Chemistry between actors on screen is an elusive thing. When it works, the teaming of actors transcends sometimes mediocre movies (exactly how many road movies did Bob Hope and Bing Crosby do together?) and can elevate good films to greatness (imagine Ghostbusters without any of the cast members intact). Bad chemistry can be painful to watch (who’s bright idea was it to put Dan Ackroyd and Rosie O’Donnell together–and in bondage, no less?). Sometimes pairing up two actors is obvious, especially if they’re friends off screen (John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, David Spade and Chris Farley, Cheech & Chong) and other times brilliant teaming is serendipitous (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in about 40 films).
We often look forward to movies when an unusual or interesting pairing takes place. Fanboys everywhere were excited when Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) teamed up for the first time in Cowboys & Aliens (apparently forgetting that the original Bond, Sean Connery, played Indy’s dad in The Last Crusade). The upcoming That’s My Boy has Andy Samberg playing Adam Sandler’s son, which is a perfectly obvious casting choice (too bad the film looks terrible). Also coming up is the Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom, which for the first time features Bruce Willis and Bill Murray. Willis has become an onscreen tough guy, but when he first began his acting career, he was known for his sarcastic and very Murray-ish wit. In Moonlighting, it almost seemed as if Willis was channeling Murray. It may end up that they have no screen time together, and if that’s true, someone needs to put them in a film actually acting off each other.
Here are ten other pairs of actors that need to be teamed up in a film, in no particular order:
Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock
There have been countless teamings of former Saturday Night Live members (as was illustrated in the opening paragraphs), but for some reason Murphy and Rock have never headlined a movie together, which is strange given the fact that Rock was somewhat of a prodigy of Murphy’s. Granted, Rock did a walk-on in Beverly Hills Cop II, a voice of one of the animals in Doctor Doolittle, and a small role in Boomerang, but he has never been treated as a peer to Murphy. With the older comic’s star somewhat tarnished these days, it would be great to see him back on top form (Tower Heist was an indication that he still has it, despite A Thousand Words). Teaming him with Rock–with an actual funny script–would be an audience draw. Or maybe Murphy’s Donkey and Rock’s Marty the zebra can just hang out some time. (Just keep Chris Tucker far, far away.)
Johnny Depp and Michael Keaton
Both Depp and Keaton have worked repeatedly with Tim Burton, and arguably became as well known as they are due to their roles in Burton’s films. However, they have yet to actually be in a movie together (Keaton’s last collaboration with the director was 1992’s Batman Returns). While it would be great for Keaton to be cast in another Burton movie, what would it be like for these two actors to pair up in a movie with a different director so they would be out of the influence of Goth weirdness?
Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet
Streep is considered the best actress alive today (perhaps of all time). Winslet is arguably the best actress of her generation. Winslet is obviously in competition with Streep for Oscars, having won one with five additional nominations compared to Streep’s three wins and fourteen noms (okay, so she has a way to go to catch up, but she’s still young). How about putting these two powerhouse women together in one movie and just let them go. Throw in Judy Densch for good measure.
Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch
Both actors currently perform Sherlock Holmes, Downey on the big screen and Cumberbatch on TV. Both are highly successful at bringing their unique interpretation to the role and are iconic in their own ways. They can project intelligence and strength of character, as well as human frailty. It would be fascinating to see what these two actors could do when facing off against one another.
Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace
Both of these oddly-named actresses played the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rapace in the original Danish production that was an international sensation and Mara in David Fincher’s American remake, earning her an Oscar nomination. Rapace will next be seen in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Both are highly acclaimed for their interpretations of Lisbeth, but what could they do if they were onscreen together?
Alan Alda and Donald Sutherland
Alda came to fame by playing Hawkeye Pierce in the TV version of M*A*S*H, but after the series ended he made a career out of playing mostly villainous characters. Sutherland originated the role in Robert Altman’s film and stayed busy for decades playing mostly villainous characters. The two actors are nothing alike in personality, but both have strong screen presence. Put them together, preferably in a political thriller, and see what sparks can be generated.
Donald Sutherland and Keifer Sutherland
Speaking of Donald Sutherland, when is he going to do a movie with his son Keifer? Sure, they were both in A Time to Kill, but they had no scenes together (Keifer also had a brief role in Max Dugan Returns, featured Donald in a larger one). The producers of 24 missed a great opportunity when they had Jack Bauer’s father played by James Cromwell instead of Keifer’s own father. It’s been said that the two don’t get along well, but what better opportunity to heal broken family ties? At the very least, any onscreen tensions would be real.
Update 12/22/12: The two are reportedly going to star together in an untitled western.
Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson
This one is so obvious it’s almost painful. Smith once dominated the Fourth of July with his blockbuster science fiction comedies and/or epics and has proved to be a fine dramatic actor as well. Jackson can do anything–including bossing around a group of cranky superheroes. It’s only inevitable (and surprising it hasn’t happened yet) that these two powerhouse actors be in a movie together. Here’s a thought–if they ever get around to doing Hancock 2, Jackson can play the title character’s father! After all, he already knows a thing or two about superheroes.
Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightly
Quick! Someone cast Portman and Knightly as sisters (possibly even twins). Knightly already played Portman’s double in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, so isn’t it about time that the two actresses actually be on the same level? Portman could even don period clothing to join Knightley in one of her costume pieces. Extra points if Winona Ryder is also cast (she shared the screen with Portman in Black Swan).
Jim Carrey and Robin Williams
Would the screen explode if the manic comedic stylings of Carrey and Williams were brought together in one movie? Perhaps that’s why neither have ever worked together. Imagine the chaos on the set if these two were allowed to cut loose with their ad libs. Usually, each of them need a “straight man” (or an entire cast filled with them) in order to bounce their insanity off of, so is it even possible for them to share the screen? Would they one-up each other in the camera mugging? Here’s an idea–put them in a drama where neither can do their usual schtick. Both usually give better performances when restrained anyway. Give someone else the crazy character, say Robert Di Niro.
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