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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical ‘Greatest American Hero’ movie

Here’s a new game that, if we have fun with it, I’ll make a regular weekly feature. We take a book to adapt to TV or film — or a movie or TV show to remake — and we recast it with actors working today.

This one came up last night among my gang of geeks: Why has no one done a Greatest American Hero movie? You know, the 1981-3 ABC series about a bumbling caped crusader that only Generation Xers between the ages of 35 and 42 remember? (I reviewed the Season One DVD a few years back.)

The original cast featured William Katt as Ralph Hinkley, the high-school teacher who moonlights as a superhero, except he lost the instruction manual that came with the superhero suit; Robert Culp as Bill Maxwell, the FBI agent who knows Ralph’s secret and helps him out in the crimefighting biz, though they often butt heads over the best ways to bring down the bad guys; and Connie Sellecca as Pam Davidson, a lawyer and Ralph’s girlfriend.
My dream cast:

Ralph: Ewan McGregor
Bill: Tom Hanks
Pam: Claudia Black

Who would you cast? Have fun!

Oh, and because you cannot talk about this show without singing the theme song:

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talent buzz
  • Bill

    Ralph: Don Cheadle
    Bill: Paul Giamatti
    Pam: Laura Graham

  • Bill

    I mean Lauren Graham….you know, the Gilmore Girl.

  • Weimlady

    You know, the 1981-3 ABC series about a bumbling caped crusader that only Generation Xers between the ages of 35 and 42 remember?

    This boomer remembers the show! Loved it!

    How about David Tennant as Ralph, Chris Eccleston as Bill, and Catherine Tate as Pam? {tee hee} OK, I’m just visiting from the Doctor Who section of the site, can you tell?

    But it would be fun…..

  • PaulW

    Ralph: Shawn Ashmore (Iceman from the X-Men series)
    Bill: Mark Harmon
    Connie: Gaby Hoffman

  • My dream cast for Greatest American Hero:

    Ralph: Stephen Colbert
    Bill: Jon Stewart
    Pam: Zooey Deschanel

  • Weimlady

    Oh, and thanks a bunch, Mary Ann–the theme song is now stuck in my head.

    Helpless to stop myself, I was softly whistling it, and the person who sits behind me said, “Did you just watch that show or what?” She, too, is a boomer!

  • Kate

    Ralph: Alan Tudyk

    Bill: Kevin Kline (Klein?)

    Pam: Ginnifer Goodwin

  • John

    Well, it’s not a movie, but a webseries instead…

  • Chris

    Ralph: John C. Reilly

    Bill: Harrison Ford

    Pam: Diane Lane

    And BTW, I believe that come fall there will be a new comic book series, written in part by William Katt.

  • Bill

    I vote that Kate has the second best dream cast (after mine, of course). Alan Tudyk is probably perfect. Less perfect than Don Cheadle, but perfect still.

  • JoshDM

    He may be a little old, but only Will Ferrel can pull off Katt’s ‘fro.

  • Kate

    Thanks, Bill, I rather like yours too! Be nice to see Lauren Graham again….

  • JosDM

    OMG. John. JOHN. That was TERRIBLE.

  • Marci

    They are making a Greatest American Hero movie. And animated web shows and a comic book.
    William Katt is putting it all together. All the old cast will be in on it. Robert Culp, Connie Selleca and Dennis “Danger” Madalone, (stunt man to Ralph)

    William Katt has let out a comic book, with Chris Folino, called Sparks.
    In August Mythology Wars (Another Katt comic)will be out. Here is the link.
    Tell them Marci Sent you.

    You already know about Heroes. He has conventions he is going to go to so, keep your eyes peeled.
    and if you want to talk about the Greatest American Hero go here.
    We’re a great bunch and the bd has been very active for about 3 yrs. Yup! We chat GAH and keep up on where the gang will be!

  • MaryAnn

    How about David Tennant as Ralph, Chris Eccleston as Bill, and Catherine Tate as Pam?

    That could be a lot of fun, actually.

    Still: Alan Tudyk! Yes!

    Will Ferrell would be good as Ralph, except I wouldn’t want this to turn into a “Will Ferrell movie.”

  • melissa

    oh man did I love that show when I was a kid! I can still sing the entire theme song from start to finish (as many people on BART learned one evening recently when my roommate and I were very drunk).

    I like John’s idea of John C. Reilly as Ralph and Harrison Ford as Bill, but I would agree with Bill’s casting of Lauren Graham as Pam.

    Green light!

  • j4yx0r

    It’s tough to top Alan Tudyk. That’s an inspired choice. I’ll try.

    Ralph: Trey Parker

    Bill: Ray Wise

    Pam: Rosario Dawson

    Alternatively –

    Ralph: John Heder

    Bill: Robert Redford

    Pam: Elizabeth Banks


  • Bill

    Nightmare Cast:

    Ralph: Eddie Murphy
    Bill: Eddie Murphy
    Pam: Jessica Alba

  • Hdj

    I bet Mos Def could play the part really funny. Seeing him in “be Kind Rewind” gave me the idea.

  • Erus

    I like some of others peoples’ choices so I’m stealing … and adding one of my own.

    Ralph: Alan Tudyk
    Bill: Robert Downey Jr.
    Pam: Zooey Deschanel

    So, since someone did a “Dr. Who” dream cast, I present my “Life on Mars” Dream cast …

    Ralph: John Simm
    Bill: Philip Glenister
    Pam: Liz White

    Or, since Alan Tudyk is in fact a perfect choice for Ralph … how about a complete “Firefly” cast …

    Ralph: Alan Tudyk
    Bill: Adam Baldwin
    Pam: Jewel Staite

  • Hankster

    You guys are nuts.

    Ralph: Owen Wilson

    Bill: Bruce Campbell

    Pam: Amanda Peet

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