Like many humans living in these United States, I saw American Sniper this past weekend (it’s now brought in over $200 Million at the box office). I was shaken by the raw, tense depiction of modern combat, particularly as I had shelled out a few extra bucks to see it in IMAX. Bullets flying in surround sound, graphic bloodshed – it all felt so terrifyingly real. Luckily, these four hilarious casting choices provided occasional jolts back to reality.
It’s a funny feeling when you’ve seen an actor play only one very specific, very wimpy character and suddenly, without warning, you encounter them 50ft tall holding an MK18 in the midst of a supremely tense war film – particularly one that (supposedly) aims for evenhanded reality. While Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller underwent physical transformations that helped viewers to suspend disbelief (gaining of muscle mass and dying of hair respectively), these guys merely threw on their army fatigues (or prosthetic limbs) and walked on set. If, like me, you revel in melodramatic television, you likely stifled an “Oh, that guy” or two when these actors hit the screen during American Sniper.
The Mayor from Nashville as DIA Agent Snead
On ABC’s Nashville, Eric Close plays Teddy Conrad, the handsome, philandering mayor who was formerly married to country superstar Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton). Teddy is the weak sort of fellow that would rather cheat on his wife than stand up to her, so when he showed up in American Sniper as a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency, for us non-Americans) agent barking orders at the most lethal sniper in American history, it was quite comical. Teddy, you couldn’t hold onto Rayna (she never even really loved you) and you totally allowed your evil stepfather to commandeer your entire mayoral campaign; how on earth did you land such an important military position?!
The Stay at Home Dad from Parenthood as Navy Seal Lt. Martin
In the first season of Parenthood Joel Graham (Sam Jaeger) is the sexy stay at home dad who all the moms from school crush on. By Season 6, Graham has separated from his hot wife (Erika Christensen) and is living in a depressing single guy apartment a la Kirk Van Houten in The Simpsons. To make matters more pathetic, Jaeger cries nearly every time he appears onscreen in the melodrama’s final season.
In American Sniper, Jaeger plays a Navy Seal who outranks the film’s (and the country’s) hero, Chris Kyle. I had to resist the urge to shout out, “Don’t break down Joel, America needs you!”
The Innocent, Cute Gay Guy from Looking as The Young Vet
On HBO’s Looking, Jonathan Groff plays Patrick Murray, the fresh-faced, innocent that revels in deep, emotional connections as opposed to casual boning. He has the sort of face that looks as though it has never seen the horrors of a public bathroom let alone the horrors of war.
In American Sniper, Groff is the young vet who recognizes The Legend Chris Kyle at the auto repair shop (Kyle had saved him, carrying him out of a building on his back – go figure). Patrick, this will be a great story to wine about to your friends later.
And last but certainly not least…
The Antisocial Artist from Wedding Crashers as Jeff Kyle
Remember the weird brother in Wedding Crashers who paints a picture of Vince Vaughn hanging nude from a tree? (“I’ll be in my room painting… homo things!”) Yes, that was the same actor (Keir O’Donnell) playing Chis Kyle’s PTSD-addled brother.
This was distracting on so many levels. Firstly, Wedding Crashers came out a decade ago and although (according to IMDB) O’Donnell has accrued countless credits since portraying misunderstood artist Todd Cleary, it seems as though I breezed by all of them. To me, O’Donnell is still that hunchbacked little outcast with spiky hair and an attitude problem. This means I had to endure a solid 5 minutes of, “Man, that guy looks super familiar but I can’t quite put my finger on why” before making the connection.
Then came the realization that Bradley Cooper plays Cleary’s would-be brother-in-law, Sack Lodge, in Wedding Crashers. In American Sniper they play brothers. Do you think they’re friends IRL?!