Michael Sheene and Michael Sheard … one’s world famous, the other’s a curiosity, but they’re both mostly associated with one role.
In Sheene’s case, it’s Tony Blair. After memorably portraying him in the 2003 TV movie The Deal, he popped up alongside Helen Mirren to play him with equal aplomb in The Queen three years later. By the time The Special Relationship came along in 2010, which portrayed Blair’s relationship with Bill Clinton, it was becoming old hat, even though it ended up earning the actor his only ever Emmy nomination (he also has a Golden Globe nom for Masters of Sex), pitiful stateside recognition that can only be blamed on that horrendous laugh of his in the Twilight saga (and the decision to appear in it).
In Sheard’s case, it’s Mr Bronson in Grange Hill, the toupee-wearing stickler who … of course it’s not that, it’s Adolf Hitler! The Scottish actor played the nasty Nazi in five unrelated productions spanning three decades, starting in 1973. His most memorable turn was signing a certain professor of archaeology’s book in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Curiously, he also played Hermann Göring’s Double in an episode of ’Allo ’Allo in 1992 called ‘Hitler’s Last Heil’ in which another actor was preferred as the double of the Führer.
Safe now he’s dead
This is nothing new as actors have been reprising the same role in unrelated movies since the birth of celluloid, even though it’s normally an in-joke like Ralph Bellamy (who has played FDR in three different productions) and Don Ameche reprising their roles as the Duke brothers from Trading Places to appear in Coming to America.
My favourite, though, has to be Ian Holm, who donned the bicorne hat to play the lead in the 1974 TV drama series Napoleon and Love only to lampoon his work in Time Bandits, a 1981 British fantasy that I rented 12 times from my local store during the summer of 1984 – back in the days when video cassettes cost a week’s wages.
Australian actor Damon Herriman – whose star is rising thanks to roles in Quarry, Mr InBetween and Lambs of God – is following in Holm’s footsteps, as he recently landed the character role most of Hollywood was prepared to kill for (…), but not for one production, two! Herriman plays Charles Manson in both Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood (84 on Metacritic; at cinemas from Aug 15) and Mindhunter (S2; Netflix from Aug 16).
Both can’t be recommended highly enough. While ‘Hollywood’ looks set to be Quentin Tarantino’s best film for 25 years, season two of Mindhunter promises to be explosive as the FBI agent Holden Ford (based on behavioural science pioneer John E Douglas, who also inspired the character of Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs) starts to switch his focus from interviewing locked-up serial killers to catching ones still at large.
The raft of Manson’s depictions is no coincidence – Matt Smith portrayed him last year in Charlie Says – as numerous scripts have been gathering dust waiting for the murderer’s death, which eventually came in November 2017, in case of litigation. The problem wasn’t so much depicting him, it’s making the movie interesting enough through copious embellishment. The truth is that while Manson captured the public imagination in a way few murderers have, his story is conflicted and a little dull and he is much better worked as semi-fictional.
Alligators aren’t friendly
Also at cinemas this August are Fisherman’s Friends (47; Aug 15), which casts Daniel Mays against type in the lead role of a British romcom about a London music executive trying to push a group of Cornish fishermen into making a record; Angel has Fallen (Not Released Worldwide; Aug 22), the third in the Gerard Butler action franchise; and Crawl (61; Aug 22), an above average thriller starring British actress Kaya Scodelario (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile) in which a family in Florida are terrorised by alligators following a hurricane.
On Netflix, the offerings look poor. Otherhood (37; Aug 2) sees three mothers (Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette) take a road trip to the big smoke to remind their sons they still exist. The release date was pushed back a few months to give the public time to forget that Huffman paid 15,000 dollars for her daughter’s SAT answers to be illegally corrected. But we’ll never forget!
While Sextuplets (NRW; Aug 16) sees Damon Wayans take on six different roles in a film about a man who discovers he was born alongside five other siblings. Given that Wayans has something like 25 siblings who are all actors, it’s all a little bit mystifying. Oh, and it looks like gross-out, infantile shite.
Watch out for The Rider (92; Aug 1) which got a limited cinematic release because most Danish distributors have less taste than Wayans’ … actually that would be absolutely zero taste.
Over on TV land we have a number of returning Netflix series – Derry Girls (S2; Aug 2), Dear White People (S3; Aug 2) and Workin’ Moms (S3; Aug 28) – and the keenly-anticipated final season of The Affair (S5; Aug 26) on HBO Nordic. Also returning on that platform are Power (S6; Aug 26) and Light as a Feather (S2A; Aug 20).
Funnily enough, Morgan Freeman’s performance as the US president in Angel has Fallen is the second time he’s played POTUS, as he did so in Deep Impact in 1998 – a film that cynics were quick to point out was science fiction. How times have changed!