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.

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

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

Classics, Comedy, Musicals

Tom Wopat in: This is Spinal Tap

as: David St. Hubbins

This is Spinal Tap is the greatest movie ever made about rock and roll. The titular band is one huge, perfectly executed pastiche of ‘70s and ‘80s rock star excess, hubris, and stupidity, and the mockumentary format is so well done that, upon the film’s release in 1984, many viewers left theaters believing that Spinal Tap was a real band.

Spinal Tap

As that band, actors Christopher Guest (as lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (as bassist Derek Smalls), and Michael McKean (as singer/guitarist David St. Hubbins) work cinematic magic, playing dumb like only true geniuses can. However, nigh perfect though the main cast is, there’s no reason it couldn’t be improved. And if you know anything about this stupid blog of ours, you know what’s coming next…

Why Wopat?

Like McKean, Tom Wopat is a talented musician in addition to his acting skills. Both play guitar more than well enough for the purposes of the film, so there would be no decline in musical quality. (Despite having some of the [intentionally] stupidest lyrics in rock music history, all the songs played in Spinal Tap are performed exceptionally well, which makes the whole affair that much more convincing.)

The main advantage of having Wopat in the role of David St. Hubbins is an aesthetic one—not to say that McKean is some kind of hideous CHUD or anything, but few would deny that Wopat is the far better looking actor. And, playing as Spinal Tap does into every rock and roll stereotype, having the lead singer be the good looking one in the band—and him dang well knowing it—would open up numerous other avenues for parody.

There’s a scene in Almost Famous (the second greatest movie ever made about rock and roll) where Stillwater lead singer Jeff Beebe (played by Jason Lee) angrily tells guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), “Your [good] looks have become a problem!”

A similar sentiment would fit perfectly in the dysfunctional musical brotherhood of Spinal Tap. We envision a running joke throughout the film that has Tufnel repeatedly referencing St. Hubbins’ good looks as a way to solve any problem. It would start out innocently enough, with Wopat St. Hubbins successfully using his handsomeness and charm to get the band preferential treatment from a female concert promoter. By the end of the film, after numerous iterations of the ploy provide diminishing returns, and it eventually stops working altogether, Tufnel would state something to the effect of, “Why don’t you just handsome your way through this one, mate?”

This would have led to the inclusion of a song on the fake band’s real follow up album, Break Like the Wind, titled “Handsome My Way Through.” In our heads, we hear the track being a faux-inspirational, take-the-bull-by-the-horns-and-persevere rock ballad which ultimately places all the credit for the singer/narrator’s success on his good looks.

Photo credit: 7th Street Theatre via Source / CC BY