Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bardem?!? I barely knew 'em!

"Sporting a page-boy haircut, nearly soulless eyes, unusual and highly memorable weapons, and a unique life and death philosophy (sometimes decided by the flip of a coin), he's the human equivalent of The Terminator, a seemingly impossible to stop killing machine." --

"Here we have a character who is human but also the closest thing you will come to a Terminator, unstoppable, emotionless and detached from the violence he commits. It's just a brilliant performance from Bardem making Chigurh not so much an evil character, he's just doing his job, but someone who is fascinatingly detached from what he does, almost machine like." --

"...[N]ine years later, when he took his own son (then eighteen and about to start college) to the movies one night, Delevan would rise unexpectedly to his feet about thirty minutes into the feature and scream, 'It's him!  That's HIM!  That's the guy in the fucking blue suit!  The guy who was at Cle--'  ...  The movie, of course, had been The Terminator." -- The Drawing of the Three, p. 348

Fan-casting has long been a pleasant pastime for me, which hardly makes me unique among film geeks; we all tend to engage in that type of thing from time to time.  This leads to wacky ideas like Lance Henriksen for the part of Roland Deschain, or Sean Connery for the part of Gandalf, or Matt Damon for the part of James T. Kirk: ideas that seem good at the time, but probably don't bear much scrutiny in the light of reason.

The flip side of that coin is that sometimes, casting decisions that actually get made cause film geeks to break out the torches and pitchforks and take to places like the JWFan messageboards to burn the monster out of the windmill.  Christian Bale as Batman?!?  You fuckin' kidding me?  Daniel Craig as James Blond?!?  Suck my dick, MGM.

Casting, generally speaking, ought to be left to professionals.  Sure, they get it wrong once in a while, but by and large, they are good enough at what they do that sometimes they can even make a decision so inspired that the fanboys might never have come up with it in a million years.

Which brings me to this...

My first reaction upon reading that Javier Bardem had become one of the contestants in the who's-playing-Roland-lympics was to utterly reject the idea.  And I'd be a liar if I didn't fess up to this: it was purely because English is not his first language.  "Roland can't have a Spanish accent," I thought, possibly recalling King's description of Roland as being very like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, and I went back to hoping that somebody within Ron Howard's earshot would begin shouting the name Karl Urban.

Then, I started thinking about Bardem, actually thinking about him.  I recalled how relentless a killing machine he'd been in the awesome No Country For Old Men; I recalled that little Terminator gag from The Drawing of the Three (which I'd only finished rereading a few days previously), and how Chigurh in the Coens' No Country had been compared to the Terminator by a few critics; I recalled how good an actor Bardem is; I recalled that Roland has a very romantic side to his nature, and began thinking about how audiences would probably accept Bardem pretty completely in that capacity; and I also recalled how, though he is obviously a lauded and acclaimed actor, Bardem is still enough of an unknown to most audiences that he wouldn't bring all that much in the way of baggage, which other candidates for the role -- Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman -- would certainly do.

After a couple of days of dwelling on the subject mentally, Bardem had become the best choice for the role in my mind.  Once it became clear that he had also been offered the role, I began to feel a lot better about the prospect of these movies.  I might not have Ron Howard at the top of my list of directors, and I would have Akiva Goldsman nowhere near the top of my list of writers ... but if they're making inspired decisions like this one, then it makes me think that they may be very much on the correct path.  (I almost typed "that they may be very much on the path of the Beam," but seriously, how lame would that have been?)

Of course, Bardem has not accepted the role, at least not publicly; nor have the movies been greenlit.  I suspect these things are related.  Word has it that Goldsman is still busily writing, and that Universal is waiting on him to deliver something before they make the go/no-go decision; I'd wager that Bardem won't sign until the films and series are actually given the go-ahead for production.

I will believe it only when it actually happens, of course.  It still seems like too much of a dream come true to think that The Dark Tower could possibly be getting adapted at all, much less by a creative team with multiple Oscars under their belts.  I'm reminded of the giddy feeling I got when The Lord of the Rings was first announced, except that in this case, the director is already a proven talent: Howard has directed some movies I don't particularly care for, but then again, he also made Apollo 13 and Splash and Frost/Nixon and Far and Away and Coccoon and Cinderella Man, all of which are movies that I love (yes, I love Far and Away; so sue me).  Good times may be ahead for Midworld.

Before we segue, I'm going to go ahead and call it now: Clint Howard will play Nort, the doomed weed-eater in Tull.

Now, speaking of Bardem, the news also broke this week that he's been offered the role of the antagonist in the as-yet-untitled 23rd James Bond movie, which is to be directed by Sam Mendes.  I'm almost as big a Bond nerd as I am a Stephen King nerd, so Bardem has all of a sudden become one of my biggest man-crushes.  Regarding the Bond offer, Bardem has publicly expressed enthusiasm for the role, and has waxed enthusiastic about his meeting with Mendes, but specified that he is waiting to see a screenplay.  Once again, if this is an indication of the thinking behind the scenes on this movie, then we may be in for something special on the 007 front.

I'd probably also be remiss in my Kingly duties if I didn't mention the news that Warner Bros. and CBS Films have struck a deal to ... consider making a new movie out of The Stand.  This novel being pitched as a feature is nothing new; George Romero toiled away on the idea for years, but never could crack it.  However, with multi-part films being quite the rage in Hollywood these days thanks to Harry Potter and Twilight and even Marvel's ambitious leadup to The Avengers, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we end up seeing a two-or-three-part film of The Stand.  My gut tells me it'd be two movies; I'm not sure the story has enough cliffhangery moments to support a trilogy.

I'll be very curious to see what sort of names start getting thrown around for the director's chair on this one.  Presumably, it will take shape as a real A-list affair, and we can skip worrying that a complete hack will be hired.  Personally, I'd like to see someone with a grounded, realistic sensibility brought in on this one: David O. Russell, or somebody like that.  The last thing I want to see is somebody who would be inclined to go overboard with the crazy stuff.  That way leads to Matt Frewer as the Trashcan Man.

And let me tell you now: Tom Cruise for Randall Flagg.  Now that is fan casting that I feel no compunctions about.  Here's some more: Jon Hamm for Stu Redman (if Hamm is unavailable or uninterested, Matthew McConaughey would be a great substitute), Bryan Cranston for Glen Bateman, and Bryce Dallas Howard for Frannie Goldsmith.

Until next time, just remember: old lady Semple could have saved herself a lot of trouble if she had only signed up for direct deposit.


  1. even without being the biggest tom cruise fan that casting rings true,but my question is would you cast him for Flagg in the Dark tower.

  2. That's a good question. As a character, Flagg can -- and does -- assume different guises as he travels about the various planes of the multiverse, so it would be appropriate for him to be played by different actors in different projects. At the same time, wouldn't it be cool if the studios producing these different projects worked together and cast the same actor in the role both times?

    In a perfect world, we'd also get movies of "The Talisman," "Black House," "Insomnia," "The Eyes of the Dragon," "Salem's Lot," and "Everything's Eventual" made, as well as a remake of "Hearts In Atlantis" that wasn't stripped of all its Midworld connections like the first film of that book was.

    That's asking too much, but it's fun to dream about.

  3. I personally feel that a "Salem's Lot" film (Or Mini series) would go hand in hand with a "Dark Tower" project

  4. It absolutely would, although I guess Father Callahan's story can be told without having to have "Salem's Lot" as a backbone for it.

    I'd rather see a movie of "Insomnia," which establishes both the Crimson King and Patrick Danville as characters. In fact, the entire plot of "Insomnia" revolves around the efforts to prevent the death of a very young Danville; the people struggling to save him know only that he is of importance to someone in another universe, and that if he dies, the entirety of existence will fall. (Or something like that... it's been a while since I read that novel, which is uneven but kinda awesome on the whole, and is definitely one of THE most Dark Tower-relevant books in King's books outside the series itself.)

  5. I think this choice for Roland is perfect. I would never have thought of it myself (I was holding out for Viggo), but now, seeing him, it's *perfect*.

  6. I think Viggo would have been really good as well: he's got the haunted-guy thing down pat, and he's got the tough-guy thing down pat, and he's got experience being in a huge film series like this one is looking to be. But Bardem ... man, the more I think about it, the more it seems like he'll not only be awesome in the role, he'll be awesome in a way we're not entirely used to seeing in blockbusters. Short of hopping in the TARDIS and going back in time to kidnap '70s-era Clint Eastwood, I don't know that a better choice could have been made.

    I just hope it all comes to pass. It's such an ambitious project that it feels like it could fall apart, like one of ole Balazar's houses of cards.