Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lord of the Bones

It's been heavily reported over the past day or so that Mark Wahlberg has replaced Ryan Gosling in Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones. Now, I'm not such a huge fan of the book, but this news came on the eve of the start of production, and it rings a bell somewhere in my memory...

Back when production started on Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was another actor who was fired right at the beginning of the production.

That man was Stuart Townsend, who was the original choice to play Aragorn. Jackson decided that Townsend looked too young to play Aragorn and replaced him with Viggo Mortensen four days after shooting began in New Zealand. Townsend ended up in films like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of my least favorite films of all time, and Mortensen went on to a career revitalization with the help of David Cronenberg. Though Townsend has pretty much fallen out of favor as an actor right now, he wrote and directed Battle in Seattle, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival a few weeks ago.

A bunch of stories have turned up saying that Gosling showed up to the production having gained way too much weight and with a monster beard, and was fighting with the wardrobe department. The news is collected over at /Film, and I pretty much agree with what's posted over there about Gosling. He's an actor, he should be concerned with saying his lines, and leave the rest of the stuff to Peter Jackson and the crew.

That being said, what is with Jackson and these last minute casting decisions? It looks to me like the person who should be getting the axe is Jackson's casting director, or maybe he should just think things through a little more before signing a lead actor. Granted, Mortensen was fantastic as Aragorn, and that change was probably a good decision, but I don't think the same comparison can be made here. I really like Mark Wahlberg; his roles in Boogie Nights, Three Kings, and The Departed were great, but I'm not so sure if this will be as much of a better switch. Wahlberg is an established actor who is still getting high paying lead roles unlike Mortensen was, and Gosling is an up-and-coming, respectable actor, unlike Townsend (who in addition to Gentlemen also had a turn in the Aaliyah movie Queen of the Damned). I'm not sure how this will turn out, but with the casting of Rachel Weisz as the wife of the character Gosling was supposed to play, it does make some sense to switch for someone older, even if that wasn't the original intention.

Hopefully the sudden change won't make that much of a difference, it sure as hell didn't make LOTR any worse off having Viggo in there. Who knows, maybe Jackson will get lucky again and Wahlberg will turn in a great performance.

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