The Best Post-Show Role From Each Friends Cast Member

This is being written on 19th August 2016, as such it’s the 47th birthday of Matthew Perry. He’s actually a lot more versatile than his reputation would make you think, as his stint in The Ron Clark Story shows. That’s the trouble with being in a long running successful sitcom, you get so heavily associated with the character that it can be hard for people to not see you as that and it can be hard to break out into something new. It took two successful shows (The New Adventures Of Old Christine and Veep) for Julia Louis Dreyfus to no longer be seen as Elaine Benes.

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Although this guy constantly has fans of the show calling him by his character’s name

It’s quite sad as these actors often have fantastic roles outside of the sitcom. So for this reason, this week I’ll be discussing the best film from each of the six main cast members from Friends. So, let’s go.

Matthew Perry – The Whole Nine Yards

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Just looking at this you can tell what decade it was made

Made in a different era, when Bruce Willis was still bankable. It could be argued that Matthew Perry’s performance in this is basically his character from Friends, but the fact  it still worked over a feature is great news. Some characters work best in short easily digestible chunks, over a movie they tend to lose something or become annoying (this is less prevalent now of course as the majority of TV shows have at least one eye on the binge-watchers). Sadly this film was tainted by the release of a sub-par sequel, as is often the case. But for now, we’ll just watch this and laugh. Although I should point out, I consider this Amanda Peet’s film, she was amazing in it and easily overshadowed her more experienced cast.

Jennifer Aniston – Cake

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No contest, like most things in life, the answer to this is Cake. Even reviews which dislike the film point out how great her performance is. It’s heartbreakingly good, it’s so good you don’t even notice how good it is, because you don’t see it as acting, you see it as watching a real person. There’s no massive “this is the scene for the Oscar so I’m going to dramatically cry, dramatically, whilst acting, dramatically” scene, there’s just a complete performance from beginning to end that means you stop thinking of her as Jennifer Aniston, which for someone as well known as her, takes some doing.

Courteney Cox – Scream

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This was the easiest choice, not because of how bad her other roles are, but because of how good these are. It’s not hyperbole to say that these films completely changed how people perceived horror films in the 90’s, and a big part of that was obviously because of how many people watched them. I don’t think it’s too far fetched that at least a few people watched it because they were fans of Friends (it was still in it’s infancy but had a reasonably sized fanbase by that point). Cox relishes her role in this, the trouble with being in a sitcom is the characters usually have to be somewhat likeable to make the audience want to sit down and watch them every Friday night (there are some exceptions of course, the main one being It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but that’s more cult than a mainstream success), whereas in a film you can play a terrible character, and she does so in this. Her character’s arc throughout the four films is one of redemption, one of acknowledging your role in disasters and attempting to improve yourself but always falling short. It says more about humanity than Friends ever did.

Lisa Kudrow – Bojack Horseman

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The first of two choices here which are basically glorified guest performances. But I had to put it in, her performance in this was heartbreaking. She delivered her lines with pure emotion and helped this show become more than just an animated show, she made it more human. There’s not much else that can be said about this that I didn’t already say in my Bojack blog. The show has actually been killing it with guest stars, it even got Mara “Matilda” Wilson in the third series, and she’s all kinds of awesome.

Matt LeBlanc – Episodes

This was also easy, but unlike the Cox situation, it’s because, truth be told, he hasn’t done that well since the show. He’s picked bad films which didn’t really help him at all, and then there’s Joey.

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Fun fact: it took longer for you to read this than it did for this show to get cancelled

Episodes, however, is fantastic. It’s beautifully meta about the entire industry, as such it’s never going to be a huge mainstream success, but people who watch it tend to love it. It has to be said that a lot of people watched this because of LeBlanc, they wanted to see how he was in it. Ok, they had to wait about 4 episodes to see him in a move which was either brilliant (as it allowed viewers to get to know the other characters) or stupid (as it annoyed people and made them leave). It was a huge gamble for the show to do it but it paid off, the show’s still running strong and has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy’s and BAFTA’s. LeBlanc is actually fantastic in it, playing himself with knowledge of what the audience thinks he’s actually like. This show is probably one of my favourite new sitcoms of the last 5 years, and unless it all goes Scrubs Season 9 on us, I can’t see that ending.

David Schwimmer – American Crime Story

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I was going to put his stint in Curb Your Enthusiasm in here, but realised then I’d have two sitcom appearances, and two of them playing themselves. The truth is, Schwimmer has moved more into directing since the show ended, and has done a good job, not quite Afleck levels, but he has an eye for what’s important. As such I was going to have to settle for sitcom guest appearances, but then American Crime Story happened. Holy hell is he good in this, who’d have thought Ross from Friends would put in one of the television performances of the year? As one review said:

“Schwimmer stole every reaction shot, no more so than in the finale.”

His casting was a masterstroke that paid off, not quite in “casting Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad” levels, but certainly high up there. His performance was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie, an award so prestigious that Ed Harris, Patrick Stewart and Michael Gambon have all been nominated, and lost! His next step is the crime drama, Feed The Beast, and no doubt his performance in American Crime Story has made it a lot more eagerly anticipated.

So, that’s our choices, where did we go surprisingly right? Where did we go horrifically wrong?

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5 Things Suicide Squad Did Right (And One Thing It Did Wrong)

1. The Look

In a world where the colour palette of superhero films can mostly be described as Fifty Shades Of Grey (only much more painful) it’s refreshing to see such bright colours in a film such as this. Pinks and Greens are all over the place, it’s like a film taking place in a neon nightmare, and it’s brilliant. It gives the film a unique look, you can take a lot of still photos from this and know that it’s this film.

2. The Performances.

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Shockingly, and I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, I’m going to have to praise Cara Delevingne, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever do for two reasons:

  1. Her performance in Paper Towns severely weakened the film.
  2. I can’t spell her name.

But her performance in the first half of this is superb. She plays the part of a woman who’s scared of her internal demons spectacularly. You really see her inner torment, and it’s just subtle enough to not be overbearing and too on the nose. She’s also involved in one of the visual highlights of the film when the thing inside her body starts to come out, and the hands wrap around each other, it’s simple but beautiful.It’s not just her though, Will Smith’s performance almost makes you forget about After Earth.

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Almost

3. The Characters

This is not an easy sell to casual theatre goers. The most well known characters in this film are Batman and The Joker, and they’re in it for a combined total of about 15 minutes. As such the film has to make sure the audience knows who the main characters are, which for an ensemble piece is not easy. Yet by the time the film ends you feel like you know the characters well enough that most of them have enough background that a solo film wouldn’t be out of the question. Special mention must go to El Diablo, as played by Jay Hernandez. He’s the only character I didn’t really know anything about, I knew about Harley Quinn from various Batman comics, Deadshot from video games etc. Yet his character is really smartly set up, his reluctance to fight makes complete sense  considering his back story. His character is one with real emotion and heart.

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4. Music

Iron Man changed the game when it came to music in superhero movies, when they used AC/DC it set a new standard for the genre; no longer could they slack off in the music department, they needed popular rock songs by established bands, and a few classic rock songs in their too. This was perfected in Guardians Of The Galaxy, which had one of the best soundtracks of 2014. This film continues in that tradition, with songs from Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Animals, CCR littered throughout the film.

5. The Joker

Leto is completely terrifying in it. Just like the joker should be. He owns every scene he’s in and carries a genuine sense of danger and does it in a way that’s completely different to the way that Heath Ledger did it. Heath Ledger’s Joker always seemed uncertain in his own skin, like he was made by his vulnerabilities. Leto’s one is completely different, he’s confident, he’s calm, he’s in control of every situation.

The Bad

1. Yeah But….

Everything I mentioned on the plus side? They all come with caveats. The still shots look fantastic, but the way it’s edited? Holy hell do they make some of the most basic editing mistakes ever. The shots are not given enough time to leave an impact, there’s quick cuts between different things in scenes which should be slow paced. Whilst Cara Delevingne performance in the first half is awesome, the second half is awful. She seemingly forgets the meaning of “subtlety”, and she does a weird thing with her body that makes her seem like a wooden marionette. The characters bond and start talking about being like “a family” without any reason or bonding moment. Whilst El Diablo’s sacrifice (oh, spoilers), was noble, it made no sense, it would be like you sacrificing your life for your classmates on the first day. Yes there is a lot of good music, but there’s also A LOT of music. There’s so many moments where you sit there thinking “jesus, another f*cking song? We get it, you’ve got an impressive record collection. How about actually working out how to match the music to the scenes?” The Joker is good? Shame he’s only in it for about 10 minutes. Now I’ve seen people complain about people complaining about this. Saying things like “you could tell he was only going to be in it for an extended cameo”. Really? Tell the advertising campaign which was HEAVILY focused around him, or even the posters which had Jared Leto as the second billed actor. He was billed higher than almost all of the main characters. Now, if you were following press releases etc then yes, you knew he wasn’t going to be in it for long. But the majority of cinema goers aren’t people who spend all the time online looking for details about this film, they’re people who see the trailer, see the poster, and decide to see it.

And that, ultimately is the biggest problem, it’s hard to say something nice about this film without having to quantify it. And as with most modern films, the plotting is all over the place. The opening half hour is nothing but blatant character building, with someone sitting there literally telling you about the characters. There are way too many shots of Harley Quinn that are blatant fan-service (and a scene where an entire group of people manages to climb stairs quicker than a lift travels up 5 flights). That, added to the length equals a film which, despite being almost sold out when I went to see it, had nobody stay through the credits. The second the closing credits started,everyone left, and with a film like this that shouldn’t be the case, and it’s disappointing that it is

In Summary

If you go cinema a lot, go see it. If you only go to the cinema a few times a year, and going is a true event, then don’t make this one of your visits.

Recasting: Batman

This is pretty simple, we’re going to be casting our perfect Batman film to celebrate the release of Suicide Squad. Now I know, there was a more Batman-ey film released earlier this year, but we did a Justice League casting for that (available here) If you don’t know who Batman is then I’d like to say hello to you, 15th Century time traveller, marvel at our wonders; the internet, mobile phones, bubble wrap. Now read Batman.

Commisioner Gordon

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Denzel Washington

A different take on the character for sure, but he was still the first name that came to mind when I thought about who could take on the role of the stoic Gotham Detective. An underrated complex character, Gordon is one part the intellectual detective and another the bad ass police commissioner. Not only one of Batman’s closest friends (stories varying), in some ways Commissioner Gordon takes on the role of Batman’s handler, or at least one of his human connections that stops him from going over the edge. Without a doubt I believe Mr Washington would be able to bring the much needed gruff take to make the character his own and give a refreshing kick-ass Gordon who’s not afraid to get his knuckles dirty. Also he already knows how to rock a mustache.

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy-Lee-Jones1Yes, I know he’s already been in a Batman film, but anybody who see’s that one quickly wishes they hadn’t, so it doesn’t count. People say casting Batman is hard, try casting Gordon, imagine trying to find someone who can match Gary Oldman’s performance! Tommy Lee Jones is good at doing the whole “gruff cop” thing, he played it to perfection in The Fugitive. And if Ben Afleck can play an older Batman, then we need an even older Gordon, and whilst Tommy Lee Jones is old, there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s still got it. He still has the ability to become his character and entrance the audience with his performance.

Robin

Logan Lerman

Which Robin you ask? Hmmm. Though I think the extraordinarily talented young star of logan-lerman-photoshoot-logan-lerman-29210026-250-322The Perks of being a Wallflower could work well as most male incarnations of the character, I see him best as Tim Drake, the third, and to me most interesting, Robin. He always focused more on the detective side of Batman (he becomes Robin by working out who Batman is, like a badass) instead of just the physical like Dick Grayson seems to. Also, he lacks the usual tragedy in his past that motivates him to be Robin; instead doing it because he recognises Batman’s need for a Robin.

But why Logan Lerman?  Because I like him and think he just has the right look. From Perks to Noah he’s proven himself a great dramatic actor, and though the Percy Jackson films were…underwhelming at best, he still showed he could handle action well enough.

Taron Egerton

This will obviously only work for a specific Robin. Well, two specific Robin’s: Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne (with slight tweaking so that his initial story arc into becoming Robin happens quicker thtaron-egerton1-564x360an it did in the original source material). Robin should not be the finished article, he should be someone who needs guidance, who needs Bruce, but pretends he doesn’t. He basically needs to be a young adult acting like a petulant child. But you also need to remember that he is still Robin, so his still very dangerous and could possibly kill you due to being trained in weaponry, but not being too great at stopping himself. I think Egerton could do that, he could pull off that dangerous apprentice, and then, when the time comes, move onto further things with the character.

Catwoman

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What needs to be said? Just look at her. Catwoman’s core characteristics are that she’s wiley, sexy, and kick-ass. All things Zeta Jones just seems to naturally emit already, combined with her record as an action star from the likes of Zorro and RED, as well as her dramatic work, she seems like the perfect fit. But more than that, I like that she would really bring the modern ‘woman’ aspect to the role; almost pushing fifty, and as we’ve already seen multiple younger incarnations of the character, a Catwoman with a few miles on her, more experienced and seasoned, would be much more refreshing and exciting than any teenybopper flavour of the week.

Emily Blunt

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Odd choice I know but this was done for a simple reason: if you can be in a male-dominated genre such as an action movie, working alongside a titan of the genre like Tom Cruise, and portray a strong enough character that people remember you, you deserve more roles. Good actress, fantastic with action, and with that sexiness that is (in some iterations), central to the character.

The Riddler

Jesse Eisenberg

Because I, like the few people who enjoyed Eisenberg’s performance in BvS (we do exist,12918618_584740531692129_1489645070_n we’re not just myths), enjoy it mainly just for the entertainingly camp yet oddly menacing fun he gave in his every scene in the overwrought film. He was a needed shot in the arm of fun the film needed. But ‘camp yet oddly menacing’ is not a good description for Lex Luthor, it is however a perfect description for one of Batman’s more zany villains, The Riddler. Some people seem to think Eisenberg was trying to be Ledger’s Joker with his performance, and who really the fuck knows. But! Change his name, outfit and give him riddles to constantly weave, and you’d have a pitch perfect Riddler; the fun camp of Carrey’s but with some genuine menace more akin with Nicholson’s Joker. Sounds good to me.

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Matt Smith

One aspect The Riddler needs is to act like he’s the smartest person in the room. There’s been a tendency to play this character as comedic, he may be somewhat hyperactive and dressed weird (not entirely unlike a certain time traveller), but he still needs to be taken seriously. He should be fun, not comedic, there’s an important difference. He needs to be someone who is not only the smartest person in the room, but also the person who’s enjoying the chaos the most.  Matt Smith actually can be dangerous quite well and he’s proven it numerous times. Plus if he does this we might actually forget he was in Terminator Genisys.

Bane

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

I’ll admit this is mainly superficial. Dwayne Johnson is huge, and so is Bane. So that equalsDwayne+Johnson+aka+Rock+films+scenes+set+new+ogGHuO_x0Tpl perfect casting. But there is a bit more to it than that, I swear. One thing Hardy’s take on the behemoth captured well was how charismatic Bane is, a master of words as well as muscles, but it’s the latter of that is something I don’t think he captured as well. Yeah Hardy was big, but he wasn’t Bane big (I know I know, Nolan realism and all that), that’s where I think Dwayne could come in magnificently; as if there are two things The Rock is known for,  it’s being fucking huge, and being very charismatic. The real hurdle would be whether someone as lovable as Dwayne Johnson can play a threatening villain convincingly and I don’t know, but I think he could. Again I think his sheer size will be his trump card in that department, and I think we can all agree we’ve seen less threatening looking people pull off being evil. Cough. One Hour Photo. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough.

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Batista

Oh look, we’ve both picked former wrestlers. And yeah I know this might be cheating as he’s been in a superhero movie already but come on! I mean, look at the guy! He’s built like a brick shithouse. I actually really liked Tom Hardy as Bane, my only issue with him is that he didn’t really seem big enough, Bane should tower over people, and Tom Hardy didn’t really seem to, he’d be perfect as another role. Batista on the other hand? Him as Bane would make it believable that he could be the one to break the Batman. Already had acting experience in the aforementioned Guardians as well as parts in Riddick and Spectre. If it came to it he could be a Bane that you truly believe Bruce Wayne would fear.

The Joker

Willem Dafoe

Once again, what needs to be said? just look at him; he almost wouldn’t need makeup. de45c1464d61b3b46bf510875f31ffa2Dafoe has made a career of playing deranged and creepy characters, so topping it off with the Clown Prince of Crime just seems natural (and who cares if he’s already played an iconic super villain? No one gives a shit Chris Evan’s played the human torch anymore.) But it’s beyond him just playing crazy well; it’s the lairs and distinctive ways he can play crazy, from a comical bloodsucker in Shadow of the Vampire, to a just plain nasty hitman in Wild at Heart, to just playing fairly normal guys in Platoon

 

Jake Gyllenhaal

This was kind of difficult for me but as soon as I thought of it I knew I had the right one: Jake Gyllenhaal. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “what, the Donnie Darko guy?” “what, the Brokeback Mountain guy?” “what, the City Slickers kid?” To which I say; watch Nightcrawler (and City Slickers, seriously? There is no way that’s the only film you know him from, you’re just showing ojakeff, now go away). Seriously, watch Nightcrawler, he’s insanely brilliant there with a sense of danger and fun that would make him perfect for the role of the Joker. The “fun” there is the most important aspect there for me, Heath Ledgers Joker was disturbing, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t that funny. The Joker should be a clown, their should be a comedic side to him, even if that comedic side is slow-cooked in sociopathy. For proof of this, what’s the definitive Joker story? The one most people use as a reference point for that character? Answer: The Killing Joke. Now, how does that story end? Answer: with a joke. The Joker tells Batman a joke mid fight scene that makes him break down in laughter (and maybe causes Batman to kill him, if certain sources are to be believed). Can you imagine Ledger’s Joker ending Dark Knight like that? It would seem weird and out of character. Gyllenhaal? I feel he could do it.

Mr. Freeze

Ralph Fiennes

Possibly the oddest choice on this list, but I think the most fitting if you know the character well. The Batman Animated Show’s take on Mr Freeze. The seminal show ralph-fiennes-by-kalpesh-lathigra2completely recreated the mad scientist with a freeze-ray into a sympathetic Shakespearean tragedy; a normal man who only became the villain we know because he was betrayed while trying to save his wife’s life, and then became stricken with grief ready to go to any extreme needed to avenge her. So who better to bring this bald heart of ice to life than this classically trained bald thespian? As when he’s not trying to kill boy wizard’s. Fiennes is known for his startling character acting, bringing depth and nuance to countless characters; from portraying Nazi’s to a Hotel concierge. Add in his action experience in the Harry Potter Series and you have an actor seemingly born to bring this chilling villain to heart stopping life.


Tomasz Kot.

I know, I can practically hear the “who?” from here. First off; stop saying “who”, it’s 2 in the morning and I’m trying to sleep. Secondly; watch Bogowie. He’s the lead in that and he has TREMENDOUS presence. The kind you don’t see anymore, he just carries himself in such a wonderful manner that you can tell he’s someone. The major downside to this is that this will probably meabogowien his emotional arc won’t be as effective as it was in the animated series due to English being the actors second language. But there’s a lot of characters in this hypothetical film, and I feel the villain who will have the least screen time would be Freeze, so you won’t have time to go into his tragic backstory, you need someone with presence who can come in for a few scenes and knock it out the park, and I feel he can do that.

Honourable Mention

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.

I know, we usually try to make casting relatively realistic, but someone suggested this on Twitter and it just blew my mind how perfect this would have been. This is a role you know he would have taken on with gusto and given his all. And because Hoffman was so good you know that even if he was only in it for 10 minutes, people would remember it. People would clamour for him to have longer. This would have been one of the most perfect castings of all time, and it’s a real shame that it won’t happen. I will freely admit, I never liked The Penguin as a character, I found him too silly, too out there, too, dare I say it, comic-book to work. Then I watched Gotham, the Penguin in that is one of the highlights of the series and one of the best characters in television at the moment. So for a film version, you’d need to bigger, you’d need to go better, and who better than Hoffman?

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