Yeah, what I’m really doing is talking about how the characters are written.
(not going to quote the rest of your post because I agree with it largely and we don’t need a wall of text) I think one of the biggest things about Star Wars is that in many ways it was lightning in a bottle. It hit at the exact right time to be a mega-blockbuster, the movie industry was heading that way for some time, and Star Wars fit right in. It’s a great melding of the studio system and the new wave of US cinema - Lucas’ prior two movies were an SF art piece and a somewhat subversive story of his youth, but was really commenting on the youth culture of the time, so he had indie cred. And it fit into that niche with a story that mixed so many things - SF&F, samurai movies/westerns, cod philosophy, and a hitherto unseen level of visual detail and groundbreaking effects. And yeah, there were some amazing performances on top of that which helped the story feel natural and sold the out-there elements.
Right, if the below doesn’t post this time, I will go full Kylo on the board software!
You can type this shit Wallace, you sure can’t say it.
Hundo? Hundo? Ah, HONDO!
Hondo, yes, Hondo. Hondo greatly likes that you have invoked his name, the last MW pirate.Milch! See? Hondo is known.
Back to topic - enjoyed reading that post of yours Lorcan and the ones it sparked.
The thing I find strangest about Kylo Ren is that the films themselves seem to take the piss out of the character. There’s this weird, discordant handling. For instance, his going bersek and smashing up a console in TFA is, first time, done quite well - there’s a crap-scared officer terrified, which, if we were there, would probably be us. Second time, after Rey’s escape, he’s smashing up the room, camera pans to two troopers who do a 180 turn. That comes across as comedy to me, not two guys quickly legging it in fear. Great comedy moment but I don’t think it’s supposed to be. Maybe it’s that their faces are concealed, whereas in the first case you can see that that officer is scared and has reason to be. It gives me this sense of uncertainty and if the film is uncertain then what am I to make of it?
While we all agree Kylo is an asshole, I’m not sure the films are taking that line. They have him doing all these crappy things, try to emphasise he wants to do them, then it’s all sad puppy dogs, feel sorry for him. If Ep 9 dispenses with that and has him go full asshole, it’ll probably really boost the film. I’m sceptical they’ll follow through on it.
Unless Ep 9 does the full bore abuse story. It’s been mentioned minimally, but it’s probably the only way to do any kind of redemptive angle. I don’t know if Lucas really considered a redeemed Vader surviving, but if he did he likely encountered the sort of difficiulties a living Kylo will have. By comparison, death redemption is a lot neater and easier.
I do think, after seeing him in Logan Lucky, Driver isn’t being well served by the material. Sure, it may be a SW tradition, but I found him so good in LL compared to how he was in the ST. It was a pleasant surprise, but also raised the Q for me of how that could be so.
Kylo is meant to be somewhat pathetic but still dangerous, I think. It’s clear that his tantrums are known within the First Order, and the officer is scared because he’s in the room for the first one, and the Stormtroopers know to turn the other way lest they get caught up in it. But if you’re not in front of him he’s a joke. Nobody respects him despite his great power, but a lot of people fear him - look how he begins to physically abuse Hux as soon as he’s usurped Snoke’s throne in TLJ.
A lot of that is because he’s wannabe Darth Vader. He has turned away from the family he knows personally and instead embraced the grandfather he never knew, to the point of wearing a mask. But he doesn’t need that mask, it’s just there to make him look scary. So when he takes the helmet off and he’s Adam Driver underneath, he doesn’t need the suit to survive like Anakin/Darth Vader did? It’s another pathetic layer. Nobody respects him, nobody is fooled by his look. But only Snoke can physically overpower him, so everyone treads lightly.
To bring this back to the incel/4chan comparison, think about the stories women tell of having to tread lightly around men they fear can be abusive. They don’t respect those men, but fear the physical consequences of voicing that disrespect. Or people like Elliot Rodger, who went on a shooting rampage because of a perceived lack of disrespect. He had a feeling of helplessness, and compensated through violence.
That’s part of why I liked Rey and Kylo’s arc in TLJ - it’s pretty unequivocal in that Kylo is a shithead. Rey starts the film hating him because he killed Han, kinda warms to him as she learns of his backstory, sides with him in the fight against Snoke and his guards, and then rejects him when he decides to take over the First Order instead of leaving with her. Of course, JJAbrams has his ideas for what to do, and his version of Kylo Ren was clearly distressed and could be turned. But hopefully he won’t turn back the development from TLJ.
Absolutely Hamill’s performance made Star Wars work. He plays it straight and he throws himself into the character. He sells his arc, and sells his world. He’s a really great actor, he has that Norman Bates and Bill Shatner curse where he plays a character so good he’ll never be seen as anything other than that character. Luke Skywalker is one of the best characters in cinematic history. The biggest problem with the prequels, the sequels and most other major franchises is they don’t have an actor who performs at the level Hamill did.
It’s funny with Vader though. Old SW varied drastically, with Vader going from mastermind to cybernetic cripple, but new SW has rendered him as this unstoppable force of absolute death. They’ve really amped the cool factor of Vader away from that he’s a quadruple amptuee in an iron lung.
And it’s not really that they played their roles so extraordinarily well (though Perkins was very good), but rather that the roles took on such great cultural significance. Or in Shatner’s case, that he played it for such a long time - but then, he at least easily managed to evade that, with TJ Hooker and Boston Legal.
I think it’s both cultural significance and the wide success but the acting performance shouldn’t be overlooked. I think his Luke sold his role so well it completely immersed you in the story, like a great stage actor. At no time did he feel like a actor in a scene, which if felt for many of the other actors.
Leonard Nimoy, Elijah Wood, Johnny Depp since pirates and RDJ are all recent actors who’ll never escape their characters.
I know Hamill regretted not having more roles in his life, and he never really understood just how beloved he was. Hopefully it’s suck in since TLJ.
Apart from Leonard Nimoy, these guys have all been getting lots of other work. Wood wisely has lately turned to indie movies and TV, Jonny Depp has been doing tons of other work (and will continue to do so if he doesn’t fall apart to the extent that he’s unemployable, which may happen) and so will Downey once he’s got the time.
I have a lot of love for Hamill’s performance of Luke; I never understood how anybody could identify with any of the other characters - I was Luke Skywalker, when I was watching Star Wars as a kid. Mark Hamill has been unlucky in not getting any other work, and I think that’s in part because he was so young back then and this his first big role. That is something that doesn’t go for any of the other examples you mentioned except maybe for Wood, but it does go for Daniel Radcliffe or Hayden Christiansen.
I wonder if things would have gone differently for Hamill if he had taken on other roles while Star Wars was still going back then, the way Ford did. Surely he must have had offers at the time?
On the other hand, you have Harrison Ford who managed to have a great career outside of both Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Maybe having two iconic roles in such rapid succession managed to break the curse.
When speaking of actors escaping their roles (Hamill, Ford, Nimoy, Shatner, Perkins, Sarah Michelle Gellar), I think luck also plays a part, as well as having the instincts of which subsequent roles to pick.
It’s critical you pick the right second hit. Chris Pratt was a decent example, who picked Jurassic World after Starlord to escape the role. It wasn’t a bad pick, except he’s now got this generally unlikeable douche air about him now so it didn’t really matter.
The kids from Stranger Things are probably the ones right now who desperately need to escape their success or they’re screwed.
I was surprised that the one who played Will voiced Charlie Brown in that big Peanut Movie affair that came out. That alone makes him the one I want to succeed the most. He was wonderful in that.