The Casting Couch: November News

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Daniel Cohen and Justin Matchick examine the big casting news from November.

Elvis & Nixon Round Up

Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley

Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon

Thumbs Up On Both: Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley sounds like the greatest casting of all time. Shannon is so intense and dedicated to his craft, that to see him capture the unique persona of Elvis is going to be fascinating to watch. I can see Kevin Spacey playing a lot of US Presidents, but Richard Nixon was not one of them. Plus, it will be hard to top what Frank Langella did in the criminally underrated Frost/Nixon from 2008. But he’s Kevin Spacey, I’m sure he’ll do just fine. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Spacey is on an absolute tear these past few years spawned by the success of House of Cards. Shannon might be the most underrated actor of late, his performances are as diverse as they are powerful. I am 100% on board with casting them as two cultural icons and letting them act out one of the more bizarre White House visits of all time. Nothing is better than when two actors play off each other well, and I’m sure both will shine here. (JM)

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Mark Wahlberg as Steve Austin – The Six Million Dollar Man

Thumbs Up: I can’t say I’m very familiar with The Six Million Dollar Man television show that this is based on, but Wahlberg was really impressed me with his last few films. Even in something like Transformers: Age of Extinction, he was able to bring a lot of class to that franchise. From what I understand, this guy is basically a superhero, and I’m sure Wahlberg will do just fine. (DC)

Thumbs Down: Even after years of Hollywood casting him in big action movies, I am still adverse to Mark Wahlberg as an action star. I enjoy his comedy roles (Ted, The Other Guys) and his drama roles (Boogie Nights, The Fighter), but his action roles have always fallen flat for me. From Max Payne to The Italian Job to 2 Guns to Transformers: Age of Extinction, his roles in action movies have ranged from bad to barely passable. Color me unimpressed by this choice. (JM)

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn – Suicide Squad

Thumbs Up: The Wolf of Wall Street was all I needed to see to convince me this actress can play Harley Quinn. She was able to hold her own with Leonardo DiCaprio, and provides the right amount of crazy that is needed for this character. I’m not a massive Harley Quinn fan as I believe she takes too much attention away from the Joker, but I know there’s a lot of hardcore fans of this character, so Robbie will definitely be under a lot of pressure to hit this out of the park. The voice will be the most difficult to get right. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Robbie had a stellar breakthrough performance in last years The Wolf of Wall Street, but will have to really challenge herself for Harley Quinn. The blend of tragedy, comedy, and psychosis that makes Quinn such a memorable character is far easier to portray in comics and animation, meaning she’ll have to teeter on the edge of overacting without falling off. It will certainly be a tricky role, but I think she’ll be up to the task. (JM)

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Jason Statham returning as Arthur Bishop – Mechanic: Resurrection

Thumbs I Don’t Care: I’m not a Jason Statham fan, I never saw the original, and the fact that this sequel uses the subtitle “Resurrection” lets me know how lazy this movie plans on being, so I’ll be staying away. (DC)

Thumbs in the Middle: I’ve never seen the first Mechanic film (which is in turn a remake of a 1970s Charles Bronson movie), so I don’t readily have an opinion on this returning character or exactly how Statham played has played him before. However I do enjoy Jason Statham, an actor I have always felt has the ability to go deeper than the action roles he is regularly cast in. (JM)

Vacation Re-launch Round Up

Nick Kroll, Tim Heidecker, Kaitlin Olson, and Michael Pena as Cops

Thumbs Up to Everyone but Pena: While I have little interest in this re-launch/sequel, these are some solid additions. Nick Kroll is absolutely hysterical as Ruxin on The League, so the fact they got him on board perks me up a little bit. While I had no love lost for the Tim and Eric movie, I at least saw a decent amount of comedic potential in Tim Heidecker, so maybe putting him another project will work. I’ve seen very, very little of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (I know, I know), but the spurts I have seen, I’ve enjoyed Olson, and I know a lot of people like her, so why not. The only person that pisses me off here is Michael Pena. Seriously, I feel like Michael Pena is in every single Casting Couch we’ve ever done. Why do people love this guy so much? I don’t get it. He’s mediocre at best. Enough with Michael Pena, for crying out loud! Geez! (DC)

Thumbs Up: I think we’ve talked about some form of casting for this Vacation re-launch every month I’ve been a part of Casting Couch so far, and each time they steadily raise my interest levels. I’m a big fan of all the comedians here (Michael Pena notwithstanding), and even though they might not have the biggest roles in the movie, I feel like they will definitely be memorable characters. (JM)

Christoph Waltz as a possible Bond Villain – Untitled Bond Film

Thumbs WAY Up: Are you kidding me? This doesn’t need an explanation. Next. (DC)

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Thumbs Up: This might be my favorite casting announcement of the year. I cannot wait to see how Waltz and Daniel Craig will play off one another as they square off. We all know that Waltz can play an amazing villain from his role in Inglorious Bastards. He has shown how well he can balance the aspects of an antagonist, seamlessly being intense, hilarious, and frightening as hell all at once. I thought that Javier Bardem had reached the heights of what was possible with a Bond villain in Skyfall, now I can’t wait to see how Waltz can top that. (JM)

Daniel Bruhl as a Villain – Captain America: Civil War

Thumbs Down: Go ahead and get the pitch forks, but Daniel Bruhl is overrated. I’m sorry, I don’t see it. He’s solid in Rush, but the Oscar push was ridiculous. Let’s calm down. Bruhl certainly fits the bill of a Marvel villain though: Mediocre, bland, one-dimensional, and completely forgettable. (DC)

Thumbs Up: There is only a small sample size of mainstream English-speaking roles we’ve seen Bruhl in, but he’s been fantastic as a German war hero in Inglorious Bastards and Formula One driver Niki Lauda in Rush. Even with the scarce details as to whom Bruhl will actually be playing, he has my complete trust that he will make whichever villain he plays into a landmark role. (JM)

Melissa McCarthy as Tinker Bell (Untitled Tinker Bell Movie)

Thumbs Down: No. (DC)

Thumbs in the Middle: I’m kind of puzzled by this choice. McCarthy is a great comedic actress, but most of her roles to date have been particularly abrasive characters. This clashes with the typically saccharine role of Tinker Bell, and I’m still trying to figure out how they might make it work. Still, I’ll say I’m cautiously optimistic and give points to McCarthy for expanding her repertoire. (JM)

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Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse – X-Men: Apocalypse

Thumbs WAY Up: Oscar Isaac is about to explode. He flirted with an Oscar nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis, and next year we’ll see him in a major role as an X-Wing pilot in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. He’s an extremely talented actor, and him as Apocalypse is all sorts of intriguing. Will this be motion capture? Is he just providing the voice? I have no idea, but the fact that they cast Oscar Isaac tells me this is a villain who’s going to have some real meat to him. Welcome to the X-Men franchise, Oscar. We’re glad to have you! (DC)

Thumbs Up: I was originally very down on this casting choice. Although he has more than proved his acting abilities in the Coen brother’s film Inside Llewyn Davis, I simply could not picture him as the massively imposing, 7-foot-tall and counting comic villain Apocalypse. However I began to think about Josh Brolin and how he had been cast as the equally physically imposing Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the steps with which they were using special effects to bring his performance into the character. I have hope now that Isaac and his acting will seamlessly blend with the special effect needed to bring Apocalypse to life. (JM)

Mel Brooks as Vlad, Dracula’s Father (voiceover) – Hotel Transylvania 2

Thumbs Up: Yeah, it’s an Adam Sandler movie, but anytime Mel Brooks does anything is awesome. The guy is a legend beyond legends, and him exchanging dialogue with Adam Sandler is fine by me. Keep plugging away, Mel. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Hotel Transylvania turned out to be a huge surprise for me, a surprising gem in the midst of Adam Sandler’s continuing laziness when it comes to making movies. Casting an older comedy legend in a parental role is something comedies have done for decades, but there’s something about Brooks that makes this choice feel particularly apt. It might be his experience with similar stories like Young Frankenstein or Dracula: Dead and Loving It, but I’m all aboard for this one. (JM)

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