Tom Wopat in: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

as: Alias

Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid is an underappreciated gem of the Western genre. As Alias, Tom Wopat would be taking one of Bob Dylan’s best movie roles (not that’s he’s had many, or that any of the others were remotely good). Dylan also provided the soundtrack for the film, which, apart from the classic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” is best left to Dylanologists.

Representative Scene: the whole movie

With Tom Wopat in the role, we’d beef up Alias’ part from what is essentially a one-scene-and-done character into a sort of “wandering troubadour” narrator. Wopat knows his way around a song and a guitar, so we’d have him pop up throughout the film, supplying narration through singer-songwriter-y, half-folk, half-outlaw country ballads.

Seven of Dylan’s soundtrack album’s ten tracks don’t even have words. We’d like to hear Wopat’s take on the tale and the task of soundtracking the film. His albums have often toed the line between rock and country, so he’d be a perfect fit here.

Give him an old, beat-up looking Gibson acoustic guitar and have him appear in the background as scenes unfold, leaning against a hitching post on a dusty street, for example, or sitting by a campfire. Then, as the characters move on (and out of frame), Wopat stands up and, looking directly into the camera, starts to walk and sing, slowly following James Coburn’s Pat Garrett (for example) out of the shot.

Who is that mysterious six-string slinger?

Who is that mysterious six-string slinger?

Wopat’s songs would continue playing as shots changed and the scenes moved on, sort of making the shots in between scenes of action and dialogue into musical montages, if you will. Alias wouldn’t necessarily appear in these continuation shots, but he would show up again later, in the background of scenes, coming to the fore when another musical interlude was needed.

The production of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid was a notoriously difficult one. We can’t help but think that the presence of a true pro like Mr. Wopat would’ve made things go at least a little more smoothly. Plus, who wouldn’t want to hear a Wopatized version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”?

Photo credit: eopath / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Tom Wopat in: Star Wars

as: Han Solo, of course

If The Duke of Hazzard hadn’t started airing two years after the original Star Wars movie was released, I’d be surprised as heck that things didn’t shake out this way to begin with. If you think about it, Han Solo and Luke Duke are clearly cut from the same cloth: roguish, a little bit cocky, dark haired, good looking, and both are excellent drivers/pilots with totally kicka$$ rides. (I guarantee the General Lee could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.) And Tom Wopat and Harrison Ford both had flat-out spectacular hair in the late ‘70s, too.

Representative Scene: Escape from the Death Star

After busting Princess Leia out of the Detention Level, and avoiding being squashed like a bug in the garbage compactor, the fearless Han Wopat leads Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO back to hangar bay and the awaiting Millennium Falcon.

On the way, they encounter a patrol of Imperial Storm Troopers. Wopat and Chewbacca open fire and give chase.

*Here, we’d replace Han Solo’s pistol-style blaster with one that’s more similar to Chewie’s crossbow rifle, because, y’know, the Dukes love their bows and arrows. Maybe a hybrid pistol/crossbow blaster, or just a straight-up compound bow that fires lasers.*

Wait a minute... is that a cantaloupe?

Wait a minute… is that a cantaloupe?

After retreating from a phalanx of Storm Troopers waiting to ambush them, Han Wopat and Chewbacca soon rendezvous with Luke, Leia, and the Droids. They dash toward the Falcon, with Wopat and Luke blasting enemies left and right.

As Darth Vader approaches, the group wisely decides to make a run for it. Wopat runs, jumps, and slides across the hood of the Falcon, then dives nimbly through the open window and into the driver’s seat. Chewie soon joins him as co-pilot, followed closely by the others, all of whom used the more traditional (and far less fun) loading ramp as their entrance.

Wopat brings the Millennium Falcon roaring to life and stomps on the gas. Leaving a cloud of smoke and patches of burned rubber in his wake, he steers the ship up a conveniently-placed but wholly unnecessary ramp. The Rebels flee into space as the orchestral score plays a variation of the intro to Dixie.

Photo credit: oskay / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)