Get Me The Ghost of Monty Clift! Casting The 2012 GOP Slate, Replete With Courtiers And Financiers
If the last Presidential race produced a fine docudrama, Game Change, based on the equally fine book, surely this year’s dust-up between the elephant and the donkey is worth dramatizing. Therefore, , submitted for your approval, is Movieline’s notion of ideal casting and concepts for the 2012 GOP slate, complete with courtiers, financiers and mountebanks. Tentatively, we’re calling it Liar’s Poker.
Let’s start at the outer circle of the power nexus and gradually move inward.
John Sununu: Newspersons on the convention floor insisted no one was more excited during Wednesday night’s vitriolic Dem-bashing session than the former New Hampshire governor. We’d like to see the corpulent billy goat played by James Gandolfini, with a pursed scowl and a goiterous prosthetic under his chin.
Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor — who escaped being recalled after his campaign to disenfranchise that dangerous enemy, the state’s educators — could only be played by Vincent Kartheiser. The Mad Men actor would need to do it in Pete Campbell mode, perhaps removing what shreds of humanity and judgment Campbell exhibits to show that paradoxical phenomenon, a dead-eyed zealot.
Sheldon Adelson: Shortly after Romney announced the ascension to running mate of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan — don’t worry, we’re getting to him — the Wisconsin congressman jetted to Las Vegas to meet with the casino-owning plutocrat, who's under investigation via the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act. In our movie, Adelson would be represented by a doctored hologram of Goldfinger Bond villain Gert Frobe .
Charles Koch: While we’re stacking up shot callers, why not add in what we've always supposed was the cuddly Koch brother, played by The Colbert Report namesake and fellow Super PAC maestro Stephen Colbert (after a salt-and-pepper dye job). It could be a recurring role in the sequel — should the GOP win, Koch will be dictating a lot of policy behind the scenes, Nucky Thompson-style.
Chris Christie: Speaking of Jersey devils, the Garden State's governor reminds us oratorically of Broderick Crawford haranguing his fellow hicks in All the King’s Men. But to conjure up Christie's trademark spasms of sputtering resentment, we’ll have to go with John Goodman in full Walter Sobchak mode from The Big Lebowski. Put him next to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal — is it too ethnocentric to suggest Dev Patel in age makeup as his re-enactor? — and you’ve got both sides of the big and small governor divide covered.
Karl Rove: Could a smoke-filled room of Republican strategists be complete without the man Bush 43 — now only to be found on fading posters, milk cartons and brief, flatulent sizzle reels — called “Turd Blossom”? We like the idea of Philip Seymour Hoffman portraying Karl Rove.
Paul Ryan: Now, if we’re really serious about licking socialism, about crushing the Ellsworth M. Tooheys and freedom haters, we need the party’s newly minted charismatic, Ryan himself. We need someone in his early 40s with an obviously fit torso, a beady-eyed, intense presence...Tom Cruise? They have the same falcon’s profile, a shared missionary zeal.
But Cruise has been there, done that. He played a magnetic, striving Republican presidential wanna-be in the generally unloved Lions for Lambs. Why risk it?
So, maybe Zachary Quinto? Smart actor, a screenwriter (Margin Call) of in his own right. But can he bring the sexy? Nah. A rehabbed Charlie Sheen? RPatz? Some wags have suggested Zach Woods, who plays the geeky middle manager Gabe on The Office, but again, he doesn’t have the pecs. Good Lord, Crispin Glover?
Actually, it’s got to be Jake Gyllenhaal. Remember him in Rendition, telling his bloody-minded boss, Meryl Streep, “This is my first torture”? Jake has the chops to show the inner agonies of Ryan as the ideologue takes a spiritual haircut to bring his thoughts on abortion and even the budget in line with Romney’s non-positions.
Dick Cheney: In a Kubrickian touch, we’ll show the Catholic deer hunter (his brag) shooting skeet on the White House lawn with his stooped and stolid Republican predecessor, played by Richard Dreyfuss, natch.
Janna Ryan: Watching from nearby with a worried expression will be the 2012 vice presidential candidate's pretty wife, Janna, who resembles Anne Coulter without the devouring rage and — well, let’s just keep this gentlemanly. Jessica Chastain, a veteran of the mute performance from working with Malick, can stand in.
Ann Romney: Of course, there’s the presidential candidate's wife in a poignant secondary role. Aces at pubic speaking, a courageous warrior against her afflictions, she’s deservedly popular. We like Felicity Huffman, fresh from Desperate Housewives, with some equitation lessons and a big jug of peroxide.
Willard “Mitt” Romney: He is, of course, the key casting challenge. Playing the absence of human presence is a feat, and choosing someone who’s merely boring is a dangerous choice. Perhaps Stephen Collins, who’s a canny enough performer (e.g., The Three Stooges) to make vapidity sing?
How do you reveal the soul of a man who seemingly learned his affect from the dead presidents on Mt. Rushmore — a figure described by Chris Matthews after Ann Romney’s speech as “almost a statue of a person...a Conehead who doesn’t seem like an earthling”?
Actually, what’s needed is a classic actor’s touch. Perhaps another hologram, deploying Montgomery Clift, just a shade less numbed than the victim of Nazism he played in Judgment at Nuremberg.
The Cliftian genius at showing the searching, slightly haunted eyes, the brain-snatched stop-start verbal tics, and the nervous half-smile, has to win the day.
Of course, we’ll need Mitt to sign off on that casting; we don’t want to see Clift, even in hologram form, getting summarily fired, as in “I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”
So, there you have it — oh, shoot, we forgot Seamus. Somewhere out there must be a descendant of Nixon’s Irish setter, King Timahoe. Of course, that worthy was coddled around Camp David and the Rose Garden, and the Presidential pooch this time needs to be made of sterner stuff. So don’t bother to propose your dog for the gig unless it has the genes for a long afternoon in the wind.
Fred Schruers, a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, has contributed to Rolling Stone, Premiere, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications.
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