So I was contemplating the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is slated to play Dr. Strange in one of the 100+ movies that Marvel just announced, and the fact that many of my fellow-nerds on Facebook were not happy about it. "OMG," they said … "why not just have a British Captain America!", they said. What's next … an English guy playing Abraham Lincoln?! … oh, wait.
And then thinking about Benedict Cumberbatch inevitably puts me on the path of thinking about fellow-Brit Tom Hiddleston. This is because people sometimes think they are pretty much interchangeable, as they both could probably take home the title of "Tumblr's Boyfriend" … but Hiddleston is filming a biopic about Hank Williams in Shreveport called I Saw the Light … and some people are nothappy about it. Like Hank Williams' grandson (who I love, btw), Hank the Third. The guy plays the best old-school country twang + hard-core punk music I've ever heard. Or he could just be the only person I've seen in concert to ever combine those two things, but details! He was at the House of Blues a few months ago. He's awesome, seriously. But I digress.
What's with the Brits playing our beloved heros? Just in the comic-book world alone … Superman, Batman, Spiderman … all American icons. All recently played by Brits. And then American Ben Affleck gets the part of Batman and everyone loses their shit. WHAT DO Y'ALL WANT?
Now, Benedict Cumberbatch playing Dr. Strange kind of disappointed me even though I love him … though I do hold an unpopular opinion that Robert Downy Jr. (American) plays a better Sherlock Holmes (I know, sacrilegious), but that Jonny Lee Miller (Brit) is actually the best, on Elementary. It's subjective. But for Dr. Strange, my dream casting was Pedro Pascal, otherwise known as The Red Viper of Smoking Hotness Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones, but he's not big enough of a name, and I think I was the only one who wanted that to happen. I was hoping for a hispanic Dr. Strange, or someone who wasn't white. I'm kind of tired of all the white superheros and I'm sure that people of color are tired of them as well. And they got the whitest guy on the planet to play Dr. Strange. Okay, whatever. I'm sure Benedict will play the shit out of the character. It's cool.
We'll also be able to find out who will be the more popular Marvel character … Benedict's Dr Strange? Or Tom's Loki? It's gonna be like, the LSU vs. Alabama or Ohio State vs. Michigan of the fangirl world.
But Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams? I mean … huh? He's supposed to play the guy that beget the bearded "Are You Ready For Some Football" dude? Surely, there could have been an American out there to play the country music legend. I mean, can Brits even play country music? Can they really understand and be down with the working-class American struggle? Can they have that certain swagger that can only come by growing up with baseball, Fourth of July fireworks displays, and Walker: Texas Ranger in a national collective unconscious?
And what was on my Spotify playlist as I was pondering this age-old question at work? Just my favorite country album ever, featuring Robert Plant … a Brit. Of course, Alison Krauss (American) is also on that album (Raising Sand), but details!
I started thinking about Brits who sing country songs as good as, if not better, than Americans (or at least the Rascal Flatts), because I watched some of the CMAs the other night (nothing else on), and there is some really shitty country music out there, you guys … like winning awards and stuff.
Mumford & Sons are pretty boss. The Rolling Stones have some killer country songs … as does Led Zeppelin. And I'm sure there are many others. British Americana, if you will.
But can Tom Hiddleston play Hank Williams? I don't know, he's an actor … that's his job, he acts. Pretty well, I might add. He made a bunch of people want to go see a lesser-known Shakespeare tragedy (Coriolanus). I mean, whoa. Miracle! And he somehow made it so that the Thor movies might as well have been called "Loki" instead of "Thor", seeing as no one actually cares much about the title character … people actively root for the villain in those movies. He's dark and misunderstood with a possibility for redemption, every fangirl's fave (see Daryl Dixon, another fine example of that archetype). But Loki is like, Norse … Brit/Norse … same thing, right? Europeans. But then again, Joaquin Phoenix (American) played an amazing Johnny Cash, sang the songs flawlessly, and looked all yummy in black … and he also played a pretty convincing psychotic Roman (with a British accent) in Gladiator, so … anything is possible. He was nominated for Oscars for both those things. And I Saw the Light sounds like a sequel to Walk the Line (I kid … I kid).
But again, a posh Brit playing a Southern icon? We are very protective of our icons down here. I don't know, did British Vivien Leigh make a good Scarlett O'Hara? Did she do an okay Blanche DuBois? Should I even be comparing? Probably not. Gone with the Wind and New Orleans' own Tennessee Williams' gem, A Streetcar Named Desire are old and timeless, best to not equate such things.
But flipping things around, I honestly can't think of many cringe-worthy British actors in American roles … sure, Charlie Hunnam's accent on Sons of Anarchymakes him sound kind of Bostonian at times, but I find it rather cute. Quite honestly, we have probably tortured them over and over again. It's like we've been getting England back for that whole "taxation without representation" thing by botching their accents in movies. The British have had to deal with so much worse. Kevin Costner as beloved Robin Hood? That was just … ouch. Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen? smh. Keanu Reeves as Johnathon Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula? I sometimes watch that movie and think that it was actually a comedic role. And if it was? Absolute genius.
Though, we're not all bad … Renee Zellweger did a pretty amazing job as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones' Diary … and Meryl Streep played a better Margaret Thatcher than the Iron Lady herself. But then again … as they say …