Any fan of Quentin Tarantino’s body of work knows that the guy loves to spice his movies with actors whose careers could really, really use a shot in the arm (metaphorically speaking). And it looked like for Tarantino’s next film — the period-slave-picture-slash-spaghetti-Western Django Unchained — he’d smiled upon the dimming star of a man who was once the Biggest Movie Star in the World: Kevin Costner. But then, yesterday, Costner dropped out of the film due to an over-crowded schedule (playing Pa Kent in Man of Steel may be enough of a career boost, I suppose).
The role was especially juicy, too: Ace Woody, the merciless trainer of male slaves forced to battle to the death for the amusement of ranch owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his patrons. (Calvin is also imprisoning the wife of our titular hero Django — to be played by Jamie Foxx — so you know some righteous Tarantino-esque retribution is close at hand.)
So which actor with a woebegone IMDb page should take Costner’s place? I break down the options:
THE FORGOTTEN CHARACTER ACTOR
Past examples: Robert Forster in Jackie Brown; Michael Parks in Kill Bill
Tom Hulce: An Oscar nominee for Amadeus, Hulce has been virtually MIA from movie screens since the 1990s, although he did win a Tony for producing Spring Awakening. He’s the kind of wily, verbal actor that thrives on Tarantino’s pulpy dialogue.
Robert Loggia: There are few journeyman actors who know how to pull off gruff and scabrous better than this Big and Independence Day star. Actors like him have been Tarantino mainstays.
Michael O’Keefe: Most audiences know him best as Jackie’s boyfriend Fred on Roseanne, but O’Keefe has built a solid-if-quiet career as an semi-anonymous supporting actor. It’s time for him to have his Margo Martindale-in-Justified moment.
THE BYGONE GENRE PIC ICON
Past examples: Pam Grier in Jackie Brown; David Carradine in Kill Bill
Ralph Macchio: The former Karate Kid and recent Dancing With the Stars contestant still looks like he just graduated college but is, in fact, 49 years old. Casting that baby face to do unspeakable acts of evil is exactly up Tarantino’s alley.
Steven Seagal: Once synonymous with Jean-Claude Van Damme (when Jean-Claude Van Damme was synonymous with The Poor Man’s Arnold Schwarzenegger), Seagal hasn’t had a genuine hit since 1996’s Executive Decision. Casting him could be just crazy enough to be brilliant.
Michael Biehn: He already popped up in Grindhouse, but the ’80s action star (The Terminator, Aliens) still seems ripe for a major comeback.
THE FADED MOVIE STAR
Past examples: John Travolta in Pulp Fiction; Kurt Russell in Death Proof
Warren Beatty: He’s currently mounting his own biopic of Howard Hughes, but the guy hasn’t acted in front of a motion picture camera in 10 years. Plus, he was initially going to play Bill in Kill Bill before he bowed out and Carradine stepped in, so the guy owes QT one.
Richard Dreyfuss: He’s already had a half-dozen career comebacks at this point, but he’s never been afraid to play a raging a-hole, which is just what Tarantino could need for this part.
Gene Hackman: It isn’t really fair to call Hackman a “faded” movie star, since he’s made clear he’s happily retired from acting while he writes his novels. But Welcome to Mooseport simply should not be this man’s final feature film.
Mel Gibson: Just kidding.
So, which actor do you think Tarantino should bequeath a career resurgence with this role, PopWatchers?
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