Why aren't more comedians cast for their full terrifying potential in films?
One of the great things about having friends who are film nerds is that you end up having a lot of phone calls about nothing urgent. You end up talking about alternate theories and dream casting and things that might have been. I've got some other things I'll be posting tonight that speak to that, but first up, let's just play a little bit.
The conversation I was having with Scott Weinberg today was about the way I find casting shortsighted in movies sometimes. In particular, I love comedians who push themselves, and Scott's article about Robin Williams (it would have been his birthday today, something that makes me unspeakably sad this year) focused on some of his left-of-center choices as an actor. Scott's fond of "Insomnia," where Williams gives some really good creepy, something that doesn't surprise me at all. Of course Williams was effective at playing dark and dangerous. Great comedians seem to dance with serious darkness all the time. Hell, Jim Carrey seems to adore walking that line and making people squirm.
I've always believed someone should cast Will Ferrell in a truly dark and upsetting role. There's a script I wrote with Scott Swan called "Behind The Eyes," and I would give up one of of Swan's limbs to be able to cast Ferrell as Curtis, the diseased heart of that film. I think he would be flat-out terrifying. People might not get just how big Will is in person, but he's imposing to say the least. He has always used that to comic effect, but I can imagine how scary he could be.
Weinberg suggested Will should play Pennywise in "It," which is immediately the single most nightmarish suggestion I've heard so far for that film. I told him that Steve Martin is another one of the guys I've always thought could play sinister, with a serious side order of "smarter than anyone in the room." I can only imagine what he could have done playing a character like Hannibal at some point. He suggested Bill Murray as Freddy Krueger, which sounds like it would have been gross and horrifying and awesome, and so we decided to throw out the #killercomedians hashtag for others to play along.
I'm curious if you guys agree with the basic premise, and if so, who else you would imagine in some classic terrifying roles. I honestly believe we'd get some classic performances out of thinking like this, whether with classic film comics like Dick Shawn or Jerry Lewis or more recent guys like Danny McBride or Jonah Hill.