on ‘Hancock’ and regular-Joe-ness

How awesome it is, anyway, that The Movies’ regular Joe is now a black man? I’m talking about Will Smith, of course, and it’s arguable that he has been Hollywood’s go-to guy for the Everyman role since at least 1996’s Independence Day, but it really became inescapably notable in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness and last year’s I Am Legend.

And now with Hancock — opening today — is, in many way, all about how a Regular Guy would deal with the complications of superpowers (hint: not well).

A black president is one thing; a black Everyman is a step way beyond that, and we’re already there.

(Technorati tags: )

share and enjoy
notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Wed, Jul 02, 2008 2:11pm

Sort of.

I think Will Smith is less of an Everyman than he is Will Smith!

I think of all the romantic comedies…all the Judd Apatow flicks with the everyman dude…are there even black people in those movies at all?

Wed, Jul 02, 2008 2:56pm

that’s some good food for thought. i’m not sure i see where you are coming from when you say “A black president is one thing; a black Everyman is a step way beyond that”, but i’m still thinking about it. it seems white society has been comfortable with minority men and women in the role of pop cultural hero – entertainer, athlete, leading man, etc – for some time. it’s a subtle shift i think from this sort of role to the Everyman, and i think the fact that it can be pulled off seemlessly and without drawing much attention is a testament to progress made. my gut says that the election of a black president is something more – like the fulfillment of a promise made by the society that cast Will Smith as the Everyman. also, i think casting a woman in the Everyman role would be more groundbreaking – maybe? more food for thought. because it is not irrelevant to the topic of discussion – i am a white man. anyway, interesting post. thanks.

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 9:54am

MAJ – actually, I think we were well on the way for getting there with the following actors in the following roles:

Denzel Washington, The Pelican Brief (1993)

Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Laurence Fishburn, The Matrix (1999)

Just three African-American actors (of many over the last few decades) who portray roles that were originally written as white characters and/or were originally offered to white actors.

This sort of casting was practically unthinkable not too terribly long ago. But I agree with you, Will Smith’s status is transcendant – I think he is such high demand because he really can play just about character, and do it brilliantly.

Plus being Mr. July 4th must help:)

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 3:11pm

It’s not just about black actors playing colorblind roles: it’s more, as you noted, transcendent than that.

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 3:28pm

Too true, MAJ.

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 3:33pm

Whoops, meant to add: To me, when I look at that list, it’s more that these roles WEREN’T colorblind roles at first, but the caliber of actor who ended up with it was way more important that the color of their skin. That, too, is pretty damned transcendent.

Cuz I mean, really, could you even imagine ANYONE else playing Morpheus?

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 3:59pm

No, but there’s still not an “everyman” quality to the kinds of roles that Washington, Freeman, or Fishburne play — the opposite, in fact — or to the overall persona they project. Will Smith comes across like a guy you want to sit down and have a beer with: that’s “everyman.” Washington and Freeman, and Fishburne to a lesser degree, have a more rarefied air about them.

Fri, Jul 11, 2008 6:28pm

I pondered the same question after watching his Bio the other day and then he was on the Colbert report. He’s a cool dude and I think if ever did like buddy cop movie , he’d be the first guy Id hope would take the part. It would be like 48 hours but he’d be Nick Nolte but funnier.

And as far a a woman being the everyman, who ever writes the script for that one good luck, because their deserve to be shot. And if its ever made, theres going to be hell to pay.
Im not saying Women can’t be in a dominate role. but If your gunna women have running around in movies saying
” hey were like guys and this is how guys should act, like us” no way, no way