Sunday, March 09, 2008

Doing Dora Justice

It seems like the only time I get to fixate on surfing these days
is when I'm reading a magazine on the toilet in the morning.

Yesterday during my daily ritual, I read in the most recent SURFER
that a new Miki Dora biography is being released in April.

An interview with the author revealed that the film rights to the
book have already been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio's production
company. I believe the author described playing Dora as a "plum role."
He went on to say that he thought DiCaprio was a great person to
play the part.

Don't get me wrong. I think Leonardo is a fine actor who has come
a very long way since his early films. I also believe that Leo is a really
great guy who is actually concerned with the fate of the environment.

But I really don't think he's the right guy to play Dora.

From everything I've read, it seems like Dora was charismatic, dark,
sarcastic, tough, sly, mysterious, complex, bitter, charming, mean,
crazy, and -- perhaps most importantly -- an incredible surfer.

Just because DiCaprio has played a con-artist before, doesn't mean
he has what it takes to do Miki Dora justice on celluloid. Though he's
capable of playing a goof-ball and a heart-throb, I don't see him
pulling off wearing a Nazi trench coat and helmet to play tennis in
Beverly Hills and chaining his sports car to a pole in the parking lot
(or something like that).

Let alone being able to surf.

It would require some serious Frankie Avalon-style CGI to make Leo
look like he can surf, or even carry a surfboard from the car to the sand in Malibu convincingly.

But that's just one man's opinion. I've selected a few actors who I do think might be able to handle the part and posted them below Dora's headshot...

Miki Dora

Mark Ruffalo

Jake Gyllenhaal

Josh Brolin

Jason Patric

Casey Affleck

If you had a say, who would you cast? Or would you just scrap the whole project and leave 'Da Cat 'da hell alone?


Deon said...

strangely enough
dora used to live across the road from me for years
was kinda cagey and I never really chatted too much to him
was mostly into playing golf and tennis
he told me once that the "da cat" model was originally made just as collectors items, for guys to hang up on their walls - but they fluked it and they actually worked really well
I incidentally later stayed in a flat that he used to stay in - before he accidentally burned it up and burnt his beloved dog scooter at the same time
bottom line though - di caprio's far to girly and pretty for his role - I still get shudders when I think about him crying his way through the basketball diaries which my wife convinced me to watch with her
no non surfer is ever gonna get it right anyway, but there's better options
way better options

ras said...

scrap it. somethings are better writen than seen.

Anonymous said...

seems like a good project for an unknown, someone who's face we don't already know, and don't associate with other pictures. That said I think Leo could pull it off as well, if not better, then most of the current crop of "top" actors. I mean, can you imagine it going to Brad Pitt? I think it's also just as good of a project as most of the crap that gets put out by Hollywood.

On a side note, we watched Hedwig and The Angry Inch last night. Very interesting and the "making of" stuff on the dvd was very good too. If you're a redneck homo-phobe beware...

G said...

Judging by that first pic, this guy might be able to do the job:

Anonymous said...

Please , someone go to leo, offer him tons of money , get the script and give it to someone who has some GRIT, SOME SOUL, ...leo is going to ruin this, he is a "pop idol" its only because he has money, that he can insert himself here, the guy is a girl, pretending to be a guy,,,,shame shame, he will destroy this role same as he did howard hughes. but thats hollywood

May said...

He's going to ruin it with his boyish body! No muscles in sight!

Anonymous said...

Leo has matured quite a bit since The Basketball Diaries -

Deon said...

I agree leonardo's improved since basketball diaries - I enjoyed departed despite not wanting to because I'm not a leonardo fan - but he's still not right for the role
that guy from jarhead would be my first choice

Anonymous said...

Slater has acted before, he'd be perfect!

surferbrat said...

My vote would be for Casey Affleck. He was awesome in the Assassination of Robert Ford... I think Mark Ruffalo would be good but his body type is a little different than Dora's, his swagger would be off, his posture too. Jake Gyllenhaal maybe, but Casey Affleck steals the cake for me. Leo wouldn't be half bad if he doesn't sell out the whole production which he very well might. He was great in a lot of movies (What's Eating Gilbert Grape). Either way, it was up to me, I'd leave it alone. Surfing doesn't need anymore publicity.

Gaz said...

Met him briefly in the water, we talked for a bit. He was cool enough to a young kid, later a friend of mine left her husband to live and travel with Dora in lower Europe in his infamous van. Tough would not be an adjective I'd use for him though, far too smart to fight.

Gotta agree w' Ras............

Doc said...

Dan Hedaya...

Carla's husband from Cheers...

So obvious.

Chum said...

It just crossed my mind that in the hands of the right director this could be an amazing film. I'm thinking a blend of PT Anderson's Boogie Nights meets Oliver Stone's Doors biopic. Maybe Hollywood could pull it off.

But then again, remember what happened when a couple fresh-faced actors tried to take on the role of Steve Prefontaine a few years ago in two films that came out right around the same time. They both bombed.

Another argument for an unknown, gritty actor...

I also agree that Leo doesn't match up physically with Dora (chest hair being the least of his worries)--and that's a point that the author makes in the SURFER interview, but he goes on to say that most of America won't care. Surfers are the only people who know what Dora looked like.

Wouldn't Miki want the film to represent him accurately to his peers and not as some caricature that the masses will admire?

Maybe he would want Leo's version though, since it would guarantee a hefty royalty check!

o_boy said...

I second Chum's last comment. I think the physical element is a small (albeit important) part of the whole equation. While Ruffalo might be a touch too bulky, I think he's an incredible actor. And frankly, he might be a good surfer--or make one.

Gyllenhaal seems a great candidate, but while capable of doing brooding, can he mix the various touchpoints required from Chum's original list of adjectives? Maybe so.

I can't get behind Casey Affleck, though I agree he's a superb actor. Maybe I'm missing something there.

Done right, this could be a damn engaging movie. Of course, I'm excited as hell about Iron Man, so take that as you will.

Sharkbait said...

Mark Ruffalo would be a much better choice.

Anonymous said...

"It seems like the only time I get to fixate on surfing these days
is when I'm reading a magazine on the toilet in the morning."

Hopefully that's not due to the current El Nino your experiencing?


Chum said...

It's absolutely due to the current El Nino! A perfect storm of poopy diapers, spit-up, drool, and sleepless nights. Good fun though...

Drew said...

I say just let Dora rest in piece, get it away from Leonardo..

Anonymous said...

did anyone see Lords of Dogtown? That's how it will end up.

Entourage had an episode where Ari Gold was trying to get Vince cast in a rumored filming of Tapping The Source - why hasn't that ever been put on the screen? But I agree with one of the posters - enough exposure of surfing already!

seamouse said...


Jack & Carolyn Hudkins said...

Chum, really like your writing. Maybe Leo will just produce the film. It does take a big name to open a film these days.

jack hudkins

Diane said...

Leo can play anyone.

drensin said...

All of the suggestions for actors -- even Hedya, who is the hairest man I've ever met -- are good for Dora. Too bad none of them approached me about the film option. Leo can easily do it. As for the physical characteristics, when it comes to movies far more people have no idea what to expect than those who do -- not that I wouldn't opt for as authentic as possible. But just because someone doesn't look exactly like Dora, or has to dye his hair, doesn't mean it's a caricature. I agree with Chum that it's really as much about the director as anything .. PT Anderson is a fine choice. Steven Gaghan (Syrianna, Traffic), too. Even Peter Berg ... I could go on. By the way, not that I know anything, but perhaps Leo will just produce and find another actor for the role. Don't write him off, and don't get too worked up over little information. It's Hollywood. (It's Chinatown, Jake). And finally, while the story is of course about surfing, it's much more out of the water than in. Again, you want to capture everything that is Dora on a wave, whether at JBay or Guethary or doing a mass go-behind at Malibu...but the story, the story in the book ALL FOR A FEW PERFECT WAVES is much more about the man and how his connection to the ocean and his particular way of viewing life, made him who he was.

For me, the bottom line is having the movie based on the book made by someone who is authentic and understands the spirit of the enterprise. But remember, with Dora, you can never really know what's going on ...

(I stayed in the JBay flat he lived in, too, when talking to all Miki's friends there)

logmog said...

What about Adam Sandler.....???

tres_arboles said...

I'm buying the book just 'cause Rensin was cool enough to swing by and comment here on one of my favorite blogs! I'd also love to see Berg or Gaghan direct; and bring back Explosions in the Sky for the post-rock soundtrack.

David, Seattle

jw said...

Eric Bana, I think the actor's name is. He's dark-- looks like Dora.

Anonymous said...

Hey you all check out this photo of Ruffalo...
and the dude can surf. I was with him in Puerto Escondido for three months.
Nice easy style too.

Anonymous said...

I found these too of Ruffalo. Little tiny waves. But like I said the guy is actually a surfer. Grew up in Virginia Beach and Mission Beach, CA.

casey said...

Billy Crudup might be good as Miki, I also think Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhal and James Brolin would all be really interesting.
I would say James Franco but he played James Dean so well it might be hard to get beyond that.