Coming out this winter is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a film based on the seminal spy novel by John le Carre. While purists and old-timers will point to the seven-part BBC miniseries as the only "true" version of the le Carre story, I'm quite excited to see it, based on the trailer (which uses Danny Elfman's "Wolf Suite" from the Wolfman to excellent effect) and of course, the cast list:
That's basically the 2007 New England Patriots of British actors, an All-Star team that I'm delighted to see put together on screen. It's like Harry Potter, if the unbelievable acting talent there wasn't playing second fiddle to a bunch of kids and CGI creatures (and also if that seven-part series was condensed down to one movie). The only actors who I wish they had shoehorned in are
Obviously, we're missing all the distinguished luminaries that people think of when they think of British actors (known to geeks everywhere as "the guys who took us seriously"): Patrick Stewart*, Ian McKellan, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Ralph Fiennes,
So, given that I plan on running for office someday, I thought I would undergo a patriotic thought experiment (similar to the "What if Ghenghis Khan Was American" column I wrote in 1961), to try to find a similar hypothetical movie that would make me as excited about a crackerjack cast. It would be too easy to go directly for "classic" star power (as in Glengarry Glen Ross, which included Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, and Jonathan Pryce as the token Brit), so big names like Morgan Freeman, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Bridges, and everyone else who's been in a Tarantino film etc. are all out.
Here's the pool of talent I want to pick from:
-Sam Rockwell: My advice is to put on your astronaut suit (everyone has one of those at home, right?) and watch Galaxy Quest, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Moon back-to-back-to-back, then watch Matchstick Men and Iron Man 2 back-to-back, and just marvel at his ability to play a wide variety of total losers, and make them all loveable. Somehow.
-Stanley Tucci: The American answer to Alan Rickman. Repeat after me kids: "Stanley Tucci makes every movie better. Stanley Tucci makes every movie better. Stanely Tucci makes every movie better..." I think he may have won an Oscar for
-Paul Giamatti: You would think that this guy did nothing but play poets and down-on-their-luck-but-scrappy-loveable-underdogs, but behind those soulful singer's eyes lie a sociopathic murderer. Never forget.
-Jeffrey Donovan: better known as "the Voiceover guy from Burn Notice", Donovan has a great ability to let us watch emotions roil around inside while his face and body show nothing. He also convinced the producers of Burn Notice to let him fake every accent in the book (emphasis on "fake"), and this is an ability that needs to be exploited (see from about 4:05 onward in this clip).
-Summer Glau: Poor Summer has been pigeonholed into the same role she played in "Firefly", but I'm convinced she has a wider range than she's showed in Sarah Connor Chronicles, etc. Alternately, she could channel her real-world experience of getting hit on by every single straight male geek in the Western Hemisphere (and half of the gay ones) and play Amy Shaftoe in an HBO miniseries-type adaptation of Cryptonomicon. Also she was on Dollhouse
-Jason Bateman: Of course, we know him from Arrested Development, but it wasn't until much, much later that I realized he's the "idiot sportscaster" from Dodgeball. He is the Millenial's version of Michael Keaton: good comedic timing, everyman sort of quality, but with an ability to switch to dark at the drop of a hat. So long as they don't shove him into a Batsuit I think we'll be OK.
-Bruce Campbell: If I were President, there would be a law that Bruce Campbell has to cameo in every single film.
-Enver Gjokaj: This is really the last Whedon alumni on the list, I swear. I haven't seen him in anything other than Dollhouse, but his dead-on impressions of Reed Diamond (Mr. Dominic) and Fran Kranz (Topher) are Hall-of-Fame-worthy, and he did a pretty decent job with Victor, too.
-Tina Fey: This is a cheat; Tina Fey is an incredibly successful TV actress but hasn't spent much time in the cinema world, so I'm counting her as a "supporting" player. Deal with it.
-Kevin Bacon (in a cameo): His turn in X-Men: First Class, where he played a swingin' 60s Sebastian Shaw and chewed the scenery like he had already won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, goes into Hall-of-Fame status. Like Willem Dafoe in "Boondock Saints" (see later down this list), Bacon already knew he was a better actor than any of the schmoes he was with (this is called the "I Already Rock" factor, or the Willem Dafoe Role) and so didn't bother with the whole "I'll prove how great an actor I can be...look how SUBTLE I am!!!" thing; instead, we got him starting the Cuban Missile Crisis with his accents. Although his inclusion in numerous films and the game that's named after him would otherwise disqualify him from this list, I think it's acceptable to ask for a cameo.
-Jay Harrington: Jay is partially responsible for the incredible terribleness of the U.S. version of "Coupling" (don't even YouTube it; it will make you depressed), but he is also partially responsible for the awesomeness of Better Off Ted, which makes everything forgiven. Unfortunately, I think he'd be competing for the same role as Jason Bateman, and I'm not sure how that one will end up.
-Harry Lenix: OK, really, this is the last Whedon alum. Poor Harry got jerked around by terrible, terrible screen writing in The Matrix Revolutions AND Dollhouse; he deserves at least one good role.
-Willem Dafoe: Dafoe is the reigning king of the "I Already Rock" roles for his turn as a gay FBI agent in Boondock Saints (seriously, the entire movie is worth watching just for the two-minute sequence where he reconstructs a murder in a strip club). However, he also brings to the plate
-Dule Hill: While this may seem like an odd choice, recall that Psych would fall apart without Gus,
Coming in Part 2: What kind of a movie project do we put together for the Dream Team?