Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Men Who Would Be McQueen

hey everyone

well, i suppose that the only surprising aspect of the proposed Steve McQueen "biopic" is that it has only come close to 30 years after his passing. perhaps someone has had the idea before, but it's only after the publication of the rather well received biography Steve McQueen - Portrait of an American Rebel by Marshall Terrill that a film of this legendary character has piqued the interest of those who can fund films.

the major problem anyone would have in making a film about Steve McQueen, it goes without saying, is casting the lead role. who on earth could possibly play one of the most celebrated, iconic characters from American cinema? it's a daunting task for any actor, you would have thought. they need someone who can look cool and considerably roughed up, who can be a gifted actor, a hellraiser that's miserable to be around at times, yet holds an intellectual capacity of note and deeply cares for those around him. someone somewhere, it seems, has come to the conclusion that the answer to this casting choice is Brad Pitt.

well, OK. on the pic above there's kind of a resemblance. his diverse and, for the most part, impressive filmography thus far suggest that Brad Pitt might be up to the task. as for the accusations of him being a "pretty poster boy", well, yeah, that's what McQueen was! Pitt's notable good looks always remain no matter how roughed up or sinister he is (think Fight Club), as was the case with McQueen. the only reservation i have, and one that would see me against this decision, is that Pitt has such a notable reputation himself that you are going to end up watching Brad Pitt, not an actor playing Steve McQueen.

the debate, however, could be rather academic, as Brad Pitt was recently asked about the project, and his answer was "what the hell are you talking about? i haven't heard anything about any Steve McQueen film". the prospect of a McQueen film has, however, provoked fans to give their suggestions as to who should play the Cooler King, and one or two are not bad at all.

one of the more prominent suggestions is current James Bond actor Daniel Craig. an English actor playing an American legend? hmn, well, all too often the Yanks have played some of Britain's finest, so it's worth considering. and there's the small matter of the striking physical similarities...

hmn, a quality, recognized actor who isn't exactly a "superstar presence" that can certainly match the demands of McQueen. he certainly walks the walk and, as it happens, talks the talk, if you recall how eloquent and soft spoken McQueen was. this, if they really go ahead with this film, is probably their best choice.

a fascinating suggestion is celebrated actor Eric Close. he's known considerably better for his TV work that anything movie related, i particular the brilliant and bewilderingly axed series Now And Again. he's recognizable enough for most of the intended audience, but not quite so well known and established as to have himself overshadow the character he would be playing. if, and it's a big if, they cast Eric Close as Steve McQueen, then it would put the project on the right track, which is to say it's as good an idea as Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, even perhaps Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. that's if they are doing a proper, well-acted drama version of the life of McQueen, of course. alas, i suspect that they might lean to box office rather than artistic, and thus Mr Close's chances can't be seen as too good.

whatever the merits of these three actors it's rather difficult to see the sense in actually making a film about Steve McQueen since, as this image rather nicely illustrates, there's nothing much that can be said about the man which isn't spoken in his films. most actors would relish having a canon of work only half as cool and as iconic as the legacy left by Steve McQueen. i'd be somewhat interested in a film of the life of McQueen, but then again, as with the likes of Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and dear old Oliver Reed, the onscreen work speaks volumes, the offscreen antics are so legendary and widely known that you really don't need a film of them. if it came down to a choice between watching a film of McQueen's life story, filled with him falling in and out of love in between racing cars at tremendous speed, or watching one of his classics, well, Bullitt wins.

so, then. good luck to them if they go ahead with a film of McQueen, but if they don't, there's always the image of the man himself to live with.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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