MCN Columnists
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

The Mount Rushmore of Forgettable Actors

It’s a troubling time in theaters right now, not for most moviegoers who see a movie or two a week, but for people like me who have an addiction; I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’ve caught up withDuplicity, I Love You, Man, and pretty much every movie I have any interest in seeing in a theater. This past weekend was one of the least appetizing weekends of new releases that I’ve seen in a while; put a gun to my head and I might see Monsters vs. Aliens but I won’t really be happy about it. And to make matters worse, my birthday is in the middle of the week and for the first time in many years, I will not see a movie in theaters on my birthday.

This brings me back to a point I’ve made several times in this space: Why must “Oscar” movies only be released during “Oscar” season? Good films can be enjoyed at all times of the year and I don’t appreciate having to section out my film-watching by season. I don’t like that summer means “blockbuster” and fall/winter means “prestige” because it does all of those movies a disservice; it forces us to look for the “blockbuster” films to be as big as possible, setting us up for an inevitable disappointment when they don’t blow our minds with their enormity. And of course, it forces us to look at every “prestige” film as something that will touch our hearts and souls, make us laugh and cry and when they don’t do as well as we hope they will, we are inevitably let down.

So, again, I implore the powers that be: please release good films and blockbusters irrespective of seasons.

What are we film addicts to do when we’ve exhausted our supply of our favorite drug? There’s always great television and I feel like Lost is having a great season, but an episode of the show is just a chapter in a novel and the great thing about movies is that I get to be told a beginning, middle and end in two hours. I think television is finally realizing its potential to tell long-form stories and following characters as they change and grow over time, but I’m still a movie lover through and through.

What we are supposed to do, really, is to keep talking about film. Obviously, throwing on an unseen Bergman or Fassbinder is always a good idea, but I find that if you love film and there isn’t really anything that terrific to see in theaters, it’s great to just talk to a fellow film lover.

The other night for some strange reason, my buddy Jack and I started talking about Richard Gere’s movies. We mentioned Pretty Woman, The Cotton Club, Primal Fear, and then we started to run out of movies. My buddy and I are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to all things film and pride ourselves on our ability to remember filmographies, and we were just stunned at how few films we could remember Richard Gere being in. I managed to rememberPower, Jack remembered Red Corner and Chicago and then we had to look it up and we realized he worked with Altman (Dr. T and the Women), Malick (Days of Heaven), Schrader (American Gigolo), and Todd Haynes (I’m Not There).

First off, we were amazed that neither of us could remember Days of Heaven as it’s one of our favorite films. But secondly, we realized that Richard Gere must be one of the most forgettable actors of all time. This is not to say that he’s a bad actor or that he was in bad movies; on the contrary, he’s been in a lot of really terrific movies (and bad ones too). It’s not that we forgot Days of Heaven, it’s that we forgot Richard Gere was in it! I mean, if you mentioned that movie to me, the first person I would think of is Malick and then Sam Shepherd, Nestor Almendros, Brook Adams, and then maybe I’d be like “oh yeah, Richard Gere was in that.”

This got Jack and I started on who could fill out a “Mount Rushmore of Forgettable Actors” (the Mount Rushmore idea being something that’s all over courtesy of Bill Simmons). The criteria is a little complicated: they have to have been in at least a few good movies, they have to have been something resembling a major movie star who could actually open a movie (so Edward Burns would be out) and they have to be utterly forgettable to the point where you can’t remember a large portion of the films they’ve been in. So, for example,Kevin Costner would seem to be a good fit because I don’t think he’s ever been particularly great in anything, but you remember Waterworld and therefore you remember him. You remember his terrible accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or that he was in Dances with Wolves, JFK and all of his baseball movies.

Until his recent resurgence via 30 Rock and various supporting parts in The Departed andThe Good Shepherd, Alec Baldwin seemed to be a lock based on most of his output in the 90s. I mean, Prelude to a Kiss? I actually saw that movie more than once and I can’t remember a single thing about it other than Baldwin had to kiss an old guy in it.

Okay, so the ground rules are set and Gere is locked in as the George Washington of this Mount Rushmore. And really, my buddy and I only came up with one more actor that we could set in stone and it really surprised me and I fought it until I realized I couldn’t any longer:Michael Douglas. See, this was a tricky one because I like Michael Douglas and think he’s given two stellar performances in Wall Street and Wonder Boys. But quick, think of all theMichael Douglas movies you can and write them down. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

How many could you come up with? Eight, nine? How many of you remembered The Sentinel? I saw that movie when it came out three years ago and I couldn’t tell you what happened in it. How many remembered the remake of The In-Laws or One Night at McCool’s? The thing that really freaked me out was that I didn’t even remember him in The Game! Regular readers of this column know that I have a fondness for all things Fincher and I completely forgot that Michael Douglas worked with him. Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction come to mind, of course, but what about Disclosure? Traffic was one of the first I thought of, but A Perfect Murder was completely forgotten by me. The American Presidentis great, but what about The Ghost and the Darkness?

The point here is not that Michael Douglas is a bad actor; it’s that there’s something about him or the films he’s chosen or the way he’s acted in those particular films that has made him forgettable. Nicolas Cage has been in a ton of forgettable films, but you remember that he was in each and every one of them, so he doesn’t qualify — the Mount Rushmore of Forgettable Actors is reserved for people that could have been replaced by any number of actors and you wouldn’t realize they were gone.

So my question to you, my dear readers, during this time of cinematic depression: who would you choose to fill out the Mount Rushmore of Forgettable Actors?

– Noah Forrest
March 30, 2009

Noah Forrest is a 25 year old aspiring writer/filmmaker in New York City.

The opinions expressed in these columns are the writers and do not neccessarily reflect the opinions of Movie City News or any of its editors or other contributors.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon