Movies

The Rundown: The Case For Letting Walton Goggins Be The Next James Bond

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Listen to me

Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond comes to an end with the release of No Time to Die next week. This means, according to the rules set forth in The Discourse, that we all need to start — or continue — fighting about who gets to fill the role next. Some people got a head start on this by yelling about Idris Elba a few years ago. Daniel Craig himself waded into it last week by saying he doesn’t think Bond should be played by a woman or person of color, only because there should be more and better original roles written for them. Lots of outlets took that quote and ran with headlines like “Daniel Craig: Bond Should NEVER Be Played By A Woman,” because, again, The Discourse.

Luckily, I have a solution here that can save us all some headaches. We can settle this sucker right now, in the next few paragraphs, and move right along. Are you ready? Are you ready for my great idea? Wait. Dammit, you read the headline already. You know where I’m headed with this. Hmm. Kind of takes the punch out of it, but still. It’s a good idea. Here we go: We should let Walton Goggins play James Bond.

My case for Goggins as Bond rests on three pillars. A tripod of a case. Stable. Strong. No wobbles anywhere.

PILLAR ONE: It would be fun

It would be so much fun. Walton Goggins is always great. He was great as Boyd Crowder on Justified and he was great as Baby Billy on The Righteous Gemstones and he’s been great in everything else. He carries himself with this aura of like mischief and menace, which is why he often gets slipped into projects as the villain. But he also has an underlying confidence in his performances, an unflappable vibe, that would work so well as James Bond. Picture him walking into a casino in a tuxedo. Picture him plopping $25,000 on the table and saying, “I’m seeing red tonight.” I need it.

So it would be fun in that way. It would also be, like, fun, full-stop, which, all due respect to Daniel Craig and the people who made the last few Bond movies, is a quality that’s been missing a bit. Bond has gotten emotional and sad lately. That’s fine, I guess, but it’s probably time for a course correction. Let Bond be fun and a little goofy again. I can think of no better way to accomplish this than by strapping a jetpack to Walton Goggins and having him thwart a madman who is trying to melt the polar ice caps with a space laser.

The people need this. I need this. Which brings me to…

PILLAR TWO: I would like it

I would like it very much. I like the Bond movies and I like Walton Goggins. I think they are a great match. For me. More decisions should be made with this in mind. “What would Brian like?” is an example of a question they could ask in a pitch meeting. And then, before they sign the contracts, “Are we sure Brian will like this?” You know, to be thorough.

But this one? No doubt about it. I would definitely like this. I mean, look at this…

… and this…

No flaws detected in any of this. Actually, wait. There is one small issue I should address. Meet me in…

PILLAR THREE: Whatever, British people play Batman and Spider-man sometimes

Walton Goggins is not, in the most technical sense of the term, British. He could not be less British, actually. He’s American Southern down to his bones. I suspect this will upset a sizable chunk of Bond purists. To that I say:

  • Christian Bale did Batman with an American accent and both Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland have played American Spider-men despite being British, so it’s not like there’s no cross-Atlantic flippy-floppy precedent when it comes to playing our nations’ most famous characters
  • Daniel Craig has done a Southern accent in at least two movies (Knives Out, Logan Lucky) and fair is fair
  • Walton Goggins can probably do a good British accent if he wants to
  • If not, it would be a blast if he just does his Southern accent the whole movie and no one says anything about it and continues to treat him as British

It’s a good idea. Think about it for a while this weekend. Let Walton Goggins play James Bond.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Fireworks illegal in 30 Rockefeller Center, too, I imagine

After weeks of speculation about who may or may not be leaving, with open questions about the majority of the female cast (Strong, McKinnon, Bryant, etc.), the cast for the rapidly approaching new season of SNL was announced this week and the only major loss was Beck Bennett. That’s a bummer because Beck Bennett is an awesome sketch performer, kind of in the way Phil Hartman was. He was the binding element to a lot of stuff, often as a dad or a boss or some other authority figure. You need those people to make things work, to make them run smoothly. I’m kind of bummed out.

Luckily, that’s all balanced out by some good news: new cast members are a-comin’. Via the New York Times:

“S.N.L.” is also adding three new featured players for the coming season: Aristotle Athari, a member of the sketch group Goatface; James Austin Johnson, who has acted in shows like “Tuca & Bertie” and in the film “Hail, Caesar!”, and has a viral series of Donald Trump impressions; and Sarah Sherman, who has worked on “The Eric Andre Show.”

While this paragraph appears to be accurate in all the important ways, it does make one big omission. It lists the big credits for James Austin Johnson and mentions his excellent Trump impression, but it leaves out the part where he also stars in the “Fireworks Illegal in Pasadena” tweet. You’ve seen this tweet. You’ve watched the video. TELL ME YOU’VE SEEN THE TWEET AND WATCHED THE VIDEO.

You know what? Let’s be safe. Let’s post it right after this sentence, both to be sure you’ve seen it and because I stopped typing the last paragraph to go watch it again and I still have the tab open.

It’s beautiful. It’s perfect, basically. It makes me very happy and I’ve watched it hundreds of times and whooooooops I stopped typing this paragraph to watch it again just now. I have no further analysis here, honestly. I hope it works out for everyone and I hope they all become big stars. Beck Bennett, too. But mostly I just wanted to post that video again. Thank you for allowing me to do that, Lorne.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — I need La Brea to get a little better or way, way worse as soon as possible

NBC

An incomplete list of things that happened in the first episode of La Brea, a real show that premiered on NBC this week:

  • A massive sinkhole opened up in Los Angeles
  • Television’s Natalie Zea fell into it, along with her teen son and a slew of other people
  • After falling into what appeared to be the abyss, they all popped up relatively unscathed in some sort of unmolested prehistoric jungle
  • Someone found a trunk filled with heroin
  • Wolves attacked Natalie Zea’s son and he almost died
  • Some lady started hoarding food
  • Natalie Zea’s former/current/future love interest — who was first seen slugging liquor from a flask in traffic — had visions of the magical sinkhole land from our surface world
  • Mysterious government types who know more than they’re letting on started poking around
  • Etc etc etc

You get it. It’s all fine and something you’ve seen before plenty of times. It’s like Lost and Manifest and a sinkhole rolled into a big ball. Again, fine. The tricky thing is that it’s going to need to move out of this unremarkable middle area fast if it wants to keep me around (their primary concern, I’m sure), and there are really only two ways they can go about doing that. Back to the bullet points:

  • It can get a little better by putting an interesting twist on the “where/when are they?” thing they’re clearly setting up so far, with characters that have surprising motivations and yo-yos in the plot that keep people hooked
  • They can go full Zoo and just get stupid and wild as hell on purpose so I can make a lot of GIFs of it and blog about the crazy stuff that happens, which would be fun because I haven’t had a really nutso show like that in a while and I’m starting to miss it

Definitely too soon to tell right now. A lot can still happen. They’re off to a promising start, though, both because of all the things in those bullet points and because of, well, this…

NBC

More shows should end episodes on sabertooth tiger cliffhangers. This is something I have always said. Do not look it up, though. Just trust me.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — It must be so weird to discover you’re a hugely popular meme

Daniel Craig sat down for a kind of exit interview with Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times this week. Their chat covered everything you’d expect a chat with an outgoing Bond and current new franchise star — I watched Knives Out again a few days ago and it still rules — to cover. It’s a good read and I recommend you give it a look if you’re interested in any of that, but, for now, we focus on a smaller, more specific, more hopelessly online aspect of it all.

We focus on this.

As we are speaking, it’s a Friday afternoon, and I am about to see my social media feeds populated with a video of you declaring it to be the weekend. Has the popularity of this gotten back to you in any way?

No, what is that?

There is a clip of you from that “Saturday Night Live” you hosted, introducing the Weeknd with almost a sense of relief. People just like to post that clip as a way of ushering in the weekend.

They do? It’s amazing. I don’t know what that is, but thank you. That’s lovely. I suppose I’d have to have social media to know what that was all about.

This is about as well as anyone can be expected to react upon learning that they’ve become a massively popular meme among the jackals and hyenas on various social media platforms. He uses the word “lovely” in there, somehow. Good for him. He unknowingly gave the world a gift many months ago and we all just opened it and put it to use recently and he seems fine with all of that. It’s the best possible way to handle it all, too, starting with the use of “lovely” and moving on to the thing where he says he doesn’t use social media so wasn’t even aware.

Now, is there is a very tiny, very cynical part of my brain that wonders if this stated ignorance is hooey? Sure. Believing it requires you to believe that Daniel Craig has no one in his life who will text him when he becomes a popular meme. Does Daniel Craig not have any too-online people in his life? Shouldn’t he have someone — manager, agent, assistant — monitoring these things just in case? Isn’t this, in a weird way, kind of sad? I don’t know. Let’s let it go for now. For now.

More importantly, how had no one asked him this on the whole press tour until now?

This is the problem with journalism these days.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Give Paul Giamatti his free Burger King, come on

Paul Giamatti was on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert this week, which is a fact I mention for two reasons: One, because this will make three of the last four of these columns where I mention Paul Giamatti, and I kind of like that he’s becoming the official face of The Rundown; and two, after his appearance, I think we should all be doing more to get Paul Giamatti free Burger King for life.

The short version goes something like this, although you should probably just watch the video to get a fuller picture: Paul Giamatti did a Burger King commercial and thought he might be a candidate to receive a card that would give him free food from the burger chain for the rest of his life. That’s apparently a real thing. Explaineth Giamatti:

“I get a FedEx package, and I rip that baby open, reach down inside — and all that’s in there is this little titanium, beautifully finished black credit card,” Giamatti recalled with awe. “And it’s got this embossed black crown on it. And it says nothing on it. I was like, ‘Holy fuck. I have a Burger King for life card.’ So we look it up and in fact, the thing exists. Only like 12 people have it, including George Lucas.”

This is thrilling. I don’t even think I’ve eaten at a Burger King in, like, five years? Could be more, could be less, but it’s long enough ago that I do not remember it whenever it was. I don’t even like Burger King all that much. I’d rather do a Wendy’s or a Popeyes if I’m in a fast-food pinch. None of that matters now. What matters is one simple fact…

I must have one of these cards.

Burger King.

Burger King!

Pay attention!

Give me this card!

Wait. Hold on. I got distracted. It feels like this story was about to take a turn. Did Paul get his card? Is he the Burger King now? Is Paul Giamatti the king of burgers? He should be, if not. Let’s read on to find out.

After brashly bragging to his friends and his son about his stature in the fast-food community, Giamatti said, he examined his newly bestowed treasure a bit more closely.

“I notice there’s some tiny writing on the back,” he said, intrigued. “So I go to some website, I have a serial number. I enter the serial number. And it turns out — it’s a fucking $100 gift certificate. I have never fallen so far and hard and fast.”

Dammit, Burger King. Stop screwing around with me and Paul Giamatti. Let us have the card. We won’t abuse it. Probably. Maybe. Maybe we’ll build a castle made of Whoppers and live in it like kings. That’s not important right now. What’s important is that you give me and Paul Giamatti these cards. By the end of next week, preferably.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Sarah:

I assume 100 people have told you this already but in Guy Ritchie’s next movie Jason Statham is playing a character named Orson Fortune. There has never been a piece of news more tailored to your specific interests. It’s like they did this for you, specifically. I don’t even have a question to add. I’m just reaching out to say how happy I am for you.

Sarah, you are correct all around on this one. Lots of people did send this information to me this week and it — the information itself and the fact that lots of people saw it and sent it to me in many different forms (text, tweet, DM, email) — made me happy.

And it gets even better. The movie is titled Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, which sent me to Wikipedia, which is where I learned what ruse de guerre means. Per Wiki: “[G]enerally what is understood by ‘ruse of war’ can be separated into two groups. The first classifies the phrase purely as an act of military deception against one’s opponent; the second emphasizes acts against one’s opponent by creative, clever, unorthodox means, sometimes involving force multipliers or superior knowledge.”

Perfect, everywhere. Statham playing a guy named Orson Fortune in a movie about schemes and subterfuge. I could not possibly be more in on all of this, especially when you add in the summary.

“MI6 guns-and-steel agent Orson Fortune (Statham) is recruited by a global intelligence alliance ‘Five Eyes’ to track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology that threatens to disrupt the world order. Reluctantly paired with CIA high-tech expert Sarah Fidel, Fortune sets off on a globe-trotting mission where he will have to use all of his charm, ingenuity, and stealth to track down and infiltrate billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds.”

Three primary takeaways here:

  • Yes
  • I will need to spend many late evenings cranking my brain away on the name Orson Fortune and where it should slot into my ranking of names of characters Jason Statham has played
  • YES

Pictured below, please find a dramatic representation of me going to see this movie on opening weekend.

20th Century Fox

This is good. I am happy about this.

Orson Fortune.

I can’t stop saying it out loud right now.

Orson Fortune.

Just terrific work by everyone involved here.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Denmark!

A Danish artist was given $84,000 by a museum to use in a work of art. When he delivered the piece he was supposed to make, it was not as promised. Instead, the artist, Jens Haaning, gave the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark two blank canvases and said they were titled “Take the Money and Run.”

This is… I don’t know. I don’t want to dive into hyperbole right away. I don’t want to get out too far too fast in case I need to pull back a little. Let’s just say… let’s say this is definitely not NOT the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

I must know more. I must know everything.

Haaning was asked to recreate two of his previous works: 2010’s “An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income,” first exhibited in 2007. Both used actual cash to show the average incomes of the two countries, according to a news release from the artist.

“The curator received an email in which Jens Haaning wrote that he had made a new piece of art work and changed the work title into ‘Take the Money and Run,'” Andersson said. “Subsequently, we could ascertain that the money had not been put into the work.”

Indeed, the frames meant to be filled with cash were empty.

So here’s what we have going on in Denmark, as far as I can tell. A museum wanted to commission a piece that explained economic disparity and they hired an artist who had done something like that before. All good so far. The problem they ran into is that the artist is the kind of rascal who assumed — correctly — that keeping the cash and giving them empty frames to highlight real economic disparity would be hilarious.

Look at this freaking guy.

“Everyone would like to have more money and, in our society, work industries are valued differently,” Haaning said in a statement. “The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement saying that we also have the responsibility of questioning the structures that we are part of. And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them. It can be your marriage, your work – it can be any type of societal structure”.

I love it. I love him. Just the audacity of it all. I hope it’s real. I need it to be real. If, months from now, a story comes out that he and the museum were in cahoots to goose publicity for this exhibition and this was all a sham, I need you to promise you will not tell me. Just let me live inside this beautiful lie.

The museum folks, for their parts, are playing it all pretty cool, either way.

Andersson said while it wasn’t what they had agreed on in the contract, the museum got new and interesting art. “When it comes to the amount of $84,000, he hasn’t broke any contract yet as the initial contract says we will have the money back on January 16th 2022.”

I hope he never gives the money back and I hope it goes to trial and I hope he pleads “not guilty by reason of art and/or comedy” and I hope the judge rips up the indictment and lets him go before it even gets to the jury and I hope the judge makes the museum pay for a full parade for him. I’m not fully up on Danish law, but I feel like that would be the fairest resolution here.

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