So far we have been very judicious in our use of this series, making sure that it is only wielded in response to something horrific in the political world or blogosphere that needs to be smacked around a bit and shown the light. But I think there are many potential uses of such a weapon as this that we haven’t yet explored, and I intend to start making up for lost time. So far we have only rebutted people whose words are dangerous, hateful or willfully ignorant, but it’s time to bring another class of person into the fold: people whose opinions are simply wrong.
I am talking about this post on NPR’s “Monkey See” blog.
For those of you who are link-phobic (shout out to my Squawk a Flite Comb brothers) I’ll sum it up: the author, Linda Holmes, has taken notice of the fact that English art-house movie favorite Helen Mirren (you know, she played the queen in…well…The Queen) has been taking a lot of roles lately that are outside her normal type, playing total fucking ass-kickers like the merciless sniper in Red and her upcoming turn as a Mossad agent in The Debt, and opines about other traditionally male roles that the divine Ms. Mirren would have done justice. Now, I can’t argue with this premise; it is as delightful a thought exercise as I can conceive of. My issue is that Ms. Holmes, possibly hemmed in by her association with National Public Radio, has chosen some extraordinarily boring roles for Dame Helen to fill. Check this list and try to refrain from yawning too loudly:
1. Colonel Nathan Jessep, A Few Good Men. Mirren would be so great in the Jack Nicholson role that you would completely root for her to finish her speech and spit out Tom Cruise’s uniform in a tangle of little threads.
2. Gordon Gekko, Wall Street. "Greed is good." See? You’d believe her. You’d go out and buy an enormous cell phone. And some IBM stock.
3. Hans Gruber, Die Hard. "Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way, so sadly, he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life." Also: "Now I have a machine gun, HO-HO-HO."
4. Red, The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a women’s prison, Andy is played by, say, Maria Bello (heh), and Red is the dame who can get you a poster of a dripping-wet Tab Hunter. Cut! Print!
5. Obi-wan Kenobi. That’s right. BOOM.
6. Ben Bradlee, All The President’s Men. Okay. I’ll admit that since it’s a real person, there are challenges.
7. Howard Beale, Network. She’s mad as hell, et cetera. Tell me she wouldn’t get mad as hell.
8. Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.I love the idea of a Brit in a Western. And her on a horse. Yay!
9. Dr. Malcolm Crowe, The Sixth Sense. Even though she’s you-know-what, you would still find her incredibly compelling. She’s already played detectives. Not sure she’d tolerate little Osment, though.
10. Ed Tom Bell, No Country For Old Men. If Frances McDormand can be a Coen Brothers cop in Fargo, there’s no reason Mirren couldn’t take over for Tommy Lee Jones.
11. James Bond. If you don’t think Helen Mirren could snap Pierce Brosnan like a twig and/or outdraw him and/or figure out how to poison him with a martini with him being none the wiser, we are not friends.
12. Jim Malone, The Untouchables. You put one of hers in the hospital, she puts one of yours in the morgue.
13. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence Of The Lambs. Movie just got creepier. Creepier!
14. Michael Clayton, Michael Clayton. She’s a fixer! She’s a lawyer! Also, I want to see her and Tilda Swinton have a confrontation.
15. Chuck Noland, Cast Away. I would watch her make fire; I would watch her talk to a volleyball. Done and done.
16. Michael Dorsey, Tootsie. Okay. This is cheating, I admit.
17. Ted Kramer, Kramer vs. Kramer. The divorce dynamics would be tricky to adapt. But the frazzled single parent? I can see it!
18. Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood. I just want you to envision her ripping into the last 20 minutes or so of this movie. You’re welcome.
19. Colonel Nicholson, The Bridge On The River Kwai.The slow descent into madness. Madness, I tell you!
20. Juror #8, 12 Angry Men. This is Henry Fonda’s part. It makes me so happy just thinking about it that I may have to make this movie myself.
Ok Linda, let’s get a few things straight first. Speculating about putting an aging English actress renowned for her nuanced, compassionate performances into wholly inappropriate iconic movie characters? You’re in my house now, bitch. And you’re about to get schooled. Sure, you made a few interesting suggestions here like Gordon Gekko and James Bond, but Twelve Angry Men? I mean…Jesus fucking Christ, woman! What part of watching Mirren wield a chaingun and obliterate motherfuckers in Red made you think “You know what she would be good at? Courtroom drama!”?
Also, everyone worth their salt knows that “Now I have a machine gun” is John McClane’s line, not Hans Gruber’s. Sheesh.
Look, Linda, I appreciate that you tried, but the unique brand of stupidity that we here at Fatal Downflaw purvey is a like Othello: a minute to learn, a lifetime to master. So please don’t take it badly when I tell you that you’re doing it completely wrong. In the immortal words of Q-Tip, “Take it as a letter from the better”. Here you will find a list of the ten best traditionally male roles that would have been more awesome if played by Helen Mirren. Watch and learn, Linda:
- Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm St. The only thing that Robert Englund was lacking in his most (some would say only) notable role was an entrancing English accent. And Helen has that in spades. Can’t you just picture her saying “I’m your boyfriend now, Nahncy”? Chilling. Simply chilling.
- John Rambo, Rambo III I mean, she would do well in any of the Rambo movies, but since Mirren has already demonstrated how well she handles hilariously oversized weapons, I think the third would be best suited to her skills. Also, I don’t care how old she is, I would watch a movie where she ran around shirtless for an hour and a half. Meow!
- V, V For Vendetta English: check. Blows shit up: check. Easier on the eyes than Hugo Weaving: check and mate.
- King Leonidas, 300 Really, 300 just desperately needed someone who knew how to convey emotion in any way other than screaming at the top of their lungs. Mirren is a master of subtlety, and I have no doubt that her slightly downturned lip would strike more terror into the heart of an onrushing Persian horde than Gerard Butler’s ridiculous histrionics.
- Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs Yeah, Holmes pretty much nailed this one. Chalk it up to beginner’s luck.
- Col. Walter Kurtz, Apocalypse Now I imagine Helen laying there, her face half in shadow, her clear, perfect voice saying “It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends.” So prim, but so fucking raw.
- Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back Obi Wan Kenobi is the coward’s choice. They already had a legendary English actor in that role. Han Solo, though…the epitome of the American anti-hero would be a fascinating career move for Mirren. That moment before he’s lowered into the carbonite chamber? How much more amazing would it be to see Carrie Fisher reaching out, yelling “I love you!” and Helen Mirren, her hands bound in front of her, tilt her chin up and, with that stiff upper lip and those expressive eyes reply, “I know”?
- Angel Eyes, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly The only person on earth whose mastery of the shifty eyes eclipses Lee van Cleef’s is Helen Mirren. This is pure scientific fact.
- Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction “Say ‘what’ again, I dare you. I double dare you, motherfucker! Say ‘what’ one more time!”
- Jesus of Nazareth, The Last Temptation of Christ What more traditionally male role is there than the Big Guy himself? I mean, God has been portrayed by actresses as diverse as Faye Dunaway and Alanis Morissette, but women only ever get to take a stab at the Father. Helen Mirren would make the perfect Son: compassionate, subversive, wise. Plus, she’d have a hot hot sex scene with Barbara Hershey, and you know you want that.
So there you have it, Linda. I hope this has been an eye-opener for you. Your tentative foray into speculative comedy was a brave but ultimately failed experiment. Leave this kind of stupidity to the professionals. NPR is no place for this grade of jackassery.