Who is the Edmund Gwenn of today?

What I need is a good actor famous for being kindly, benevolent and fatherly, who’d give anything to be able to shed that image.  Steve Martin has mentioned, but for me he was a genius before he was fatherly.  Kind of like Rusty Venture that way; becoming a father killed his creativity.

OR, let’s make this easier.  Who is the Frank Morgan of today?
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20 Responses to “Query”
  1. robolizard says:

    Tom Hanks? Not that he’d want to shed it but he is pretty well known for that quality…

    Denzel Washington? Stephen Colbert?

    Morgan Freeman has been like a father/brother to Batman… Million Dollar Baby’s Hillary Swank… a group of penguins.

    Christopher Lee is a scary father…

    David Ogden Stiers? He’s pretty fatherly…

    Or for playing actual dads?… Tim…Allen…. [yeah…]

    JOHN GOODMAN! A great actor, who’s played a lot of dads… from the dad in Roseane… to…Sulley… in Monsters Inc… oh, and Pacha in The Emperor’s New Groove… but he’s not known for it though…

    …Michael Caine?

  2. robolizard says:

    Well looka this…

    Read what the 3rd guy has to say…


  3. urbaniak says:

    Wilford Brimley is…SATAN. A Film by Todd Alcott.

  4. gazblow says:

    How about Englishmun, Richard Griffiths, current star of the Bway hit “The History Boys” and cellphone hater?

  5. Todd says:

    Well, this is indeed harder than it seems

    James is on the right track. The character is, indeed, Satan.

    Edmund Gwenn, as far as I know, is known for one role — literally, Santa Claus. Now, we don’t have a Santa Claus in our repetoire today, although Tim Allen comes close. Tim Allen, of course, did not play Santa as Santa, because that wouldn’t fit his persona. He played a hip, cool Santa, one that swears and has sex and hangs out, and that’s not what I’m looking for.

    John Goodman is close, but he’s already done the thing of ditching his “good ol’ dad” persona with Barton Fink. Children would know him (if they do at all) through Monsters, Inc.. And we’re talking about a children’s movie — ahem, family movie here.

    Basically, what we’re talking about is a movie where Santa Claus is revealed, at the end of Act II, to be Satan. So we have to believe he’s Santa, and then we have to believe he’s Satan.

  6. toliverchap says:

    Skip a generation

    Well . . . I can’t think of many specific contemporary actors in their mid 20’s to early 30’s that just play “fatherly” but perhaps you could shot for younger OR older make it a young guy that is usually I don’t know “brotherly” OR an older fellow that is “grandpaly” (if it’s not a word I claim it). I think you might have more luck if you think of someone that has been tough in the past and now is relegated to that old benevolent fellow spot. I’m assuming that this is for a story you are writing? I don’t know though maybe Billy Crystal or Dan Akroid those guys pretty much just play older Dad types these days. Crystal even wrote a children’s book about Dad’s or something. I do commend you for your inspirational timing, being that Father’s Day is less than 2 weeks away.

  7. Todd says:

    You know, maybe it’s Richard Attenborough.

    Even though he made it through two Jurassic Park movies and still never seemed remotely evil.

  8. toliverchap says:

    I’ve got it!

    Stephen Collins he played the Dad on that TV show 7th Heaven for years. Now that it is off the air I bet he’d be hurting to play against that somewhat.

    • Todd says:

      Re: I’ve got it!

      Stephen Collins is a good idea. Great actor, severely underused. He was in some indie pictures in the 90s, he was great.

      I feel the same way about Mark Harmon, by the way. I don’t watch TV, but every time I see him on screen I think “Well, he’s obviously smarter than this material, why doesn’t he do edgier stuff?”

  9. eronanke says:

    Two words:
    LL Cool J.
    Well, I guess it’s more like one word and three letters.

  10. urbaniak says:

    Hey didn’t you used to say that I was the Frank Morgan of today? Or of tomorrow? Why, I would make a whiz-bang Santa.

  11. urbaniak says:

    By the way, I’ve said it before, but I believe that Ken Burns would make the scariest movie villain ever.

  12. I would have said Ed Asner, even though he’s played some horrible bastards in the past (Guy Bannister in JFK, for example–who’s meaner than someone who pistol whips Jack Lemmon?). But then I remembered he played Santa recently.

    So I’m gonna say Paul Dooley. Knowing full well he may lack the gravitas to pull off the kind of thing you’re envisioning, but hoping for the best.

    Though if I were stunt casting and I could side-step the whole “bucking his image” part of this and merely a great actor with the chops to pull off both the grandfatherly, cuddly warmth of a Santa Claus and the maniacal energy of a Satan, I would go straight to Anthony Hopkins.

    • Todd says:

      Anthony Hopkins wins, I think. Man, he’s good.

      Mr. Publick, great to have you. If it’s not yet apparent, I’m a huge fan of your work. And I don’t mean that in the “Hollywood” way, where when a producer tells me he’s a “big fan,” he means that he’s heard of me. What you’ve pulled off with Venture Bros. is tricky and complex, which sets it, imo, head and shoulders above the rest of the programming at Adult Swim. Harvey Birdman I laugh at when I catch it, but Venture Bros. I buy on DVD and savor.

      • Great to be here. Thank you so much for the praise and in-depth analysis of the show. I’ve only just discovered your LJ, by way of Urbaniak, of course. Have been enjoying scrolling down through the Venture reviews to find the treasure trove of reviews of many of my favorite movies, and the strange, personal logic by which you’ve grouped them. I must say that “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3” is one of my all-time favorites, and I was pleased that you so deliciously insinuated it belonged to its own special sub-category; the “Lost, Racially-Tense New York Where Everyone’s Pissed Off” genre. To which, Spike Lee’s “Inside Man” is a notable late entry.

        Looking forward to your assessments of Season 2.

        And yes, Anthony Hopkins=great. Good god I could watch Silence of the Lambs twice a day. And, appropo of nothing, how great is Ben Kingsley? For some reason I’ve recently fallen back in love with him.

        • Todd says:

          Funny you mention Ben Kingsley. When the project in question was first brought to my attention, my first thought for the character was Kingsley as Fagin in Polanski’s recent Oliver Twist.

          I can’t wait until the Venture Bros. becomes as successful as The Simpsons, and you can have all your favorite actors come on and do spoofs of themselves. Your knack for spotting voice talent is extraordinary, the fact that a lot of the actors are friends of Mr. Urbaniak notwithstanding.

          • Now I’ll have to rent the Polanski Oliver Twist. I had no idea Polanski did that, and I can always use me some more Ben Kingsley.

            Thanks for more compliments. Urbaniak really does get the “uncredited casting director” award because he’s always quick to throw a few names at me when I say something like “I need a Max Von Sydow kinda guy.” The real coups were Urbaniak and Rattazzi, though, and I can only assume their casting was divinely ordained since I hadn’t seen either of them perform in years before getting ahold of them for this. A testament to both gentlemen’s unforgettableness. But as the saying goes, once you go Urbaniak, you never go Urbani-back.

            There’s probably a similar saying about Rattazzi, but it doesn’t sound as good in English as it does in Italian, so I won’t repeat it here.