Fan-Casting the Original Predator Movie for Today, part 1

Original *Predator* cast (well, most of them)

I love(d) Predator (1987).

Not only is it one of Ahnold’s best movies (imho), but the John McTiernan-directed flick is a great sci-fi/action thriller, too. You probably knew that there was a new sequel coming out next year, right? The Predator is being co-written and directed by Shane Black, who played the character of ‘Hawkins’ in the original. But, did you also realize that Predator celebrated its 30th anniversary just a couple weeks ago (June 12)?!

In honor of the occasion (though slightly belated), I’d like to offer my suggestions for casting the original — same characters, same plot — as if it were being made today. Of course, it would be extremely difficult to match, let alone surpass, the original cast. They were perfect and just worked so darn well together! But, I think I came up with a really good lineup. You be the judge…

“Dutch”

The star and leader of the ill-fated team of commandos is Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer. I think we need an actor who is just as big as Arnold Schwarzenegger was — in physical size, fame, and charisma. I considered a couple others (e.g., John Cena), but the obvious choice here seems to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (6’4or5″,b.1972). OK, so he doesn’t look like a “Dutch”, but that can be explained in any number of ways (e.g., mixed heritage, adoption, inside joke) and, frankly, wouldn’t even need to be addressed in the movie. We know he’s got the presence and the talent to play a tough, cigar-chompin’, take-charge military leader, as well as the muscles to give a big ol’ Predator a run for its money.

“Dillon”

Next in line is Dutch’s old comrade-in-arms, Dillon. Originally played by Carl Weathers, he needs to be a large black man, almost as muscular as Dutch and roughly the same age. My pick is Michael Jai White (6’1″,b.1967). He’s an avid martial artist and already quite muscular, though he might want to bulk up a little more for this. In the original movie Schwarzenegger and Weathers were both in their late-30s, but for this one Johnson would be in his mid-40s and White is almost 50, if you can believe it! (Looks younger, though, and still kicks @$$.) White mostly does B-movies and voice work, but he has also been in “Arrow” and “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. He’d make a formidable CIA liaison and former U.S. Army Colonel George Dillon.

“Mac”

For this character, we need another big black dude, even taller than Dutch or Dillon, and preferably in his 40s (though early 50s might do). As played by the wonderful actor/director Bill Duke, medic Mac Elliot was an intense guy who didn’t say much. I could’ve gone a few different ways with this character, but ultimately I liked British actor Deobia Oparei (6’6″,b.1971) the best. He had a supporting role as Doran Martell’s bodyguard in “Game of Thrones” and as an African warlord in Independence Day: Resurgence; he was also in Doom with Johnson (see pic). He’s tall, beefy, and intimidating. Perfect.

 

“Blain”

Austin

When wrestler Jesse Ventura played Blain “Ain’t got time to bleed.” Cooper, he was only in his mid-30s. I’ve opted to go a bit older for my version, but it shouldn’t make much difference. My three candidates — yeah, I can’t decide — are also big, tough wrestlers. At least two of them have wielded large-caliber ordnance for roles before, too. They are Steve Austin (6’0.75″,b.1964), Bill Goldberg (6’3.5″,b.1966), and Paul “Triple H” Levesque (6’4″,b.1969). I think any of them ought to be able to handle the role of the bubble-gum chewing, hard-rocking gunner.

 

Goldberg

Levesque

OK, I need to cut this one a little bit short, since I’m traveling over the next few days. I’ll finish up next week, including finding someone new to play the title character….

Fan-Cast: Bionic Reboot, part 2: Steve Austin

Six Million Dollar Man montageSteve Austin, the “world’s first bionic man”, was (along with Captain James T. Kirk) one of my favorite TV characters and heroes while growing up. Still is. Not surprisingly, that also meant that Lee Majors was (along with William Shatner) one of my favorite actors. (Loved him in “The Fall Guy”, too.) I personally haven’t seen much of Majors — at least, not in a regular, major role — since the late, lamented “The Raven” (1992/3) and the final bionic TV movie (“Bionic Ever After?” (1994)), though he does appear occasionally on current TV series.

Majors (6′,b.1939) was 33 when the first “The Six Million Dollar Man” TV movie aired in March 1973. As I explained in a previous post, that is roughly the age I would like him to be in my proposed reboot, too. He was also attractive, athletic, with a solid build, all of which make sense for the “Steve Austin” character. Having already attained the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with experience as an astronaut, we know Steve Austin is a skilled pilot and dedicated to serving his country. He has a certain amount of drive and ambition. (Btw, if the actor chosen is somehow not believable as a Colonel, maybe due to youthful appearance, I figure he could be “demoted” to Major Lee Majors as Steve Austin - on one kneewithout it affecting the story much.)

As I recall from Martin Caidin’s book Cyborg, on which the TV series is based, Austin was somewhat arrogant and full of pride. Fortunately, they toned that down in the series, so that the character was more likable. Once he worked through the physical and psychological trauma of the accident and the subsequent acclimation to having bionic limbs (and an eye), which came with an obligation to work (at least part-time) as an O.S.I. operative, Austin became a good and reliable agent. He developed a respect for and friendship with both his boss, Oscar Goldman, and his “doctor”, Rudy Wells. I seem to remember he also had a decent sense of humor, a strong ethical code, and he could be depended on to fight for his country and bring down the bad guys.

I read something from a few years ago about Bryan Singer being set to direct a new movie version called “The Six Billion Dollar Man”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I cannot tell you how wrong that would be. I sincerely pray that it never gets beyond the planning stages.

So,… who do I think should be up for the part in a movie or (hopefully) new TV series?

Alex O'Loughlin on stool - jeans and brown leather jacketAlex O’Loughlin (6’0.75″,b.1976)

If you read my fan-cast post for Batman, you know that O’Loughlin was in the running for that role, too. But, I am even more in favor of him for this role. In fact, he was the first person I thought of. He has the right build, good looks, and is very fit, of course. He also plays an action-prone military officer on “Hawaii Five-O”, so I’m used to thinking of him in that context. My only reservations are a) he is already pushing my preferred age parameters and b) I don’t know if he could portray “Steve Austin” different enough from “Steve McGarrett”, while retaining the qualities I think work for both.

 

 

Tom Welling as Clark Kent on porch - tee-shirt and jacketTom Welling (6’2.75″,b.1977)

Welling pleased a lot of genre fans when he played young Clark Kent in “Smallville” for 10 seasons. (The finale was a bit disappointing, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.) Welling has proven he can play the “regular”, decent guy who struggles with having unusual abilities and the responsibilities that come with them, makes occasional mistakes but always ends up the hero. Regarding the Steve Austin role, I think it is different enough and can be played differently enough, so that the parallels with Clark Kent would remain only surface-deep. And, of course, he also has the look and build for it.

Brandon Routh - smiling with jacket collar upBrandon Routh (6’2.5″,b.1979)

Coincidentally, the third actor I recommend for the “Steve Austin” role is another former “Clark Kent”. Routh was, of course, the Man of Steel in the somewhat disappointing Superman Returns (2006) movie. He has since popped up here and there in various TV series, including 10 episodes of “Chuck” as Agent Daniel Shaw. Routh is tall, dark, & handsome, and I believe could do a great job as the Bionic Man. He is athletic, very likable, and, as the youngest of these three, he is the best age for the part. Plus, Routh needs a regular role like this to help him establish a new identity for himself as an actor. (Yes, that was a superhero/spy pun.)

 

 

Just for good measure, here are a few others to consider: Channing Tatum (6’1″,b.1980) has the physique, likability factor, and is just barely old enough. (But, he might be “too big” a star for a TV role.) Mike Vogel (5’10”,b.1979) is another possibility. While I usually prefer to stick to the original race/ethnicity of a character, I don’t see why Steve Austin couldn’t be Black, so… I think Lance Gross (6′,b.1981) and Jay Ellis (6’2.5″,b.1981) are potential candidates. They are a tad on the young side, as well, but not enough to make much difference; plus, they have the necessary physical qualities. (I assume they come across as likable guys, too, but I’m not familiar with their work.)

So? Do these guys have the right stuff? (Yes, that was an astronaut joke/reference.) Can you picture any of them as our bionic hero, “The Six Million (Billion?) Dollar Man”? Or, do you prefer someone else? Let’s hear it!

Finally, yes, I know I said last time that I would also fan-cast “Bigfoot” today, but I’ve decided to give the hairy son-of-a-gun his own post. ‘Til then…

 

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.

Re-engineering the Bionic Woman

Speaking of cyborgs….

New Bionic_Woman and castA few years ago, I was excited to read that they were “bringing back” the Bionic Woman, Jaime Sommers. I had a bit of a crush on Lindsay Wagner from the original back in the mid-70s, and it was one of my favorite shows. The new show — call it a “reboot”, I suppose — debuted on 9/26/2007, starring Michelle Ryan. I liked it OK but was disappointed that they had changed a number of things for no good reason, as far as I could tell. For example, Jaime herself looked and acted very differently; she was now a bartender, not a tennis pro; she lived with her rebellious, teenage sister; the organization that gave Jaime her “updated” bionics was the Berkut Group, not the Office of Scientific Investigations (O.S.I.); her boss was some jerk named “Jonas Bledsoe”, not the fatherly Oscar Goldman; they gave her a bionic eye, in addition to the legs, arm, & ear; the bionics were now nanite-powered (really? default to nanites?); etc. In some ways, the darker, ethically-questionable, more secretive feel of the series seemed to be trying to capitalize on the popularity of “La Femme Nikita”. This all bugged me a bit, but, as with most things sci-fi, I was still willing to give it a chance.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one disappointed in the series, since it was quickly cancelled and ground to a halt after 8 episodes. So, at the time I decided to jot down a few ideas of what I thought they could do to revive and improve it.

1) Bring back Oscar Goldman, Rudy Wells, and the O.S.I. (Also, minimize any dark, shady aspects. These are the good guys!) Berkut should be renamed, re-organized/re-focused (maybe as a unit within the O.S.I.?), or maybe just disbanded. Jonas and (therapist) Ruth could be killed or reassigned. Not sure whether or not to keep the little sister.

2) Oscar should be a mentor and father figure to Jaime, while Rudy could be somewhat of an absentminded professor/uncle-type. (You know, like in the original series, where they actually liked each other and worked well together?) Maybe Rudy could be a former associate, then rival, of (nemesis) Anthros, who worked on his own version of the bionic technology for either a different government agency or an independent lab. [In fact, I would like to see a totally different approach to the “bionic” technology, blending “old school” with new.]

3) Spend more time training Jaime in espionage, guns, field tactics, etc. Maybe have flashbacks of her learning to control her strength, speed, etc. [This aspect of showing her training with one or more other operatives was one of the things that actually made sense in the reboot.]

4) Borrow from ‘Alias’, where a) there were one or two main opponent organizations whose activities are tracked; and b) operations/assignments should be planned in a briefing room w/ Oscar, Jaime, Rudy(?) and/or Nathan or Jae (assuming they keep those characters), and one or two senior operatives whom she could be alternately paired with on training missions.

Overall, the show seemed to be unfocused (to me, anyway) and in need of better writing. Most of the characters weren’t all that interesting or even likable. For one, I prefer the more lighthearted & fun-loving Jaime of old. (Maybe they would have had her lighten up a bit later on, after grieving for her fiance and “dealing” with the realities of her new life?) On a positive note, casting Katee Sackhoff as Jaime’s troubled, bionic opposite-number, Sarah Corvus, was brilliant! She did a great job, gloating in her superior skills, while also trying to convince Jaime to leave Berkut and join her. It was also a nice homage to Monte Markham’s “Seven Million Dollar Man” character, Barney Hiller/Miller, from “The Six Million Dollar Man”.

This leads me to another way I thought of to improve the show — namely, bring “Col. Steve Austin” into the picture by sort of mirroring the way Jaime Sommers was introduced in the original TSMDM series. I had a couple of background and story ideas back then, which I have fleshed out a little, here.

5) In season two, introduce Steve Austin. Steve and Jaime were high school sweethearts, with Steve being at least a couple years ahead of her. He graduated in 2001 and began attending community college that Fall. Then, one or both of Steve’s parents were killed in the 9/11 attacks. He enlisted, becoming an Air Force pilot. Meanwhile, he & Jaime became estranged and, when he was stationed overseas, they lost touch.

6) Now in 20XX, Steve appears on Jaime’s doorstep. After several tours in the Middle East and a brief stint in the now-defunct NASA Space Shuttle program, the newly-promoted colonel is about to begin working as a test pilot. Over the next few days, they spend a lot of time together and rekindle some old flames. Steve asks Jaime to come watch him on his first flight of a new supersonic jet. As in the original TSMDM, Steve has a terrible accident while landing and is near death. A distraught Jaime manages to convince Oscar to let Rudy operate on Steve and replace various parts with bionic ones. (Steve’s superb military record certainly works in his favor, since Oscar thinks he would make a good O.S.I. operative.)

7) Taking another cue from the original TSMDM/TBW, Steve suffers minor brain damage and doesn’t remember Jaime or their relationship. Nevertheless, he accepts her friendship and assistance in learning to accept (and use) his bionics. This aspect can, of course, be interspersed throughout 2 or 3 or more episodes.

8) At some point, Oscar tries to recruit Steve into working for the O.S.I. If he does it full-time, perhaps he would be assigned to another installation. Or, maybe he could agree to only the occasional assignment while he concentrates on relearning his piloting skills. Or, maybe they work out that he remains in the military for another 2 or 3 years (perhaps training recruits?), before beginning training with the O.S.I.? (Of course, this will be affected by whether or not Steve gets his own show.)

So,… thoughts? I think the old fans (like me) would really appreciate these changes, bringing back both the tone and some familiar characters/elements from the original series. New, younger viewers might like it better, too. As long as the casting and writing were up to snuff, it could be a popular show (or two) once again. And, speaking of casting, that’s what I’ll do in my next post….