Almost Cast: Baby Driver Edition (October 2017)

The cast of Edgar Wright's film "Baby Driver".

by Cole Albinder

Almost Cast is a column here on Non-Stop Film Talk that looks at actors who were almost cast in famous roles, and how getting those roles would have affected their career trajectories.

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver raced into theatres this past June, and what a crowd-pleaser it was. The film could probably be described as a musical, only with car chase sequences instead of choreographed numbers; as one critic described it, “it uses music the way the rest of us use air”. From its name (taken from a Simon and Garfunkel song) to the way the actors’ movements and timing are synced up with the stellar soundtrack, that endorsement rings true. Add a charming romantic subplot, some ingenious camera work, and a plethora of snappy dialogue, and you’ve got one of this year’s best films.

But no movie is complete without the right cast of actors, and this movie hit the nail on the head when it came to choosing the right people to play these parts. But still, it’s fun to think about what could have been; a few prominent actors were at one point attached to star in Baby, but weren’t able to do it for one reason or another. In honor of the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release this month, we’re gonna look at those actors and see how different the movie could have been.

Logan Lerman as Baby 

Logan Lerman as "Marcus Messner" in James Schamus's "Indignation".

                      Courtesy of Summit Entertainment. 

Ansel Elgort in a scene from "Baby Driver".

                       Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures.

According to a Variety article from 2015, Logan Lerman was one of the actors Ansel Elgort beat out for Baby. Lerman’s star has certainly risen from years past, and progressing to a film of this stature would have been a nice showcase for him. He’s got the baby-faced (see what I did there) looks, charm and determination for the part, but not a history with music (Elgort also sings and works as a DJ), which would have helped in a role that requires some singing and dancing choreography (not to say he couldn’t have learned). Even without Baby Driver, Lerman’s career is still alive and well, earning praise for his work in films like Indignation, which came out the same year as Baby.


John Boyega as Baby

John Boyega as "Finn" in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".

                         Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. 


Ansel Elgort in another scene as "Baby" in "Baby Driver""

                                       Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures.

That’s right: Finn could have been Baby. That same Variety article names John Boyega as the second actor Elgort beat out for Baby, and with good reason, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens gave Boyega the showcase most up-and-coming actors dream of. As it turns out, Baby Driver director Edgar Wright executive-produced a film Boyega starred in back in 2011 called Attack the Block, and it would have been cool to see them work together on a new project. As with Lerman, not getting the Baby gig didn’t stop Boyega from conquering Hollywood, as he’s gone on to bigger films like The Circle and this year’s Detroit. Besides, filming for The Last Jedi probably coincided for filming with Baby, so things worked out in the end.



Michael Douglas as Doc

Actor Michael Douglas on the red carpet.

                                      Courtesy of The Indian Express. 

Actor Kevin Spacey as "Doc" in "Baby Driver".

                                               Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures.

After Ansel Elgort was cast, Michael Douglas began circling the role of Doc, Baby’s mentor and the mastermind behind each of the robberies Baby and his ever-changing crew of criminals take on. Coincidentally, Michael Douglas was preparing to star in Marvel’s Ant-Man at the time, which Edgar Wright had just left due to creative differences; had Douglas not taken that gig, this could have been the opportunity for the two of them to work together, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Douglas and Kevin Spacey are almost cut from the same cloth of playing characters with a smug charm to them, so there’s no doubt Douglas could have been as entertaining in this role as Spacey was.


Emma Stone as Debora

Emma Stone in "La La Land".

                Courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

Lily James as "Debora" in "Baby Driver".

                                       Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures.

Emma Stone’s pretty much conquered Hollywood at this point, but she very nearly could have added another notch to her belt had she been cast in Baby Driver as Debora, a waitress and Baby’s love interest. Stone was being considered for the part after Elgort was cast, and it’s not hard to see how her energy and determination would have fit into this role. Scheduling conflicts probably played a part in her not getting cast, and Lily James made the role her own, doing a great job. Stone went on to make Battle of the Sexes instead.

Like what you read? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section and stay tuned to the Media On Tap! Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates!!




The Peter Rabbit Trailer Just Projectile Vomited on My Childhood. My Response?

The title card for 2018's
Don’t let it fool you.

                                                Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.

by Cole Albinder

Dear Sony Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation,

One of my favorite stories when I was very young, whether it was read to me or read on my own, was Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The story of a mischievous young rabbit who disobeys his mother by sneaking into a garden for vegetables delighted a younger me. It was one of my favorite books, and it instilled in me a love of reading. That’s because I felt like I was in Peter’s shoes (which he lost in his escape from the garden) the whole time: felt the tension every time it seemed like the farmer would catch him, felt bad for him despite his recklessness. This is what good stories can do to you: make you feel like you’re there with the characters and feel their emotions. I’ve been reading ever since then.

Not too long ago, you announced a live-action/CGI-animated film based on the story, simply called Peter Rabbit. I was intrigued, but skeptical; you didn’t have the best track record when it came to live-action/CGI hybrids (the first two Smurfs and Hop, as you’re aware), but I remained somewhat positive. The cast you lined up was top-notch, and 2014’s Paddington showed for the first time in a while that a movie with a CGI character didn’t have to be obnoxious and lazy, only pandering to young children. It could be enjoyable for all ages, and the film was true to its character as originally written. With that lesson in mind, I anticipated news of your Peter Rabbit venture. Just last week, a teaser trailer arrived for the film, and I just wanted to congratulate you on a job well done.

A job well done on taking a story that meant so much to my generation growing up, tearing it to shreds, stitching it back together, and letting it collect residue from repeated meetings with focus groups, who think they know what we want.

I mean, how do you get this:

                                     Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation. 

from these?!!:

The beginning to

Beatrice Potter's character
He just screams “party animal”.

This movie could have been great; magical even. While there’s more material that you’d have to add, this could have been on par with a lot of Disney’s recent movies (Big Hero 6ZootopiaMoana) and been entertaining for audiences of all ages, with its message about following rules, yet knowing that it’s okay to be rebellious every once in a while. Peter Rabbit could have been an endearing character, with both bravery and curiosity to spare (he would have been a mix between Curious George and Indiana Jones), not just your live-action Smurfs inside a rabbit costume. You disappointed me, Sony Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation. I thought you learned better from other, more careful studios.


Cole Albinder

Media on Tap!

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Almost Cast (August 2017)

by Cole Albinder

Almost Cast is a monthly column here on Media On Tap! that looks at actors who were almost cast in famous roles, and how getting those roles would have affected their career trajectories.


Jim Carrey as Stu Shepard in Phone Booth

Actor and comedian Jim Carrey.

Colin Farrell as "Stu Shepard" in "Phone Booth".

    Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

Jim Carrey was all set to reteam with his Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher on this cult hit (one of my faves) in 2002, about an arrogant publicist who is taunted from a phone booth at gunpoint by Kiefer Sutherland. But just as they were about to start filming, Carrey dropped out. Said Schumacher:

“We were going to shoot it that summer and he was fitted for the suit. But I got a call from Jim one night and told me he had cold feet. He really didn’t feel comfortable with it. Actors never give up their role. If an actor gives up a part then it’s not right for them.”

It’s certainly understandable that Carrey was uncomfortable in taking such a big step outside his comfort zone, given that this strayed especially far from the comedy niche he had carved out for himself around that time (Man on the Moon and The Truman Show showed a different side of him from movies like Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber, though they stood a firm ground between comedy and drama). In fact, he wasn’t the only one to pass on the part; Will Smith did also in an earlier part of the film’s development.

But still…a part of me feels like Carrey would have knocked this role out of the park. No offense to Colin Farrell of course, but just seeing how Carrey took on (or was up for) other dramatic roles after this (and excelled) sets my imagination afloat on how he would have done here. While I haven’t seen enough of his turn in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, what I saw spoke volumes to Carrey’s level as an actor. Had he taken this part (and succeeded), he could have seen his career become a balancing act of both comedic and more versatile roles.


Passing on this role left him open to film Bruce Almighty, which was one of his bigger hits, and kept his reputation as a box office draw in check. If Carrey had been in Phone Booth instead, another actor could have taken his part in Bruce Almighty, and the film itself (along with any other potential Carrey vehicles) would have either failed or done very differently with another lead. And besides, Carrey’s still been getting offers for more dramatic roles (he eventually reteamed with Schumacher on another, less successful thriller, The Number 23), so it’s not like he’s coming up short in showcasing his acting talents.


Chris Farley as Ernie “Chip” Douglas/Larry Tate/Ricky Ricardo/”The Cable Guy” in The Cable Guy 

Actor and comedian Chris Farley.

         Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. 

Jim Carrey in "The Cable Guy".

           Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Speaking of Jim Carrey, one of his strangest roles was in 1996’s The Cable Guy, in which he played the psychotic, lonely, friendship-desiring titular character. Back then, the film was frowned upon by most for its dark tone and the nature of Carrey’s role. Today, however, it has a dedicated cult following, and the film thrives mostly on Carrey’s lovably unhinged performance. But could the movie have been different if someone else played the role? Perhaps someone like Chris Farley? Actually yes, it could have.

Cable Guy scribe Lou Holtz, Jr. had written the script with Farley in mind for the lead, and as such, it had a much lighter tone than what it eventually became. According to eventual producer Judd Apatow, the original script was in the vein of “annoying-friend movies” like What About Bob?; the main character originally was a likable loser who keeps inserting himself into the cable subscriber’s life, though not in any threatening way. Before Farley could take this role, he was forced at the last minute to pass on it. Wanna know why?

At the time, Farley was coming off the success of Tommy Boy, which starred him and frequent collaborator/friend David Spade. Its studio Paramount was enjoying the success as well, and wanted to cash in again on teaming Farley and Spade together, as part of Farley’s two-film deal with the studio. As Farley was preparing to accept the role in The Cable Guy, they had writer Fred Wolf quickly put together the script for Black Sheep; Wolf claims that the studio told him to “deliver a finished script by midnight on Sunday, the last day Chris was contractually allowed to get out of the movie. If I didn’t have a finished script — any finished script — they were going to sue me.” Wolf promptly wrote 45 pages over a few days and dropped the script off at the studio, about 15 min. before the deadline. With Farley now under contract for Black Sheep, the script for The Cable Guy fell into the hands of director Ben Stiller, producer Apatow, and Carrey. The three then decided to make the film a satire of paranoia-fueled thrillers like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Cape Fear, as well as adding more slapstick and dialogue that was tailored more to Carrey’s comedic strengths. Thus, a cult hit was born.

Farley was known among his friends and fellow comedians to be very sensitive about how audiences perceived his kind of comedy, which he referred to as “fatty falls down, everybody goes home happy”. He was hurt by negative reactions to Tommy Boy (which he enjoyed making) and didn’t enjoy making Black Sheep (which he was coaxed into doing by David Spade). His frustrations at being manipulated by the studio and his desire to escape being pigeonholed as the funny fat guy only fueled his downward spiral into alcohol and substance abuse. Had Paramount been more lenient and let Farley read the original script for Cable Guy, there’s no telling what he would have done; he could have passed on it (seeing it as more of the same fat guy shtick), or perhaps he would accepted it, if the script didn’t revolve around the main character being clumsily overweight so much as lovably weird.

As much as I love Carrey in the role, I’ve thought for a while about what the darker version of The Cable Guy we got would have looked like with Farley instead. As I mentioned, Farley never got to escape being cast as the funny fat guy, and it’s sad that he remained in that stereotyped purgatory until his passing. But I think that if he were given this role (in an alternate timeline where Carrey had to drop out of the part), he would have relished the opportunity to do something much darker and demented than expected, and given it his all. Carrey sets a high bar with his performance, but I think that with Farley in the role, he could have played off audience’s expectations of seeing him play yet another lovable oaf, only to have them shocked (and possibly terrified) at him actually playing a psychopath.  I don’t know if he would have matched Carrey’s level of intensity, but it would have fun to see regardless.

Seth Rogen in Dude, Where’s My Car?

Actor and comedian Seth Rogen.

Courtesy of NBCUniversal Television Distribution.

Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott in "Dude, Where's My Car?"

              Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

In a 2007 interview with the A.V. Club to promote Pineapple Express, Rogen revealed that he had auditioned for a different stoner-focused comedy back in 2000, the now cult hit Dude, Where’s My Car?. When asked who he auditioned for, Rogen simply replied with “one of the dudes”.

Back in 2000, Rogen was still a cast member on the loved yet short-lived series Freaks and Geeks, while Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott were riding high off the successes of That 70’s Show and American Pie, respectively. Since barely anyone watched Freaks and Geeks (when they really should have) and Kutcher and Scott were more bankable actors, they were chosen over Rogen and most others who auditioned. Had Rogen actually won one of the roles in Dude, he could have jump-started his film career slightly earlier (his first credited film role was in Donnie Darko in 2001). Were this the case, he might have been spurred by its success into pursuing more film roles, rather than continuing his relationship with Judd Apatow through starring roles on Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared (the latter on which Rogen was also a writer); the lack of his presence on these shows would have undoubtedly thrown both of them out of whack, and they probably might not have had the same edge without him. In fact, they might not even have been created, sending the careers of James Franco, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel and other Apatow collaborators in completely different directions. Several of the projects Apatow and Rogen worked together on might not have happened either, including The 40-Year-Old VirginKnocked Up, Pineapple Express, and Superbad. That’s one list of films I couldn’t stand to live without.

I think it’s for the best that Rogen wasn’t cast. While I’m sure he could have done a bang-up job playing either dude, it’s because of his relationship with Apatow that he ‘s been able to score some of his biggest hits, most of them based on ideas that he himself created. If he’d gotten to play one of the dudes, it’s likely that he could have been coerced afterwards by other studios into doing movies that his heart wasn’t in, something he was able to avoid doing with Apatow. While Rogen has been in a few movies that he hasn’t written/directed/produced, he’s still been able to pick and choose the ones that speak to him, as well as pass on the ones that don’t without much trouble.


Like what you read? Leave thoughts in the comments section, whether it’s about this article or about topics you’d want to see me tackle. Expect the next issue of this column out in October. 










Who I Would Have Cast: Superhero Edition

by Cole Albinder


Welcome to the first issue of the weekly column, Who I Would Have Cast. In this column, I’ll be looking at different movies and re-casting some of their actors with those who I personally felt would have been good for the parts. In some cases, I’m not trying to stain the original actors with my words, just re-interpreting the roles differently through my eyes. As always, a disclaimer: I am not trying to force my opinion down your throats, as I know that there are those who are fine with these picks and enjoy the movies themselves. You are entitled to your own feelings and opinions. With that said, let’s explore!!


SUICIDE SQUAD (my favorite punching bag):

Jeffrey Donovan as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot

Jeffrey Donovan in "Burn Notice".

Courtesy of Twentieth Television, Inc.

Will Smith in 2016's "Suicide Squad".








Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Starting off with Deadshot, who is the first in the line-up introduced to the audience. I love Will Smith, and I thought he did the best with what he was given (as did everyone), giving off the right amount of charisma and grit that the movie required (I swear that if Will Smith were cast as Ben Stein in a movie, he’d be more charismatic than the actual Ben Stein).

But that said, I do agree with several fans and critics on his casting: you don’t take him seriously as a borderline heartless assassin. Yes, acting is all about becoming someone you’re not, but you never got the feeling that this was a guy who truly felt the weight of being a killer and a family man (a better script could have helped in this regard, but still) The only other version of this character I’ve seen was on Arrow, and that version remained likable despite his extremely killer tendencies; that’s what we need to see from Deadshot. The first guy to pop into my head was Jeffrey Donovan, who you’ll recognize as Michael Westen from USA’s Burn Notice. From what I’ve seen of that series, Donovan effortlessly remains likable as he pulls off the hardest cons, and has the charisma and action experience down pat. He was also one of my picks for Batman, but I felt that Deadshot would be a bit more in his wheelhouse. Plus he’s gone toe-to-toe with Smith himself:



Ksenia Solo as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn

Ksenia Solo as "Kenzi" on "Lost Girl".

Courtesy of Prodigy Pictures Inc. in association with Shaw Media and Showcase.

Margot Robbie as "Harley Quinn" in "Suicide Squad".

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Margot Robbie was great in Suicide Squad, arguably stealing the movie with her every scene. Her energy was infectious, and I’m excited to see more of her (she’s set to star in a spin-off, Gotham City Sirens, alongside Poison Ivy and Catwoman). However, I couldn’t help picturing how well Lost Girl’s Ksenia Solo would fare in that part after watching her in the film Pet. See if you get any vibes out of this scene (start from the 0:48 mark):

Courtesy of Orion Pictures.

Pretty scary, right? Harley needs to toe the line between being witty, brainy, and dangerously psychotic (she’s obsessed with The Joker, obviously). This scene proves that Solo has the chops to take on the psychological elements of Harley’s personality. From what I’ve seen of Lost Girl, she’s also got very good comedic chops. Mix those traits together and you’ve got a bonafide Harley.

Courtesy of Prodigy Pictures Inc. in association with Shaw Media and Showcase.


Alan Tudyk as The Joker

Alan Tudyk in "Firefly".








Courtesy of Twentieth Television, Inc.

Jared Leto as "The Joker" in 2016's "Suicide Squad".

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Ah, Joker, Joker, Joker. As I went over in one of my previous articles Jared Leto’s Joker: Were We Too Harsh?, I mentioned my preferred choice for the Clown Prince of Crime, Alan Tudyk, who’s been in everything from Firefly to Dodgeball to Moana. He’s taken more roles in every genre than you can name, and you need a good set of comedic and dramatic chops to take on this maniac. I’ve been told that his character Alpha on Dollhouse is very Joker-ish; I couldn’t find any direct clips of him, but I found this trailer:

      Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Very, very nice. In the meantime, I’m willing to give Jared Leto another chance with a different script.


Jake McLaughlin as Rick Flag, Jr.

Jake McLaughlin as " Agent Ryan Booth" on "Quantico".

Courtesy of Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

Joel Kinnaman as "Rick Flag, Jr." in "Suicide Squad".

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Quantico‘s Jake McLaughlin would have been my pick for Col. Rick Flag, Jr.. His show character Ryan Booth is a born leader and skilled tactician, a person who weighs the pros and cons for every situation, ultimately going with his gut, not unlike Flag. The fact that he served in the U.S. Army (he was in the 3rd Infantry Division, and his unit was one of the first to go into Iraq) would have given him an advantage in playing this character as well.

Ryan Kwanten as George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang

Ryan Kwanten as "Jason Stackhouse" on "True Blood".

Courtesy of HBO Enterprises.

Jai Courtney as "Captain Boomerang" in "Suicide Squad".

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Jason Stackhouse?? AUSTRALIAN?!! Yep. As convincing as he is as a Southern bad boy on True Blood, Ryan Kwanten was actually born in Sydney, Australia. The goofy charm and occasional recklessness he displayed on that series made him my first pick for Boomerang, who in the comics is known for being the Suicide Squad’s resident prick. Jai Courtney made the role his own (he was given too little to do, in my opinion), but I feel like Kwanten would have had a field day with this part.


Jose Pablo Cantillo as Max Dillon/Electro

Jose Pablo Cantillo as Caesar Martinez on "The Walking Dead".

       Courtesy of AMC Studios.

Jamie Foxx as "Electro" in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2".

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

Cantillo might look familiar, and with good reason: he was a stand-out as Caesar Martinez, second-in-command to The Governor on a few seasons of The Walking Dead. But it was his role on Sons of Anarchy, as spurned Mayan MC member Hector Salazar, that made me want to cast him as Electro. He made the role of Salazar his own, a revenge-hungry, violent thug who could go psychotic (if he needed to) at the drop of a hat (sadly, I couldn’t find any clips of this role. Watch Sons of Anarchy though). The ability to go from normal to psychotic is crucial for playing Electro; get him too angry and he’ll sap the electricity out of an entire town to fry you alive. The ASM2 version of Electro didn’t go far enough in fleshing out its nerdier Max Dillon, his inner struggle to be accepted, and the level of revenge he takes out using his new powers, and I feel that’s necessary for any future version of Electro. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe wants to play with Electro (and in my opinion, base it off the version from The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series):

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.

Cantillo would be my pick for the role and he’d knock it out of the park.


Ethan Suplee as Alex O’Hirn/The Rhino

Ethan Suplee as "Randy Hickey" on "My Name is Earl".

      Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Paul Giamatti in Columbia Picture's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

With its version of The Rhino, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 checked off the “cheesy, over-the-top villain” requirement on its “How Not to Do a Superhero Movie” checklist (Green Lantern had Hector Hammond, Batman vs. Superman had Lex Luthor). As much as I love Paul Giamatti, this was not the role for him (he’d a great Penguin in a future Batman movie), though he got to live out his dream by playing the role. No joke: here’s the article:

so that’s nice in a crossing-something-off-your-bucket-list kind of way.

In the main Marvel Comics series, The Rhino is a Russian-born man named Alexsei Sytesevich fitted with an irremovable artificial rhinoceros skin that gives him superhuman strength and speed; he’s usually known for charging at his enemies like an actual rhino (see below):

"The Rhino" from Marvel Comics.

   Courtesy of

In the Ultimate Marvel line of comics (which re-imagine the characters with modern-day origins. Ex: in the original 60’s-era origin, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, but by a genetically-altered spider in the Ultimate comics), the Rhino is a suit of armor called R.H.I.N.O. (Robotism Heuristic Intelligence Navigable Operative), operated by Alex O’Hirn (whom we never see), which he uses to rob a bank in Manhattan.

"Ultimate Rhino" from the Ultimate Marvel Comics line.
Sorry, this was the only one that worked.

Courtesy of

The ASM2 version combined these two versions of the character, making him a Russian thug named Alexsei Sytesevich, who at the beginning of the film who attempts to steal plutonium from Oscorp, but is foiled by Spider-Man. At the film’s end, the mysterious Gustav Fiers breaks him out of jail (we don’t get to see this directly, another one of the film’s flaws), and gives him a high-tech rhinoceros-themed suit, equipped with missile launchers and machine guns. However, I feel that if Marvel wants to re-introduce the Rhino in a film (and it might be a while before they do that), then they’ll go with the original incarnation of the character, making him a common thug who receives his artificial skin through experimentation (perhaps like in The Spectacular Spider-Man):

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television. 

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television. 

(Sorry about the music on this one).

As you can see in the first clip, the animated version is named Alex O’Hirn, and doesn’t speak with a Russian accent but with a stereotypical Bronx-based one (this is also true of the comics version, even though he was born in Russia). The comics also tend to point out how he’s not too bright either; essentially brawn over brains. The first guy I thought of to play this Rhino was Ethan Suplee, better known to fans of My Name is Earl as Randy Hickey, the brother of the titular character. On that show, he plays a similarly dim-witted character, but one who has an undeniable amount of charm so that we’re not always laughing at him, which I’d want to see from Rhino. It also helps that he’s a big guy (though I think he’s lost some more weight recently) and whether it’s a computer-generated suit or not, I’d love to see this guy go toe-to-toe with Tom Holland at some point in the future.

 Stay tuned to the Non-Stop Film Talk pages on Twitter, Instagram (Cole Albinder), and Facebook for more posts, and leave your thoughts in the comments section!!!!! You’ll be seeing a lot more of me very soon. 

Almost Cast (July 1st, 2017)

by Cole Albinder

Almost Cast is a column here on Media On Tap! that looks at actors who were almost cast in famous roles, and how getting those roles would have affected their career trajectories.


Jon Hamm as Derek Huff in Step Brothers

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men".

Adam Scott as Derek Huff in "Step Brothers".

Starting off this column with a banger (a Catalina Fucking Wine Mixer-sized one) is that Jon Hamm, towards the beginning of his acclaimed tenure as suave yet self-destructive ad exec Don Draper on Mad Men, auditioned to play the scene-stealing part of Derek, brother to Will Ferrell’s Brennan in 2008’s Step Brothers. On a 2012 episode of the Nerdist podcast Making It, comedian and The Odd Couple star Thomas Lennon (pictured below), revealed it came down to himself, Hamm, and Adam Scott for the part before Scott nabbed it.

Actor and comedian Thomas Lennon.

Given Step Brothers‘s release in 2008, it stands that it was filmed in 2007-the same year Mad Men premiered on AMC. While this wouldn’t have caused Hamm to miss out on his breakthrough role, the floodgates to more comedic roles would have opened for him , much like it did for Adam Scott, bringing him stardom through starring roles on Party Down and Parks and Recreation. Had Scott not scored this role and proven himself a talented comedic actor, it’s possible that other actors could have gotten his roles on those aforementioned series and not been as successful.

Even without Step Brothers, Jon Hamm has showed off his comedic chops extensively, from his role as Kristen Wiig’s scumbag hook-up in Bridesmaids to a more pathetic version of himself in the second season of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. While his role in the former proves he can be lovably detestable (and his good looks could have made him more of a “perfect son” compared to Will Ferrell’s character), Adam Scott just hit all the right beats in his performance, and Hamm might not have been able to do as well, as he had yet to properly hone his comedic chops. Still, it’s fun to imagine what could have been.

Charlie Hunnam as Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller on "Sons of Anarchy".

Russell Brand as Aldous Snow in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall".







One of my all-time favorite movies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall works so well because of how it mines humor and pathos from what it feels like to get over the break-up of a long-standing relationship. Another reason it works so well is because of the committed performances from the cast, particularly Russell Brand as uninhibited rock star and recovering drug addict Aldous Snow. But had Jason Segel gotten his first choice for the part, we would have had a completely different movie.

Charlie Hunnam, known to most  (myself included) as Jax Teller, the charismatic, bad-ass biker from the (PHENOMENAL) FX series Sons of Anarchy, has a history with Segel; the two of them (along with Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel) had starred on a short-lived Fox sitcom called Undeclared back in 2001, which was created by present-day comedy auteur Judd Apatow. Though they hadn’t worked together since that show ended, Segel initially thought of Hunnam when writing Aldous Snow, who was originally going to be an author rather than a rock star. Hunnam reportedly turned down the part to star on Sons, which coincidentally came out the same year as Sarah Marshall. Russell Brand’s audition caused Segel to rewrite the character entirely, and the rest is history.

As Hunnam was focusing on more serious roles at the time (such as his part a few years before in Green Street Hooligans), it’s understandable that he wasn’t completely interested in the part. It’s not entirely clear where his career could have gone had he taken the role; the movie could have flopped had it decided to go in its original direction, and everyone could have suffered for it. Joining Sons of Anarchy was ultimately the right move for Hunnam, as it allowed him to move on to bigger projects like Pacific Rim and (most recently) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. And frankly, I can’t imagine this movie without Brand’s Inside of You scene. But here’s hoping that Hunnam and Segel make a movie together in the near future, one that benefits them both. Here’s some parts of an interview from a few years back where Hunnam talks about passing on the role (which includes mentioning that the character was an actor instead of an author initially):

“It was in a really difficult time in my career where a lot of directors that I really loved and respected wanted to hire me, but then they would go with the idea to the studio and the studio would say, ‘Listen, we think he’s great. He’s just not a big enough star for us to justify gambling this big of an investment on. So you can’t hire him.’ And I had my heart broken time and time again. Like we kind of discussed a little earlier, I had a really, really specific idea of the type of work that I wanted to do. And it was much more dramatically based. And I just felt at that point I was really, really primed to go and do something that I needed to do that was going to be a catharsis for this massive amount of period of time that I’d been out of work and struggling. So when that came along it just felt like the wrong thing for me to do at that time. So I did the read-through, and it went really well and everything, and they made the financial offer and I just said, ‘Listen, guys. I’m so sorry. I really, really appreciate the opportunity …’ [Jason] was one of my best friends. I said, ‘Thank you so much. I know this is going to be kind of a blow for you, but I just can’t go and do this movie right now.’ Judd was pretty pissed off about it. He didn’t fully understand where I was coming from, but hopefully now that he’s seen me stick to my guns and go and do the type of work that I do want to do that in hindsight he may understand the reasoning behind it.”

After seeing how “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” turned out, did you have any regrets?
No. You know what? I did have some regrets. Because after that period, after I turned that down, I still had another whole year of complete unemployment. They went off and made this movie and had a wonderful experience and everyone got paid a lot of money. They had offered me a [bleep]-load of money that would have been life-changing for me at that point, but I just couldn’t do it. I toiled with myself for that whole year, like, “Why? Why am I so cerebral? Why didn’t I just go and have a good time with my friends and go and do this thing and what the hell is the matter with me?” All those type of thoughts.
And then it’s funny; I couldn’t see the movie for a while because I was a bit tortured by it. And then I went and did some projects—I got “Sons of Anarchy” and I made a couple movies that I was really excited about. Then I saw it right after I had seen Russell Brand do some stand-up on TV. It just seemed to me that it had all gone exactly the way it was supposed to go.

Russell Brand did a so much better job than I would have done in the movie. He was so much more equipped for that role. The role was different; he wasn’t a rock star. He was a young actor in the version that I was going to do. And there was actually a very, very funny reveal where I had this really big Texas twang for the first half of the movie and then I get into an argument with Sarah Marshall and she goes, “Can you stop doing that goddamn accent?!” And then I’d say (in English accent), “But honey, how am I ever going to get work in America if I don’t practice my accent?” And then there’s the big reveal that I was actually English. We had a lot of laughs in the read-through, but like I said, it was bad timing for me.”

Shia LaBeouf and Jesse Eisenberg in War Dogs

Shia LaBeouf asks audiences to watch all his movies with him in real time over three days straight.              Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice".


Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in "War Dogs".

Scheduling conflicts in 2014 prevented LaBeouf and Eisenberg from starring in Todd Phillips’s crime comedy-drama, based on the true story about two 20-somethings who receive a contract from the U.S. Army to supply the Afghan National Army with munitions worth $300 million. Eisenberg chose Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice instead, whereas LaBeouf was in jail after disrupting a Broadway performance of Cabaret. This pairing could have been interesting, yet it’s possible that given LaBeouf’s penchant for causing trouble, the two actors could have clashed behind-the-scenes, and that could have made for bad chemistry in the film as a whole. As with Hunnam and Segel, let’s hope that LaBeouf and Eisenberg get to be in a movie some day, when both of their schedules match up accordingly.

Like what you read? Leave thoights in the comments section, whether it’s about this article or about topics you’d want to see me tackle. Expect the next issue of this column out on August 1st. 

Jared Leto’s Joker: Were We Too Harsh?

Jared Leto as "The Joker" in 2016's "Suicide Squad".

                                    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Jared Leto’s Joker: Were We Too Harsh?

by Cole Albinder

Admit it: Suicide Squad was the most anticipated and promoted film of this past summer. From the trailers to the merchandise, people were gearing up for what looked like the most insane, action-packed, wickedly clever comic book movie, one that would focus on a group of villains forced to do some good. Despite that angle, and the presence of some top notch acting talent (Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Viola Davis, among others), there was one aspect of the film that audiences were excited for: the inclusion of Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker, to be played by Oscar-winner Jared Leto.

Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing, psychotically-charged take on the Clown Prince of Crime in 2008’s seminal The Dark Knight left such an imprint on audiences. He was at once captivating, cunning, manipulative, and just the right amount of crazy; he arguably stole the spotlight from Batman. Just a few years ago, when Warner Bros. announced their own DC Comics film universe to rival Marvel’s, few doubted that The Joker wouldn’t return to menace the Batman once again. Flash forward to the first giant casting announcement for Suicide Squad, and Jared Leto was included as The Joker himself. Fans went rabid over how The Joker would fit into the movie; his “lover” Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was in it, so it would make sense if he figured into the plot somehow. Would he only be in flashbacks to Harley’s past? Or would he be the villain of the movie? People also wondered what what he would look like. That question was answered a few months later, when director David Ayer tweeted out this picture:

"The Joker" (Jared Leto) in "suicide Squad".

                             Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Any fears about this movie were intensified once this image hit the web. I mean, we partly got what we wanted: a Joker interpretation far removed from Heath Ledger’s. But metal teeth (this would later be explained as Batman having knocked his teeth out, which kinda works)? Tattoos?! This went a bit far, and people were understandably upset, confused, or both. But the actual footage of Joker in several trailers and commercials mostly assuaged these critics. Take a look at this one:

                   Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

And then there’s this one focused mostly on him:

                          Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Piqued your interest, right? As long as his trademark insanity was present, it wouldn’t matter what The Joker looked like. Audiences were pumped to see just what crazy shit The Joker would get away with throughout the film. Opening day finally came, and audiences finally got to see Joker….but only for a little bit.

Turns out that the negative feedback Warner Bros. got from Batman vs. Superman‘s dark and dreary tone scared them into re-editing/re-shooting Suicide Squad to be much lighter and fun, like what the trailers promised. Unfortunately, this meant the shelving of a lot of Joker footage, even if it made sense to keep it in, story-wise. We only got to see a few scenes with the Clown Prince of Crime, about 10 minutes worth.

Even with his limited screentime , audiences weren’t completely forgiving with Leto’s take on the villain, with a good portion of internet forum groups, casual fans, and members of the public singling him out as one of the movie’s worst aspects. It’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of this Joker, as Leto has teased his return via posts on social media. With his return imminent, what can we hope for until then?

First, I’ll give my take on Leto’s performance. I can’t say that I’ve seen a large amount of his work as an actor, save for Dallas Buyers Club. I thought he was very good in that movie, showing how much of a chameleon he is when playing different roles. I didn’t doubt that he would bring that same ethic to Joker, and I was excited as many others were. His actual performance divided me, though: while he had presence and came off as chilling in a few scenes, I felt that he was playing it too over-the-top, almost trying too hard to be crazy and unpredictable whenever he showed up. His laugh was also divisive; the maniacal laugh is integral to any actor playing the Joker, whether it be a live actor or a voice actor. Mark Hamill, who has done fantastic voice-over work as The Joker in several animated series and video games, describes the process of finding the right laugh in the video below:

          Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation. 

My first thought after hearing Leto’s laugh was that it sounded like a creepier version of the sloth’s laugh from Zootopia. I didn’t hate it necessarily, but I felt that it would only sound creepy on occasion, which the movie proved correct. There’s a shot of him in both trailers above where he’s lying in the middle of a room and lets out a laugh; that scene was where it worked. It didn’t really work at the end of this scene, though:

                       Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Remember what I said about trying too hard?

However, there is room for improvement. The script for Suicide Squad wasn’t that great  (it was rushed, but that’s another story, as shown in my review of the movie), and the editing was on the wall, so you can’t completely blame Leto for how The Joker was treated. With Warner Bros. undergoing new management for running their DC Comics film division, it’s hopeful that they will give their characters more of the respect and character depth that we know and love from the comics, and The Joker could certainly be one of them. That way, Leto could flesh out his take on the character a little more, and maybe audiences would warm up to his Joker. They might even switch up his design for the next film he pops up in, given how much flak the movie got for the tattoos and metal teeth. Maybe something closer to the comics or animated series.

The Joker's typical design, as seen in "Batman: Hush".

       Courtesy of DC Comics Entertainment. 


The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series".

     Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation.

You never know what Warner Bros. might do. But like any comedian, The Joker knows how to reinvent himself and his material for any occasion, so it would make some deal of sense.

But if it were up to me, I would have gone with someone other than Leto for Joker. Maybe Alan Tudyk, otherwise known as the most underrated actor in Hollywood.


Alan Tudyk in "Firefly".

You’ve probably seen him in a few TV series and movies over the years, but fans of Fox’s revered but short-lived show Firefly will recognize him as the pilot of Serenity, Hoban “Wash” Washbourne. In that role, and in several other roles, he’s shown experience in comedy, drama, and action, all of which are necessary for The Joker. You’re more likely to recognize him from his voice work, though. Here’s a clip from Wreck-It Ralph, where he plays a very Joker-like character, King Candy, a.k.a. Turbo.

               Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

In addition, he was the voice of K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Tucker in 2010’s Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, as well as the voices of the Duke of Weselton in Frozen, Duke Weaselton in Zootopia, Allistair Krei in Big Hero 6, and Hei-Hei in Moana. I feel that if he were given this role, that he would not only do something unique and interesting with it, but he would also have a lot of fun with it. As long as he doesn’t take it too far of course, like sending people rats and boxes of bullets (which Leto did as part of his method acting for the role).

Thanks for joining me this week on Media on Tap!. Stay tuned for next week’s post!




Reviewing: Fracture (2007)


Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in 2007's thriller "Fracture".

          Courtesy of Castle Rock Entertainment.

2007’s Fracture is a film that seemingly went under the radar in a year otherwise dominated by franchise installments like Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. And it’s certainly not the first kind of movie to do that; year after year, there are movies that are quietly released and often aren’t as successful at the box office as the movies I previously mentioned. Which is what makes discovering them on television or DVD all the more exciting. A cat-and-mouse-esque thriller, Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling play a wealthy aeronautical engineer and a young hotshot district attorney respectively. Hopkins’s character is being tried for the attempted murder of his wife, and Gosling’s character at first thinks it’s an open-and-shut case: the defendant has admitted to the crime, along with supplying a signed confession. But there’s much more going on under the surface. While I was expecting a somewhat more twisty thrill ride, the film more than suffices, thanks in large part to the equally great performances of both Gosling and Hopkins.