Friday, April 28, 2006

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy pfar, pfar away*


Is there a copy of you reading this [blog]? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to [click away from] this [blog] without finishing it, while you read on. [...] There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices. Max Tegmark, Scientific
American (May 2003)

Thus, somewhere in the vastness of space, tucked into the dusky ripples of time (circa 1990-1991), there exists a Michelle Pfeiffer who passed on the small, personal projects Love Field and Frankie & Johnny and accepted roles in the blockbusters The Silence of the Lambs and Basic Instinct -- instead of the other way around, which is our reality.

What if Pfeiffer played quicksilver FBI agent Clarice Starling and sexual demi-goddess Catherine Tramell (marquee characters in cinema) instead of bleach-blonde Lurene Hallett and surnameless waitress Frankie, who are more or less forgotten entities? Would Pfeiffer have an Oscar? Would she have since equaled her pre-1992 promise (Baker Boys, Liaisons, Eastwick, Scarface) instead of plateauing (Gillian, Up Close & Personal, One Fine Day, Story of Us)?

The possibilities are endless, and mostly unsavory. Simply by playing musical chairs with actual casting options -- and employing my own Pfeifferian appreciations and reservations -- we can glimpse into one such alternate universe:

With Pfeiffer out of the way, Kathy Bates claims the role she created onstage in the film version of Terrence McNally's "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune." Overcome with relief and happiness, she passes on Misery, which would've been the fourth film she'd made in 1990. She dosn't need the stress, she thinks. When Frankie & Johnny is released, audiences find she and Pacino have zero chemistry (and prefer both of them in Dick Tracy). Frankie should've been played by someone more primal, more fetching, more seemingly dangerous and mixed up...

And with Love Field now Pfeifferless, Anne Archer plays Lurene. The film is shot during 1990, shelved, and finally released by Orion Pictures at the tail end of '92 in time for Oscar consideration. Critics say the film could've used a more glamorous actress, someone with eyes the color of the Aegean and lips as silky and pliable as Georgian humidity. Under Archer's watch, a character that should've been a charming dervish is just a beleaguered Dallas housewife. No Oscar nominations result. A year earlier, Orion had a similar disappointment...

The Silence of the Lambs nabs merely a supporting statuette for Hopkins in March 1992. "Pfeiffer is too interesting to look at, too austere, too willowy to make Starling work," writes J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. "The vulpine actress can't affect 'a well scrubbed, hustling rube,' as Lecter calls Starling. When Pfeiffer orders a phalanx of beefy rural deputies out of an autopsy room, she can't help but use her sexual charm. And the minute Starling employs her womanhood to get things done, the story deflates and her relationship with Lecter turns into camp." The criticism adds insult to injury, because...

Before long, Pfeiffer gets into a legal battle with Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven and TriStar over her refusal to "uncross" during the cross-examination scene. Pfeiffer committed to doing "anything" Verhoeven asked when she signed her contract, but got skittish when she saw the film was not an erotic thriller, but an all-out smutscapade. Her dignity and work ethic would be compromised, she tells Variety. Bumbles Verhoeven on Hard Copy: "I know I would not have had such trouble with that other blonde -- what's her name, Cheryl Stone?" This is all moot because...

There is no Sharon Stone. Well, there is, but not as we know her on this plane of existence. She parlays the modest success of Total Recall (1990) into a recurring role on Melrose Place...

Which prevents her from lobbying for a role in Martin Scorsese's Casino (1995). The part goes to one of the other contending actresses: Madonna, who scores an Oscar nomination, but then loses her dream role next year to...

Pfeiffer, who wins the coveted part of Eva Peron in Evita after several months of on-spec vocal training and the resume-boosting Baker Boys (which was originally offered to Madonna). This, plus the success of her singing in The Prince of Egypt two years later, prompts Pfeiffer to begin a recording career. She releases an album of jazzy standards to moderate acclaim in '99, and originates the role of Amneris in Elton John's Aida on Broadway in 2000. Fox lures her away with a lucrative deal to star as...

One of three judges on American Idol, a reality show on which Pfeiffer is a thoroughly grounded and articulate surveyor of young talent. Meanwhile...

Sharon Stone experiences a career resurgence when she is cast as vixen Edie Britt in ABC's Desperate Housewives. Consequently, Nicolette Sheridan never assembles the cache to re-land Michael Bolton, and the world mourns. But no one is as mournful as...

Jodie Foster, who focused solely on directing after passing on Lambs, and is still struggling to make Flora Plum. Yes, some things are uniform throughout the cosmos.

*But aren't you glad you're living in this one? This post is ostensibly part of Nathaniel R's Blog-a-Thon, inspired by Pfeiffer's 48th birthday. Feel free to leave thoughts on Pfeiffer and the sundry alternate universes spinning out there in the black infinity.

3 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

i don't even know where to begin... but at least we count on some things. Flora Plum will never be made.

The only thing to add to this timeline to make it even stranger or more eyepopping is to throw Thelma & Louise into the mix which was offered to virtually everyone (Pfeiffer rumored to be included) before landing in the Susan and Geena laps.

J.J. said...

The cosmic permutations are infinite -- Thelma & Louise was offered to both Pfeiffer *and* Foster at the same time, as a ticket. What if they'd taken these roles, and then Geena played Lurene in Love Field and Sarandon played Starling in Lambs? My flux capacitor is overheated.

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa