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I'm Not Here

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So, as the thread title suggests, I just watched I'm Not There, and loved it. Perplexing and maddening, but a near-brilliant antidote to the typical musical biopic.

But I don't so much want to talk about the movie. Searching through various opinions and IMDB threads, I found some clever soul had posted the question - which six actors would portray you if you got the Dylan treatment? Thinking this through, I realized you've gotta reverse engineer the process and figure out, "who are my six personas"? Then figure out which actors would best portray those personas. Not to say you can't have more or less than six, but we'll keep with Todd Haynes' structure and go with six. (I've probably got, like, 10.)

Anyone want to play? I'll start. Oh yeah, let's also go with the Haynes approach and cast at least one person of the opposite sex. (And "life status" is no barrier - i.e., casting a deceased actor or actress is OK, as you'll see I've got one in my list.)

Here are mine:

Emile Hirsch as The Idealist. Like Hirsch's Chris McCandless in Into the Wild, this is the youthful, stubborn, purely spiritual, and gloriously idealistic me. He can be extreme, and he can be maddening. He refuses to accept middle ground, furiously rejects materialism of any kind, and is disgusted by the self-centered culture that seems to pervade every aspect of 21st century life. Chuck it all and go live in a commune? Or step into the wild to live in harmony with God and nature? No problem for this guy.

Heath Ledger as The Brooding Loner. On the surface, he's the guy who seems confident and easy-going, but can never quite get comfortable in his own skin - like the character Ledger teased out in Monster's Ball, perfected in Brokeback Mountain, and again hinted at with his Dylan portrayal in I'm Not There. He's the guy who retreats to his cave because no one "gets him," and in fact he doesn't get himself. For sure, the most uncomfortable fitting persona of the six.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Artiste. He's the writer, the journalist, the poet, the creator. Good at what he does, but sometimes a jerk and an elitist in the pursuit of his art. He's the guy who can produce a masterpiece but can also short-circuit his own creativity by thinking too much, and by sniffing at what might be "compromise" in his art (a la The Idealist, but not as likeable a guy). Think Capote-esque manipulation of those around him, or the jerky guy from The Talented Mr. Ripley who makes us cheer for Matt Damon when Damon bashes his head in.

Dennis Quaid as The Family Man. The most conservative of the six. He's the guy who'll throw the Artiste on the bonfire in order to provide security for his family. He's not out for riches or glory, he just wants a nice, middle-America lifestyle, good schools for his kids, a college savings fund, and a secure retirement account. Quaid doesn't always play this type of character, but when he does (The Rookie, In Good Company) he brings a gravitas that few other actors can manage.

James Marsden as The Geek. I love how Marsden could be a leading man, but instead always plays the guy who doesn't get the girl because he's too busy having fun and/or being clueless and/or making an ass of himself (Enchanted, Hairspray, Superman Returns). At the end of the day, though, he doesn't care, because he's comfortable in his own skin (see The Loner, above), and is a child-man in the best sense. He's the guy who spends hours/days thinking up his six personas, and the actors who'll play them, instead of planning for a college savings fund or secure retirement account.

Marisa Tomei as The Bad-Ass. Much as Cate Blanchett was the baddest of the six Dylans, this personification of me is a woman, too. (S)He's not a bad guy (girl) at all, but doesn't know when to shut up or back down from a challenge. (S)He's the partyer, the guy(girl) who talks too much, drinks too much, goes out when he(she) should stay home, says yes when (s)he should say no, and, as my best friend used to say about an ex-girlfriend, "writes checks with her mouth that her butt can't cash." (Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny?) Also like Blanchett's Dylan, Tomei's me bears the closest physical resemblance ... yeah, there's something weird about that, but let's not go there.

Edited by Mark

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Well, to be accurate, I'm Not There has really five Dylans (two of which portrayed by the same actor, Christian Bale), plus a non-backstory Dylan (Ben Whishaw), plus a--and here's the wild card--Dylan as seen as a fictitious character in another story altogether (that would be Richard Gere).

Therefore I would be curious as to whether you have an actor in mind to portray--not really you, but one of your creations, that best typifies who you are, in another life. That would be interesting.

As for me, I'm terrified to participate in this exercise. I'd hate to encourage Kirk Cameron to continue his acting career.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Not sure what you mean by a "non-backstory" Dylan
I meant that the segments with Ben Whishaw had no story. It was Dylan addressing the camera. In my opinion, I found those scenes somewhat repetitious, and already covered during Blanchett's sequence.

and the fictitious Dylan played by Gere - except for Blanchett and Bale, I'd categorize all the others as "fictitious." Ledger's Robbie Clark could be considered a version of the real Dylan, but then Ledger's an actor playing an actor playing a version of Dylan. And Marcus Carl Franklin is the fictitious Dylan Dylan presented as his own.
Here's where we will have to amiably agree-to-disagree. Marcus Carl Franklin was playing a Woody Guthrie idolizing Dylan, the Dylan that wrote "Song to Woody" and encompasses his very first self-titled album. I liked how Haynes made him a kid, since Dylan was just a kid himself (altho definitely older than the actor portraying him here). Haynes was demonstrating Dylan's lack of maturity in those years, the years before he discovered his voice.

As for Ledger's scenes, this, too, was Dylan of the "Blood on the Tracks" era. He had already dabbled into acting, he was a father, and was suffering thru a breakup. It's almost shocking to imagine Ledger as a Dylan-type, because he doesn't try to convey the similar accent and hairstyles in those sequences. But he definitely had an attitude... whoo-boy. (That Ledger's character "played Dylan" on screen is incidental--he clearly is a sort of Dylan).

And as for ol' Kirk - well, um, hmmmm. I'd personally love to see Kirk play all six of you, Nick! Talk about growing pains ...
I'd rather be played by Keisha Night Pulliam.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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