… and who would be absolutely ideal in the role…?
Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Yes, you’re right. It is A Bloody Good Idea, isn’t it…?
The notion suddenly occurred to me when I was having my habitual phone catch up with my pal Lee Medcalf, 3-D animator extraordinaire, erstwhile co-host of the thoroughly- excellent Black Dog podcast, my treasured and suitably-discrete Senior I.T advisor and fellow slave to Forbidden Planet.
Once we’d passed the initial round-up of the week’s worthiest sick gags from Sickipedia, Lee – or “Von Shtahlein”, as I affectionately call him – and I were discussing the forthcoming film adaptation of Vertigo’s Black Ops comics series THE LOSERS, which he’d summed up as essentially a fairly-decent cross-pollination of THE A-TEAM and the hyper-kinetic SHOOT ‘EM UP, which sounded about right to me. Among the cast, of course, is the aforementioned Dean Morgan, who graduates to a more central lead role after his vivid supporting turn in WATCHMEN last year, in which he played the doomed vigilante The Comedian. Von Shtahlein also commented that THE LOSERS’ fight sequences were stylistically similar to those seen in WATCHMEN.
ANYWAY: talk turned to the recent announcement that production on a new JUDGE DREDD film had, at long last, been given the green light now that funding had been secured (a thoroughly respectable and eminently do-able $50 million). Given that we’re both big 2000AD fans from way back, this was good news indeed and we speculated on what Dredd story would be adapted (Personally, I’d love to see The Dark Judges…). In the back of my mind, though, I still had an image of a bulked-up Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian in the later stages of WATCHMEN, being a wilfully-violent bastard, wearing that dark leather outfit. With big boots. Crammed with weaponry. Which featured large shoulder pads.
We were, of course, gleefully indulging in the ol’ Fantasy Casting game, but, really, I think it’s a suggestion that has a lotof mileage. Back in the 90’s, when the first, ill-fated Dredd pic was produced, fans got terrifically excited by the notion of Sylvester Stallone as Dredd because, back then, the man (Arnie aside) was the epitome of the One-Man (American) Instrument of Hard, Bullet-Spitting Death. This factor, not unreasonably, made him ideal for Dredd in many people’s minds, in addition to the fact that he had Dredd’s signature granite-hewn jaw.
The resulting film was certainly not as bad as some would have it, but the one thing it did unquestionably highlight was the problem of having a bona-fide megastar (and all the vanity that entails) play a pop culture icon, even a lesser-known one like Judge Dredd.
To far smaller degree, a screen Dredd is akin to the screen Superman: you need to have an actor who is prepared to let the role rule, rather than have a particularly famous actor’s celebrity duke it out for dominance – whether they intend to or not – which is what basically what happened with Stallone’s Dredd. By the third act of Danny Cannon’s Dredd movie, you were in no doubt whatsoever that you were watching A Sylvester Stallone Flick, as opposed to a Judge Dredd film. I suppose a couter-argument to this would be Arnie playing Conan, but you have to remember that was early in Arnie’s meteoric 80’s career. It made a big contribution to Arnie the Icon, but it wasn’t made to cater to that image a la Commando et al.
It’s for this reason that I think that Jeffrey Dean Morgan could be as much of a gift piece of casting to Judge Dredd as Christopher Reeve was to Superman. Think about it: he absolutely looks the part, and WATCHMEN showed that he can do Uncompromising Bastard with an air of black-humoured charm. Right now, he’s an actor of enough stature to headline a film – and he’s got massive fanboy cred to boot – but he wouldn’t screw the illusion with disbalancing celebrity. AND: I’ll bet the dicey notion of him NOT removing Dredd’s helmet, which as all Dredd fans know only too well, is a key element of the character, would at least be a possibility with him. Don’t you think…?
I’m right. You know I am. So the campaign starts here.
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN FOR JUDGE DREDD.