Casting Ejyafjallajökull: The Motion Picture
Hollywood, it seems, is about to catch a severe case of volcano fever. With the news dominated by stories of international travelers who've been stranded by a commercial airline system brought to its knees by ash-spewing Icelandic death-chimney Ejyafjallajökull (pronounced "Steve," oddly) and by incredible images of the apocalyptic cloud blanketing European airspace, development executives are scrambling to get the first volcano project into the pipeline. After the jump, we offer our always-helpful suggestions to harried casting directors who face this imposing task.
The Ash Cloud
After Liam Neeson's commanding, Kraken-releasing turn as Zeus in Clash of the Titans, we can think of no other actor whose bearded visage would look more imposing projected into the ashy cloak Ejyafjallajökull belched forth to remind a cocky, environmentally ambivalent human race who really controls this planet. Should Neeson be unavailable or not interested in taking his brand in this direction, Ralph Fiennes would make a fine back-up plan, as he has extensive cinematic experience having his face CGI-blended into swirling, death-bringing clouds in the Harry Potter movies.
Ejyafjallajökull (voiceover only)
James Earl Jones, for decades Hollywood's go-to guy for voice-of-God work, would be the obvious choice here, but given the volcano's Icelandic heritage, he'd be a poor fit for the project. And so, this scene would surely unfold in a studio casting office:
"Who's Iceland-y enough to get this done? And don't say Bjork, she's maybe a weird little lava pixie, not a volcano. A volcano's gotta have a dong. A giant magma-gushing dong."
"How about Stellan Skarsgård? What's he?"
"I dunno, but I think he's got one of those funny marks over a letter in his name. That feels right."
"Bingo. Close enough."
"I'm not even sure Iceland's not, like, inside Sweden. If we're getting technical."
"Put a call in. And let's get Peter Stormare on hold in case Neeson's agent bends us over and we can't meet Stevie Scotchgard's quote."
"Good as done."
Vince D'Abruzzese, stranded American traveler abroad
We'd go out first to Adrien Brody as Vince, the fast-talking, type-A New York businessman desperate to get back to JFK at all costs to close a huge deal. (Borderline nonsensical plot details about why he needs to be physically present in NY will be glossed over.) After failing to browbeat a helpless ticket agent into somehow getting him through the indefinite European no-fly order, Vince meets a grounded, hard-boozing private jet pilot (Tom Berenger, with a possible upgrade to Nick Nolte) he quickly offers an astronomical bribe to fly him out underneath the ash cloud.
Charles Donnington, stranded British traveler in America
As we watch Vince attempt to scheme his way back Stateside, we'll cut back and forth to Charles, his polite British foil who's trying -- strictly by the rules -- to return to his London home to experience the birth of his first child. No one could bring the well-mannered, tender relatability required of the role but Colin Firth*, whose heart you can almost hear breaking as he impotently Skype-chats on his PowerBook with his wife (Kelly Macdonald when Carey Mulligan proves way too busy/expensive) from her maternity ward bed.
*Or Michael Sheen. Or Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Two Volcanologists Who Are Killed In The Initial Eruption Because They Ventured Too Close To The Mouth To Witness This Once In A Lifetime Event And Were Unable To Outrun A Giant Fireball In Slow-Motion
Guy Pearce and Zach Galifianakis in poignant, unbilled cold-opening cameos.
Special Director Bonus Section!
Roland Emmerich. (The cloud blots out the sun, precipitating a worldwide chain-reaction of epic natural disasters.)