Is There Any Actor Who Could Make Spielberg's Harvey Remake Interesting?
Let's face it: We're not Steven Spielberg's target audience for Harvey. In every way, the director's intended remake of the Jimmy Stewart imaginary rabbit vehicle feels safe and familiar -- so much so that industry wags have practically rubber-stamped Tom Hanks to star. That preliminary coronation got us thinking, though: Is there a single actor in Hollywood that could give this project any sort of curveball appeal? We decided to round up the best and worst of Spielberg's potential casting choices.
According to Michael Fleming, Spielberg's expected to reach out to Tom Hanks and Will Smith first. Yawn. There's a certain class of A-lister who'd be perfect for this, and that's why we encourage Spielberg to make a quirkier choice -- does anybody need to see George Clooney talk to an empty space as saner heads tsk-tsk? At the same time, slotting Adam Sandler in this sort of role would certainly augur a baby-voiced box office hit, but it feels like exactly the sort of lazy project Sandler's George Simmons would have made in Funny People.
Still, there are some big stars who could bring to Harvey at least a minor dose of unpredictable frisson. Johnny Depp's got the imagination for it, if not the free-and-clear shooting schedule. Robert Downey Jr. always seems to be operating on a different, more creative frequency than most actors, and he'd be good for a few tossed-off ad libs to counter the project's saccharine feel. Still, if Spielberg really wants to go for it, why not hire Sacha Baron Cohen? The actor is nothing if not committed to preserving an illusion (even if it means he'd still be chatting with an imaginary rabbit while doing Conan and Letterman next year).
The Dark Horses:
If Spielberg really wants to get our attention, though, he'd hire a rising star like Jeremy Renner, whose coiled intensity could provide an interesting counterpoint to Elwood's inherent warm-fuzzies. Might he skew younger and reach out to Jake Gyllenhaal, who already has cinematic experience seeing rabbits that aren't there? Perhaps, but the option that we think is so crazy it just might work (literally) is Tom Cruise. His unshakable insistence on behalf of the Church of Scientology has already branded him a true believer amidst a sea of smirking skeptics. Would Cruise's Elwood politely brand disbelieving doctors "glib"? We already know his thought on psychiatry mesh perfectly, if perhaps more vehemently, with the character's. Sign him up, Steve!