Here he comes...hand him some tissues
There’s been a lot of collective eye rolling going on lately in the entertainment business over news that a possible Speed Racer movie is still in the works. People have been shaking their heads and clucking their tongues over the silliness of it all. Apparently Los Bros Wachowski are working on a script and want to produce the film. Funnyman Vince Vaughn has added his clout to the project, wanting to play the role of Speed’s older brother Rex a.k.a. the mysterious Racer X.
At first glance the very notion of this movie getting made is too silly for words, but when you consider that Michael Bay is currently filming a big screen version of The Transformers, and that NASCAR fans in this country number in the billions, the idea gets less and less silly.
In the mid-1980s when I was on staff at NOW Comics in Chicago, we had the rights to pump out Speed Racer comics. There was a steady stream of buzz in the letter columns and at comic conventions about a possible live action Speed Racer movie. Names were bandied about who could play whom. I distinctly recall someone coming up to me at a convention and telling me that they thought the only person who could play the part of ace mechanic Sparky was Jon Cryer.
When it came to possible actors to portray Speed; flat out, across the board, the only name ever mentioned was Capt. Jack Sparrow himself, Johnny Depp. There was no discussion allowed or necessary (even though I always thot Charlie Sheen or my buddy Tom Morgan could do a great job in the role). Johnny Depp was the only actor for the job. I secretly thought Depp was a bad choice, only because at that moment Depp had been off 21 Jump Street for a few years and his career was starting to tank. I thought he would soon be gone and forgotten. (Which serves to demonstrate why I’ve never made a fortune betting on the horses or playing the stock market)
So here it is twenty years later. If the movie were to get the greenlight, who would be cast today? That’s a toughie. I know there’s a massive new breed of quasi heartthrobs from shows like The OC and Pacific Cove and One Tree Hill and the dozens of other WB shows that I’ve never seen. The studio would want a bankable star to play Trixie, so maybe they could cough up ten or fifteen million for Jessica Alba. Yes, I know she doesn’t look anything like Trixie and is completely wrong for the part, but her being miscast helped Fantastic Four, right?
A fun bit of stunt casting would be getting father and son motorcycle design team of Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. Teutul from A&E’s American Chopper series to play Pops Racer and Sparky, respectively. In that same vein they could use CGI technology to shrink Mikey Teutul small enough to play Spridle.
That’s a movie I would pay nine dollars to see in the theater.