The Problem With Colin Farrell's Penguin Transformation - Lol not fat

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CatParty

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Colin Farrell looks unrecognizable as the Penguin in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, with the actor covered up in heavy prosthetics and make-up. Reeves confirmed Farrell’s involvement in January 2020, as part of an all-star cast hoping to re-define the Batman franchise for a new age. Tonally, the film looks to be leaning on film noir, harking back to the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, the Arkham video games, and numerous high-profile comic books. This is, surely, music to a Bat-fan’s ears, but the film seems to be continuing a strange Hollywood trend wherein an attractive, bankable star - in this case, Colin Farrell - is caked in make-up to play a character that they in no way resemble.

Obviously, make-up is required if an actor is playing a role that is meant to look grotesque or otherworldly - like Danny De Vito’s gothic take on the Penguin in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns - but Farrell looks set to play the more grounded version of the character. Previously defined by his gimmick, the Penguin has gone from being a deformed, umbrella-wielding bird-man, to a Cockney gangster with a slightly crooked nose - this latter interpretation coming to the fore as part of various odd attempts to more ‘realistically’ depict a universe designed, initially, for children.

Reeves’ take on the Penguin looks, essentially, like a normal guy - if not conventionally attractive - which begs the question: why didn’t the filmmakers cast an actor who looked more like the character that they had in mind? Obviously, Colin Farrell is a great actor, and another well-known name to help draw people in, but there are plenty of jobbing character actors who could have killed as the Penguin - minus the extensive make-up, and minus the weight gain. Perhaps the make-up has something to do with it, allowing the production to be considered for a possible Oscar? Again, this isn’t a slight against Farrell, but his casting speaks to a larger problem within the film industry as a whole.

If conventionally unattractive actors are losing unattractive roles to conventionally attractive actors in make-up, what are they supposed to do? Such characters are rarely depicted in mainstream entertainment, presenting a rare opportunity for less featured actors to hit the big time. Physical transformations have become the norm for franchise filmmaking - something that Fat Thor mocked in Avengers: Endgame - but feels like an unhealthy precedent to set for the acting profession.

Farrell is actually part of a smaller group: those who have gained weight for a role; but actors being asked to gain muscle is much more common. Marvel famously refused to cast Chris Pratt as Star-Lord unless he got ripped, despite the character wielding a gun for most of his screen-time. The same goes for Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, initially playing a middle-aged petty criminal who also happens to have a six-pack - the latter element seemingly in-conflict with the character’s laid-back attitude.

Even Robert Pattinson, The Batman’s new Batman, has received criticism from some quarters for dropping his fitness regime during the ongoing pandemic, and should be applauded for questioning an unhealthy system. For what reason does Batman need to be ripped? He literally wears an armored suit, and the best interpretations tend to rely on stealth tactics as opposed to brute force in a fight (not to the mention the fact it's acting!).

While Farrell’s performance should be fun, the Penguin really ought to have been tackled by someone more aesthetically akin to the character that Reeves had in mind. Character actors deserve more breaks and don’t deserve their few possible roles snatched away by attractive stars in extensive make-up (traditional, digital, or otherwise). At this point in history, our culture is wearing a little thin - with the majority of Hollywood movies re-hashing old stories, rather than trying anything new - but diversity is the key to bucking this trend. Hiring talent from a more diverse pool (rather than stuffing your movie with an unnecessary number of bankable stars, like The Batman) opens up a wider array of storytelling opportunities, and could likely offer a fresh spin on age-old material.
 
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Amber the Hedgehog

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Isn't nice that actors aren't allowed to pretend to be something they are not. Although I feel there is shorter way to say pretend to be seomething you are not, like a really shirt verb. Hmm... Oh right. Actors aren't allowed to act.
 

Iron Hamster

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why didn’t the filmmakers cast an actor who looked more like the character that they had in mind?

lol. Because people would mock someone that looked like an actual penguin,
 

Alcatraz

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Just like Jeffery Wright and Zoe Kravitz, Farrell probably got the penguin role because Matt Reeves liked him best as an actor.
I mean Phillip Seymour Hoffman was ugly as sin but I'd dare say he was up there with Marlon Brando in terms of ability. It SHOULD be about acting ability, not if you look the closest or not. If a black actor manages to get the role of a white guy through his skill, then fine, but don't you dare sit there and tell me we should start handing out movie roles based on looks; that's how we got Megan Fox in all those Bay movies, for fucks sake.
 

HeyYou

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Even Robert Pattinson, The Batman’s new Batman, has received criticism from some quarters for dropping his fitness regime during the ongoing pandemic, and should be applauded for questioning an unhealthy system. For what reason does Batman need to be ripped? He literally wears an armored suit, and the best interpretations tend to rely on stealth tactics as opposed to brute force in a fight (not to the mention the fact it's acting!).
This is the dumbest thing I've read today. How the fuck are you seriously trying to argue that Batman isn't buff?
 

Fareal

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Farrell is actually a bloody good actor. In addition he is cute, but he’s a bloody good actor. Saying “you must be this ugly to get a good part” is equally dumb as refusing to cast good actors and actresses because they aren’t supremely good looking.
 

keyboredsm4shthe2nd

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... You know what this sounds like? a journo bitter because they wasted their time on an acting degree only to be told they "weren't pretty enough to be in hollywood" and because there was always one brat who took participation trophies as a serious display of prowess, decides the world's standards should bend to their will.
 

Jar-Jar Fanboy

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Yeah, sure, a guy who traipses around a city doing parkour every night while he beats up thugs and clowns in a bat costume doesn't need to be ripped. He doesn't need to be a bodybuilder, but Batman literally cannot Batman if he's fat, or even just generally out of shape; It's not physically possible. What sort of clown world are these people living in where fatties can do parkour across rooftops and go toe-to-toe with a roided out lucha?
 

Screw Danlon

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Previously defined by his gimmick, the Penguin has gone from being a deformed, umbrella-wielding bird-man, to a Cockney gangster with a slightly crooked nose
That’s how the character started, too. The bird-man part was mostly made up for the Tim Burton movie and then that interpretation got taken up by the comics.

I do hope thet keep the umbrella though.
 

The Dude

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Jeeze dude. At least let pedophiles, rapists, thugs, animal sadists, etc. go first.

Why can't we do them all at the same time? Oh, and any kind of Marxists. Marxism in any form in the US should be a capital punishment.
 

Bland Crumbs

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Character actors deserve more breaks

You do not deserve breaks you earn them. You make them. A break that is handed to you unearned is called charity.

This article reeks.
 

RockPaper

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lol. Because people would mock someone that looked like an actual penguin,

You want a realistic take on the Penguin? The decades-old rumors from previous incarnations of Batman movies were decent.

It was going to be a Bob Hoskins-type (if not Hoskins himself). He was a wealthy British arms dealer. He liked to wear nothing but formal wear (resented his poor upbringing and always wanted to dress "rich"), and his metabolism was fucked up so he liked keeping whatever room he was in as cold as possible. His henchman and hired thugs started calling him "the Penguin", but never to his face.

That wasn't nearly weird enough for Tim Burton, though.