Classics, Comedy, Television

Tom Wopat in: The Muppet Show

as: “Very Special Guest Star Tom Wopat”

We’re not gonna lie: we dig the Muppets almost as much as we dig Tom Wopat. They’re basically the most wonderful of all human creations; Watch anything Muppet related and you’re guaranteed to enjoy the entire experience—some of their efforts are not as excellent as others, but there’s not an out and out dud in the bunch. And, The Muppet Show is legitimately one of the Top Five all-time greatest television programs. All-time.

muppet-show

One small addition is all it would take to put The Muppet Show at Number One: Tom Wopat.

The Wopat Show

From September 1976 to March 1981, The Muppet Show produced 120 episodes of brilliant comedy television. Each episode featured a “Very Special Guest Star”—the first (in the 1974 pilot episode) was Mia Farrow; the last was Marty Feldman of Young Frankenstein fame. In between were a mixed bag of actors, musicians, athletes, and other celebrities—from Julie Andrews to Liberace to Jonathan Winters.

The Dukes of Hazzard began in January of 1979, a prime overlapping time with The Muppet Show’s run. Dukes was a very popular program, and its two leads (Wopat and John Schneider) were among the most recognizable stars on TV. Both actors were also musicians as well as actors. Ergo, they’re a perfect one-two punch for a turn as double guest-hosts of The Muppet Show.

Representative Scene

“The Muppets do The Dukes of Hazzard” is one of the best ideas ever, if we do say so ourselves. Wopat and Schneider would play themselves, “guest starring” on “The Pigs of Hazzard”. Miss Piggy would play Daisy Duke (or Daisy Pig); Link Hogthrob and Dr. Julius Strangepork from “Pigs in Space” would play Bo and Luke Pig, respectively; the Boss Hogg part, called the Hogg Boss, would be played by a new Muppet similar to the Spa’am character that later appeared, much to the chagrin of Hormel Foods, in Muppet Treasure Island; Sherriff Roscoe Pig Coltrane would be played by Sweetums.

After a brief, Muppetized spoof of The Dukes of Hazzard theme song, Wopat and Schneider would be enjoying a cold beverage at The Boar’s Nest where, just like on Dukes, Daisy/Piggy is a waitress. Miss Piggy is chatting up the guest stars, who are seated a booth. Roaring engines, followed by screeching tires, would be heard from outside, and Bo and Luke Pig would come dashing in. They make a beeline for the booth and sit down opposite Wopat and Schneider. “What in the world is going on?” Piggy asks.

Before the Pig Boys can reply, Hogg Boss and Roscoe run into the bar, shouting. “Where are you at, you rascals?” Sweetums/Roscoe bellows. “Come on out, Pigs, you can’t hide from the long arm of the law!”

Roscoe and Hogg Boss stop in front of the booth, astounded. “Oh my,” grunts Hogg Boss, “there are two of them?” He and Roscoe are genuinely confused—they can’t tell the Pigs of Hazzard and the Dukes of Hazzard apart. This leads to a series of traditionally Muppetastic jokes, riffing on the Pigs/Dukes’ adversaries inability to distinguish between the pig Muppets and the real live humans.

Finally, Hogg Boss and Roscoe decide to arrest all four of them. Miss Piggy takes both of them out with a double karate chop, and Wopat, Schneider, and the Pigs Boys flee the bar. An engine roars to life outside, followed by squealing tires. The front of the Pigs of Hazzards’ bright orange hot rod, “The Generally Speaking”, crashes through the wall of the bar and into frame.

“Maybe you should drive,” Bo Pig says to Wopat.

And… scene.

Photo credit: Jacob Whittaker via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Original Wopatizations

Mechanic: Titanic – An Original Wopatization

From Alien vs. Predator to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, people sure love them some movie mashups these days. You know what else moviegoers can’t get enough of? Tom Wopat. With those two facts in mind, and stupid rhyming title that combines one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and a relatively obscure Jason Statham flick, we present our latest original Wopatization: Mechanic: Titanic.

Inspirato

The Mechanic was a 2011 action movie in which bald, mushmouthed British guy Jason Statham plays a hitman who specializes in making his hits look like accidents. That’s literally all you need know about the movie for our purposes here. Titanic was a g.d. cultural phenomenon that played in theaters for over a year. If you don’t know the movie Titanic, or at least know of it, go watch it and come back later. It’s not that great overall, but the second half is pretty solid. Although, come to think of it, for this bit to make sense, you really only need to know the story of the actual Titanic, as in the “unsinkable” ship. Still, go watch Titanic and we’ll see you in like three-and-a-half hours.

A Brief Summary of the Plot Synopsis

In Mechanic: Titanic, Tom Wopat takes on the assassin role. Obviously, because the Titanic sailed and sank in 1912, this is a prequel to Statham’s Mechanic (which itself is a remake of a 1972 movie of the same name starring Charles Bronson).

Wopat’s murder mark is Cal Hockley, the cocky young heir to an international steel empire played by Billy Zane in lil’ Jimmy Cameron’s 1997 Titanic flick. Wopat stows away on the ship before it launches, sneaking aboard just behind Leo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson. (Mechanic: Titanic, like Back to the Future Part II and others before it, would superimpose the actors into the background of footage from the previous film.)

Hockley, it seems, is a very high-priced target. His father, MacGilvaray Hockley, heads the world’s second-largest steel company. The real-life man behind the world’s largest (at the time) steel company, Andrew Carnegie, is, in the film, the one who hires Wopat to off Hockley. Hockley Steel is growing fast and nipping at Carnegie’s heels…and overheads. Carnegie hopes that the “accidental” death of his son will lead MacGilvaray Hockley into a grief spiral that will lead his company to collapse.

The budget for this one's a little lower than that of Cameron's.

The budget for this one’s a little lower than what Cameron had to work with.

Carnegie pays Wopat’s character to assassinate young Hockley by any means necessary. The price is $5 million, an unheard of sum for hitmen now, let alone over a century ago. Wopat states that, in the (relatively) enclosed space of the Titanic, there are likely to be additional casualties—that is, Wopat might have to kill a few more people because it would be very likely that someone else would see him going about his work. He can’t have any witnesses, so anyone who espies him in the act will have to be killed, as well.

Carnegie replies that, for each additional bystander Wopat is forced to do in, he’ll add another $50,000 to his fee. Though he is hesitant about almost certainly having to kill innocent people, the offer is far too good to resist, and he agrees.

The night before he embarks on his mission, Wopat eats dinner with his even-more-shady friend, Greasy Pete. (You’d think the name would be a dead giveaway that the guy’s a ne’er-do-well, but whaddaya gonna do?) Greasy Pete convinces Wopat that, with over 2,000 people onboard the Titanic, he could really clean up. If Wopat sank the boat and killed everyone on board, along with Hockley, Pete says, he’d end up almost as rich as Carnegie himself.

Wopat boards the Titanic with the intention of sinking the ship via mechanical failure and making his escape via lifeboat. So he doesn’t find himself floating on the ocean for who knows how long before rescue arrives, he decides to wait until the cruise has almost reached its destination. On the night of April 14, he sneaks into the engine compartment and secretly shuts down one of the ship’s three gargantuan engines. He opens a maintenance hatch, quickly removes the turbine pump wear rings, and puts everything else back in order. This, Wopat’s character reasons, will cause the engine to overheat, gradually reaching a dangerous temperature, and, because this is a movie, exploding in a violent fireball.

He moseys casually out of the engine room, passing the foreman’s desk as he goes. On the desk is a framed photograph of the foreman and his family, with eight young kids smiling back at Wopat from behind the glass. Realizing that he’ll be destroying thousands of lives and, even worse, families in his pursuit of sweet, sweet money, he has a change of heart and goes about putting the engine back together.

However, he never gets the chance, because iceberg! The film then ends pretty much the same way Titanic does, but with Tom Wopat and no Kate Winslet.

Photo credit: RON1EEY via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: The Matrix Trilogy

as: Morpheus

The Matrix trilogy is kind of a mixed bag. The first flick holds up pretty well, even 15-plus years later, despite how dated the then-cutting edge technology now seems. The sequels are extremely hit-or-miss, however—the action sequences are still impressive (for the most part), but the would-be “philosophy” that runs through the storylines of both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions seems even weirder and more heavy-handed now than it did at the time.

Another part of the Matrix series that falls into the hit-or-miss category is Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus. As the Merlin to the Arthur that was Keanu Reeves’ Neo, Fishburne delivers the right levels of gravitas in the films’ more serious moments, but his Morpheus seems to have no other setting. Even when things are going well, and he and his crew are celebrating victories over their sentient robot overlords, the erstwhile Cowboy Curtis sports the same dour, unsmiling countenance he wears in the heaviest of the movies’ scenes.

Part of this can surely be chalked up to the writing—the Wachowskis ain’t exactly Shakespeare. But with just a few different choices, Fishburne could’ve given Morpheus more of a “human” side with, you know, emotions and stuff. Reportedly, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson were also considered for the role. You know where we’re going with this…

"You take the blue pill, and Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus. Take the red pill, and it's Tom Wopat.

“You take the blue pill, and Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus. Take the red pill, and it’s Tom Wopat.

Key Changes

Tom Wopat would’ve been just the guy to play Morpheus. He’s got the dramatic chops The Matrix’s heavy scenes require, and the sense of humor he’s displayed in The Dukes of Hazzard, Cybill, and other roles would’ve made the character more rounded and more likable.

That being said, Wopat just wouldn’t look as cool in the role as Fishburne did. Fishburne lent an unmistakable style to the role, with his shaved head and mirrored pince-nez sunglasses. Wopat’s Morpheus would almost certainly have had hair (who would ask him to shave that glorious mane?), but it would’ve had to be something unique to make him more visually distinct from the similarly dark-haired Reeves. And it’s hard to imagine that anyone other than Fishburne could’ve pulled off the aforementioned shades, so Wopat’s Morpheus would’ve had to sport a different look—perhaps mirrored Ray-Ban aviators?

As the two actors are roughly the same height and build, the fight scenes could’ve stayed mostly the same. Wopat is ten years older than Fishburne, but in the world of The Matrix films, this wouldn’t matter—as Morpheus explicitly says in the first flick, “Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles, in this place?” In the Matrix of The Matrix, age is irrelevant; all it takes to be a world-class kung fu master is the knowledge that nothing around you is really real—that there is no spoon.

*Whoa*

Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Drama, Musicals, Original Wopatizations

Tom Wopat in: Walk the Line 2 (An Original Wopatization… sort of)

as: Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is one of the most influential and enduring figures in American music. His distinctive voice and outlaw image made him popular with fans of all music genres, and he remains one of the best-selling recording artists in country music, year in and year out, over a decade after his death. Walk the Line, a film based on Cash’s early life and relationship with fellow singer June Carter was released in 2005 to much critical and commercial success.

But, as the Man in Black’s recording career spanned more than five decades, Walk the Line really only told part of the story. So much more happened in Cash’s life that a sequel, covering his later years, could easily contain enough drama and excitement to bring moviegoers back for more.

While Joaquin Phoenix did a fantastic job as the young, rebellious Cash in the original Walk the Line (earning an Oscar nomination in the process), a more seasoned actor would be needed to portray the older, wiser, but still plenty rebellious, Johnny Cash in a sequel. And we think no one could be better than Tom Wopat.

cash

Why Wopat?

Unlike Phoenix, who had to learn to play guitar specifically for the role, Tom Wopat already has plenty of six-string experience. He’s also an accomplished singer and songwriter, with multiple albums under his belt. (It should be noted that Phoenix did perform all his own vocals in Walk the Line 1.)

At an even six-foot-tall, Wopat is just a couple of inches shorter than the long and lanky Cash. (Phoenix is only 5’8”.) Height doesn’t really matter than much in a movie, but Cash was famously taller than most of his contemporaries, and a little authenticity can go a long way.

Two of the most interesting (and film-ready) tales from Cash’s first autobiography, Man in Black, were left out of Walk the Line 1, as they occurred after the events depicted in the film. Both would be perfect showcases for Wopat’s skills.

The first saw Cash, jazzed on pills of some kind, bail out of his speeding Cadillac as he rounded a curve on a mountain road. He was hauling a propane tank for his camper in the back of the car, and smelled a leak. Rather than pull over and deal with it as a rational person would, the hopped-up Cash dove from the moving car. It crashed into a tree and exploded; the ensuing fireball singed Cash’s face and sent him to hospital with superficial but scary burns.

The second anecdote involved Cash, again under the influence of illicit drugs, tearing through the desert in an old Army Jeep he had bought. He was ostensibly headed out for a solo camping trip, but got so loopy that he lost control of the truck as he drove down a mountainside and wound up barreling out of control through the dunes. In this instance, too, Cash crashed his vehicle into a tree. (A mesquite, maybe? What kind of tree grows in the desert?) He was in it this time, though he wasn’t injured in any significant way.

Both of these scenes would allow Wopat to use the stunt-driving skills he honed during his Dukes of Hazzard days. They would also present a unique showcase for his acting chops, as they could be played for equal parts comedy and tragedy—visually, they could be very, very funny if done right, while Wopat/Cash’s realization of how his drug use is starting to affect his life could be the stuff of an awards show highlight reel.

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Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy, Television

Tom Wopat in: Quantum Leap

as: Dr. Sam Beckett

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap was one of the most interesting network shows of the early 1990s. In it, Dr. Sam Beckett travels willy-nilly through time, taking the place of ordinary people at crucial times in their lives and hoping to “put right what once went wrong.” On his missions, if you can call them that, Sam appears to everyone else as the person whose place he’s taken; to viewers at home, he looked like Scott Bakula. Over five seasons and 90-something episodes, Sam saved people’s lives, fought mobsters, flew through the Bermuda Triangle, explored Ancient Egyptian tombs, and was, briefly, a chimp.

Bakula did quite well in the role, scoring four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win. However, we feel there’s an actor who would’ve done even better and scored five Emmy wins, five Golden Globe wins, and, somehow, five Academy Awards for his work, with a Tony and a Grammy thrown in for EGOT purposes. That actor, of course, is Thomas Steven Wopat.

Why Not Wopat?

Quantum Leap debuted at the tail end of the 1988-1989 television season, a good four years after the end of The Dukes of Hazzard. Wopat would’ve been in prime position for a solid return to the boob tube—enough time had passed that he wouldn’t’ve automatically been “Luke Duke” to every viewer who saw him, but it also wasn’t so long ago that he’d’ve been forgotten.

Initially, the show struggled a bit in the ratings. At the time, Scott Bakula was a quintessential “that guy” on television and in movies. With a more established star like Tom Wopat in the lead role, Quantum Leap would almost certainly been a bigger hit from the get-go.

Like the show itself was fond of pointing out, one small change in the past can have a big impact on the future: if Wopat brought better ratings for the first season, the subsequent second season would’ve been given a bigger budget, which would’ve led to overall better-quality episodes, which would almost certainly translated to larger viewership and higher ratings, which starts the whole “bigger budget” cycle all over again.

Instead of running “just” five seasons, a higher-rated Quantum Leap could’ve continued to air new episodes for many more years. Someone put Donald P. Bellisario in the show’s time machine and have him put right the casting choice that once went… not wrong, exactly, because Bakula was pretty great… hmm… how about, “put right the casting choice that could’ve been even better”? That works.

Photo credit: cdrummbks via Source / CC BY

Comedy, Musicals, Television

Tom Wopat in: Flight of the Conchords

as: World Music Jam MC

Flight of the Conchords was one of HBO’s funniest shows, and though it lasted just two seasons (at the insistence of its stars/creators, not due to poor ratings), it left a lasting impression on many viewers thanks to its brilliantly funny songs and dry yet surreal sense of humor. And, it paved way for Bret McKenzie, one half of the titular duo, to win an Academy Award for his songwriting in The Muppets.

conchords

In the tenth episode of the show’s first season, “New Fans,” the Conchords perform at a “World Music Jam.” The host and MC of said jam is Daryl Hall of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Hall & Oates. It’s a small and fairly insignificant role, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t benefit from Wopatization.

Key Changes

It’s never pointed out in “New Fans” that it is, in fact, Hall as the MC. He’s essentially playing himself, but no one ever says, “Hey, it’s Daryl Hall from Hall & Oates,” and, in fact, this viewer had to check the end credits to be sure it was him. Part of the brilliance of the cameo is that it’s just so random.

Having Tom Wopat in the role would arguably be even more random, and therefore funnier. After all, Daryl Hall is primarily known for his musical career, so it makes some sense that he’d be hosting a mini-music festival, low-rent though it may be. Wopat is known mostly as an actor, of course, so his appearance would seem totally out of left field. “Wait, why is Luke Duke there?”

After his brief appearance at the World Music Jam, in which he quickly ushers Flight of the Conchords offstage after just a few notes of their first song, Hall’s MC is never seen again. However, with Wopat’s far more considerable acting chops, we think that the role could’ve expanded. Later in the episode, the band’s new fans (hence the episode title) try to convince Bret and Jermaine to partake in some typically rock and roll bedroom shenanigans, which the guys refuse.

In our Wopatized version of the ‘sode, the Conchords would find out that Tom Wopat took the ladies up on the offer their stead. Some sort of humorous cutaway gag  would be involved there, but we’re not comedy writers, so you’ll have to use your imagination on that one.

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Action and/or Adventure

Tom Wopat in: The Living Daylights & License to Kill

as: James Bond 007

Fifty-plus years and 24 movies (and counting) into the series, the James Bond films are still going strong. Six different actors have played the lead roles over the years, the “bad guys” constantly change to reflect the sociopolitical landscape of the real world, and the overall quality of the films has varied greatly (put Moonraker up against Skyfall, for example), but one thing has remained a constant: James Bond is the man.

007

A half-dozen actors have portrayed James Bond over the years, and speculation abounds every time the role is to be recast. Of the six Bonds so far, two have been very, very good (Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig), but only one has been truly irreplaceable—Sean Connery, the original and still the best. With this in mind, we set out to recast one of the more forgettable Bonds with Tom Wopat. Timothy Dalton’s run seemed like the best fit.

Key Changes

First and foremost, Tom Wopat would’ve been the first American James Bond. It’s impossible to say if the filmmakers would’ve asked Wopat to feign a British accent for the role, or if his natural American voice would’ve been used. Other actors in the role have had non-British accents (Connery’s was Scottish, George Lazenby’s Australian), so perhaps the accent is not a requirement. However, if it had been, we’ve no doubt that Wopat would’ve totally nailed it.

Second, Timothy Dalton’s two-film stint as James Bond marked something of a return to form for the character. Dalton (and the producers, directors, and writers) put some of the grimness and morality struggles from Ian Fleming’s source novels back into the character, who, as Roger Moore’s time in the role went on, became more and more cartoonish and superhero-eque. Gone were the “007 in space” plots, in favor of a more realistic approach.

Wopat’s certainly got the acting chops for a more complex Bond, but the natural comic charisma he showed on The Dukes of Hazzard—not exactly a comedy show, but certainly one with a sense of humor—would have no doubt shown through in places. With a little more levity to the proceedings, one of the big criticisms of Dalton’s Bond days (too dour) would’ve been avoided. This, in turn, likely would’ve made these two middling entries in the franchise into the classic installments they very nearly were. It probably wouldn’t have hurt at the box office, either.

Lasting Impact

As mentioned above, Dalton only hung around for two movies before the Bond hat was passed to Brosnan. Had the above scenario come to pass, we predict that Tom Wopat would not only have become the first American James Bond, but also the last James Bond ever. Not because he would’ve sunk the franchise, but because he would be so well-suited to and loved in the role that no one would ever want to replace him. He’d still be going strong, 10 films in, with each one breaking box office records set by the previous installment.

“But wouldn’t he have aged out of the part by now?” you may foolishly ask. Not at all—there’s no reason fictional characters can’t age along with the actors portraying them, and 007 is no exception. By now, at the still relatively young age of 65, Wopat would be playing Bond as an older-and-wiser elder statesman who can still kick @$$ and save the day with the best of them. (Liam Neeson is still convincingly knocking dudes’ heads in at 64.)

Sure, every new Bond adventure at this point would have to begin with scenes of the “James Bond is the only one who can handle this mission” and “please come out of retirement (again), James” nature. But it would be more than worth sitting through that tired routine every two or three years to see Tom Wopat, one of the most iconic actors of this or any generation, in one of the most iconic film roles of all time.

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Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Pirates of the Caribbean

as: Captain Hector Barbossa

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was the surprise blockbuster of 2003. Before it was released, I’m pretty sure everyone in the general movie-going public expected a film based on a second-tier Disneyland ride to be a total turd. Shockingly, in addition to raking in several metric butt-tons of cash, it was actually good. The sequels are a matter of diminishing returns, as sequels often are, but there’s no denying that The Curse of the Black Pearl is a dang good flick.

When talking about the Pirates movies, it’s impossible to ignore Johnny Depp’s work as Captain Jack Sparrow. It became Depp’s career-defining role, and rightfully earned the actor an Oscar nomination. Actor and character have become inextricably linked, and there is straight up no way anyone could replace Depp in the role.

That doesn’t mean, however, that some of the other major characters from the franchise couldn’t benefit from being recast. Specifically, we’re talking about Jack Sparrow’s nemesis-turned-comrade Hector Barbossa. Sorry, Geoffrey Rush, but Barbossa is ripe for Wopatization.

...and really bad eggs

…and really bad eggs

Key Changes

For one thing, Tom Wopat is American (obvs), while Geoffrey Rush is some kind of weird foreigner (JK: foreigners are generally pretty great; Rush is Australian). Barbossa’s accent in the Pirates films was one of those “sort of from anywhere, sort of from nowhere” brogues that you hear a lot from movie characters of ambiguous origin. Wopat’s take on the accent would’ve likely been different, perhaps more of a “Colonial American who’s spent years on pirate ship” kind of thing. Pirates in those days really did come from everywhere (as they do now, I suppose), so there’s no reason why Barbossa couldn’t’ve been from the Colonies.

For another, Wopat is the far better looking of the two actors, so it’s doubtful if the filmmakers would’ve buried his visage under the heaps of makeup and crusty facial hair they gave Rush. In fact, it’s more likely that they would’ve played up Wopat Barbossa’s good looks and made him something of a rival in that department to the dashing swashbuckler that is Jack Sparrow. Nothing quite like a lady torn by her growing attraction to two ruggedly handsome, combative pirates, eh?

Third, as the film was a good bit tongue-in-cheek with its humor (though, reportedly, many direct references to the theme park ride were removed from the script prior to shooting), there would have to be some sort of Dukes of Hazzard reference in there somewhere. Since painting a pirate ship Competition Orange and putting a big “01” on the side would be too ridiculous even for a movie where pirates turn into walking skeletons in the moonlight, it would have to be something a bit more subtle.

Perhaps Wopat Barbossa could slide across a section of deck railing to get behind his ship’s wheel, much like Luke slid across the hood of the General Lee in Dukes. Maybe one of the swabbies aboard the Black Pearl would be named Coltrane, as in Roscoe P. I don’t know, I’m no screenwriter. Just a ridiculously over-committed fan of Tom Wopat. If that’s a crime, lock me up.

Photo credit: Tom Simpson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Classics, Drama

Tom Wopat in: Fight Club

as: “Jack” (the Narrator)

Fight Club is one of those brilliant, truly unique movies that you cannot adequately describe to those who haven’t seen it. Ultimately, you end up telling the person, “You just have to see it, man!” Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, you’ll still likely find something new in each viewing

In the film, the everyman main character is never actually given a name—in the script he was listed as “Jack,” so we’ll use that moniker for our purposes here. Jack was portrayed by Edward Norton, and, opposite Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden, was one of the founders of the titular group that gave similarly disillusioned men the chance to connect and experience something “real” in their lives by beating the living $#!t out of each other.

While Norton’s performance is predictably excellent, I think that maybe, just maybe, Tom Wopat could’ve done it better.

Key Changes

JSYK: This section will include spoilers. But the movie’s almost 20 years old, so it’s not like you haven’t had the chance to see it. In fact, if you’ve never seen Fight Club, go watch it right now, then come back. Seriously. We’ll wait…

 

 

 

Much like sausage, you don't want to know how the soap is made.

Much like sausage, you don’t want to know how the soap is made.

 

 

 

…and you’re back! Whaddaya think? Good stuff, right?!

The first key change is one of age. Norton was roughly 30 when Fight Club was filmed, which is right in line with the character as depicted in the Chuck Palahniuk novel on which the film is based. He’s a young, uninspired office drone doing thankless work for a company so big they essentially don’t know he exists. Tom Wopat was 48 at the time, so the character could’ve been changed to one that is higher up the ladder in the company, but who still feels that his life is going nowhere.

This would actually have made the character’s decision to leave his old life behind even more powerful. As is, Jack ditches a crappy apartment, crappy job, and crappy life to become someone new; as a higher-ranking, better paid member of the company’s management team, he would be walking away from a big house, fancy car, and comfortable lifestyle.

The age difference between Wopat and Norton would also affect Jack’s relationship with Tyler Durden. Pitt was about 35 when the film came out, so while the dynamic between the two characters could’ve remained largely the same, Wopat would still have been significantly older than his counterpart. When it is ultimately revealed that Jack and Tyler are two disassociated personalities inside the same guy’s head, I think that this would actually have a solid logic to it. Tyler is essentially the better looking, smarter, more adventurous person Jack wishes he were, so it would make sense that he would want to be younger, as well.

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Animation, Classics, Comedy, Kids and/or Family

Tom Wopat in: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

as: Eddie Valiant

No movie blew my mind as a kid like Who Framed Roger Rabbit did. The movie’s seamless blend of live action and cell animation achieves a level of awesomeness that has still not been matched. “What about Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies?” you ask. “Was that not a brilliant blending of the real and animated?” It undeniably was, but that’s kind of the problem—Gollum (and other the fancy high-falutin’ CGI characters that have graced the silver screen since) looks too good, too real for it to really register as animation. In Roger Rabbit, the cartoon characters are supposed to look like cartoon characters interacting with real, live humans in a real, live, Bizzaro version of old-timey Hollywood.

roger-rabbit

A big part of what makes those interactions work is that the live-action cast totally sells it. As the film’s lead (human) character, Bob Hoskins’ Eddie Valiant spends the lion’s share of his screen time with one ink and paint creation or another. And, though the late, great Hoskins turns in a predictably excellent performance, there is another actor who we think could’ve given the part a little something extra. That actor is, of course, Tom Wopat.

Key Changes

In the film, Eddie Valiant is shown to be a washed up has-been, a private detective whose high profile career working on cases around Hollywood and Toon Town (roughly the equivalent of a Little Italy, but with cartoon characters) petered out after his brother Teddy was killed by a rogue ‘toon. Once a strapping, barrel-chested hero, he’s now balding, borderline alcoholic, and more than a little doughy in the midsection. This, of course, was right in Bob Hoskins’ wheelhouse, since that’s what he looked like in real life.

With Tom Wopat in the role, however, we’d have to alter Eddie’s character a little bit. He’d still be a down on his luck sad-sack, and still something of a drunk. But, instead of letting himself go all soft, he’s dedicated himself to staying fit. This would not only fit Wopat’s physique better (especially back in 1988 when the movie was made—he was but 37 then), but would allow for scenes in a 1940s-style gym, where boxing is the main draw.

Really, we’re just looking for an excuse for old-timey gym trunks, the kind with a build-in belt and that come up well past a fella’s belly button. Those are always funny.

Also, it would allow for a scene recreating some of the finest slapstick comedy in the history of the Looney Tunes: the kangaroo boxing short starring Sylvester the cat (titled “Pop ‘im Pop”). Instead of Sylvester, it would, of course, be Eddie Wopat in the ring with a cartoon kangaroo. If the thought of a live-action actor getting slapped around by an animated kangaroo doesn’t make you at least crack a smile, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for you, sir or madam.

Photo credit: Castles, Capes & Clones via Foter.com / CC BY-ND