-7) and House, M.D. But nothing he worked on was really substantial enough to cast in bigger projects. Then, in the spring of 2013, Pardue showed up on a sixth season episode of critically acclaimed AMC drama Mad Men, seemingly out of nowhere. Though his appearance was only one episode, it was nonetheless good to know he was at least getting some quality acting work.

Pardue, pictured right, acquitted himself quite well on AMC's Mad Men.

Pardue, pictured right, acquitted himself quite well on AMC’s Mad Men.

I always thought it was a shame that Kip Pardue never broke out into the mainstream. Even now I think sometimes about how he lit up the screen way back when in Remember the Titans. He tried to work his way up to the A-list by starring in a failed summer blockbuster alongside Stallone, and who could really blame him for that? Pardue seemed unafraid to take on more controversial film roles, especially so in the case of The Rules of Attraction and Thirteen. Though it has been nearly ten years since he starred in a theatrically-released film, I hope Kip Pardue gets more high profile work, and I hope his guest spot on Mad Men leads to something more permanent for him.



4 responses to “Whatever Happened to …? – Vol. 2: Kip Pardue

  1. Anon July 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I had once read that he was disappointed with Driven and decided not to do another big budget picture again (don’t quote me on that though0. He did some interesting smaller films after that like you had mentioned: Rules of Attraction, Thirteen, and Loggerheads – perhaps his greatest performance. But since Loggerheads, he’s been in mostly schlocky horror films and romantic comedies. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself in those types of films though. I think he was in a recent film that did ok called Phantoms and it got released theatrically.

  2. Victoria December 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Like anything else, Acting is hit or miss. Many actors fade then make a comeback but then again some don’t. Heath Ledger was gone in a lot of unpopular roles but he didn’t want to be the American Heartthrob either so he faded after 10 things n the Patriot. Later, He got a small role of which he was seen for his acting abilities for Monster Ball, which was originally given to n Wes Bentley n then he passed it over to HL. From that small role he got The Smash Hit Brokeback Mountain, then Candy, then came back with being the Joker of all roles. Which everyone loved but he didn’t live to see the outcome of it…he wouldn’t have liked all that attention anyway. So really it’s like any other job…it’s timing, taking on the right role, n who is watching n interested in taking u on for their upcoming role? It may happen for him one day.

  3. Bea August 5, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I love him as an actor, he is a great piece for film.. I wished he would fo more movies, i love looking at him and watching him act. Well cest ` la vie..

  4. Cindy Bourgeois December 30, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I just loved Kip “Sunshine” in RTT. I really looked for him later on, but never saw him again. I hope he does make it big on Mad Men. Good luck sweetheart. I just saw you on L&O SVU. You were great. It was one of those things I knew I knew you but you look so grown up. I hardly recognized you.

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