Monday, April 25, 2011

Dreamcasting Greek Gods/Goddesses: Hades

Going along with my couple of posts on "who would be the ideal castings in a movie featuring Greek Gods/Goddesses," the latest God I made a decision on was Hades.

Hades - God of the Underworld
Characteristics: Protective and cunning. Proprietor of much wealth.
Seldom worshipped, and often seen as receiving the short end of the stick when roles were distributed between him and his two brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, despite having the wealth of control over all deceased souls, not just living mortals.

As much as I appreciate the efforts of the always fabulous Ralph Fiennes in the recent, disasterous adaptation of The Clash of the Titans, I felt that this was almost an uninteresting choice for the role of the character.
We all know that Ralph Fiennes is incredibly capable of playing a sinister part, but what about the other, more interesting sides to Hades? By that I mean him being somewhat cheeky, greedy, and not so straightforwardly evil?

When I think of someone who could bring some humor or diversity to the part is Hugh Laurie. We've all seen him in "House" portraying an intelligent, conniving persona with ease, using his power to stay on top, despite most of his peers and acquaintances thinking little of him as a person. To me, this resonates with Hades' character, as he was often not spoken of or considered in a positive light because of his position as ruler over the dead, but still held a lot of power and respect from humans, due to his position as a God.

On the other side of the coin, however, is the idea that Hades was actually kind of sleazy in his tricking of various characters in myths. One example would be the Goddess Persephone, whom he kidnapped and, upon returning her, fooled her into eating in the underworld, thus forcing her to return to him for one three months every year. These incidences of being snakelike and possessive over the souls in the underworld makes me think that someone like Kevin Spacey would also be a perfect fit to play Hades. Now I know, you must be thinking, "Boy, this girl is obsessed with Kevin Spacey," but come on. Have you seen him in Se7en? How about The Usual Suspects? He can be quirky yet crazy with those moody eyes of his, and pulls of the skeevy-creepy-skeeve part absolutely seamlessly. Suited? Suited.

And so, as per usual, I ask what you think? Are there any other actors you might want to see portray Hades should his character ever be featured in a film again (again)?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Typecasting: Is It What the Audience Wants?

The other day some friends of mine were talking about how Will Ferrell was now going to be on The Office, and one made the comment of, "I hope he just isn't, you know, 'Will Ferrell' for once." Meaning, he hoped that Will Ferrell would tone down the super goofy, childish persona most of the characters in his recent movies embody. It was almost as though nobody in the conversation thought Will Ferrell was even capable of playing another role.

I, on the other hand, thought differently as I had just seen the trailer for Ferrell's new film Everything Must Go, wherein he plays an alcoholic forced to sell all of his belongings
and live on a front lawn while doing so. In addition, I remembered his much softer, more emotional performance in Stranger Than Fiction, which was actually quite good. The problem is, however, that nobody recognized these roles when I brought them up, because nobody had seen Stranger than Fiction or had heard of Everything Must Go. Nobody had paid attention to these movies because they were smaller releases with less publicity, and because nobody was interested in seeing Will Ferrell do something different than his usual comedic roles.

But why? "He's just so good at being funny."
Yes, I agree with that, but he is also good at other things, and I'm sure he might appreciate a little diversity now and again, don't you think?

This got me thinking about other typecast actors and actresses that tried to branch out in some roles, but nobody ever remembers them, even if their performances were actually quite good. It almost seems as though if someone is good at playing one specific role, people will be more inclined to go out and see this kind of movie, rather than something risky.

Because of this, typecasting almost seems like a bit of bitter-sweet situation. On the one hand, studios will be willing to hire an actor for a number of roles based on their abilities in similar ones, hopefully making that person a household name. The studios will be willing to cast these actors in these same roles, because they know that this is what audiences like to see, and know that it will therefore be a safe bet to generate more box-office revenue.
On the other hand, however, pigeon-holing can sometimes be a less than lovely thing. For example, will Mark Strong be recognized by the public as a ubiquitous bad-guy, since he usually only plays these roles? Alright, probably not, as that is a bit of a stretch. But wouldn't it get tiresome to play the same part over and over, especially as actors grow older and want to grow up out of silly roles, or want their careers to be more than a repetitive persona they can never shake off?

As much as we might like seeing certain actors play certain roles, I personally find it very refreshing to see an actor step outside of their usual fare.
For example, although Jim Carrey is very adept at playing the over-the-top comedian, his more serious turns in movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Number 23 were quite good, and even responded to positively by critics. In fact, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is often regarded as one of the best, unconventional romance films of recent years, though most people that I know have never seen it, because it just seemed like it would be "too weird" or they didn't think that Jim Carrey would be very good when he wasn't being funny. Too bad most people just don't give the guy a chance to do something different.

The problem is that in most cases, the general movie-going population goes with what makes them comfortable, rather than something they are unsure about. I can't say as I blame them, I mean who wants to spend money on something that they aren't sure will be enjoyable?

When it boils down to it (although it arguably may be a bit of a stretch), I think typecasting often has a lot of do with what movie-viewers have responded to well in terms of box-office dollars, as well as what the audience just doesn't want to see.

For example, does anyone remember when Jennifer Anniston tried to branch out of her pretty, comedic role as Rachel on "Friends" with the film The Good Girl? I thought she actually played the role quite well, and it was a very intriguing film, yet few people that I know -- if any-- have actually seen it. It seems as though Jennifer Anniston "ugly-ing up" just wasn't something people wanted to see, and that is why she now continues to be hired for pretty, funny characters in most of her recent films. This strikes me as odd in a way, however, that people wouldn't be receptive to seeing her do something like The Good Girl, as a lot of the time, beautiful actresses are praised for their work in more "ugly" or "gritty" roles such as Charlize Theron in Monster (though arguably her performance in that was outstanding, so it deserved some recognition).

Some other people off the top of my head that are usually typecast, yet have had one or two exceptions that flew under the radar include:
- Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love. After playing the childish, goofy guy for so long, I think maybe people just couldn't picture him as a softer, romantic lead.
- Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich. Usually Cameron Diaz is blonde, bubbly, and the centre of attention in her films, yet in Being john Malkovich she was soft-spoken, bizzare, and mousey in appearance. Though this might be a role that nobody recognizes because this movie is kind of obscure in itself, despite being totally enjoyable.
- Steve Carrell in Dan in Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine. Sure, these parts all had some comedic undertones to them, but at their heart there was a real sadness. In fact, his part as Frank in Little Miss Sunshine was one of my favorites of his, but we all know that Steve Carrell being wild and funny is what people like, so that is what people go out to see.

Obviously I'm not saying that typecasting only happens because of what the audience wants. I'm just saying that since the hollywood film business is a business of money, just like any other, it makes sense that studios might pander to the general population with something that they know will bring viewers.

I will, however, agree with the fact that sometimes actors play similar roles repeatedly because it is one of the only roles that they can actually pull off.
The odd time, however, this occurs because nobody wants to give them a chance to do something different.

And thus, I leave you to think about this. What do you think about typecasting?
Is it a bad thing? Is it an okay thing?
Are there any other actors that you feel are chronically typecast, despite being capable of much more than one persona?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Favorite Hollywood Eyes

After posting about the oh-so intriguing Crazy Eyes the other day, I started thinking about how certain people's eyes are just so beautiful, and decided to compile a list of the ones that always stick out in my mind.

Thus, I give to you, my personal list-- in no particular order-- of The Best "Celebrity" Eyes:
(With celebrity in quotations because I know some people don't always recognize these people are. You know, just for the record.)

Ewan McGregor
I'll admit, I've always had a bit of a thing for Ewan McGregor (ever since I was fifteen at least). Can you blame a girl? His light blue eyes often look grey which is really interesting to me. Not to mention they seem to almost shimmer in a lot of his roles, which I've always been drawn to. Maybe I am biased from my frond appreciation of him, but as I said, this is a personal list, and as you can see, his eyes really do have a nice sparkle to them, don't they?

Emmy Rossum
Big. Brown. Beautiful. Really, I think Emmy Rossum just has a gorgeously fresh face, that is just highlighted by her bright, shining eyes. Sometimes having such large, round eyes is referred to as being doe-eyed, and in the case of such a pretty girl, I find that look quite beautiful.

Russell Brand
You know what I said about Emmy Rossum's eyes being big, brown, and beautiful? Well, that definitely applies to Russell Brand's as well. There also seems to be a lot of heart behind those eyes, with everything he has experienced in his life, but that might just be me reading a lot into things.

James McAvoy
Is it just me or is James McAvoy the kind of guy that arguably shouldn't be attractive based on stereotypical standards of male beauty, but is still absolutely gorgeous regardless of those ideals? That seems to be the kind of guy I always find attractive, as different little quirks are so endearing, but that is besides the point of this post. What really makes James McAvoy so appealing to me is his light eyes, that are deep set compared to his prominent brow bones. I can't really explain why this makes them so endearing, they just are, aren't they?

Matt Bomer
Alright, I'll admit that this photo is very dramatic in showing his eyes, but honestly, Matt Bomer's blue orbs are absolutely stunning. That sly glint that you see in all the time "White Collar" from him definitely adds to their appeal, but besides that, their light oceanic blue colouring is so contrasting to his face that it makes them punch in the best way possible.

Jon Kortajarena
Eye contact is certainly not overrated, and boy does Jon Kortajarena know how to do it well, being a male model and all. Not to mention those scruffy, framing eyebrows and the kitty-cat shape to his deep gaze.
And while I'm at it, I just wanted to mention those cheekbones. Have you ever seen cheekbones so sculpted? I certainly haven't, and I certainly like it.

Robert Downey Jr.
You know how many people believe that men become more attractive as they grow older (sometimes known as "the George Clooney")? Well, I think that a lot of this has to do with the eye crinkle to go with the twinkle as a man ages and boy is it endearing and adorable. In the case of Robert Downey Jr, at least, this is the truth. Also, you know, that deep chestnutty brown colour doesn't hurt either (because apparently I have a thing with brown eyes).

Tilda Swinton
Alright, so I know lots of people think that Tilda Swinton is strange looking, but I think she is more unique than anything else! And my word, those big, beady eyes are actually quite gorgeous. Actually I'm surprised I didn't put her on the Crazy-Eyes list, because she too has a knack for them. More than anything else, however, I think they make Tilda Swinton an androgynous beauty.

***And finally, my favorite eyes of any famous person out there at this given moment by far belong to:
Nicholas Hoult
Okay okay, so this photo is very much photoshopped, but regardless of this fact, Nicholas Hoult just has the most mischievous blue eyes that I can't help but be drawn to. It might have to do with his unique accompanying eyebrows, but I think it is also attributed to that beautiful cat-like shape of them.
I just can't seem to stop looking at those magnificent spheres. (I also evidently have a huge thing for blue eyes).

And thus concludes my list of my favorite eyes in Hollywood.
But how about you? Are there any eyes out there that stick out in your mind as being uniquely gorgeous, or piercing, or that you are just drawn to?