In this edition of John and Kelly React!, we discuss the announcement of Naomie Watts headlining the Game of Thrones-spinoff, The Long Night, other actors we’d like to see on the show, and the casting of Ewan McGregor as Black Mask in the upcoming Birds of Prey movie!
Kelly: We have two big announcements coming out of Game of Thrones territory- Naomi Watts has signed on to star and the title has been announced as The Long Night. The Long Night is a period of what’s basically a Westeros and White Walkers origin story when the Andals and the First Men joined up in business. The First Men made their way down into what’s now known as The North and Bran the Builder constructing the Wall to keep the White Walkers out. I believe it’s also the split off of the Wildlings, who were originally part of the First Men group.
It’s before Aegon’s Conquest so it’s pre-Targaryen, and supposedly it will also focus around the formation of the houses. I presume House Stark and House Lannister to be present as those are the two other foundations of the show. That being said, I’d put money on Watts being a Lannister.
John: Watts is a great actress.
Kelly: She’s going to be the Sean Bean of the show- basically bringing a bit of legitimacy to the naysayers since we know her as an awards darling (and for good reasons).
John: Have any producers or showrunner been announced?
Kelly: D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are out but George R.R. Martin is still signed on.
John: If Martin is directly involved I’m much more interested.
Kelly: I think he is only Executive Producer and possibly helping with the writing. I can’t say I’m too excited for a show about White Walker origins. They are one of my least favorite things on the show. I see two good things from this- they get to explore more characters and therefore more great acting, but it feels somewhat repetitive.
John: Here’s what I’d personally want out of the show, because I do dig the prehistory of Westeros, political intrigue and well-written characters: basically the first few seasons of Game of Thrones.
Kelly: Yup. That’s what I was thinking.
John: The spectacle of battles and dragons is cool and all, but I get way more enjoyment out of the Arya and Tywin scenes than most of the battles.
Kelly: I’m on the same wavelength, especially with the rewatch. The value is in the one-on-one scenes and the banter. I’ll take a scene between Tyrion and Bronn any day over the battles. The inclusion of Watts implies that there is going to be hella good acting and old school King’s Landing politics. Maybe The Long Night will be a reverse GOT. Like start with the formation of the WW and the building of the Wall but end on the formation of King’s Landing.
John: I think I would like some of the mainstream and typical HBO elements toned down. A lot of the series has been dumbed down and a lot of the nuance has been phased out. Cersei is a prime example. First few seasons she was morally reprehensible but there was still a human there. Now she’s a cartoon supervillain with a monster henchman. Nothing wrong with those things but they’re not the reasons I fell in love with the show in the first place.
Kelly: I agree. The nice thing about the beginning of the series is that it was a little more grounded and the characters were a lot greyer. You mentioned Cersei, who is the perfect example of this. She had some good qualities and it’s clear that her husband did not treat her well, which was the source of her bitterness. Her father never treated her as well as her brothers, which is why she was so aggressive. The show seems to forget this after the third season. It’s become very flat and the characters are so one dimensional now, with the exception of Jon and Sansa. I don’t even find Arya that interesting anymore.
John: My personal theory, the show started going downhill after Tywin died.
Kelly: Yeah, and then hit rock bottom in the last season. Season 5 was good but not great and Season 6 had its moments, but it’s just wholly inconsistent. The Long Night might be a good chance for them to get back to what made the show good in the first place though it does feel like a scramble to pick up the white walker pieces. They did take their sweet time getting to that stuff. Bran wasn’t even touched for Season 5.
John: I honestly wouldn’t have gone with the White Walkers first. The origins of the Baratheons and the destruction of Old Valyria are much more appealing to me. A Song of Ice and Fire lore is vast so they’ve got plenty of material.
Kelly: I would have gone with the North and the Starks. Honestly, that’s how the series started out but we never get to see it in its true form. They teased us with it, then slaughtered everyone… And we can also bring back House Bolton. There’s a really fascinating history between the Starks and the Boltons and the division of allies until Torrhen Stark takes over that goes largely untouched. Not to mention the North got the real short end of the stick in Season 6 and on. They went from being fiercely loyal to fickle and arrogant.
John: Excellent point. The local politics are understated in the show.
Kelly: Random, but I’d be pumped if they could get David Thewlis on the show and some retribution for Dorne would be swell.
John: Love me some Thewlis. I was just gonna ask, any particular dream castings? Not particular parts but just actors. I’m thinking Maggie Smith, even if it’s something super small.
Kelly: Like how Jim Broadbent was used? That would be cool.
John: Game of Thrones is a magnet for British talent so it’s weird she hasn’t already been in it.
Kelly: I have a ton of actors in mind but the problem is a lot of actors have been wasted already. Indira Varma, who played Ellaria Sand, is a spectacular actress, but probably can’t return for continuity issues.
John: Right? It was a damn shame.
Kelly: I would have liked to see her used better. She’s arguably the only good part about Dorne post-Oberyn. Waste of a role that probably won’t get any closure. Natalie Tena is another one. She disappeared for a few seasons and then had a disappointing ending.
John: Yes. The show has a bad habit of unceremoniously offing fav side characters… in the later parts more specifically.
Kelly: I’d love for Charlie Hunnam to show up. He might be done with TV for now. I also wouldn’t turn down Tommy Flanagan, for sure.
John: You know who else would be good who I had no idea was British?
John: Naomie Harris, she’s great, and Oscar-nominated.
Kelly: Ah, I can definitely see her. Also, Sonoya Mizuno would be a great addition. She was fantastic in Maniac. Here’s a good question: Do you think they’ll try to get Mads Mikkelsen? I mean, I’d be down. That’s an easy casting right there. I’d watch a fantasy show with him and Chiwetel Ejiofer.
John: As two wandering drifters bringing justice wherever they go… I’d watch the shit out of that.
Kelly: No no- enemies.
John: No… former lovers who are now enemies.
Kelly: Mads Mikkelsen as the Night King makes almost too much sense. Shit. Well, .02% to me.
John: See, if that were the case that’d be cool. Final verdict?
Kelly: Lukewarm. I need more information. I’m not going to bandwagon just because I like the majority of the first series. You?
John: Same, the idea of more Game of Thrones is just something that doesn’t interest me as much anymore. If they get interesting talent involved, I’ll check it out. Let’s not go crazy with the whole spinoff thing.
Kelly: You had some news as well.
John: One of our favorite Scotsmen, Ewan McGregor, has been cast in the upcoming DC movie Birds of Prey specifically as the Batman villain Black Mask. TL;DR: he is a crime boss who super glued a skull mask to his face and that’s pretty much it.
Kelly: Huh. Well. I’ll level with you. McGregor is a great actor but I hear his name and tend to see him as Hopeless, Somewhat Goofy Romantic a la Christian in Moulin Rouge:
John: Right. I can’t recall him ever playing any sort of villains roles. And as far as DC characters go, a generic nob boss wouldn’t have been my go to. And not when the Riddler is more his speed.
Kelly: You know, I almost wanted him for the Riddler until they announced Bane as the villain in DKR. Jinx.
John: We are on the same nerdy wavelength. The casting peaks my interest but I’m not crazy about it.
Kelly: They did go with fairly unknown for the main cast though.
John: Everything else about this particular DC flick is interesting. It’s a part of DC’s push to focus on women characters and they brought on a relatively unknown director, Cathy Can.
Kelly: So it makes sense they would try to to get a bigger name for the villain.
John: Totally, but I also think that DC movies have a track record of boring main villains. Enchantress and Ares come to mind. The movie takes place in Gotham, and they pick a generic mob boss. Not Penguin or Riddler or Scarecrow. The only reason is maybe for backstory purposes for Huntress. Her family is murdered by the mob, but you could have easily rewritten it with anybody.
Kelly: How high up on the list is Birds of Prey? They don’t come to mind when I think DC entities.
John: Bird of Prey are a well-known team of B and C listers, sort of like what Suicide Squad was before the movie came out. Its members are characters close to Batman.
Kelly: I assume they want to save those big villain names for Batman.
John: I mean. The Batman solo movie isn’t on the slate so might as well get some use out of those characters.
Kelly: That’s not how movies work. The problem they see is if they use one, then they can’t use it for their marquee star. It’s like you wouldn’t put Dwayne Johnson or Brock Lesner up against Ty Dillenger. You’d save them for Seth Rollins.
John: Fair enough, I just think DC fans in particular will get more out of the movie that way. I deserve something damnit.
Kelly: I’d like for studios to think that way. Realistically, how many villains actually get made? We’ve seen Bane twice and Joker now 4 times. It would satisfy the fans of certain villains that would get to see them on screen rather than the “possibility” of it. Like I doubt Poison Ivy will ever be featured in another Batman movie. Why not use her to oppose another character?
John: It’s unfair to expect these live action movies to have the roster of The Lego Batman movie, but, there are plenty of characters that can easily be made into either cameos or cast with cheap actors.
Kelly: They don’t really give credit to “Characters who aren’t X.” And if they aren’t X or compliment X, then they straight up aren’t used. With the amount of outlets, they could easily more room for more of these.
John: As for McGregor as Black Mask. Consider me meh on that.
Kelly: Does he have any abilities? Anything special? Or just a Halloween mask?
John: He’s got a thing for masks. He used to own a cosmetics company and at one point started a cult. Most versions, he’s a mob boss.
Kelly: Ooh. I hope they go the cult route!
John: Not too familiar with that story.
Kelly: 5 bucks says cosmetics because ladies.
John: Oh god it’s gonna be Catwoman all over again
Kelly: At least a cult would be different. Any movie can have a mob boss. Punisher, The Crow, Daredevil… it’s a typical bad guy.
John: Agreed. Fighting cultists would be cooler than generic mob goons.
Kelly: I’d like to think McGregor brings clout to the project. There is an intrigue factor.
John: Definitely, especially as this role goes against his usual roles. It’s an interesting pick but I am still not sufficiently hyped.
Kelly: I think he’s very versatile but it will depend on the tone they are going for. The Dark Knight, maybe not. Thor: Ragnark, probably not. But if they went for an Ant-man vibe or Dr. Strange even, then I’d buy it. We’ll have to wait and see.