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. Despite the first two rules, you ultimately end up telling the person, “You just have to see it, man!”

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 a fight club that gave similarly disillusioned men the chance to connect and experience something “real” in their lives by beating the tar 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 15 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.

fight clubThe 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 that the higher ups 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.

Photo credit: Shht! / Foter / CC BY

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 oppressors, he 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…

FTFY.

FTFY.

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.

Photo credit: Profound Whatever / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Tom Wopat in: Die Hard

as: John McClane

Since its release nearly 27 years ago, Die Hard has become one of the landmarks of the action-adventure genre. It has become the standard by which all other “lone hero against impossible odds” movies are judged—to this day, action flicks are often pitched as “Die Hard on a ______”. (For example: Speed is “Die Hard on a bus”.)

Though the four sequels (so far) have been of decreasing quality–#2, Die Harder, was pretty dang good, actually—the original Die Hard is nothing short of a masterpiece of action filmmaking. Bruce Willis, previously known almost exclusively for his role in TV’s Moonlighting, turned the part of NYPD officer John McClane into a career-defining role.

However, due to some complicated Hollywood contract structures, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the flick, was legally obligated to offer the role to Frank Sinatra first. Sinatra passed, and the role was offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the idea of turning the script into a sequel to Commando. Arnie passed, too, as did Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, and a number of other action stars of the era. Finally, Bruce Willis was cast and an action hero was born.

This Die Hard 4 action figure looks more like a bald and dubious Michael Keaton than Bruce Willis.

This Die Hard 4 action figure looks more like a bald and dubious Michael Keaton than Bruce Willis.

Why Not Wopat?

Released in the summer of 1988, Die Hard came shortly after the end of The Dukes of Hazzard. Tom Wopat would still have been fresh in viewers’ minds from his role on the show, but it would also likely have been far enough removed that he wouldn’t automatically be seen as Luke Duke. He was an established TV star, while Willis was just starting to garner widespread attention.

One of the chief knocks on Bruce Willis at the time of his casting was that he wasn’t a known “action star.” If anything, this made Wopat more suited to the role than Willis at the time, as Dukes had a good bit of action and stunt work in it. (Willis apparently did most of his own stunts in Die Hard, so that’s pretty cool.)

Wopat is four years older than Willis, an age difference that is essentially nil in Hollywood (at least for male stars), both have dark brown hair (Willis used to have hair, anyway), and the two are the same height. Physically, at least, the two are pretty much interchangeable.

However, if it’s actual acting skill you’re after, Wopat is clearly the guy for the job. Nothing against ol’ Bruno, but Tom Wopat has more dramatic chops in his little finger than Willis has in his entire torso, head, and face.

Yipee-ki-yay, Tom Wopat!

Photo credit: shaun wong / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tom Wopat in: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

as: Rufus

1988’s Bill & Ted Excellent Adventure is one hell of a weird movie: two high school metalheads are given a time-traveling phone booth to help them pass a history test—if they fail, the future of civilization will be in serious jeopardy. If that sounds like a pretty dumb premise, it’s because it is. It’s also hilarious and brilliantly executed and acted (with Keanu Reeves basically playing what is now the public’s perception of his IRL persona). It also features an ingenious—and paradox free!—time-travel workaround by the heroes that ultimately saves the day.

In the film, the late, great George Carlin plays Rufus, a somewhat mysterious mentor from the future who was sent back in time to set Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan off on their excellent adventure. Reportedly, the producers were originally considering “serious” actors for the role, such as Sean Connery, until someone jokingly suggested Carlin. The legendary comedian was offered the part, accepted, and the rest is history.

But what if Carlin had turned them down? What if, instead, they chose Tom Wopat, the greatest actor of this or any time period?

...And party on, dudes!

…And party on, dudes!

Key Changes

Though Tom Wopat has worked on sitcoms—The Dukes of Hazzard was a pretty funny show sometimes, too—he can’t compete with George Carlin in the humor department. As such, the Rufus character would likely have leaned more toward the serious tone the writers originally intended. Wopat’s got dramatic chops for days. (Though, in a movie where Napoleon Bonaparte goes to a modern SoCal waterslide park, how “serious” could it have been?)

Another potential change could’ve made the film’s emphasis on the importance of music in the future more pronounced. In Excellent Adventure’s denouement, Rufus presents Bill and Ted with shiny new guitars. Before handing them over, though, he shreds a blistering solo on one of the guitars. In the film, the guitar solo-ing hands are not Carlin’s, but rather those of Stevie Salas, an accomplished musician and film score composer (who, not coincidentally, wrote the score for this movie). Wopat can sling a mean ax in his own right, and therefore could likely have performed the solo himself in a single shot. The added authenticity would’ve gone a long way, in our opinion, and added to the mystique of the future seen briefly in the film. Why is Rufus, ostensibly just a messenger, so good on guitar? Is everyone in the future an amazing musician? Just how does one “be excellent” to another?

Our third picked nit is strictly aesthetic. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, George Carlin appears essentially as he always did in the late 1980s (except for the costumes). He wears his same usual beard and keeps his long hair in a ponytail. There’s nothing wrong with this look, of course, and it certainly served Carlin well for a number of years. However, in that briefly-glimpsed future mentioned above, all the other actors are sporting futuristic, yet distinctly ‘80s, hairdos (or are they distinctly ‘80s, yet futuristic, hairdos?) along with their sparkly costumes. Tom Wopat, with his glorious flowing mane, could’ve been given one of the greatest future-’80s/’80s-future hairstyles in motion picture history. And so, great opportunity was lost…

Photo credit: Br3nda / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Tom Wopat in: Total Recall

as: Douglas Quaid

First off, let me point out that, while there have been two movie versions of Total Recall, we’re putting Tom Wopat in the 2012 film because the original, 1990 version is just too weird and too ‘90s to mess with—it truly is perfect in its imperfection. Besides, there’s a limit to how many times can we insert Wopat into Schwarzenegger movies.

Instead, we’re putting our beloved Tom Wopat into the lead role in the remake/reimagining of the film, taking the place of Colin Farrell, who should under no circumstances be the leading man in a would-be blockbuster movie of any type. This version is also more of a straightforward sci-fi action flick, and less of a campy, bizarro, sci-fi mindbender. That, too, makes it better suited to Wopatization.

Make that "Wopat Recall"

Make that “Wopat Recall”

Key Changes

The biggest change in a Wopat-for-Farrell swap is the age difference: Wopat is 25 years older than Farrell. However, this could actually work just fine, with minimal other alterations. Instead of being a production floor working stiff at the sheet metal stamping manufacturing company that builds all the police robots seen in the movie, the Quaid character could be the manager of the plant, having climbed the ladder from factory worker to head honcho of Tempco Manufacturing.

This change could make the rest of the film a bit more potent, in fact. As Quaid eventually discovers, he is actually a secret agent* who has been given new memories by former employers. Instead of just a few months of living this lie of a life, he would’ve been at it for decades. When he finally uncovers the truth, he would be even more torn between the “new” life he’s been living and his true identity.

One other potential concern regarding having a considerably older actor in the role: the ladies. Normal, real life people are usually married to someone roughly their same age (though there are certainly exceptions). But, in Hollywood movies, older dudes end up “married” to much younger women all the time. Would the parts of Quaid’s “wife” and secret agent ladyfriend still have been played by Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, respectively? Quite possibly, because, Hollywood is stupid that way.

As for the action sequences, not a lot would need to change. Still spry and athletic in his early 60s, Wopat could easily hold his own in fight scenes and chases across the late-21st century landscape.

* Or is he?! Dun dun DUNNNN!

Photo credit: kire / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Tom Wopat in: Armageddon 2 (A—More or Less—Original Wopatization)

as: Mark Frost

First off, let me say that, despite its obvious scientific inaccuracies and the fact that it’s directed by noted schlockmeister Michael Bay, I absolutely love Armageddon. I can’t really explain why, but I do. Hard. Which is why I would love to see a sequel, as utterly ridiculous as it would inevitably be.

As you may recall, the hero of the original Armageddon was Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis with typical Bruce Willisness. You may also recall that Harry got blown to smithereens at the end of the flick, sacrificing himself to ensure the detonation of the bomb that would blow up the “planet killer” asteroid.

To replace the Harry character in Armageddon 2: Armageddon Harder you’d need an actor who can fill ably fill those empty, Bruce Willis-sized shoes. That actor is Tom Wopat.

Plot Synopsis

Much like the original film, Armageddon 2 is about a giant asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth, and the heroic oil rig workers and astronauts who work together to save the day. In Armageddon 1, Willis played the father of Liv Tyler’s character, Grace Stamper; in Armageddon 2, the lead character, Mark Frost, is the father of Ben Affleck’s character from the first film, A.J. Frost. (We’re going to assume that all the characters who didn’t die in the first film will be returning for the sequel, as will the actors who portrayed them.)

Here's a simple solution.

Here’s a simple solution.

Again, the US guvment detects an incoming asteroid—this one FOUR times the size of Texas—and comes up with a cunning plan to stop it: the same plan they used 17 years ago when it happened the first time! They round up A.J. and the rest of the gang, but determine that stopping a bigger asteroid requires a bigger crew. A.J. immediately volunteers his father, Mark (played by Tom Wopat).

A.J., Grace, et al set out to track Mark/Wopat down. They find him working in the booming oil fields of North Dakota, operating a frac sand plant. He hasn’t worked on an actual oil rig in years, he explains, and so has lost his touch for the precision deep-drilling needed for the mission. A.J. eventually convinces him to join them, and they set off for NASA HQ in Houston for training.

As NASA no longer flies its own space missions, the project is a joint venture between American and Chinese space agencies, and Chinese astronauts are training with A.J., Mark, and the US team. Mark, being an old-school, true-blue-American type, is more than a little reluctant to work with, as he puts it, “those Commie SOBs.”

The training goes remarkably well for the most part, as many of the crew went through a similar process in Armageddon 1. The whole gang takes off into space, this time in THREE separate shuttles—the Freedom 2, the Independence 2 and the Liberty. As in the first film, the crew is divided up into multiple teams to ensure success in case one of them crashes into the asteroid and dies horribly (or fails in another, less spectacular fashion).

After a quick pit stop at the International Space Station, which does not go down in flames like Mir did in a similar situation in the first film, all three shuttles fly out to meet the asteroid head on, having learned a valuable lesson the last time out about approaching a colossal space object from behind. Nevertheless, Freedom 2 is struck by flying debris and is destroyed; her entire crew dies with her.

Independence 2 and Liberty land safely on opposite sides of the asteroid and commence drilling, with A.J. leading the crew of the former ship and Wopat captaining the team from the latter. Both team work to drill to the center of the asteroid, so that another ginormous nuclear bomb can be stuffed inside. A.J.’s team is doing exceptionally well at first, hitting the various depth checkpoints well before the allotted time has passed. The other group initially fares poorly, as Mark continues to butt heads with his Chinese teammates.

Before long, A.J.’s drill hits another gas pocket, and the ensuing explosion (because everything unexpected must lead to an explosion in a Michael Bay movie) leaves A.J. injured and unable to continue his task. The drill itself, a new-and-improved version of the Armadillos from the first film, is damaged but still functional; they also lose the ability to communicate with the Liberty team. One of the Chinese team members takes control of the Armadillo and continues drilling.

Meanwhile, Wopat and crew are hitting their stride. Mark, despite his ongoing disputes with his Chinese colleagues, rediscovers his deep-drilling groove and is soon closing in on the target depth. However, their slow start means that the “zero hour,” the time by which they absolutely must detonate their bomb, is rapidly approaching.

To make matters worse, miscommunication between Mark and a Chinese crewman lead to their team’s drill being incapacitated following another (larger and louder than necessary) explosion. Following a considerable verbal and physical altercation, Wopat sets out to deploy the bomb, shoving it ahead of him into the hole he’s drilled. He knows they haven’t reached their mark, but there is no other alternative.

As he reaches the bottom of the hole, Mark/Wopat realizes that he’s in the same scenario that Harry Stamper found himself in all those years ago. Knowing he will likely die, he apologizes to his Chinese teammates in the kind of manly-yet-tearjerking monologue common to action movies of this ilk.

Just when all seems lost, Independence 2’s team’s drill breaks through the opposite side of Mark’s asteroid hole. The two teams combined to drill a hole all the way through the asteroid, albeit unintentionally. The Chinese crew member operating the other Armadillo makes a totally hilarious joke about digging a hole to America.

Wopat rides to the surface on the Armadillo’s extendable arm, but not before placing the second bomb (from the Independence 2). The hole through the asteroid somehow makes communication between the two teams possible again, and after a quick explanation of what happened, everyone hastily climbs aboard the spaceships.

They take off and are clear of the asteroid with a full minute to spare. The bombs detonate, the asteroid is essentially vaporized, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except all those poor saps who blew up with the Freedom 2, but none of them were main characters anyway, so who cares?

Photo credit: originalrobart / Foter / CC BY-NC

Tom Wopat in: Walk the Line 2 (A [Sort of] Original Wopatization)

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, still plenty rebellious Johnny Cash in a sequel. And we think no one could be better than Tom Wopat.

Because you're mine/I walk the line...2!

Because you’re mine/I walk the line…2!

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, 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 fireball singeing Cash’s face and sending 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? Don’t remember for sure.) 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.

Photo credit: The Art of York Berlin / Foter / CC BY-ND

Tom Wopat in: Wayne’s World (the Movie)

as: Benjamin Kane

In the first of the three Wayne’s World movies, Benjamin Kane is the closest thing to a villain that Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) encounter. He attempts to cash in on the success of the “Wayne’s World” show-within-the-movie and turn it into a forum for cheap sponsorship for his advertising clients. In the end, “Bunjamin” gets his comeuppance, Wayne gets the girl, and “Wayne’s World” is restored to its original, low budget but well-loved format.

Originally, the would-be TV producer and all around jerk is played with a nigh perfect balance of sleaze and charm by Rob Lowe. But we propose that with Tom Wopat as Kane, an even better, truly perfect balance would have been struck, and Wayne’s World would’ve been all the better for it.

Party...on?

Party…on?

Key Changes

One thing to note is that Tom Wopat is about a dozen years older than Rob Lowe. However, when the film was released in 1992, Wopat was only 41, so it’s not really an issue. It’s never really specified how old Kane is supposed to be, and Hollywood plays young all the time (seems like every high school movie features at least one actor in his 30s playing a teenager).

Over the course of Wayne’s World, it is made rather obvious that Benjamin Kane owes a good portion of his success to his good looks. And, there’s no doubt that Lowe is a handsome fellow. But put him and Tom Wopat side by side, and they look like they could be brothers—Wopat being the better looking one. If anything, with Wopat in the role, there would’ve been even more room for “skating by on his looks” gags.

With Wopat’s real-life guitar playing experience, the writers could’ve added a scene where Benjamin and Wayne square off in a friendly “guitar duel.” Wayne, the would-be metalhead and guitar hero, would bust out a monster solo, contorting his face into all manner of goofy “solo faces” and finishing with the “out of breath” physical comedy bit that Myers does so well. Kane/Wopat would then pick up Wayne’s guitar and, casually and easily, knock out a killer guitar line that puts Wayne’s playing to shame, all with Wopat’s face and hands in frame the whole time. Kane doesn’t break a sweat, and Wayne is completely befuddled.

And finally, with Wopat’s Dukes of Hazzard past and Wayne’s World’s fondness for spoofing pop culture, one of the movie’s “fake endings” could’ve included a chase scene in which Wayne and Garth, in their AMC Pacer (the Mirth Mobile), escape Kane and his suspiciously familiar orange 1969 Dodge Charger. Turning the Dukes’ convention on its ear, the Mirth Mobile would’ve been the car to make the climactic, slow-motion jump to safety, while the General Lee careens off the road and into the river.

Photo credit: MEDIODESCOCIDO / Foter / CC BY

Tom Wopat in: Game of Thrones

as: Ned Stark

In the blockbuster HBO series Game of Thrones (and the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin on which the show is based), Eddard “Ned” Stark, is the honorable, loyal, and just lord of Winterfell and warden of the North—a vast portion of the story’s fictional kingdom of Westeros. Originally portrayed by Sean Bean, Ned is the show’s moral center and nominally its main character throughout the first season. However (SPOILER ALERT for a 3-year-old TV episode and a nigh 20-year-old book), in the series’ ninth episode, Ned is executed by the newly-appointed king of Westeros, Joffrey Baratheon.

Because Sean Bean’s characters always seem to die in every plum role he plays (see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), we thought we’d give the poor guy a break and put someone else in the role, someone whose characters have never died onscreen. We are, of course, referring to the one and only Tom Wopat.

"And now, over to Ned Stark with the weather. Ned?"

“And now, over to Ned Stark with the weather. Ned?”

Representative Scene: Outside the Great Sept of Baelor

Ned Wopat, wrongly accused of treason, is forced to plead his case before Queen Cersei Baratheon (nee Lannister), her son Joffrey, who was named king after the death of his father Robert, and the King’s Small Council. A huge throng of citizens from King’s Landing (the capitol of Westeros) has gathered to witness the spectacle.

Ned’s daughter, Sansa, has been captured by the Kingsguard—kind of the Westerosi Secret Service, but with a lot more swords and blatant, brutal murders of the King’s enemies. And, since King Joffrey is an insufferable little turd who orders killings left and right, they add up quick. Learning that Sansa’s life is danger, and having struck something of a plea bargain with Cersei and Joffrey, Ned agrees to confess to his “crimes.”

Despite his confession, King Joffrey the Turd orders his goons to execute Ned Wopat anyway. Just as the executioner prepares to swing his sword and behead Ned, a trumpeter, previously hidden in the crowd, blasts out an eleven note call to arms. A Northern war wagon, painted bright orange, drawn by four of the mightiest chargers in all of Westeros, and driven by a hooded figure, comes barreling toward the sept. King’s Landingers diving out of its way as it speeds onward.

Ned kicks his would-be executioner’s legs out from under him, jumps to his feet, and dives into the cart as it passes. The hood of the driver’s cloak is blown back by the wind, and we see that it is his brother, Brandon Stark(played by John Schneider, naturally), who was long thought to be dead.

Brandon Schneider-Stark pilots the war wagon up the bed of a conveniently-placed-and-tilted-downward flatbed cart. With an exuberant “Yee-haw!” the Stark Boys, horses, and wagon ramp off the cart and fly through the air, up and over the walls of King’s Landing. They land perfectly on the other side, the horses hit the ground running, and they head due north to freedom.

Also, Sansa escapes somehow and meets up with them later.

Photo credit: Jedimentat44 / Foter / CC BY

Tom Wopat in: Jingle All the Way

Has there ever been a better holiday movie than Jingle All the Way? Has there ever been a better, more nuanced performance in a holiday movie than the one Arnold Schwarzenegger turns in as Howard Langston in Jingle All the Way? The answer to the first question is a resounding “No.” The answer to the second is, “There would be if Tom Wopat had played the part instead.” Let’s speculate further, shall we?!

Why Wopat?

For starters, Jingle All the Way was filmed and set in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Tom Wopat is originally from Lodi, Wisconsin; Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Thal, Styria, Austria. Wopat’s natural Sconnie accent would’ve been far more geographically accurate than Arnie’s Austrian one. Additionally—and I say this as an unapologetic Schwarzenegger fan—it would’ve been much easier to understand the dialogue with Wopat as Howard Langston. Ah-nuld’s accent seemed to be particularly thick in this flick, for whatever reason.

Happy Holidays, dear reader!

Happy Holidays, dear reader!

Second, Tom Wopat makes a much more believable, regular joe mattress salesman. I always find it odd when Schwarzenegger plays characters that just have normal jobs, because, for example, why would a mattress salesman be built like a professional bodybuilder? Maybe stick with playing legendary warriors and killer cyborgs and genetically engineered superhumans, Arnold. Wopat is an average-sized fellow and would be more convincing in an everyday job occupation like mattress salesmanship.

Wopat would definitely not fill out the Turbo-Man costume Langston sports at the end of the flick nearly as well as Schwarzenegger, however.

Wopat’s comparative averageness would also make at least one other scene in the movie more believable, as well. After a confrontation with Jim Belushi’s evil, toy-counterfeiting Mall Santa character, Langston escapes a police raid by posing as an undercover cop. It seems far more likely that an average, not-the-size-of-a-phone-booth guy would be able to sneak out the door under that ruse. The other policemen would probably recognize a Mr. Universe-looking guy on the force, or, more accurately, recognize that Mr. Universe was most definitely not a fellow cop because wouldn’t they remember that huge guy?

How about that average dude who looks like an older Luke Duke, recognize him? I don’t know, I think his name’s Stoharski; I’ve definitely seen him around before.

Photo credit: smcgee / Foter / CC BY-NC