What a treat it can be to see a film come along plastered to the brim with talent, yet often the timing places many of these actors before their prime or nobody seems to notice. But now with time on our side, we can look back at these endeavors and appreciate the genius of each and every casting director – good luck guesstimating what the budget would be like today, mind blowing.
Black Hawk Down
the directing: Ridley Scott
the writing: Ken Nolan
the budget: $92 million
the casting: Bonnie Timmermann
the acting: Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, plus…
Before: Transpotting (1996), Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
While McGregor wasn’t necessarily an unknown at the time with a titanic blockbuster and a few cult classics under his belt, it still surprises even me when he shows up in this film. A much appreciated surprise at that, as his character epitomizes the word “adaption” while almost getting blown up a couple of times.
It would be interesting to see what McGregor could do if he was put back on the battlefield in a modern warfare setting – his closest in the past twelve years has been The Men Who Stare At Goats and well, it’s not really the same thing – and maybe see if any type of maturity plays a factor.
After: Big Fish (2003), Angels & Demons (2009), Beginners (2010)
Before: Heat (1995), Armageddon (1998), The Perfect Storm (2000)
Fichtner has one of those faces you recognize, but unfortunately have no idea what from (he’s the guy who tells Steve Buscemi to “get off. the nuclear. warhead.” in Armageddon). Fichtner seems to have a rule in every contract stating he will not play the leading role and instead must be the dick. Black Hawk Down kind of plays devil’s advocate to that second part, but I am sure there is at least one moment of dickish behavior by his character.
To be honest, I don’t really see Fichtner doing anything else. I am not doubting his range, rather lauding his many performances thus far. Clearly, he (and his agent) knows what he’s doing and should not be stopped. In that sense, I think of him as a lesser, but still known Hugo Weaving. High praise, my friend. High praise.
After: Crash (2004), “Prison Break” (2006-9), Elysium (2013)
Before: Transpotting (1996), Snatch. (2000)
Well, if I’m going to put McGregor on this list it just wouldn’t feel right to leave out this guy. Obviously, Bremner is primarily known for his role of Spud in Trainspotting, but his range exceeds expectations – meaning he’s pretty convincing at playing a deaf guy.
Although he is not the most stand out fellow, he has been in some quality and let’s say entertaining films. I don’t really have an opinion of what he should be in or if he should return to the Ranger uniform, but Snowpiercer looks good!
After: AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004), Snowpiercer (2013)
Before: David Copperfield (2000), Young Blades (2001)
To be perfectly honest, it was a friend who pointed this one out to me. I didn’t really recognize his face, although in my defense it was twelve years ago, then again it’s twelve years ago for all these actors. Anyways, Dancy’s role of “Doc” involves much intensity as he attempts to save a fellow soldier’s life, which demonstrates quality acting on both sides of the operation.
Dancy left his mark in King Arthur – regardless of how small that may be – and I am told he is good in “Hannibal” where he actually costars with his KA cast mate, Mads Mikkelsen. Although his latest television endeavor does not necessarily intrigue my interests, I have been personally inspired to check out his title role in Adam.
After: King Arthur (2004), Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), “Hannibal” (2013)
Before: Titanic (1997), 102 Dalmatians (2000)
Before he was a part of the utter decimation that is Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (the only comic books I ever read as a kid), Gruffudd played a lieutenant in BHD – well he also shot himself in Titanic… It turns out Lt John Beales doesn’t get much screen time, as he has a seizure before anything kicks off, which is unfortunate for the purposes of Gruffudd’s acting abilities.
In all seriousness, I am a Gruffudd fan. His performance in Amazing Grace was quite phenomenal – that film still has a lasting impression in my head. Plus, King Arthur showed us he can at least have a presence on the battlefield. Hopefully sometime soon, somebody will put a uniform on Gruffudd and a gun in his hands, and maybe, just maybe, give him a worthy character to go with them.
After: King Arthur (2004), Fantastic Four (2005), Amazing Grace (2006)
Before: E=mc2 (1996), Serendipity (2001)
Piven ends up being one of the few casualties on this list. He is the pilot of the first Black Hawk that goes down, and then subsequently dies from the crash. He gets a few moments of screen time, thusly bringing forth few moments of charisma and slight humor. In my “extensive” and “laborious” research, I surprised myself in discovering my ignorance of Piven’s work. I remember him briefly in Serendipity (saw that back in my Kate Beckinsale phase) and then remembered him as Buddy Israel. However, “Entourage” is still on my bucket list.
Looking back – again from my “extensive” knowledge – Piven’s presence seems a bit out of place in BHD. For some reason I don’t see him and Ridley Scott hanging out on the weekends. It seems unlikely for him to lead a serious war film any time soon (look out for him as Col. Walter Marx in Edge of Tomorrow). His personality doesn’t exactly broadcast the hero type, which seems like a criticism but really isn’t. He has made a successful career for himself doing otherwise. But you know what, here’s to you Jeremy Piven, prove me wrong.
After: “Entourage” (2004-11), Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Before: Armageddon (1998), The Patriot (2000)
Along with Tom Sizemore, Isaacs was without a shadow (or even a piece of a shadow) of a doubt, perfectly cast in this film. I mean, CPT Mike Steele?! Come on. Many of you will recognize this hallowed actor from his silvery portrayal of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise. I say many of you, because the real fans, or in my opinion the true film enthusiasts, will always remember and respect him for The Patriot. Another war film, but drastically different hairstyles.
I guess I just missed this one when first watching BHD. Frankly, the blame should be put on the lack of British accent spewing from Isaacs mouth. More viewing pleasure would have presented itself if I had only known. Anywho, almost ten years later he returned to the modern warfare setting with Green Zone. Although not nearly in the same ballpark as his other well known war films, Isaacs puts out a solid performance as the tough and manly go-to guy Briggs. Therefore instilling my firm belief that Isaacs should do many and more of these films.
After: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Green Zone (2010)
Before: Donnie Brasco (1997), Hannibal (2001)
“You heet the Canadian?” That is all.
After: In Bruges (2008), “Damages” (2007-2010), Argo (2012), Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Before: Bent (1997), Enigma (2001)
Probably the most surprising on this list is Jaime Lannister himself. But what is more surprising is the role he plays – let’s just say for many of you he is one of your two favorite characters in BHD. It is seriously unthinkable how an “unknown” Danish actor was lucky enough to be given a character of such high distinction and unrelenting respect as this one. Even with a role like this, Coster-Waldau would have to wait ten more years to get his big break.
And boy did he break. Everyone seems to be going crazy for this guy (“everyone” meaning: “Game of Throne” viewers), whether it’s for his acting or good looks still seems to be up in the air. He already ticked the “working with Tom Cruise” goal off the bucket list with Oblivion earlier this year, unfortunately that flick also displayed one of the slowest first halves in film history. However, look out for this guy around summertime over the next coming years, hopefully then I will look smart for pinning Coster-Waldau as blockbuster material.
After: Kingdom of Heaven (2005), “Game of Thrones” (2011-13)
Before: “Band of Brothers” (2001)
Ever wonder how Tom Hardy got his start? If you want to be technical go watch “Band of Brothers,” but for our intensive purposes BHD will be that point. Obviously, the mainstream will know Hardy from the roided-out gorilla body of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, that and Eames’s character in Inception (actually, it still baffles me to this day every time someone neglects to recognize him in that movie. I mean I can utter, “BWAAA!!” and people know Inception right away, but if I say Tom Hardy and Inception people are like, “duhhhh” and can’t make the connection. My hope is that says something about Hans Zimmer and not the population). Here we see the scrawny kid version of Hardy as SPC Lance Twombly.
I have never needed to question his acting abilities. Hardy has always impressed every step of the way. Yet his amount of screen time in BHD should be considered impressive, especially with the myriad amounts of talent in the cast list. Quite foreshadowing of his career in many ways. Tom Hardy isn’t going away anytime soon and we should be jumping with glee. He will only become bigger and Mad Max: Fury Road will set that into stone.
After: Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Before: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
I feel like this is the actor on this list most known for being in BHD. Not for his performance or his character, but what happens to him. This film pretty much came out at the exact same time as LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember him becoming quite huge very fast, but more importantly to the chagrin of all the boys my age, he caught the attention of all female viewers. So, any moment to rip on Bloom became favorable by us self-conscious preteens. Thus, him falling out of a helicopter and breaking his back became well known.
Forgetting The Three Musketeers, Bloom has pretty much been out of the mainstream spotlight since POTC: At World’s End. He will of course be making an appearance in the next two Hobbit films, re-brandishing the role that launched his career. It would be interesting to see him back in a BHDish type of role, but with more screen time. Whether it works or not, he’ll do what he’ll do. I’ll allow it since he did earn some of my respect from Kingdom of Heaven.
After: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Before: Evolution (2001)
I know. My mind is just as blown. More blown from when I realized he played the asshole in Dawn of the Dead. But so you have it, Mr. Burrell was in BHD, which is a little different from “Modern Family,” (I will refrain from any bad family jokes). His part was small and not really important, but you know, there. But without this maybe Burrell doesn’t get his appearances on “Law and Order,” and without those “Out of Practice” might not have come along and “Back to You” would have never been in his future (and yes I am aware those last two shows failed miserably). Slippery slope aside, all of these things were a valuable part of the long and semi-depressing road that eventually lead him to the show of gold, “Modern Family” and let us not forget a primetime Emmy.
Ty Burrell’s film list uncovers a funny anecdote (one in which he has already used in interviews, but I shall steal). Like Fichtner, he was constantly playing a dick for every single role. Unlike Fichtner, those were the only roles he could get. Now it seems Burrell can get whatever he wants, which in the near future looks like a Muppets movie and animation. That sounded like a diss and I think it was meant to be, but I doubt Burrell cares as he just joined both The Muppets and Finding Nemo franchises. He can laugh his way all the way to respect and the bank.
After: Dawn of the Dead (2004), “Modern Family” (2009-13)