Classics, Comedy, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: The Back to the Future Trilogy

as: Biff Tannen

Wopat as the villain? Back to the Future’s Biff Tannen is one of the all-time great movie bad guys—you couldn’t say he’s a villain, exactly, just a massive jerk who has a way with the word “butthead.” And great though Thomas F. Wilson was in the role, we think Tom Wopat would’ve given it a little something extra by not only making Biff a jerk, but a good-looking jerk. (Which is the very worst kind.)

back to the future

Wopat would, of course, portray the young, middle-aged, and elderly versions of Biff through the magic of movie makeup. He would also play Griff Tannen in Back to the Future Part II and Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen in Back to the Future Part III.

Representative Scene: Café Kerfuffle & Skateboard Chase

Time-traveler Marty (Michael J. Fox) and George McFly (Crispin Glover) are at the counter at Lou’s Café, going over a plan for George to win the heart of Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson). In walks Biff (Tom Wopat) and his gang of teenage ne’er-do-wells.

“Hey McFly,” Biff Wopat yells to George, “I thought I told you never to come in here. Well, it’s gonna cost you. How much money you got on you?”

Biff advances menacingly toward George, but Marty sticks his leg out and trips him. Biff is quickly back on his feet and now stands towering over the much, much shorter Marty.

“All right, punk,” says Tom Wopat as Biff, “now I’m gonna—”

“Whoa, Biff,” Marty says, pointing out the window over Biff’s shoulder. “What’s that?”

Biff is momentarily distracted, and Marty suckerpunches him in the face. Using the catlike reflexes he displayed in his action scenes in The Dukes of Hazzard, Wopat counters with a jab of his own, then sends Marty flying through the window with a spinning karate kick.

Marty quickly gets back to his feet, shaking shards of broken glass off his jacket. He spots a kid riding a homemade scooter down the street. Marty stops the kid, commandeers the scooter, and breaks it apart, creating a rudimentary skateboard. “I’ll get it back to you, all right?” he says as he skates out of frame.

Biff Wopat and crew emerge from the diner to chase Marty down on foot. With the help of his skateboard and a passing truck, Marty quickly outdistances them. Biff et al get in Biff’s car, a 1940s Ford convertible, inexplicably painted bright orange and with “01” stenciled on the side. (No Confederate flag on the convertible top, though—Biff may be a jerk, but he’s no bigot.)

Biff and company now give chase through the streets of Hill Valley, though Marty continues to elude them. When it appears the bad guys finally have Marty dead to rights, he escapes and sends the Ford barreling into a parked manure truck.

Instead of swerving and crashing broadside into the truck (as in the original film), Biff Wopat guns the engine. The truck’s bed is tilted upward to facilitate the unloading of manure (used as fertilizer), and Wopat uses it to ramp off of, sending his car flying through the air where it lands safely on the other side. He and his goons survive to torment Marty and George another day (of course).

Photo credit: JD Hancock via Foter.com / CC BY

 

Action and/or Adventure

Tom Wopat in: Batman

as: Batman/Bruce Wayne

batman

When it was first announced that Michael Keaton would play the role of the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman, Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, received roughly fifty thousand letters of complaint. Keaton was far and away not the right man for the role. While Keaton’s performance ultimately proved these early critics wrong, we still think there’s one actor who would’ve been even better. (Bet you can’t guess who we’re thinking of!)

Key Changes

The first, and most obvious, change with Tom Wopat playing Batman (and his secret identity, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne) is that this Batman would be much more in line with the roguishly handsome, athletic, and rugged character depicted in the comic books. One of the complaints about Keaton playing the role was that he was not a “traditionally” good looking chap—Wopat is about as traditionally good looking a guy as you’ll ever find.

Additionally, Wopat’s stunt-fighting work on The Dukes of Hazzard would have made him more convincing in Batman’s action scenes. Keaton (and/or his stuntman) certainly did an admirable job in the film, but Wopat’s history of kicking butt on camera would’ve given the fight scenes a little more credence.

Casting Tom Wopat as Batman (Wobat?) would’ve also created a sort-of crossover between two of the most iconic pop culture automobiles of all time. While the Wobatmobile certainly wouldn’t have been painted bright orange or featured a “Dixie” horn blast, seeing Luke Duke behind the wheel would’ve been an unforgettable sight.

And, while Batman’s driving in the film is precise and controlled, a loosey-goosey, Duke Boys style of driving would’ve been more believable, in my opinion. No one could make such tight, perfect turns at high speeds as those depicted in Batman—with a Batmobile that long (over 21 feet from nose to tailfins) and powerful (0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds), fishtailing would’ve been all but inevitable.

Fun/Interesting Fact

Michael Keaton is four days older than Tom Wopat.

Photo credit: wiredforlego via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Action and/or Adventure

Tom Wopat in: The Fast & The Furious Series

as: Tom O’Conner

“There’s no ‘Tom O’Conner’ in the Fast & Furious movies?” says you, the blog reader/massive Vin Diesel fan. “Do you mean Brian O’Conner?” No, no I do not. For our purposes, we’ve added a new character to the series, played, of course, by Tom Wopat. How does he fit in? Read on, friend!

Fast & Furious: Generations

Trading on Tom Wopat’s reputation as an action-adventure guy who knows his way around a high-powered, custom automobile, but acknowledging that he’s a little too old to be part of the films’ regular crew, we’d have his character be the father of the above-mentioned Brian O’Conner (the late Paul Walker).

The fifth film in the physics- and logic-defying series, 5 Fast 5 Furious, establishes that Brian never really knew his father. We say fie on all that, and would’ve had Tom O’Conner be part of the series from the start. Though he’s now just a regular joe who works the factory floor at some random company—a brush manufacturer, maybe?—Tom spent a good bit of time in the World of Outlaws as a younger man. Tom passed his considerable driving skills on to Brian, allowing him to compete with the other skilled street racers in the first film. It’s not like the LAPD has a stunt driving school, you know.

Meh. Gimme the General any day of the week.

Meh. Gimme the General any day of the week.

Tom also clearly passed his piercing blue eyes and striking good looks to his son, so you’re welcome, ladies and select gentlemen. (Coincidentally, Tom Wopat is pretty much the perfect age to be Paul Walker’s father, so that works out smashingly.)

In our reimagining of the F&F movies, we’d have Wopat’s character show up in the first film for his one big scene, and pop up for cameos in the rest of the series. He’d most likely be in just one or two short scenes here and there, and maybe in some instances just being a voice at the other end of Walker’s phone. We see the Tom O’Conner character being the comic relief in most cases, with a few sage words of wisdom peppered in.

Representative Scene

In The Fast & the Furious (the first movie), after “proving” himself in a street race, Brian O’Conner and Dom Toretto (Diesel) flee the police who came to bust all the punks at said race. Brian takes Dom to his parents’ home, where the two hope to lay low for a while. As they pull into the driveway, Toretto spots a sweet, competition-orange 1969 Dodge Charger in the garage.

“Who’s ride is that?” he asks. “My old man’s,” Brian replies.

Inside, they find Tom O’Conner asleep in a Barcalounger with a Dodgers game on the TV before him. Brian wakes him up and, after introductions, Tom offers beers all around, which Brian and Dom gladly accept. Shortly, Brian excuses himself to use the restroom.

Tom’s no fool, and instinctively knows that Toretto is something of a ne’er-do-well. He gives his son’s bald, musclebound associate the third degree, trying to figure out just what his game is. Before long, Dom has had enough of the elder O’Conner’s questioning.

“Let it go, old man,” Toretto growls. “I don’t answer to you or anybody else.”

“Okay, tough guy,” Tom replies. “Don’t wanna hurt your feeling.”

“I’m gonna have to hurt a lot more than your feelings if you don’t shut your mouth,” Dom growls. (Note: “growls” is how Vin Diesel always talks.)

Lightning quick, Tom slaps Toretto across the face while simultaneously sweeping his legs out from under him. Brian returns from the loo just in time to see Dom hit the floor, with Tom standing over him, smirking.

Tom extends a hand to help Toretto to his feet, which he accepts. As he stands up again, Dom laughs and growls, “You know what, Brian? Your old man is all right.” From then on, respect all around.

Photo credit: Lee Bennett via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Horror

Tom Wopat in: The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

as: Freddy Krueger

I know what you’re thinking: “Tom Wopat as the villain? Surely you jest!” Well, I don’t jest, and don’t call me Shirley. I’ll admit it seems highly unlikely, and it might be hard to buy him in such a role—who would believe that Wopat could be capable of such evilness? But, if there’s any classic horror villain/monster that could benefit from being Wopatized, it’s Freddy Krueger.

Why Wopat?

In this case, Wopat’s character would be well-served by the all-encompassing makeup. No one as good looking as Tom Wopat would ever fly as a Freddy Krueger-type bad guy; in order for this particular villain to be his most villainous, he’s got to be butt ugly. So, no worries on covering up Wopat’s handsome mug.

The character himself is a good mix of menace and humor, which would play to Wopat’s strengths as a thespian. I can’t necessarily say I’ve seen him play “menacing” anywhere, but he’s a good enough actor that he could pull it off—it’s not like it’s a particularly complex role, really. And, though the character’s demented sense of humor became more prominent in each successive sequel in the expansive franchise, he’s still plenty funny in the first flick. Wopat is, of course, a more than capable comic actor, and one that could undoubtedly find the right amount of wicked snark with which to infuse his line readings.

When A Nightmare on Elm Street debuted in 1984, it was an immediate commercial success, making roughly double its production budget at the box office in its first week of release, despite its cast of (then) unknowns. Meanwhile, Tom Wopat was in the midst of his first heyday, playing Luke Duke on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard. With an established star like Wopat in Nightmare’s starring role, and playing so drastically against type, who knows what kind of business the flick would’ve done?

I’m gonna make an educated guesstimate and say it would’ve pulled in about $15 billion dollars (not adjusted for inflation). And Wopat would, of course reprise the role in the still-ongoing sequels and remakes (we refuse to use the term “reboot,” because it’s stupid), which would, in turn, bring in billions at the box office, making Tom Wopat the wealthiest private citizen in the northern hemisphere.

I honestly have no clue what's going on here.

I honestly have no clue what’s going on here.

Representative Scene

If I remember my Elm Street sequels correctly, there’s some reference to the origin of Freddy’s knife-fingered glove in Freddy’s Dead (Part 6), in which Alice Cooper plays Freddy’s dad (something like that?). References to the origin of Freddy himself are sprinkled throughout the series, but are not entirely consistent across the many sequels.

In the Wopatized Elm Street series, both “origin stories” would be fleshed out in the first film, just to get ‘em out of the way. He’d still be a child-murdering serial killer, and he’d still get attacked and burned to death by the parents of the kids he slaughtered (feel-good hit of the summer, right there). However, instead of being a janitor at the Springwood Elementary School (we think that’s right, anyway—it makes sense, since he’d be around very murderable kids all the time, but we can’t remember for sure), he works in a metalworking factory.

It’s there that we see Freddy Wopat creating his famous glove, using a wire EDM machine to fashion its razor-sharp, curved blades. He’d have to go a little more out of his way to find his victims, but the glove makes more sense that way. How would a janitor have the ability to create such a fiendish device?

Ultimately, the vengeful parents would hunt Freddy down at the factory instead of the school’s boiler room, as in the original version of the tale. Rather than intentionally burning the whole building down with Freddy inside, one of the parents would kind-of-sort-of-accidentally shove him into the EDM machine. The machine’s high-powered cutting electrode would blast Freddy in the face, killing him in a very painful fashion and leaving him with the grotesque all-over scarring he sports throughout the series.

Photo credit: dmuth via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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

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 unabashed 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.

A much simpler solution to the asteroid problem.

A much simpler solution to the asteroid problem.

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, 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.)

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 dang near 20 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. The whole gang takes off into space, this time in THREE separate shuttles—the Freedom II, the Independence II 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 II is struck by flying debris and is destroyed; her entire crew dies with her.

Independence II 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 teams 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 a 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 II’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 the irony of him drilling all the way through and finding an American.

Wopat rides to the surface on the Armadillo’s extendable arm, but not before placing the second bomb (from the Independence II). 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 their respective 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 the guys who blew up with the Freedom II, but none of them were main characters anyway, so who cares?

Photo credit: originalrobart via Foter.com / CC BY-NC