February 10, 2005

Top Ten Twin Trilogy Thespians

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With the recent spate of blockbusting trilogies, certain celebrity magazines have been referring to little wimps (Keanu Reeves, Elijah Wood) as mythic movie goliaths. Please. If you even want to consider achieving cultural immortality, you need to have been featured in at least two separate trilogies. With this in mind, we present the current roster of candidates, ranked according to our preferences. We took ten candidates and ordered them according to three criteria: 1) the quality of the trilogies themselves; 2) the quality of the actor or actress in each particular film of both trilogies; and 3) the range of the actor or actress.

#10 Mike Myers

Mike Myers, our honorable mention is so close to being on the list that we just had to include him. Seriously, if someone had said, “I loved Shrek 3!” would you really think twice? I thought not. As the international man of mystery, Austin Powers, Myers proved that he could, in fact, present bad dental hygiene and the kissing of attractive women in the same scene. His vocal talents gave depth to Shrek, the ogre who won the heart of Princess Fiona. How can you say no to that? — Tracy Zhang

#9 Ian McKellen

Our modern default for any wise yet morally ambiguous wizard/mutant/etc. Ian McKellen always seems to lend a sense of legitimacy to even the most ridiculous of films. We admit that the third film qualifying his presence on this list is still characterized as being “in production,” but that small technicality does not stand in the way of Sir Ian’s place on this compilation. Where would The Lord of the Rings be without Gandalf’s incoherent monologues that just happened to reveal integral details pertaining to the plot? Where would X-Men be without Magneto and his full head of hair that proved to be the perfect villain to Professor X’s follicle-challenged hero? — Tracy Zhang

#8 Arnold Schwarzenegger

Between the Conan trilogy and the Terminator, the Governator has portrayed nearly every variation of the modern man, from baffled barbarian to cyborg serial killer. Arthur Miller has nothing on this guy, and yet Arnold didn’t even deem it necessary to differentiate between the two characters. It is a testament to both the circularity of history and the remarkable shittiness of Arnold’s acting. It also definitively proves that when you get down to it, nothing much has changed over the course of human affairs: Whether you’re enslaved on a Wheel of Pain in a rock quarry or blowing up shapeshifting police officers in the LA Aqueduct, you still can use the same monotonous accent. — Alex Linhardt

#7 Mel Gibson

From embodying the dune buggy-riding hero of a post-apocalyptic future to being the second half of the classic “unlikely duo,” Mel Gibson has proven time and time again that accents and somewhat pleasing features are always sufficient replacements for optional qualities such as “acting ability.” Although his trilogy roles in Mad Max and Lethal Weapon were drastically different in terms of character, on closer inspection, they seem merely a chronological progression of his familiarity with being a male commodity of Hollywood. From stoic, smooth-faced boy to goofy messy-haired man. Such could also be the story of Gibson’s actual life. Also of note: the phasing out of his Australian accent. — Tracy Zhang

#6 Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford was the only obvious candidate for this list since his two trilogies were more than mere movies: they were life-altering franchises that ingrained themselves upon the innocent eyes of infants for over two decades. Han Solo is a gruff, apathetic ingrate who is best friends with a space-bear (played by Chewbacca). In comparison, Indiana Jones is a gruff, apathetic ingrate who is best friends with a space-bear (played by Sean Connery). — Alex Linhardt

#5 Antonio Banderas

It would be impossible to find an actor who has participated in two trilogies that inhabit such disparate and diametrically opposed ends of the spectrum. On one hand, Antonio Banderas starred in the family-friendly Spy Kids trilogy, on the other, the drunken, blood-soaked and unfathomably violent El Mariachi trilogy. Well, actually he wasn’t in El Mariachi, but he was front and center in Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, so that more than compensates for his absence in the first. The two trilogies share one common theme — their compatibility with psychotropic drugs. In one, children save the world by flying on hovercrafts and battling trapezoidal monsters while simultaneously entering the third dimension. In the other, the Mexican gunfighters of old are brought into the age of Uzis and rocket launchers, theorizing that in order to save Mexico, they must brutally shoot and dismember every man, woman and child in the goddamn country. And through it all, there is Antonio remaining unflappably cool, whether he is raising a family or killing one. — Zach Jones

#4 Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is the coolest person since Mao, and this simple fact continues to be verified in eight movies that are all exactly the same and all stone-cold classics. As The Man With No Name, Eastwood gets soaked in kerosene, threatened by the Confederacy and dragged through an endless desert to the point of facial desiccation. And he still has dead-on aim. As Harry Callahan, Eastwood sees a picture of Scorpio’s masticated face, and says coldly, “Anybody can tell I didn’t do that to him. He looks too damn good.” — Alex Linhardt

#3 Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone received deserved acclaim at the time of Rocky’s release for bringing the illiterate underdog to life, positioning himself as the successor to Marlon Brando. Stallone then proceeded inhabit that exact same character for the next four Rocky films and the entire Rambo trilogy, and it was hence forth determined that he could not act. Now, I belong to the minority that believes such criticism is undeserved. While untrained eyes may overlook them, there are nuanced differences in the roles. I mean, one character is called Rocky and one is called Rambo. One has short hair and one has a mullet. One fights Apollo Creed with his fists and while one destroys Vietnamese villages with an arsenal of weapons. Wow, Stallone truly is a master of subtlety. And to those who would cynically ask why there had to be four more Rocky films, I pose this question: is there anything more heartrending and inspiring than watching Ivan Drago train in a sterile, high-tech facility while Rocky runs up mountains and lifts rocks, all with “Hearts on Fire” playing in the background? I don’t think so. — Zach Jones

#2 Hugo Weaving

Nothing’s more audacious than acting as an elf warrior in one movie and then acting as a binary God filtered through 10-dimensional space in the next. Yet Hugo Weaving managed this substantial feat and is now nearly synonymous with 21st-century twin trilogies. As Agent Smith, Weaving had to act thousands of times for each scene; by any measure, his performance was actually several trilogy performances in one. In The Lord of the Rings, Elrond, the Lord of Rivendale, protected an elfin sanctuary. Quite a difference between that profession and the one where he tries to literally obliterate the concept of reality. — Alex Linhardt

#1 Talia Shire

The single female on the list, Talia Shire’s roles in Rocky and The Godfather proved only one thing: one can be in two of the greatest trilogies of all time and still be forgotten. Just in case you were wondering, she played Adrian and Connie. To go from playing the sister of a powerful man to playing the wife of a powerful man is a difficult and trying task, but Talia did both with creativity and grace. And that is why she tops our list. — Tracy Zhang

This feature was inspired by the ideas of Chris and Dean Strouse. Daze thanks them for their creativity.

Archived article by Sun Staff