as: Peter Gibbons
Office Space is one of cinema’s greatest cult classics—I’m not the only one who thinks so. However, it will never be mistaken for a timeless classic like The Godfather or Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Office Space is about as 1998 as anything is, was, or ever will be. Part of it is the nature of the movie—it’s set in the present, so it looks like the present of the year it was filmed, 1998. But part of it is the lead actor, Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons. He’s a great actor, but he’s also a very ‘90s guy; one of those actors that you’re certain played someone’s boyfriend on like three episodes of Friends.*
We’d like to replace Livingston with an actor who’s a little more timeless, and we think Office Space would be all the better for it. That actor, of course, is Tom Wopat.
Ron Livingston and Tom Wopat actually look rather a lot alike, but something about Wopat** makes him seem more “classic,” if you will. The biggest difference betwixt the two is their age: at the time Office Space was release, Livingston was 32, whilst Wopat was 48. Ergo, with Wopat in the role, it wouldn’t work for Peter Gibbons to be a flailing, doesn’t-know-what-to-do-with-his-life young man he is in the OG flick. Instead, Peter Wopat would be a more successful businessman, one of the upper middle managers the original film’s Peter railed against, fed up with the company and in need of a major life change.
A good portion of the movie could remain the same. Peter Wopat would be stirred to action by the same event (a hypnotherapist who keels over dead while hypnotizing Peter). It would still result in Peter deciding to more or less do whatever he wants at work. And, he’d still start pulling pranks around the office. But, instead of low-key stuff like OG Peter perpetrated, Peter Wopat would use his management resources, and the company spending account, to stage some doozies.
One night, after his coworkers have all gone home, Peter backs a few trucks up to the office, and with a small crew of burly mechanic types, gets to work unloading. They take everything out of the office, down to the carpet, and including removing the suspended ceiling. The only thing left are the walls and the lights. Wopat and crew haul in and install a whole mess of modular two story offices, filling the entire space with cubicle just like the ones they took out, but now stacked on top of each other. Everyone has twice as much space!***
I’m sure a professional copywriter could probably come up with something much better, honestly. But you get the idea. They’d be Jim’s pranks on Dwight on The Office, but turned up to 11.
Jen Aniston would still probably have been cast as Peter’s girlfriend, because Hollywood is stupid like that. The ending would stay more or less the same, because the ending is great. But with Wopat in the lead, Office Space would have been much more than a cult classic—it would’ve been the most successful motion picture of all time.
* Believe it or not, Ron Livingston never appeared on Friends
** It’s The Dukes of Hazzard
*** Though they also have low ceilings and an upstairs or downstairs cubicle neighbor