With "Act of Valor" number one at the box office at time of writing, it's clear people want to see the insides of Navy SEAL Team Six. Yet the concept of real Navy SEALs acting in a movie with synonymous action is a bit problematic due to the lack of compelling energy in an established acting team. It's possible the current casting for Kathryn Bigelow's future movie about the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound is going with A-list stars based squarely on the "Act of Valor" reaction.
The only unknown aspect to the casting of Bigelow's movie is that nobody has yet been named to play Osama bin Laden. So far, the cast will include Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, and Jessica Chastain, to name just a few. But one has to wonder which actor will take on the burden of playing bin Laden, or even if an A-list actor will portray the late terrorist leader.
Taking on the part of Osama bin Laden must be the most coveted and subsequently feared role ever taken for a film. It's one that can't quite be done with a mocking tone without performing a serious examination first. Not that it wouldn't be easier to take on a tongue-in-cheek stance when presenting bin Laden as a couch potato as he resided in the Abbottabad compound.
That's always the easier road when playing a real-life, nefarious dictator on film. The first depiction ever of Adolf Hitler in a film was Moe Howard of The Three Stooges in a 1939 short called "You Nazty Spy," with Curly as Göring and Larry as Goebbels. It set a lampooning pattern that was taken the next year by Charlie Chaplin, depicting Hitler as Adenoid Hynkel playing with Earth as a toy balloon in "The Great Dictator."
It was years before you saw a truly grim and serious depiction of Hitler on film. That's why a consensus could build that it's too early to depict bin Laden on film in a way that's truly psychologically explicit without causing deep divisions with audiences. A more tongue-in-cheek view first might be a near requirement.
Reasons for that are due to recent suggestions in the media about who should play bin Laden in Bigelow's movie. Even back in August of 2011, ABC News suggested actors such as Jeff Goldblum, Tony Shalhoub, or John Turturro. Conan O'Brien satirically suggested not long ago that basketball legend Scotty Pippen take on the part.
You can't picture Shalhoub and Goldblum without thinking of them in an "SNL" sketch with a Middle Eastern robe from the costume department. But rumors indicate Bigelow will most likely go with an unknown actor for bin Laden rather than place the burden on an A-list star. Presenting bin Laden in a way that might be unexpected paves the way for an unknown to consume less scrutiny.
And how that depiction will be here or in another film someday could be something we don't expect. Perhaps with "The Artist" setting patterns for more silence in movies, a depiction of a quiet bin Laden sitting and deteriorating -- while conversely sending out messengers to do his bidding -- would be startling enough.
Facial expressions to help us understand who bin Laden really was may be the only way we can ever assimilate the best portrait of one of the world's worst evils.
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