All right, all right, I know this is not a corner of the newspaper. Try thinking outside the box.
“Nobody Asked Me, But…” was the title of an occasional article in The Hartford Courant written by a now-deceased friend, Bill Ryan. Like Andy Rooney, who died so soon after leaving “60 Minutes,” Ryan was a bit of a curmudgeon. Since there may be a vacuum left by the passing of these two gentlemen, I hereby declare myself tanned, rested and ready to fill in. My terms are simple: I will write columns on my choice of topics whenever I feel like it. Movies, for example.
Why am I never asked or consulted about what movies I want to see? I have some good ideas. Let’s say Hollywood decides to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. Fine, but I would like some input in choosing the actors and scripts.
For example, for one possible version, “Vladimir Putin: The KGB Years,” I want Johnny Depp to play the lead. Then, I would select Jennifer Aniston for the role of Comrade Wife, with Angelina Jolie as her double. That way, they could take turns working on the movie and share Brad Pitt. Everyone benefits. No one in the audience will notice who plays the wife, anyway, because all eyes will be on Johnny Depp.
And since it is always possible that Jen and Angelina will engage in fisticuffs, a knife fight or gunplay over Brad, resulting in the hospitalization of either or both, Helena Bonham Carter could do stand-in duty, or play Vlad’s meat pie-baking love interest. Madonna, dressed as a little girl, could make a brief cameo as Putin’s mother, still a virgin after Vlad’s auspicious birth.
Speaking of money. I know stars such as these don’t come cheap, so in the middle of production, we’ll start cutting costs. We’ll get robots from some science-oriented high school to play Mariya and Yekaterina, Vlad’s daughters. Then we’ll replace his Bulgarian shepherd, Buffy, and his black lab, Koni, with a more appropriate breed of dog. We’ll throw in a Russian Wolfhound to play Bolshoi, the Borzoi. (I guess we’ll have to get the dog one of those SAG cards but maybe not the robots.) Again, most people won’t care how we fill these roles because all eyes will be on Depp. For the rest of the cast, I would hire actors and actresses working as waiters and waitresses until they get their “big break.” Since most of them will have been unemployed since the night Lincoln was shot they would leap at the chance, and we could get them dirt-cheap.
So we have the cast. Now for the story line. Yes, I said story line, LOL, ha ha ha. Lack of a good script never stopped Hollywood before, so why should it now? We’ll just get some youngsters from Hollywood High School out in L.A. to write it, or, if we film in NYC, some students from Stuyvesant High School or NYU. We’ll pay them little or nothing and browbeat them relentlessly to get the script in last week. If that doesn’t work, we can put an ad in Variety and pick the best and least expensive apple in the basket.
In the movie, Depp would portray Putin during the fun-loving years when he was torturing the opposition and loving it. I would get Colin Firth to play his archrival, the American President Ronald Reagan. Since Firth doesn’t usually play Americans, I’d have Geoffrey Rush, an Australian, teach him the accent. Rush could play the Secretary of State, or the president’s fancy wristwatch. Whatever.
I grant you, Depp can shave his head and pout easily enough. But getting buff enough to look like Putin for that manly, bare-chested, horse-riding scene might take some doing if Depp’s appearance in “Rum Diary” tells us anything. If that’s expecting too much, I suggest renting an upper-body suit of the “six pack, looks just like muscles” variety. That way, Depp as Putin can continue, à la Rudolf Valentino, making women weak in the knees while manfully sitting astride Papa Ruski—a stallion, of course.
Note to Johnny Depp: Don’t forget that you already took ideas from old Buster Keaton movies for your “Pirates of the Caribbean” character. This time, watch old Yul Brynner movies to get ideas about how to play Putin. Naturally, Brynner would have been a better choice to play the Eternal Prime Minister and President, but he is unfortunately dead.
Suck it up, Johnny! “Yes, you can!”
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By John Early