Drama, Musicals, Original Wopatizations

Tom Wopat in: Walk the Line 2 (An Original Wopatization… sort of)

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

cash

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 in a movie, 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 ensuing fireball singed Cash’s face and sent 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? What kind of tree grows in the desert?) 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: mrflip via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Original Wopatizations, Thriller

Tom Wopat in: The Gutenberg Device (An Original Wopatization)

as: Lucas Langdon

Everybody loves those stinkin’ Tom Hanks “Robert Langdon” movies, apparently—they just keep makin’ the damn things. After all, the rule in Hollywood seems to be: as longs as it doesn’t lose money, they’ll let you make another one. By his own admission, that’s the only way Kevin Smith has managed to have as long a filmmaking career as he has. So, for the inevitable Da Vinci Code, Part IV, we figured it would make sense to go the route of so many higher-numbered sequels and add a new character/cast member to inject some new life.

The new character: Robert Langdon’s better looking and even smarter brother Lucas. The actor: come on, do you seriously not see where we’re going with this?

Plot Overview

No one here is a pro screenwriter, so we’re going to keep this pretty general. We’ll let someone else fill in all the specifics and whatnot and just sit back and collect our sweet “Screen Story by” royalty checks. Anyway, it goes a little something like this:

Written by Steve Gutenberg.

Written by Steve Gutenberg.

An old, grizzled museum worker discovers something odd whilst restoring the Gutenberg Bible held by the New York Public Library. The old man is using some sort of ultraviolet light to inspect the pages and comes across cryptic markings, some kind of code. Naturally, Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon is called in.

He and a local antiquities expert played by another random actress (picking up the mantle from Audry Tautou, Ayelet Zurer, and Felicity Jones) investigate and soon, of course, are on the run from a shadowy, unknown group. They flee NYC and seek assistance from Langdon’s older brother. (Tom Wopat, of course.)

Lucas Langdon is an expert in printing presses throughout history—including the press Gutenberg used to print the famous bibles. Using his extensive knowledge, Tom Hanks’ knowledge of symbology, and the antiquities expert’s, um, expertise, they suss out the secret and figure out who’s after them.

Unsurprisingly, an epic chase ensues, with the villains chasing our heroes across Stasbourg, France, where the good guys were inspecting Gutenberg’s original press in a publishing house/printing press museum (which we’re 100% sure is a real thing, for real). In the final kerfuffle, Lucas Langdon falls to his death in the jaws of a massive Heidelberg press, taking the Big Bad with him. (Not coincidentally, “Heidelberg” is the name of the bad guy.)

Don’t worry, though—Wopat’s character comes back to life (somehow) for Da Vinci Code V.

Photo credit: NYC Wanderer 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

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

Water-Man: An Original Wopatization

Superhero/comic book movies are all the rage these days, even if their source materials are becoming increasingly obscure—there’s going to be an Inhumans movie, for crying out loud. Since these flicks are more popular than ever, regardless of the familiarity of their characters, we thought we’d concoct our own superhero tale for the one and only Tom Wopat.

Though he’s not the “typical” actor you see playing a superhero, we think Tom Wopat is an ideal choice. First of all, he’s got enough name recognition that moviegoers would think, “Tom Wopat as a superhero? That seems odd,” which would build intrigue (much like Heath Ledger’s casting as the Joker in The Dark Knight). Intrigue sells tickets.

Second, why do superheroes always have to be young dudes? Putting an older actor such as Mr. Wopat in the starring role would: A) make it feel slightly more grounded in reality (what are the odds that the only people who ever get superpowers are those under 30?); and B) bring in the older audience that most superhero flicks are missing out on. Young folks come for an action-packed superhero tale, older folks come for the relatable man of a certain age doing the heroing. It’d be like printing money!

He is Water. He is Man. He is… Water-Man!

Water-Man

Brock Benjamin (played by Tom Wopat) is an ordinary guy in NYC. He makes a living installing industrial equipment at locations all over the city. One day, he’s installing a commercial water softener at an experimental research facility when an explosion (caused by the film’s villain, the Blue Buzzard) knocks him into the softener’s deep reservoir tank.

Before he can swim to the surface and climb out of the tank, an experiment at the facility, designed to simulate lightning, goes haywire and unleashes a massive blast of gamma radiation. The building is leveled, but the tank Wopat’s character was in is miraculously spared destruction.

Benjamin/Wopat stumbles out of the rubble. Fire blazes all around him. Having been momentarily blinded by the explosions, and knocked a little loopy by bonking his head on the side of the tank, he staggers into a flaming pile of wreckage. Rather than being burned, Wopat finds that he has extinguished the flames just by touching them.

He singlehandedly puts out the entire, huge fire at the research facility, dousing the last burning embers just as the fire department arrives, sirens blaring. “How the heck did you do that?” ask the grizzled fire chief.

“I… I don’t know,” Benjamin/Wopat says. He turns to walk away, morphing into a walking puddle that pours through a sewer grate and disappears.

Later, back at his shabby flat in the Bronx, Wopat tests his newfound abilities. The gamma radiation has fused the molecules of his body with those of the water in the tank. He is now capable of turning into water at will, of shooting almost endless volumes of water from his hands, and of manipulating other bodies of water telekinetically. (This last one also applies to other fluids that are mostly water, including Miller Lite—product placement ahoy!—which leads to a humorous scene at a pub where he shows his old buddy, John [played by John Schneider, naturally], his new powers.)

From there, the flick follows the usual superhero movie formula: a burgeoning love interest who will later be imperiled by her connection to Water-Man, an over-the-top villain (the aforementioned Blue Buzzard) with some sort of world-conquering scheme, a huge CGI battle that causes several hundred million dollars’ worth of damage, etc. We’re still ironing out the details, obviously.

Photo credit: Panegyrics of Granovetter via Foter.com / CC BY-SA