Modeling a new career.

Author:Wallace, Christopher

Byline: Christopher Wallace

By what metric are we to determine whether a model is "super''? If it is name recognition, Forbes list position, magazines covered, campaigns fronted or some algorithm of them all, Kate Upton probably qualifies. In 2013 Upton, a 21-year-old from Melbourne, Fla., was named model of the year and appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the second straight year. This year she was demoted to the inside cover, pictured wearing a bikini in zero gravity.

As a model she floats off the page, but she's also a performer, with videos of her dancing going crash-the-Internet viral. So, all aboard the Hollywood starship express. In "The Other Woman,'' due Friday, Upton will appear alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. It is Upton's third and by far most substantial screen credit. In her debut, the surprisingly pleasant "Tower Heist,'' she played a mistress in what was by definition no more than a cameo. (The less said about her second picture, the Farrelly brothers' "The Three Stooges,'' in which she plays a swimsuit-wearing nun -- I've already said too much.)

In the new film, Upton again plays a mistress, though this time merely one of several for a serial philanderer played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. When the characters played by Mann (the wife) and Diaz (another mistress) discover that they are in fact being three-timed, they recruit Upton's charming ditz in a plot to take down their transgressor.

In a way, Upton's casting is part of the joke of the movie -- that smarmy men will always smarm their way toward younger and more beautiful women. It may be a stretch to call casting a supermodel in movies a tradition, but the practice is not without precedent. There are the famous, symbolic cameos: Christie Brinkley in "National Lampoon's Vacation''; Claudia Schiffer in "Love, Actually''; and the Victoria's Secret angel Alessandra Ambrosio as Tennis Girl, checking out James Bond (Daniel Craig) in "Casino Royale.''

Bond girls in general have walked straight off the runway into 007's arms -- with varying degrees of success and career longevity. Former ballerina and model Olga Kurylenko, for instance, who appeared in "Quantum of Solace,'' had a breakout year in 2013, starring in Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder'' opposite Ben Affleck and playing the cloned love of Tom Cruise in "Oblivion.''

Just up from the cameo, at about the level of Upton's role in "The Other Woman,'' you have Brooklyn Decker in...

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