Just because you look the part doesn’t mean you’ll get the part. Isaiah Mustafa, popularly known as “The Old Spice Guy,” is once again making noise about Marvel’s Power Man, Luke Cage. The actor created his own audition reel for Marvel Studios which managed to leak out to YouTube (he’s since stopped it from spreading so that link may die soon). “I will do anything to get that role,” Mustafa told Superhero Hype, and it appears that “anything” means making his own Luke Cage short film starring himself, if that’s what it takes. He has the attention of Marvel (and Mustafa’s vocal fans), but will Marvel take the bait?
This is rarely a gambit that pays off, especially when it comes to comic book movies. I don’t think any producer is interested in setting a precedent in which the person with the most passion for the part wins. They’re looking for actors after all, not mega-fans. There’s also a bit of baggage that comes along with being “The Old Spice Guy” that I’m sure makes studios balk -- will audiences take this guy seriously in a big-budget film after only seeing him as a deodorant spokesman? This is part of the reason why you don’t see theatrical movies starring Shamwow Vince.
This route to a role hasn’t paid off for established actors either. After Annette Bening had to bow out of the Catwoman role in Batman Returns due to pregnancy, Sean Young famously took it upon herself to dress as cat-like as possible and storm the Warner Brothers’ lot, demanding the part for herself. Tim Burton reportedly hid in a bathroom the minute he heard Young was at the studio, and even though she tried to show the whole world how purr-fect she’d be as Catwoman with an appearance on The Joan Rivers Show in a full-on costume, it wasn’t enough to win her the part (it went to Michelle Pfieffer). It was enough, however, to purr-manently damage her acting career.
Thomas Jane wanted to play the supernatural comic book cowboy Jonah Hex so much that he had a professional make-up wizard doll him up in prosthetics. He sent the pictures of himself as Hex to the brass at Warners, and they leaked quickly, with the actor sheepishly admitting he was lobbying hard for the lead (“I couldn’t help myself,” Jane told Film School Rejects). Despite Jane’s enthusiasm for the character, the part went to Josh Brolin. Jane was most likely passed over because he’s never quite been able to open a blockbuster, but he had the last laugh -- the messy production was one of the biggest bombs of 2010, only earning back $10 million of its $47 million budget.
But don’t lose heart, Isaiah Mustafa! Nicolas Cage wanted to play a superhero so bad that he actually got two chances -- once in his dream-role as Superman (in a project that fell apart) and again as Ghost Rider (in a movie that falls apart when you watch it). Of course, he wasn’t put there making his very own screen tests, but he was a fanboy in an actor’s body. There’s hope for that Luke Cage role yet!