Casting Call: The A-Team Movie
The A-Team was an action-adventure program that I watched semi-regularly as a child, although the “action” was so far fetched that even my quite-elastic, 12-year-old credibility was often stretched to the snapping point.
The show followed the exploits of a crack Vietnam War commando squad acting as mercenaries in the Los Angeles area after getting framed for crime they didn’t commit.
There were a few things I could count on every episode:
- The A-Team would shoot more live ammo at their opponents, than was expended during the Korean War
- They would not actually hit anyone with any of this ammo (see any episode of G.I. Joe for more insight into this phenomena)
- They would get captured by the bad guys
- The bad guys would lock them in a fully equipped machine shop and ignore the sounds of miter saws, arc-welders, industrial grinders, etc.
- The Team would create an armor-plated car/truck/bus/scooter and drive around knocking off bad guys who refused to go indoors where there were far fewer armor-plated vehicles
- The end.
The show followed this template religiously, only slightly changing the details from week to week. I remember a favorite episode where instead of making an armor-plated car, they made a machine — and I am not making this up — that shot cabbages: a cabbage gun. Probably a trick they picked up from Charlie in the backwaters of Long Tan.
Despite the ridiculous plots, or perhaps because of them, I tuned in every week. I think it was mainly due to the cast. The actors were certainly much better than the material, and they often managed to elevate the absurd to the sublime.
Like every other mediocre television show ever made, rumors of an A-Team movie have been swirling around for years. Unlike some other shows, I think The A-Team might have a good shot of making it.
But who will replace that cast that made the original series so watchable? We have a few ideas on that subject…
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith
Original Cast — George Peppard
I never understood how George Peppard ended up in The A-Team. How do you go from wooing Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to diving around L.A. in a souped up conversion van with Mr.T?
Hannibal was the team’s cigar-chomping leader and tactician. Peppard played him with a touch of debonair class. Hannibal’s main purpose was to say “I love it when a plan comes together” at the end of each episode, as if he planned to get locked in the tool shed again. Of course, that happened so often, he probably did plan on it.
Movie Cast — George Clooney
When I started think about who should play Hannibal, I immediately thought of Clooney’s performance in Three Kings. Furthermore, Internet rumors say that Clooney has actually been lobbying for the part. Clooney’s suave sophistication and cool intellectualism make him perfect to play Hannibal. He’s not quite as old as Peppard, but infinitely more believable as a soldier.
Lieutenant Templeton “Face” Peck
Original Cast — Dirk Benedict
Benedict is probably best known as Face, but science fiction fans will also remember him as Starbuck from the late-seventies cult film and series Battlestar Galactica. If they’re lucky, they will not remember him from the atrocious science fiction movie SSSSSSS, where he turns into a giant snake made of velour.
Benedict’s Face was the con-man of the group. He used his boyish charm to talk people into giving the team cars, cash, spare welding kits, etc. Every now and then he would wear a “disguise” consisting of a pencil-thin, Errol Flynn-style mustache, which failed to disguise him at all, unless looking like your own evil twin counts as a disguise.
Face was a bit prissy, but wasn’t above throwing a few punches if the situation called for it. I don’t see how his skills would have been much use in the jungles of Vietnam, though:
“You die American Joe! Oh wait, I didn’t notice the mustache. Please, have my jeep.”
Movie Cast — Tom Cruise
Face was a tough one to cast. Almost every popular actor is good looking. That’s why they are popular actors (Tommy Lee Jones excluded). I really had to focus on the things that make Face Face:
- Pretty-boy looks.
- Kind of wussy
I considered Brad Pitt for the role, based on criteria one, but after seeing him in Fight Club, I couldn’t give him criteria two.
Cruise has played con men before, and he plays them well. See Risky Business and Rainman for two examples. He has the boyish charm necessary and good looks to pull off the role, and he seems like a bit of a wuss — although he can probably kick my fat ass six ways to Sunday.
Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock
Original Cast — Dwight Schultz
Dwight Schultz’s Murdock was the unsung hero of the show. Schultz was the only one who seemed to truly realize how ridiculous the whole thing was and he played his role for maximum camp value.
Murdoch was the pilot of the group, and he was also insane. Not the scary Courtney Love-style insane, more like old-school Daffy Duck insane. The kind of insane that makes you do and say funny things. The kind of insane that leads to wacky hijinks.
Schultz was also known for his reoccurring role as Ensign Barkley in several Star Trek series.
Movie Cast — Jim Carrey
Carrey’s over-the-top persona – which I normally can’t stand – would have a perfect outlet in the character of Murdock. Remember Ace Ventura? Tone down the hair and it’s perfect. He even looks a bit like Schultz.
Like Schultz, Carrey is not afraid to play a role for camp. And he possesses the right amount of manic energy for the role. And unlike Ace Ventura, Murdock actually is supposed to be insane, which will add a layer of credibility to his performance.
Sergeant Bosco “B.A.” Baracus
Original Cast — Mr. T
B.A. Baracus was pretty much indistinguishable from the guy who played him, Mr. T. The tough-talking, muscle of The A-Team hooked viewers with catch phrases like “I pity the fool,” and “Stop with that jibber-jabber.”
Baracus was the brute force on the team. He left the planning to Hannibal, the scheming to Face and the crazy to Murdoch. Baracus was all about pain — specifically, inflicting it on the bad guys.
For many, Mr. T was the heart and soul of The A-Team. When I told friends and family about this article, the first words out of their mouths, invariably, were “Who is going to play Mr. T?”
That’s how close to the role of B.A. Baracus Mr. T was. People didn’t even realize that the character had a name. I can see where the confusion crept in, though. I’ve seen Mr. T interviewed. I’ve seen Mr. T “acting” in such roles as B.A. Baracus on The A-Team and Clubber Lang in Rocky III. He was basically the same guy all three times. Mr. T was B.A. Baracus.
But when you’re Mr. T, I think you’ve gone way past the need to act. You just need to “Bring the T,” which he did — every week. With his Mohawk, torn denim vest and approximately 3.4 metric tons of “bling-bling.” There was no one like Mr. T.
Which makes replacing him in the movie a problem. But I believe I have the answer:
Movie Cast — The Rock
I came down to this. You can’t replace Mr. T, so don’t even try. If you got another large black man, gave him a Mohawk, draped him in gold chains and got him to say “I pity the fool,” every five minutes, he still wouldn’t be Mr. T. Picture Ving Rhames with a Mohawk. It’s not pretty.
So instead of trying to make another Mr. T, we need another original to fill the role of B.A. Baracus. I nominate, “The Rock.”
The Rock has the perfect personality to become the new and improved B.A. Baracus. The primary ingredients of Baracus are a menacing physical presence and an over-the-top persona. Professional wrestling has provided The Rock with both.
It’s hard to deliver the line “I pity the fool” with conviction. It’s harder to deliver the line “Do you smell what the Rock is cookin’?”
The Rock proved his ability to carry a movie in the underrated The Rundown. He’s ready for this. I pity the fool that tries to take the role away from him.
So that’s my list. The chances of getting all these people — especially Cruise and Carrey — is exceedingly low. But it’s my dream cast. If you start with Clooney and The Rock, you’ll have a damn fine movie.
Although I am 100 percent right as always, I am curious about your thoughts. Who would you cast in the movie? Leave comments below.