Friday, December 2, 2011

By Grabthar's hammer

Was listening to an interview with Alan Rickman on Tuesday's Talk of the Nation.  It reminded me of my high school government class.  The teacher, Mr. Baldwin, was a personal friend of Alan Rickman.  I don't remember the context, but I don't think Mr. Baldwin meant to brag; somehow it was relevant to the study of government, though that's hardly meaningful now.

Anyway, he was mentioning one day in class how he had had lunch with an actor, whom most of us would probably have recognized.  It was someone who was known especially for playing villains.  Mr. Baldwin seemed to have to think hard to come up with a specific movie.  Finally he remembered that his actor friend had been the bad guy in Die Hard.

I have never seen the first Die Hard, but I knew for a fact that some of my classmates had, yet the title elicited a complete non-reaction, which seemed to somewhat take the wind out of Mr. Baldwin's sails.  He then dropped the name "Alan Rickman," which I did recognize.

Ah, you mean the bad guy from Quigley Down Under, I thought to myself.  The Sheriff of Nottingham!  Rasputin from that HBO Rasputin movie!  Galaxy Quest!  'By Grabthar's hammer'--you know the rest!

I didn't say any of this aloud, of course.  In fact, nobody said anything.  I gathered that we were instead playing the game of "Let's all pretend never to have heard of Alan Rickman, nor anything else Mr. Baldwin references, so as to make him feel very old and out of touch."  And so, Mr. Baldwin, sounding a tad deflated, moved on with his anecdote, whatever the hell it had to do with government class.

The interview itself was not great.  The questions were not the best, but neither was Alan Rickman an especially cooperative guest, and so a lot of time (my time) was wasted on defensive clarifying of trivialities.  Somehow I would have expected the man now best known for playing Severus Snape to be a more fun interviewee.  And yet do I sense some resentment at being typecast as a villain?

Honestly, the most exciting part for me was when they opened it up for callers to contribute their acting experiences, specifically with villain roles.  The first caller was a voice actor identifying herself as "Mary Mac," AKA Mary McDonald-Lewis, voice of Lady Jaye from the 80s G.I. Joe cartoon (and more recently the voice of the OnStar system).  I didn't recognize her name or voice, but somehow I guessed immediately who she was, just because there are only so many female voice actors of that generation (do cartoons these days still have chewy villain roles?) who regularly speak publicly about their careers.  Not that she had anything very insightful to contribute to this interview either.  I just thought it was cool to hear Lady Jaye on the radio.

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