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August 14, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Six

It’s sad to see someone go before their time, and I always got the feeling that Warwick Murray was going to be a final stages guy. But he didn’t get his assignment in on time last week, and in a development of nearly ironic proportions, you canned him. He didn’t get an extension. Get your collection of Beatles memorabilia and leave.

This weeks question was cinematic:

Who would play you in the movie of your life? Who would direct? Why?

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

I’d love to have Audrey Hepburn, just because she’s so wonderful to look at, but I guess the gender thing is a bit of an obstacle. Humphrey Bogart’s too short. Harrison Ford’s too old. Leonardo di Caprio’s a good actor but still annoying. Not Brad Pitt, please God not Brad Pitt. (“Cousins” my ass.)

So: Johnny Depp. Obviously. He can play *anyone*. Go on, try to think of a character he couldn’t play. I bet you can’t. John Wu would direct, because I really enjoy the stylised, caricatured style of his action scenes.

Oh wait, my life doesn’t have action scenes. Fellini, then; got to make my life look as glamourous as possible, after all, and he certainly showed he could do a real close-up character portrait very well with films like 8 1/2. I could live without the debauched chaos of the Satyricon, though.

John McDowall (Psychology)

I want whoever plays me in the movies to have stunning good looks, talent, and an overall sexual allure – all qualities I have failed to acquire. As well I would like him to be a little bit taller than I am in real life. And more hair, darker too. Oh, and I’d like Jim to have a girlfriend called Torchy Blane, because I’ve always wanted a girlfriend called Torchy Blane. Don’t know why. With this in mind I think Johnny Depp’s my man. Cool, suave, worldly-wise, he should do nicely thank you. And the director? None other than the great Ed Wood, the man who gifted the world unbelievably stellar movies such as Bride of the Monster, and the classic of all time – perhaps the best movie ever made – Plan 9 from Outer Space. With Depp and Wood working together, wait for a blockbuster – perhaps with a title like “John and Torchy – A Life on the Edge.” Can’t see this baby bombing.

David McLauchlan (Law)

Who better to play me than me! Lecturing involves a good deal of acting so, after years of practice, this would be my opportunity to break into the big time Alternatively, in the unlikely event that the movie were a serious drama, I’d opt for Robert de Niro, but more likely it would be a comedy so Robin Williams, who could deliver one-liners I could only dream of, would be the star. If the movie were to centre on the “young me”, he would be played by Jude Law, not because I suffer from the delusion that I once bore a passing resemblance, but because some might actually buy a ticket to watch the film. The director has to be Peter Jackson because he is the master of special effects and there’ll have to be plenty of them to avoid a movie about my unremarkable life being the biggest box office flop of all time (unless, of course, we bring in Bill Murray and call it Groundhog Dave). Otherwise, the film would have to focus on some of the real “characters” I have encountered during my university life—the students. Then there might be some entertaining stories to tell!

Grant Morris (Law)

Ideally I’d go for Kevin Costner to play “me”, but realistically it might have to be Ryan Stiles. He’s the tall guy from Whose line is it anyway? that makes funny faces. Several people seem to be convinced that I am Ryan Stiles despite my mediocre improvision talents and 5’10 height. Needless to say Kevin Costner wouldn’t be directing. Not after Waterworld. So maybe I’ll go for Mel Gibson as director. I might be able to get him at a cheap rate right now.

Sean Redmond (Film)

I have led an unremarkable life. If it was a colour it would be khaki; if it was a vegetable it would be a cucumber; if it was a taste it would be budget bland bread; and if it was a bodily ‘fluid’ it would be… shit. I am Mr. Average who lives in an average house with average kids and an average wife. I once won a best actor award at school because all the other kids thought theatre was gay. OK, so there have been bouts of alcohol and drug addiction, unbridled promiscuity, a 10 year coma that meant I missed the 80s, and a 3 year stint with the SAS in Afghanistan where I had fling with Osama Bin Laden (incredible eyes).

The movie version of my life would be a samurai-road movie set in space. A bloated and incoherent Dennis Hopper would play me (I wanted Johnny Depp but he wanted to be Matt Wagner. Wanker. Not Matt, Depp). Ed Wood would direct, badly. Madonna would be my love interest. She gets to sing a canto-pop version of The Smith’s Asleep as I drive my Nissan across the galaxy. The Electric Light Orchestra would score the film. The special effects would be designed in a garage in Tawa. Clothes by Farmers. Tag line: swords, tarmac and intergalactic khaki. No one will come to the premiere (in Coastlands, Paraparaumu). It will never have cult value. It will be… Shit.

Tony Schirato (Media Studies)

The film would be titled “I spit on your grave: the Tony Schirato Story”. It’d be a whimsical and amusing musical/gangster/horror story/romance/thriller/porn flick climaxing (pun alert) in a scene where I’d save a homeless, one-legged fluffy ex-bunny-girl from a group/gang/flock of ravenous polar bears all named ‘Bob’.

In order to bring the necessary dignity and pathos to the part, the lead would be played by Groucho Marx. I’ve discussed the project with the Coen Brothers: they’re keen to direct, & have lined up Harpo, Chico & Zeppo Marx to play the polar bears, & the American gender theorist Judith Butler as the ex-bunny-girl.

Matt Wagner

Who would play me in the movie version of my life? You know, earlier this year, two nights after I met the love of my life, we were sitting in a bar with a group of people asking precisely this question. Her response (for me) was considered, but decisive: “Marlon Brando.” I was first thrilled, then sceptical. “Umm, old Brando or young Brando? Are we talking Stanley Kowalski/Johnny (The Wild One) Brando, or post-Vito.

Corleone, kinda-let-himself-go Brando?” With what was perhaps the single most charming smile I’ve ever seen in my life, she said “Why, Young Brando, of course.” This, and the fact that she paid the bill, brought me as close as I’ve ever been to proposing marriage.

So there you have it: I can neither resist nor deviate from such an intelligent, perceptive casting choice, and a young, wild, chiseled Brando would play me in the story of my life. Be truthful, now: can you think of a better choice?

And who will direct? Why, Sean Redmond, of course. I mean come on: in the first place, who wouldn’t want to see Redmond and Brando work together? And in the second place, any guy who can write such a beautiful kung fu haiku clearly has the perfect balance of sensibilities for all the poetry and all the action, all the romance and mystical heroism that is my life.


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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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