Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ten Actors Who Should Play God (In a Movie)

by Ben Howard

I think it’s a given that Morgan Freeman is the voice of moral authority in my generation. Perhaps he’s not the personification of it, but certainly the voice. He’s played the wise President in Deep Impact, the wise inmate in The Shawshank Redemption, the wise narrator in March of the Penguins, and most importantly to our discussion today he played God. Twice.

But Morgan Freeman is aging and there may come a time when we need a new voice of God. With that in mind, I have some thoughts.

Nick Offerman – If you’re unfamiliar with this name, you may know him better as Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. He’s a fan of large wooden boats. He loves bacon and breakfast foods which we all know are gifts of the divine. He even has a beautiful mustache. Maybe it’s time for God to trim that beard a bit.

Sean Connery – Yes, I know he’s retired and hasn’t been in a movie since The League of Extraordinary Gentleman more than a decade ago. Yes, I know he’s mainly portrayed ex-cons and other lovable rogues. Yes, I know they do a rather saucy impersonation of him for Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL. Counterpoint: HE’S SIR SEAN FLIPPIN’ CONNERY!!!

Mr. Bean – This isn’t nearly as insane as it sounds. If you had Mr. Bean portray God then you could explore the deeply perplexing dichotomy of a world full of wonder, comedy, and happiness with a God who is often quite silent. God doesn’t speak until the end of Job. He doesn’t speak at all in Lamentations. Maybe this would be insane and sacreligious, or maybe it would be deeply profound.

Matthew McConaughey – Have you ever thought that there was a chance, just a chance, that God isn’t quite as serious as we think he is. Maybe God is a surfer bro who doesn’t like to wear a shirt. Maybe he’s a fan of bongo drums. Not gonna lie, this sounds a lot like the hippie God that Adam was bros with before the fall.

Denzel Washington – Do I need to explain this? At all? Leader in the clubhouse people.

The Entire Cast of Les Miserables – I think it’s time for a little outside the box thinking so let’s embrace all the aspects of God. The strength, the love, the meekness, the beauty, the revolutionary aspect, all of it and just make the entire cast of Les Miserables try their hand at playing God. Dream a dream everybody.

Stephen Fry – Well, yes, he is an atheist, but so what. He’s also lovable, kind, intelligent and British. Yeah, that’s right. Why are we always making God sound like an American? That seems more than a little nationalistic. And who knows, maybe a little divine doubt would grant us some insights we wouldn’t have gained otherwise. I think Peter Rollins would second my choice here.

Tom Hanks – Possibly the nicest person in Hollywood by most accounts, he also comes with that all too elusive mix of humility, humanity, humor and gravitas. When Tom Hanks says something I’m not forced to listen, but I certainly want to. I think that’s a pretty representative trait of God.

Meryl Streep – Did you really think I wasn’t going to include a woman in the list? I think we’re ready for this. A strong woman showcasing the power, grace and dignity of the divine would be a welcome invitation. I’m also pretty sure this would more acceptable than when Alanis Morrissette played God in Dogma as a kind of mute fairy/sprite. (Also, I love Dogma. George Carlin as a cardinal and Chris Rock as the 13th apostle make me happy.)
Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln – If you’ve seen this movie, then you likely already agree with me. Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln was measured, honest, resolute, powerful, graceful, merciful, understanding, caring, and capable of learning. That’s what I see when I see God.

What do you think? Did I miss anybody obvious?

Also, while we’re here I wanted to mention a few new things that you may have noticed regarding On Pop Theology.

First, this Sunday (four days!) we’ll be releasing the first On Pop Theology podcast. I’m not sure if it’ll be through the iTunes review process by that point, but at the very least there’ll be links to download or stream it on the site.

Second, On Pop Theology has a brand new Facebook page and a Twitter feed where I’ll be posting all the updates for the blog and the podcast. I’ll also be linking to other material that fits in with the themes of pop culture, theology and philosophy. Like us, follow us, tell your friends. It should be really cool.

Finally, we have a brand new logo and a new site design thanks to the wonderful Jenna Compton. I can not thank her enough for her hard work. She has made this place look wonderful.

To be honest, part of me feels like this has been a seven-month beta-test for On Pop Theology and that now we’re launching the real thing. I’m excited and I hope you are too. Pass it along, join the conversation, and let’s see what happens!


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  1. Mr. Bean is far less insane and sacrilegious than McConaughey. At least Mr. Bean would remember to close his blinds before bongo drumming naked.

  2. To be honest the only suggestion you made that I connected with was the Les Mis cast. Granted I haven't seen the new Lincoln movie.

  3. Ian: Imagining divine commandments being offered in McConaughey's voice has me rolling on the floor with laughter right now.

    Twig: The Les Mis resonates with everyone. It's Les Mis. It's what it does.

  4. Ian McKellen. Cuz' Gandalf/Magneto God would be badass. Even if he is older than Morgan Freeman, I don't care.