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People I Want to See in a Woody Allen Film

With Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris and Jesse Eisenberg (along with Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni and Ellen Page) in Woody’s next film I began wondering who else needs to be in an Allen film. Here’s who I came up with:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I’d watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt in pretty much any blockbuster schlock…oh wait, I have. He could be in love with a professional woman (perhaps Woody alum Emily Mortimer) who is about to be imprisoned under the testimony of a former flame for insider trading. JGL, resisting his fiancée’s advise to get rough with the snitching schlub (perhaps Sean Astin or Patton Oswalt), he goes to request he let this fault -a one time slip up- slide. Things get out of hand and Joe clocks him one and ties him up in a private bathroom. He keeps him there until he can figure out what to do, kill him or face the consequences.

Paul Dano

Paul Dano could be a chemical engineer that married into a family of such stratospheric wealth that he can’t help but feel shame over his economic status. His marriage (to Reese Witherspoon) is on the rocks and his mounting debt in trying to maintain the lifestyle his wife was accustomed to is about to ruin him. During this he discovers that he was adopted and that his aunt -a wealthy scion of society herself played by foulmouthed Meryl Streep- is the only remaining blood relative he has. He befriends her, but in hopes of hastening his newfound inheritance he poisons her. Assaulted with guilt from all sides what will he do when the one family member he loves finds out what he’s done?

Jack Black

Admittedly any number of funny men fits here; Luke Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, even Johnny Depp would work in a Woody role. But if Paul Rudd were in a Woody film I would essential want the rest of the Apatow crew and if that’s the case then I should probably just watch an Apatow movie. I would like to see Jack Black play a character who is experiencing unprecedented success professionally, a novelist cum director who has landed the breakout actress of the year, Eva Mendez, for his Cannes lauded debut, but who is dealing with a shrew wife (Jenna Fischer) and his videogame guru designer son (Jason Schwartzman) who is suing him. Something like hijinx ensue.

Eh, scrap that, let’s just make it:

Jeff Bridges

Gwyneth Paltrow

I think we all agree that the Woody personae requires a male actor, but it was a nice change of pace, albeit unsuccessful overall, to see a female play the Woody role as Scarlett Johansson did in Scoop. Gweneth’s turn as Pepper Potts in Iron Man gives a glimpse of her inner Woody and I think she’d be wildly entertaining as a struggling female detective whose big case ends up intertwined with her own life. Can she solve the case of a missing nanny (Amy Adams) while avoiding the ire of a possibly corrupt politician (Richard Jenkins) and still be home to rub the sore feet of her hypochondriac postman husband William H. Macy?

Michael Keaton

Another person I’d love to see in a Woody Allen film is Michael Keaton. Criminally underworked by his own choice and I don’t care what you think about Burton’s Batman, The Keats is imminently watchable. It’d be great to watch Keaton as a cabdriver taking Cate Blanchett in full meltdown mode to tie up some loose strings before her planned suicide off the Brooklyn Bridge. Her antics include a hair salon wrestling match with her estranged mother-in-law (Dame Judy Dench), a burning of the car of her husband’s mistress, and the cross town chase of her nefarious husband (played by Christian Bale) who is attempting to steal her Pekingese (named Gumption). At the end of it she and Keaton -who has pursued her affections the moment she entered her cab- decide to make a new life together. That might not be what Woody wants to see, but who asked him anyway.

On Childish Things : Madeleine L’Engle

“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be. This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages. The delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide. Far too many people misunderstand what putting away childish things means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and be fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.”

Madeleine L’Engle

On Watching Trailers : Jim Emerson

“One thing I will not do is watch the trailer. Why would anyone voluntarily seek out the trailer for a movie they are really look forward to seeing — especially if it’s a rarity like a Terence Malick picture? I’m bewildered when I see people forwarding links to online video clips, as if they can’t wait to rob the experience of its freshness.”

-Jim Emerson