Viking Night: Night of the Comet
By Bruce Hall
April 3, 2012
Let's assume - mainly for my amusement - that most actors can be neatly fit into four categories. Is this, strictly speaking, true? Probably not, but it's my column so I say it is. Tier One consists of talent that can take on any role and make it their own. They ARE the character. They can BE the ball. They never get typecast because they can do anything. Whatever they appear in is automatic Oscar bait. These are your Meryl Streeps; your Daniel Day-Lewises. Gregory Peck. Marlon Brando. Legends, all.
Next up, you have Tier Two. They're not quite the same kind of chameleons, but they somehow manage to elevate everything they touch. You'll find as many people love them as hate them, because as talented as they are, they can't do everything - they just seem to think they can. So sometimes they're brilliant, and almost as often a poor choice brings them back down to earth. Cruise. Nicholson. Jodie Foster. And for your grandparents, I'll throw in Elizabeth Taylor.
After that are your character actors - Tier Three. These are people who excel at a narrow range of roles. They're good at what they do, provided they don't push their luck. Like an old muscle car, they're good on straightaways - not so much on corners. These are your Walkens, your Marky Marks, your Samuel L. Jacksons. And let's not forget the ladies…Penelope Cruz….Lucy Liu. Cate Blanchett. They're all lovely people, and we love them all back.
Which brings us to the bottom. Regular actors, regular roles. They do buddy cop shows, they play sitcom parents, they star in USA original programming, they do Pepsi commercials. Down here is where it really happens. Tier 1 is the shiny coat of paint, tier 2 is the Rich Corinthian Leather; Tier 3 is the rumble out the tailpipe. And Tier 4? That's the gas that makes Hollywood go. Here are all your ham and eggers, punching a clock and paying their dues. You may not know their names, but you know their work.
But hold on…have I missed anyone?
Ah yes...come, this way...through the door in the floor. Watch your head; don't mind the humidity. What you see before you is Steerage. A solid plurality of the warm bodies in Tinsel Town have no business trying to act, but they're still better looking than you or me. Either that or they know someone in the personal, or even Biblical sense. Or maybe they were just the first person off the bus. These people do find work, usually in soft core porn or direct to DVD Steven Seagal flicks (you decide which is worse). But once upon a time, there was still a home for them on the Silver Screen. There were movies MADE for Steerage folk to shine.
And Night of the Comet is one of them.
First of all, action and horror movies with boyish female leads who go by the male version of their name are nothing new. It's not that girls like that don't exist, it's that in Steerage movies, they only exist because they were created by men. The reason is probably because if there's one thing creative dudes like, it's a girl who can just be “one of the guys.” She won't judge us for playing video games, mock our knowledge of Middle Earth, or roll her eyes when we remind her that the Jedi Mind trick only works on the weak. With any luck, she might even know the Riddle of Steel!