Monday, October 25, 2010

Amateur Casting Director: Superman

A film reboot of the Superman franchise is on its way, with Christopher Nolan producing, Zack Snyder directing and David Goyer writing the script. The rumour mill is churning out plenty of speculation -- some reports suggest they're starting from scratch at the beginning, others say they're looking for an older actor to play an established Man of Steel -- but not much has been confirmed officially. And before that happens, I felt like posting my own ideal cast for a new Superman movie. Because why not.

Clark Kent/Superman - Brandon Routh
For whatever faults Superman Returns had (and I liked it personally) Brandon Routh wasn’t one of them. He’s gone on to prove himself as an actor since (see “Chuck” and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and has shown he can pull off that key “powerful, but affable/approachable” vibe effortlessly - just like Superman. With a new script and direction that’s more concerned with building its own world than paying respect to Superman: The Movie, I believe he’d knock it out of the park. Give Routh the cape again - he deserves it.

Lois Lane - Rashida Jones
I almost went with Zooey Deschanel here (who would be a fine choice as well) but then Jones came to mind and struck me as a natural fit - and I think she could better pull off that assertive, take-no-crap attitude that Lois needs. She can do smart, fearless, and looks good in a suit - combine the three and you have the perfect 21st century Lois Lane.

Lex Luthor - Billy Zane
This one’s a no-brainer. Past performances have shown that he can get the all-important confidence/arrogance part of the character down pat. And if they fully explore the character this time around - as in, there being more to his motive than simple greed and jealousy - this could be just the role Zane needs for a bit of a career resurgence.

Brainiac - Joseph Gordon Levitt
Levitt is on something of a roll lately, after building up some indie cred for a few years, and now a major role in this year’s Inception - incidentally directed by new Superman producer Christopher Nolan. Play up the cold-and-calculating, and he'd do great as the corrupted Kryptonian artificial intelligence - possibly created by Superman's birth father, Jor-El. Brainiac is one of Superman's more famous villains, yet has never been used in a feature film before. And using the robotic Brainiac would give him a villain he could hit, which is kind of a plus.

Perry White - John Goodman
I don't even feel like I have to explain this one... though I will anyway. White is the soul of the Daily Planet, a tough-but-fair boss and a journalistic idealist who will always stand up for the truth. John Goodman is a phenomenal actor, but he's at his best when he's boisterous. Now imagine him storming through the Planet bullpen, barking out orders at Clark and Lois. Come on, he's perfect. Nothing more to say here.

Jimmy Olsen - Johnny Simmons
Simmons was a scene-stealer in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and fully captured the part of the bright-eyed fan waiting for his turn in the spotlight. That's basically the "before" picture of Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen, who becomes Superman's pal and goes on crazy adventures all the time. All Simmons needs is a bottle of hair dye.

Jonathan and Martha Kent - Jeff Bridges and Patricia Clarkson
The Kents, Clark's adoptive parents, are what put the "man" in Superman. Generally portrayed as salt-of-the-earth types; warm, hard-working and compassionate parents who could raise the world's greatest hero and inspire him to be a beacon of hope. Bridges and Clarkson are both gifted character actors who can play damn near anything, but seem to naturally radiate warmth. It just clicks - you know I'm right.

Jor-El and Lara - Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Mitchell
Hamm claims he’s too old to be Superman. I don’t necessarily agree - if they’re focusing on a long-established version of the character, he’d be the ideal choice. However, if they’re trying to build a franchise and want to skew a bit younger for the first installment, then he’s certainly age-appropriate to place the infant Kal-El in a rocket to Earth and help guide him from beyond the grave via holographic messages in the Fortress. And while it’s not a huge part, I think he’d really sell the part of a conflicted scientist coping with the loss of his world and forced into making an uneasy choice in order to save his child.

Mitchell pulled off being cold and alien as well as warm and loving brilliantly on “Lost”. Like with Jor-El, the Lara role wouldn't be huge, but I think she would add a lot as Superman’s mother on Krypton. Even better, follow the lead of the comic miniseries "Superman: Birthright" and have Lara be Jor-El’s partner not only in marriage but also in Kryptonian science, giving Mitchell some more to work with than previous versions of the character.

Cat Grant - Jane Krakowski
This would be a small role, and perhaps a smidge derivative of her part on “30 Rock”, but Krakowski would nail the part of the flirty divorcee gossip columnist for the Daily Planet. Along with the rest of the "background comedy trio" below, she'd add some extra flavour to the newspaper office and make it feel like a well-rounded, "real" workplace.

Ron Troupe - Phil LaMarr
Troupe is a multiple award-winning journalist at the Daily Planet, generally considered the most educated amongst the staff. Phil LaMarr is mainly known for his voice-acting work ("Futurama", "Justice League Unlimited"), but he's talented and funny, as well as a huge comic-book fan. It's not a big role, but the character is likely to be Lois Lane's main rival for the bylines, frequent verbal sparring partner with Steve Lombard, as well as the more likely to see past Clark Kent's disguise - so there'd be plenty for LaMarr to work with.

Steve Lombard - Nathan Fillion
The sports writer for the Planet, Steve Lombard is an insufferable, obnoxious, egotistical jackass. He's the kind of guy who'll insult your manhood while tying to pick up your girlfriend right in front of you. And I don't know of anyone who can play that kind of role as hilariously as Nathan Fillion (just see Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Amateur Casting Director Gets It Wrong

Knowing full well there are much better uses of my time, I still can't help but play "Amateur Casting Director," either for movies that are in the works or ones that don't "officially" exist in any capacity. I've been obsessive-compulsively absorbing pop culture my entire life, so I can't really help it.

Where is this going? Well, over a year ago I was thinking, "You know what? Emma Stone really should play Mary Jane in the next Spider-Man movie." I liked the Sam Raimi movies well enough, but I thought her character was kind of off. She got repeatedly placed in the "damsel in distress" role, which okay, is sort of inevitable in superhero stories... But Mary Jane should be anything but helpless. She's not a superhero, but she can hold her own! I'm reminded of one comic-book story in which the Chameleon discovered Spider-Man's secret identity, captured Peter Parker, copied his "face" to impersonate him, then went after Mary Jane... who quickly figured out his ruse and beat him unconscious with a baseball bat.

Mary Jane is a fairly complex character, originally hiding behind a flirty party girl persona as she attempted to hide from a difficult life, and later growing out of her "mask" and learning to fully open up. She's tough and confident, a far cry from the typical weepy love interests more common to classic comic books. She's cool, she has some attitude, and is legitimately interesting - the perfect superhero love interest, in my opinion. This is what I'd like to see on the big screen, and I thought the role fit Stone perfectly.

Also, come on, she sure as hell looks the part:

So when the internet rumour mills started up recently about Stone being in talks for a role in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, I felt a little pride in having "called it" so far in advance. Until yesterday they officially announced that she'd been cast... as Gwen Stacy.

Now, Stone is very talented. She's funny, she has a great screen presence, and I'm sure that she'll do a great job in the role. (And apparently she's actually a natural blonde, so there's that going for it!) And who knows, maybe they'll go the "Ultimate Spider-Man" route and rework the character as a cooler, more complex "punk girl" type... But I'll be honest with you, Internet, Gwen Stacy might be famous as Peter's first major love interest, but I can't say I'm a fan. As she originally appeared, she didn't have much depth, she was boring, and worst of all, she fit that "weepy love interest" archetype to a T. And if that's the route the film is taking, I think it'll be a huge waste of Stone's talent. (But it's way too early to assume anything about the role, so I'll leave it at that.)

Either way, I'm interested to see how it turns out. And even though I missed the mark a bit this time, I feel oddly encouraged to play the game again.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Plea

Here's my plea, Internet: See Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And please, do it this weekend.

Simple fact: it is awesome. I am slightly biased - I loved the graphic novels it's based on, and I love the director, Edgar Wright (Shaun if the Dead, Hot Fuzz, "Spaced") - but I assure you, it's a movie that deserves to be seen. It's inventive, unique, hilarious, and action-packed. It's everything you want in a movie. And, though I fully believe audiences of all ages will enjoy it, if you grew up with video games and comic books, it will speak to you on a whole other level. If you're not going to see this movie right now then I do not understand you!

I want to believe that this can be a society where talent and creativity are rewarded, and where quality matters - but people are going to see movies that are not good en masse, and a movie that is very good is going ignored. This is something that frustrates me.

Actual, good movies that break the mould and have true creativity and talent behind them? That sort of thing should be seen and rewarded, not dismissed and/or ignored. Please, do not be part of the problem! See Scott Pilgrim! Soon! And if you dig it, spread the word!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Sometimes you just disappear for months on end. It happens!

My focus has been pretty firmly on work lately, and some degree of financial stability is what I have to show for it. Creative energies have been charging, but haven't been used. I've been on hiatus. I'm a dull razor. But I'm in a pretty comfortable place right now, so let's see if that changes.

Big plans afoot. I'm visiting Toronto again in July, followed directly by my first-ever visit to New York. It's been my number one travel dream for as long as I can remember - and when one spends a great deal of their childhood absorbing as much Spider-Man, Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters as possible, I doubt that's surprising. I have friends in Tokyo and Paris right now, other friends who've just visited Italy and Scotland, and lived in Cannes, but three days in New York trumps all of that for me. (Okay, except maybe Tokyo.)

Financial security (at the moment, anyhow) also allows me to make a few luxury purchases. The next one will be joining the 21st century and buying an HDTV. My girlfriend seems to be down with the idea, and she's far more level-headed than me when it comes to entertainment purchases, so I'm going for it. However, window-shopping has been... well, let's just say "frustrating but educational." I'm currently debating the pros and cons of LCD vs. Plasma (and if anyone has advice there, I'd appreciate it).

And that's where I'm at right now. Pretty much zero-level on the excitement and intrigue for now, but uh, I'll keep you posted?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Am Here

Okay, so I'm sporadic!

My focus has been all over the place lately. Certain experiences and situations have shown me how tenuous the things you take for granted can be. Nothing major - mainly to do with one of my jobs, honestly. But it has me considering the future, and the path I want to be on, and what it'll take to put me on it. And a big damn part of that - maybe all of it, in fact - is my own attitudes, which I'm working on changing, and that need to change if I ever want to get anywhere. I'm used to temporary upswings followed by inevitable downswings. That just isn't gonna cut it anymore.

The upside? I'm feeling positive. Like I'm realizing things I've missed before. Like I'm growing up a lot. I hope I'm right, and I hope it's a lasting change.

I feel I have a lot to write... And I honestly don't have the time to do it right now. So maybe expect a big ol' update in the next few days when I've got some more spare time.

I still exist. That's a start.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Brysketch: Foot Soldiers

A few sketches I did in the last month for a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" redesign contest. This month the subject was the Foot Soldier, the army of ninjas employed by the Foot Clan (and often the Shredder). Here's my take on the human-style Foot Ninja, as seen in the comics, movie, and more recent animated series.

First the initial pencil sketch:

And the inked, quickly-coloured "final" version:

Last minute, I decided to do a redesign of the robotic Foot Soldier (from the '80s cartoon) as well. Rather quick and rough compared to the other one, but here it is:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Amazing Things Will Happen

The past few weeks, I've been following the "Tonight Show" debacle with what could be called religious fervor. I won't lie to you, Internet, I've pretty much been obsessed. I've been a huge fan of Conan O'Brien for years, and consider him a personal hero. And in a weird way, watching his dream job be taken away from him hit me on a personal level, and even affected my mood. (The idea of working towards something for years and years, only for it to be taken away from you for no good reason? Kind of depressing.)

Last night was Conan's last show as host of "The Tonight Show". And towards the end, he opened up and gave a short, but very touching "farewell speech" to the audience. You can watch whole thing right here (for some reason with music edited over top of it):

As someone who can be, and has of late been incredibly cynical, those last several sentences hit me like a ton of bricks. But it's very true. You can't change other people, or situations out of your control. And bad things will happen, there's no preventing that. But what you can do is change yourself. You can change how you deal with the hard times, and what your attitude is in life.

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism. It's my least favorite quality, and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

Those, my friends, are words to live by. And I'm gonna try to do just that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brysketch: Splinter

Been a while since my last update. Sorry about that! Here's something to make it up to you!

In response to an online art challenge to do a redesign of the Ninja Turtles' rat sensei Splinter, I quickly sketched out this idea:

The idea was to show a slightly younger version of the character, probably a bit more prone to action than the older, slower version often seen in the movies or on television. I put him in more traditional ninja garb as well, instead of the ratty old robe.

And here's the inked version:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Go Team Conan

Okay, this whole Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno situation just got really interesting. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about... well, just Google it, there have been countless articles written about it since Friday.)

In short? Leno agreed to retire in 2004, and NBC offered Conan "The Tonight Show" in five years' time (he took over in June). But somewhere along the line, Leno "changed his mind" about retiring, and NBC gave him a 10PM show to keep him from moving to a rival network. His 10PM show bombed hard, and now NBC's looking to put him back at 11:30, which will push Conan back half an hour and make him Leno's second fiddle all over again - after they spent 5+ years grooming him as Leno's replacement. He's understandably pissed.

Well, Conan just released a statement:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.



Adding more frustration to the whole debacle is that Leno has been making cracks the past few episodes on his current show about being "canceled" in 2009, in an attempt to look like the victim in all this. This is completely dishonest on his part, as he willingly went along with NBC's plans in 2004.

I'm a huge fan of Conan O'Brien. Hell, he's something of a personal hero of mine. I developed a huge appreciation for television comedy watching his work as a "Simpsons" writer, followed him closely for years on his brilliant "Late Night", and I've been really enjoying him on his so-far short run on "Tonight". I sincerely hope that NBC realizes the error of their ways and keeps Conan right where he is. But either way, Conan just showed he's got more class and integrity in one red hair than Leno has in his entire body.

EDIT: in the short time since his statement, the Web has exploded in support of Conan. Here's hoping NBC is listening.