Tuesday, February 05, 2013

FILM TOPIC: JJ Abrams's Tendency to Reuse Actors Could Affect Star Wars Sequel Casting

By now you've heard the news of JJ Abrams accomplishing the impossible, unequivocally solidifying his place in geek history by becoming the only person ever to direct both Star Trek AND Star Wars. Fellow geek directors most definitely hate him now. They're probably Mean Girl-ing his ass behind his back, and clocking every accomplishment they've ever had as complete failures. This is epic. This is so epic that JJ Abrams is probably still jumping around and screaming like a little girl. This is so epic that I wouldn't be surprised if they re-shot the next "Big Bang Theory" episode just to include a mention of this announcement so that we as a geek community can properly assess how epic this is.

Now that I've written the word "epic" four five times, I can share a concern of mine. I don't really know if this trilogy continuation of Star Wars is going to be awesome. I had never seen a Star Trek movie or episode, so the reboot was awesome to me. I have, however, seen the entire Star Wars saga. When the last slash third film came out, I saw Episode I and II in the morning, went to the movies, saw III, and came home to see IV through VI. My alarm clock is a Lego Darth Vader. And I already plan to have a Darth Vader piƱata at my wedding. (Don't judge.) That said, Abrams has a really good track record (Super 8, "Fringe," "Lost," "Alias," etc.), and I'm sure, at the very least, it won't be Jar Jar Binks-horrible. My concern though is with Abrams' tendency to hire actors he's already worked with, because not all of them deserve this particular phone call.

Exhibit A. A list of actors he's reused in the past:
Keri Russell ("Felicity" and Mission: Impossible III), Greg Grunberg (Super 8, "Lost," a voice in Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III, "Alias," "Felicity"), Jennifer Garner ("Alias" and "Felicity"), Bruce Greenwood (Super 8 and Star Trek), Zoe Saldana ("Six Degrees" and Star Trek), Simon Pegg (Star Trek and Mission: Impossible III & IV), John Cho (Star Trek and "Felicity"), Jorge Garcia ("Alcatraz," "Fringe," and "Lost"), Josh Holloway (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and "Lost"), Terry O'Quinn ("Lost" and "Alias"), Michael Emerson ("Person of Interest" and "Lost"), Henry Ian Cusick ("Fringe" and "Lost"), Elizabeth Mitchell ("Revolution" and "Lost"), Ken Leung ("Person of Interest" and "Lost"), Lance Reddick ("Fringe" and "Lost"), Kevin Chapman ("Person of Interest" and "Lost"), Billy Burke ("Revolution" and "Fringe"), and Zak Orth ("Revolution" and "Fringe")

Now, I'm not saying that none of the actors he's used before should be allowed to participate in this new trilogy, but there should definitely be rules. First thing's first, no Star Trek actor should be allowed to be in the new Star Wars trilogy. It's the principle of the matter. Not only is it not fair to nerdy actors everywhere who would kill to be in this new saga, but you cannot mix the fan base. It would be an injustice to Trekkies everywhere. They're very sensitive. (See the film Fanboys for an in-depth explanation.) Secondly, let's not pretend like everyone can be in a Star Wars movie. It's going to take a lot more than makeup and costumes to make Scott Foley ("Felicity") or Bradley Cooper ("Alias") seem like they belong in that universe.

As for the actors he's worked with that could pass the grade, I would say...
Keri Russell could be a mother figure. Jorge Garcia could be a father-figure to the Ewoks. Kidding. Giancarlo Esposito (Captain Neville on "Revolution") and Gugu Mbatha-Raw ("Undercovers") could be descendants of Billy Dee Williams's Lando Calrissian, and JD Pardo (Nate/Jason on "Revolution") and Daniella Alonso (Nora on "Revolution") of Boba Fett. Greg Grunberg and Eddie Marsan (Mission Impossible III) would make great creatures (sorry guys). Kevin Weisman (Marshall on "Alias") could be a spazzy mechanic. Naveen Andrews (Sayid on "Lost") and Daniel Dae Kim would make awesome Jedis, as would Maggie Q (Mission Impossible III). Joel Courtney (Super 8) could be a young Jedi born to Leia and Han Solo. Call him...Lee Solo? Jeremy Renner (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) could be a bounty hunter. Billy Crudup (Mission Impossible III) would make an interesting villain. John Noble (Walter on "Fringe") would crush it as a Sith Lord, and if there happen to be Sith...Ladies, then Blair Brown (Nina on "Fringe") could totally strike fear into anyone's heart.

Regardless of who Abrams casts, it's clear some actors will be more eager than others:
This is Grunberg's Geek magazine cover from 2007.

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