BIOPIC: WHO COULD PLAY (OLDER) LEE MARVIN? PART II

BIOPIC

Okay, gang, here’s Part II of Who Could Play Lee Marvin, but this time around, the discussion concerns older actors who would play the older, more well-known Lee Marvin. Of course, it’s purely conjecture but it’s interesting to note that in the section in Lee Marvin Point Blank in which I consider some of the films Lee might have made, several of these actors do indeed pop up.

One in particular, who would have my vote if he were not 68 years old is the great Tommy Lee Jones. Alas, age has taken its toll on the wizened Oscar-winner, but there are other possibilities.
What must be kept in mind is not only the Marvin look, but the fact that Marvin was 6 foot, 3 inches, posessor of an amazing and resonant voice and one of the most original screen presences ever. Several more enligthened folks than myself have said that for these reasons NOBODY could play Marvin and perhaps they’re right. However, it’s fun to consider the possibilites as seen below….

Lee Marvin, in his prime, as a reference point...

Lee Marvin, in his prime, as a reference point…

To begin with (and again, this list of possible actors for a biopic is strictly alphabetical),

Australian-born rock singer, Nick Cave

Australian-born rock singer, Nick Cave

My personal choice, actor Thomas Haden Church

My personal choice, actor Thomas Haden Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sons of Lee Marvin” charter member Nick Cave (there are several others on this list) is an Australian-born rock singer and Bad Seeds front man who is also 6’2″ and is currently 57 years old. The resemblance is striking but other than a few indie films he hasn’t done much acting…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My own personal choice, as well as that of my girlfriend, is actor Thomas Haden Church. Oscar-nominated for his role in Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004), Church is a well-known character actor and fan favorite ever since his supporting role on the NBC sitcom “Wings.” He’s the youngest actor on this list at 55-years-old and stands 6 foot even. He also posesses a deep, resonant voice and his resemblance is striking.

Cult director and Sons of Lee Marvin founder, Jim Jarmusch

Cult director and Sons of Lee Marvin founder, Jim Jarmusch

 

 

 

 

Film director Jim Jarmusch may be one of the world’s biggest Lee Marvin’s fans. As the founder of the mysterious organization “The Sons of Lee Marvin” he keeps the flame alive with his fellow brethren and even bleached his hair white to maintain the resemeblance. According to Lee Marvin’s actual son, the late Christopher Marvin, much of what Jarmusch expounds on the secret group is more mythology than fact but it does keep the great man’s name out there. Besides his white hair, Jarmusch is also, like Lee, six foot, two inches tall. I wonder how he did that?

 

In 2011 playwright Nick Zagone mounted a production of his original play entitled, “Lee Marvin By They Name” in the city of Modesto, Calif. Veteran actor Jack Souza — who’s hieght and age eludes me — remains so far the only actor to acutally play Lee Marvin in a dramatic production, hence his inclusion here. Wish I could have seen it as the play itself, as graciously submitted to me by Zagone, is actually pretty good.

Regional actor Jack Souza shown in character as Lee in Nick Zagone's play "Lee Marvin Be Thy Name"

Regional actor Jack Souza shown in character as Lee in Nick Zagone’s play “Lee Marvin Be Thy Name”

Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton

Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton

 

 

 

 

A long time ago, I casually asked Lee Marvin’s first wife, Betty who she thinks could play Lee Marvin in a film. Her answer took me by surprise as it was none other than Billy Bob Thornton. She knew Marvin as well or better than anybody so I deign to her knowledge and experience in casting her vote for 59-year-old, five-foote-nine inch Thornton but for myself, I just don’t see it.

 

 

And then there’s singer/actor Tom Waits, also a charter member of The Sons of Lee Marvin. His run-in with Christopher Marvin is documented for the first time in Lee Marvin: Point Blank and it’s a version that makes more sense than Jim Jarmusch’s since Christopher played drums on Waits’ album, Mule Variations. Unfortunately, the six foot tall Waits is already 65-years-old and that famous whiskey rasp could never do justice…..

Singer/Actor Tom Waits

Singer/Actor Tom Waits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two last minute additions I completely forgot about and was recently reminded of AFTER posting this blog that absolutely MUST be considered and included. Thank you, Barbara and Claudia….

J.K. Simmons

J.K. Simmons

 

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston

Share

LEE MARVIN AT 91: IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY

Lee Marvin at 91

Lee Marvin would have been 91 on February 19, 2015. Schaffner Press’s author of the bestselling, award-winning biography LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK was recently asked how the actor might respond to the world and pop culture of 2015.

Schaffner Press: Much has changed in the years since Lee Marvin passed in 1987. For instance, do you think he would have voted for Barack Obama?
Dwayne Epstein: Interesting question. I’d have to say that a lot of his fans may be surprised by my answer but yes, I think he would have voted for President Obama. It surprises people to know that his personal politics leaned to the left, since he really didn’t comment on that much during interviews. After the assassination of JFK he kept such opinions to himself. He didn’t show up at rallies or demonstrations as some celebrities did but he commented on such things to friends and family. He was very pro Civil Rights. In fact, one of his closest friends was the African-American athlete turned actor, Woody Strode. Strode told me that it was Marvin, not politically liberal costar Burt Lancaster, who got Strode top billing in The Professionals (1966). Towards the end of Marvin’s life I’ve been told he became a little more conservative but by today’s standards, such as with the Tea Party, I think even John Wayne might have been considered a liberal!

Relaxing between scenes on the set of The Professionals are good friends Woody Strode and Lee Marvin.

Relaxing between scenes on the set of The Professionals are good friends Woody Strode and Lee Marvin.

SP: What about Hillary Clinton?
DE: I’m scratching my head on that one. His first wife Betty was adamant in telling me that she believed Lee was a feminist. Of course, his public image certainly wasn’t of that ilk, especially in light of the infamous palimony suit. Maybe his lawyer from the trial, David Kagon, put it best when he told me, “Lee had the utmost respect for women….in all their various gradations.” If that’s the case, it still leaves me wondering what he would have thought of Hillary Clinton, at least in terms of what gradation he’d classify her.
SP: What do you think Marvin would’ve made of the war against terrorism and all the violence in the Middle East?
DE: At the time of Lee’s passing Middle East terrorism was only just beginning to make itself known to western civilization. In fact, his last film, Delta Force (1986), dealt with the subject, albeit as a live-action cartoon, thanks to the presence of Chuck Norris. However, in doing press for the film, Marvin was remarkably clear-eyed and cogent when he told the now defunct PREVUE Magazine, “”Before the problem of terrorism improves, it’s going to get worse. Americans don’t have a clue about what goes on in the Middle East. Terrorism is transferred into this climate, and people shut the problem out — they don’t want to deal with it.” He sure was on the money, on that one!

Lee Marvin & Chuck Norris in the 1986 live-action cartoon, Delta Force.

Lee Marvin & Chuck Norris in the 1986 live-action cartoon, Delta Force.

SP: Speaking of the problem of the Middle East, what do you think he would’ve thought of American Sniper as being called the “greatest war film of all time”?
DE: Honestly? He probably would’ve laughed at that, took a drag off his cigarette and then rolled his eyes. That’s no reflection on the film, which I myself haven’t seen…YET. It’s more about the statement. Everyone I interviewed told me that Marvin had a built-in bullshit detector and having been around Hollywood as long as he has, he knew pure ballyhoo when he heard it. Based on the subject matter, I can only assume he would’ve liked the film, if only in deference to its director, his buddy and costar, Clint Eastwood. Marvin had very strong opinions on such subjects, as you can gather and it’s a shame he’s no longer around for us to hear exactly what he would have thought of American Sniper.
SP: The cable TV series “Breaking Bad” proved to be quite a cultural phenomena. What do you think he would have thought of it and what part would he have played?

Schuyler White (Anna Gunn) apprehensively waits to see what husband Walter White (Bryan Cranston) will do next, as does son Walter, Jr. (R.J. Mitte) in Breaking Bad.

Schuyler White (Anna Gunn) apprehensively waits to see what husband Walter White (Bryan Cranston) will do next, as does son Walter, Jr. (R.J. Mitte) in Breaking Bad.

DE: On reflex, I’d have to say Walter White, the lead of course. Incidentally, I recently heard Bryan Cranston say in an interview that he grew up next to a movie theater and saw Cat Ballou so many times he memorized the dialogue. You never can tell who a Lee Marvin fan might be. But in answer to your question, there may be an analogy to Walter White and Walker in Point Blank. The show starts with White as a mild-mannered science teacher who becomes a meth dealer when he discovers he has cancer. Well, in Point Blank Walker is just an amiable fella doing a favor for a friend, as shown in flashback. It’s only after he’s been double-crossed and left for dead that he becomes this unstoppable avenging angel of death. He’s a professional thief in the novel, but that’s not stressed in the film. Walter White, Walker. Yeah, that works.

Walker's sister-in-law (Angie DIckinson) and syndicate boss (Carroll O'Connor) apprehensively wait to see what Walker (Lee Marvin) will do next.

Walker’s sister-in-law (Angie DIckinson) and syndicate boss (Carroll O’Connor) apprehensively wait to see what Walker (Lee Marvin) will do next.

SP: What do you think his opinion of say “Downton Abbey” would be and what role would he play?
DE: I think he may have liked it as it depicts the change from Victorian aristocracy to the modern era. Coming from the old South, his mother tried to raise him more like the Crawley’s than the servants, so even though his background was more akin to that, he actually despised the importance put on proper etiquette and such. Based on his film persona, he would’ve been a servant, probably, Barrows. His character is so sinister and has such a dark past, I think Marvin would’ve really relished playing him.

Not a lost scene from Downton Abbey but an early performance of Lee Marvin (center) on stage after the war at Woodstock's Maverick Theater.

Not a lost scene from Downton Abbey but an early performance of Lee Marvin (center) on stage after the war at Woodstock’s Maverick Theater.

SP: In the scope of current male actors, are there any Lee Marvins out there?
DE: There are actors who have similar qualities as Marvin, sure. I think Josh Brolin has some qualities, as well as Tommy Lee Jones, JK Simmons, Thomas Haden Church and Powers Boothe, but those are just qualities. I hate to sound cliché but there really was only one Lee Marvin…..and thank god for it!

Share