Look Who’s Casting — Elton John and John Belushi Films

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Indie actor Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) was tapped to play John Belushi.

I was all prepared to write a story on movie trailers annoying me. I had seen the trailer for About Time and was ticked that they gave away so many parts of the movie that would’ve been enjoyable for audiences to watch unfold (I won’t dare give them away here).

Another trailer was for the comedy Last Vegas. Now with comedies, you have that problem of showing a funny scene and having it not be funny when you see it in the movie. Why would it be? The punchline has already been exposed. Yet the Last Vegas trailer takes that to a new level. They show a funny joke about rapper 50 Cent, followed by a cameo of 50 Cent trying to get into the party the old fogies are throwing. Why show that? It’s the same as when The Hangover has Mike Tyson in the cameo, playing air drums along to Phil Collins. That’s a funny enough visual, but they had to also show him punching out Ed Helms. Imagine how much funnier that would’ve been in the movie if you didn’t see it coming.

Instead I decided to write about casting in biopics, since I got three emails from people bothered by some recent choices. I figured I’d write about that instead.


In this photo from Animal House…see if you think they look alike.

The first email I got was about Emile Hirsch playing John Belushi. I agree, that sounds baffling. Hirsch is a decent actor (although I’ve grown tired of this same slacker/hipster character he keeps playing). It just seems there are better choices out there. I can name two. The first would be Jack Black. He can sing (remember, Belushi was a Blues Brother). He has the weight, and the manic and humorous personality. Black played a real life character in Bernie. He’s played a guy that shoots heroin (although in Tropic Thunder it was a humorous portrayal of a drug addict). Black has shown some nice acting chops. He would’ve been perfect, especially with the name recognition.

An actor that’s not as well know, Dan Fogler, would be great. You’d agree if you’ve seen him in any of his previous films: Balls of Fury, Take Me Home Tonight, Taking Woodstock, Good Luck Chuck, to name a few. Most of those movies were awful, except for the funny character he plays in them.

The other two emails I got were in regards to Tom Hardy playing Elton John in a biopic. What worries me about that movie is the fact that John has some involvement in the production. That’s never a good idea. I think about how bad Great Balls of Fire was because of Jerry Lee Lewis being involved in it. One of the things that bothered Dennis Quaid was that he wanted to do his own singing (which always adds a nice authenticity, as it did when Gary Busey got an Oscar nomination for The Buddy Holly Story).

casting BRONSON

Tom Hardy in Bronson. He looks nothing like Elton John.

Anybody that saw the amazing Bronson or The Warrior…with Hardy playing tough guys, probably can’t see him playing Sir Elton. Heck, think about him as Bane in Dark Knight Rises. We couldn’t even understand him half the time. What’s going to happen when he attempts to sing Rocket Man?

It’s funny, because people will often joke around and say to each other, “Who do you want to play you in the movie about your life?”

To be funny I say something like Ryan Gosling. The truth is, more people have said I look like Bill Murray or Tom Hanks. Now, those two both played real life people. Murray was a good Hunter S. Thompson in the film Where the Buffalo Roam, and Tom Hanks is currently making a movie in which he plays Walt Disney. He also played the real Captain Phillips (with a decent Boston accent). The photos of him as Disney, with the mustache and oiled hair, look perfect.

casting MURRAY

Bill Murray as FDR.

Murray also pulled off Franklin D. Roosevelt in the horrible Hyde Park on Hudson.

It was a little more awkward in this years The Butler. Two of the Presidents were poorly cast. John Cusak as Richard Nixon? What were they thinking? And Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower was just…weird. Audiences were watching it saying, “Hey…that’s Robin Williams with a lot of latex and makeup on his face.”


Robin Williams in The Butler.

We also kept waiting for him to say something humorous.

Now, Anthony Hopkins doesn’t look much like Richard Nixon, but Oliver Stone cast him to play the crook in his film. Within five minutes, you believed it was Nixon. That has more to do with the acting than the makeup.

Hopkins also was a convincing Alfred Hitchcock, even though Hitchcock wasn’t that great of a movie.

Oliver Stone shocked everyone by casting Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. Nobody thought Ice Man looked like the Lizard King. Yet he got the hair and makeup, did some of his own singing…and it was Jimbo (again, it’s a shame the movie was so bad).

casting CHADWICK BOSEMANWith all that being said, I can safely say I’m not so worried about who is cast in the various biopics. I heard the actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, was cast to play James Brown. He’ll do just fine. I’m just wondering if those are the only characters he’s going to play in his career. He should look into the Jimi Hendrix role. Every few years there’s a different actor talked about to play the left-handed guitar god.


  • Kendra G

    My opinion on trailers is that the more you see them on TV the worse the movie is. When you see one trailer and no more that is the movie I plan on seeing.

  • joshboardfox5

    Kendra, that's an interesting point, yet I think I know why that probably is. Usually the big blockbusters, which are usually the worst movies, have the biggest budget. This means they can spend money for a lot of trailers. For example, one of my favorite movies of the year is The Way Way Back (Steve Carrell, Sam Rockwell). I didn't see many trailers for it, but then critics started praising it — and the studio decided to put some advertising behind it and get word out about this great film.

  • Kendra G

    I got to see The Way Way back a few months ago and thought it was a great fun flick! I hadn't seen any trailers for it to be honest and I think that's why I enjoyed it not knowing or seeing anything given away in a commercial.

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