In 2003, when Dawson's Creek went off the air, Katie Holmes was widely regarded as the cast member with the most promising future. That year, she starred in an acclaimed indie, Pieces of April, and the next year, she was cast as the female lead in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.
And then, in 2005, Holmes met Tom Cruise.
Since then, her career has never been the same. As Holmes experienced media scrutiny and tabloid infamy in her new role as Cruise's wife, she took three years off from the big screen, practically an eternity for a twentysomething ingenue. And when she did return to movies, the roles and projects were notably lesser: Her 2008 comeback vehicle Mad Money tanked, and her supportive wife roles in Jack and Jill and Son of No One were negligible. Is it too late to recover her career? Not if she follows Vulture's suggestions! Here are five things Holmes ought to do next ... and our odds on whether she actually will.
Take Part in a Dawson's Creek Reunion on Fallon
What better way to remind audiences of Old Katie than to reunite with her former Dawson's cast members on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon? Sure, it might be hard for Holmes to share the stage with the twice Oscar-nominated Michelle Williams, whose career has reached the sort of high gear many had predicted for Holmes, but it'd be a self-effacing move for Holmes to simply own it and throw an arm around the erstwhile Jen Lindley.
Likelihood of Happening: Good. Williams has lately seemed game for a Dawson's get-together, and James van Der Beek is all too willing to tap the deep well of Dawson's humor on Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23. If Holmes could convince Joshua Jackson to take part, she'd have a viral video hit on her hands.
Do a Tell-All
Holmes may want to get out from the shadow of her husband, but that will be hard to do if she continues to be dogged by speculation about the divorce. Should she just get it over with, then, and do some sort of tell-all interview with Oprah?
Likelihood of Happening: Not good. Holmes and Cruise almost surely had some sort of confidentiality agreement in their prenup, and if she's filing for sole custody of Suri, Holmes isn't likely to put that in jeopardy by spilling secrets now. (Still, expect her camp to leak small bits of Katie's side of the story to TMZ and People.)
Play Wildly Against Type in an Indie
Did you know that Jack and Jill represented the first time Holmes had appeared in a major studio movie since 2005? Yikes! Her agents may try to make up for lost time by booking her some supporting roles in big films (much like Winona Ryder, who recently signaled that she was ready to work again by accepting small roles in Star Trek and The Dilemma), but Holmes needs grit right now, not gloss. If we worked for Holmes, we'd set up a meeting with auteur-friendly producer Megan Ellison (who bankrolled the latest films from Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, and Steven Soderbergh) in the hopes of landing her the lead in a daring indie.
Likelihood of Happening: Good. Holmes has done her best work in smaller films like Wonder Boys, Go, and Pieces of April, so she's hopefully on the lookout for a Sundance-ready screenplay that could benefit from her big name.
Undergo a Personality Adjustment
Back in the day, Holmes used to be polite, bright, and candid: Just take a look at this 2002 interview where she openly admits to career mistakes and botched auditions. Since marrying Cruise, though, her PR has been tightly controlled and her manner has often seemed glazed. With few movie projects to promote, magazines usually asked her about Cruise, a subject for which she had only generically upbeat things to say. It's crucial for Holmes to come out of that shell now and evince a real personality. Failing that, she should just study Jennifer Lawrence on Letterman and hope for the best.
Likelihood of Happening: Hard to say. Who knows what to expect from Holmes after her surprise divorce filing this week? At least that showed some initiative.
Seek Out a Cable TV Show
Holmes has done plenty of TV during her marriage — she made highly promoted guest spots on How I Met Your Mother and Eli Stone, and played Jackie in the misbegotten miniseries The Kennedys — but a full-time return to the medium may be exactly what she needs right now. Movies can only do so much to reestablish a career, since they come out sporadically and so few are successful. A TV show, on the other hand, would let Holmes make the case every week that she's still got acting chops.
Likelihood of Happening: Not good ... at least not yet. Holmes's reps will probably kick the tires on her big-screen career now that she's got more time to devote to it, but in a few years, it wouldn't be a surprise to see her toplining a series for Showtime.