I Want Another Orson Welles

By Leroy James King · August 2, 2010

Anymore, I find myself in total awe of those rare silver screen renaissance men – those few who have functioned in any shape or form when it comes to film.  The actor/writer/producer/director (or some permutation of these.)  Some of the classics:

Orson Welles
Clint Eastwood
Dennis Hopper
Robert Redford
Warren Beatty
The major thing about Big Orson especially – he was so fucking young when he came on the scene as the forgers of all the facets of his productions.  Orson was like 23 with he did Citizen Kane and he (more or less) singlehandedly wielded the production through a shit storm of total turmoil.  He was the auteur practically before he was even a man for god's sake.  In so many words, total fucking admiration.
And same with the other guys.  One name I left off this list that's more on the contemporary side of the spectrum is George Clooney (yeah, Eastwood is still rocking it, but he's been doing it since the early 70s – never seen Play Misty for Me, his first effort, but it's certainly on the Netflix queue.)  Granted, Clooney has only made 3 films, only one of which is considered "great" (Good Night, And Good Luck), but I certainly think that he's on his way to being a solid part of this list.  Totally.
All that being said, when was the last time we really had a solid producer/actor/director/writer guy that was younger than 35, really on the scene, making movies, changing cultural perspective in the process?  If you say Zach Braff I will kill you – using songs by The Shins in a movie and selling a soundtrack doesn't change culture – all it does is sell records and up the viewership for Scrubs.  If you don't know what movie I'm talking about, then good for you.  I don't hate it, I just hate what it turned into.  It's Hipster bubblegum.
Anyway, I want to see another Redford, Beatty, Hopper, or Eastwood – and definitely another Orson.  And let's be totally honest… the 3 living guys in this crew probably don't have a lot of time left.  I know, I know – morbid thought.  But let's be totally realistic.  With the exception of Eastwood (who's an endearing freak of nature), these other 2 guys might not turn much new out for the rest of their lives (though Redford's The Conspirator is slated to come out soon – his assassination of Abraham Lincoln trial biopic.)  Yeah, Clooney seems poised to carry the torch, but where's the youth?  Here are some guys I think are worth taking into consideration as writers/directors/producers/actors.  And yes, these are in order of preference:
5) Seth Rogen (28 years old) – Not that I'm like chomping at the bit to see a Rogen written/produced/acted/directed movie or anything… but the guy pretty much does all these things except direct on his films anymore.  I just figure the next step for him to reach the Ivan Reitman/Harold Ramis status that he's conspicuously been going for is to jump behind the camera as Herr Direktor.  He obviously understands the business, and how to put a successful movie together.  I'm totally on board to give the NEW ultimate fanboy (Kevin Smith was the original) a chance to monopolize a picture, if for no other reason than to just see what happens.
4) Leonardo DiCaprio (35 years old) – No, he doesn't have any writing or directing credits under his belt, but it's well known that he's a huge contributor during the rewrite process of many of his projects (The Aviator, Inception, and Shutter Island to name a few.)  It also helps that he's had the likes of Scorsese, Nolan, and Ridley Scott to learn under, so methinks this guy has the taste, talent, and total know how to get an amazing film off the ground.  In a recent Rolling Stone article, he snivels about the lack of balls in Hollywood, and that pictures like The Aviator probably wouldn't even get green lit now.  Message to Leo: Take the reigns, motherfucker.  Reinvent this goddamn place.
3) Gael Garcia Bernal (31 years old) – The guy's got experience with everything – producing, directing, acting, and writing.  Yeah, he's only got one directing credit to his name, but it's another situation (like DiCaprio) where he's worked with such amazing people, you can't help but think that he's been through one of the most comprehensive unofficial film schools of all time.  He's worked with: Alfonso Cuaron, Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Fernando Meirelles… and more.  If you don't know who these guys are, do yourself a favor and watch at least one of their films – here's a list for you in their respective order: Children of Men, Bad Education, Amores Perros, City of God.  Gotta be honest – I want to see a new Orson with a real international sensibility.  Bernal could be just that.
2) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (29 years old) – Alright, yeah, another star of Inception – total coincidence.  Gordon-Levitt might as well be taking notes from Ron Howard (who didn't get mentioned above because he never writes, and he quit the acting game) – he was a kid actor, was on an acclaimed sitcom for years, and simply doesn't pick bad acting gigs since full-fledged adulthood (if you haven't seen Mysterious Skin, check it out – beyond fucked up, and totally amazing.)  Over the past 2 years he's written and directed 3 short films, so there's certainly an interest there.  We know he's got the chops and the credibility, so please, please, please throw your dream screenplay at your agent and make the fuck out of it.  I have total faith that this guy knows what he's doing because I haven't not enjoyed anything he's done (yes, even The Juror – soft spot.)
1) James Franco (32 years old) – I can already feel the backlash for this choice, but read this New York Magazine article before you pin me up on a cross.  In so many words, Franco is nuts – albeit, creative nuts… not actually nuts… I don't think.  Anyway, per the NY Magazine article, the guy is a total freak of nature (a la Eastwood) in terms of his productivity – he's enrolled in 4 graduate programs, has published a novel, has been featured in multiple art galleries, has written and directed a number of shorts, directed and produced the most comprehensive Saturday Night Live insiders' documentary, and does "performance art" by portraying a performance artist on General Hospital… as an art project.  Yeah, it's koo koo, but it's also awesome.  The article makes a good theory of this sort of thin spreading of one's self, but he's got that Orson-y OCD-ness going for him, a sort of Warholian set of priorities, and an impending film slate that's put him far away from his lackluster fare of Flyboys and Tristen & Isolde.  I mean… I want to see him make an entire film.  Maybe even where he plays himself.  Someone give this guy a ton of money to make whatever he wants because it will either be unintentionally genius, or an incredibly entertaining failure.  Or somewhere in between.  So yeah… I want to see what he can do because I have total faith that I'll be totally enthralled.
The moral of this post – you goddamn talent agents need to think a little more outside the box.  Put on your George Shapiro hats and let your stars be a little schizophrenic.  Do it.