Monday, July 6, 2020

Recasting 1980: "American Gigolo"

With which movie would Meryl have followed her tour de force performance in The Rose? As I've mentioned previously, one of the more fun parts of this recasting project is that I get to choose some roles that are a riskier or generally less likely something Meryl would've done without some special circumstance. 

Which brings us to 1980. Usually by the time somebody receives any acclaim for a performance, they're either already in the process of filming their next project, or have already completed it. So, any bounce Meryl or any other actress may have gotten from The Rose wouldn't affect her consideration for future roles until after she completed filming something else. This scenario reminds of when Meryl filmed the noir pic Still of the Night in the fall of 1981. Meryl was yet to receive acclaim for her first lead role in The French Lieutenant's Woman, and had likely been cast for Still of the Night months prior to the latter film's release. 

Still of the Night was a bona fide stinker. Meryl is on record as having admitted it wasn't a good movie, and that she "hated" noir. But what if she had been able to participate is a noir film that was well-made, well-received critically, and a box office smash? Cue American Gigolo. 

It's been reported that Meryl was actually offered the role of Michelle Stratton (originally played by Lauren Hutton), but declined because she did not like the tone of the film. I expect it may have been due to some of the overt sexual language, a scene where she'd be topless, and dealings with BDSM and homosexuality. Meryl likely had no personal issue with any of these topics, but for 1980 is would've been far more risqué to participate in a film of this nature. It's one of the first (if not the first?) scenes where a leading man does full-frontal nudity (a young Richard Gere in a role with a hotness factor that occasionally rivals Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise). Christopher Reeve and John Travolta both came close to appearing in the role. 

The role itself isn't super amazing, but Michelle is a reasonably complex character in a sticky situation. She's a wife of a state senator. Their marriage isn't great, and she ends up meeting a gigolo in a restaurant (where she speaks French!). The two start up an affair, and of course, it's complicated by the fact that his livelihood is based on sleeping with other women, primarily older, rich ones. Hutton does a fine job in the role, but Meryl no doubt would have been able to bring more nuances to the part. I particularly would've like to see more regarding how she feels trapped in her marriage.


OMG that's basically the same hairstyle Meryl has in Still of the Night. Maybe it's a noir thing. 

Gigolo was filmed in early 1979, so it would've been able to wrap before Meryl would even be showing with her first child, Henry, who was born in November that year. It hit theaters in February 1980, and earned $52 million at the global box office, against a budget of only $5 million. Reviews were modestly favorable, and the film has become lauded for its original score, which received a Golden Globe nomination. The theme "Call Me," performed by Blondie was a worldwide success, and went to number one. The song also garnered a Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations. 

All in all, the role in this picture would likely not go down as one of the best of all time, but it still would've been fun to see Meryl stretch her legs a bit, as well as be part of a particularly modern project-- considering the previous two roles for which I recast her in, along with three of the next four I'll be choosing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment