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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

EDITORIAL: Ten Out-Of-The-Box Choices to Voice Rocket Raccoon

James Gunn has his plate full with the likes of Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy. With an already stellar cast including the likes of Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro, Oscar nominees Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou and John C. Reilly, and Golden Globe nominee Lee Pace, the ensemble is also packed with fan-favorites like Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista.

But the supposed "heart and soul" of Guardians has yet to be cast (or, at least, made public) and comes in the form of menacing, spunky, and funny Rocket Raccoon. He's a bundle of fur and ammunition that's already causing a buzz as the potential scene-stealer of the film ever since that Comic Con footage of the film was leaked.

The rumors about the casting are seemingly boundless, with some sources claiming Marvel plans to go after big A-list names for the part. Fans, however, are still vying for more cult-favorite choices over moneymakers like Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise, who seem to be the heavy hitters most obvious for the part. I, too, have my fan-favorites for the part and am quite eager to share them after giving them a dozen second-thoughts and a bevy of enthusiastic tweets.

David Tennant

We'll start with the obvious and work our way to the more obscure. Tennant is a name being thrown around an awful lot, and for good reason. The Doctor Who actor has an energetic vitality to his voice and that kick-ass Scottish accent to help mull over threats and one-liners alike to the glee of audiences everywhere. Tennant's not afraid of getting wild-eyed and over-the-top like he's shown in that Fright Night remake, and that could be just the stuff of legend, depending on how Gunn's written the character.

Jason Statham 

Noted badass Jason Statham is finally coming to the Fast & Furious franchise as its next baddie, and for good reason. The man's a cinematic force of nature, cleaning out rooms of soon-to-be-rag-dolls like nobody's business. And he's got a killer, distinctive voice to boot. Statham has a huge following for Rocket Raccoon already, and it's well-deserved coming from a man responsible for some of the coolest action sequences in a long time. He's got charm and intimidation working for him already, so audiences will be sure to embrace him as Rocket if he does manage to get chosen by the studio.

Mel Gibson

I'll be honest with you: I want Gibson for practically everything. I want him to be Thanos and I want him to be the new Batman in the recently announced Batman/Superman film. But he also happens to be a perfectly fantastic fit for Rocket Raccoon. Does anyone have a better filmography for this role? Between the womanizing charm of his character in What Women Want to his blisteringly exciting and psychotic Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon films to his hilarious and heart-felt performance in The Beaver, Gibson could really elevate this character to new heights. Gibson is bitingly funny and can also be a real monster of intimidation. Despite the fact he's managed to trash his public image, he's slowly getting back on the horse as the villain in Machete Kills and The Expendables 3. Could this be the answer to his prayers?

Zach Braff
I like Braff for the role predominantly because he doesn't have a voice that stands out. I know a lot of folks who'd want to give the role to the likes of Charlie Day (an actor I find absolutely hilarious), but I think Day's frantic way of speaking can be a bit much for Rocket. Braff, however, is more like a sedated version of Day, fully capable of the punchy delivery and easy on the ears, as well. And, seeing as he doesn't have as distinctive a voice as the others on this list, it'd be a lot easier to see Rocket as a full character and not a CGI creature voiced by a pay-check fueled actor.

Ralph Fiennes 

Why? Because of In Bruges, that's why. Fiennes has always been more than capable as an actor. That's really underselling it. What he can do with a part is downright astonishing. The very fact that he's such a convincing villain with Amon Goeth in Schindler's List and such a heroic polar opposite in The Constant Gardener proves his range and talent. But In Bruges solidifies Fiennes might be at his best when he's dark and comical and darkly comical, and, man, it's a sight to truly behold. What screams "Rocket Raccoon" more than Ralph Fiennes beating a telephone to pieces and then screaming at his mild-mannered family in a crazed frenzy, "You're an inanimate fu**ing object!"

Rutger Hauer
Hauer's a weird choice, but this is a James Gunn film, so it's plausible he's more fitting than anyone else on the list. It's almost as if he's got gravel seemingly lining his throat so that every line of dialogue seems to shoot out as if it were bursting from Clint Eastwood's sidearm. If you wanted to go for a more aged, rough-and-touble Rocket Raccoon, Hauer could really deliver on all fronts. And he seems to be an actor up for cinematic oddities, seeing he headlined a little grindhouse feature titled Hobo With a Shotgun that plays out exactly as you can expect.

Val Kilmer 

Two words. Gay Perry. Kilmer's finest role comes packaged in the form of the private detective in Shane Black's wonderful darkly comedic mystery Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. That film really showcased a Kilmer at the top of his game, rattling off some of the best one-liners in recent memory with relative ease and naturalism. While he isn't exactly the most distinguishable voice in this pack, that can really serve the character, as it would in the case with Zach Braff. Kilmer's also got great voice control, something often not thought about but really pivotal to voice acting. And, of course, Kilmer is no stranger to voice acting, having lent it to pictures like Planes and video games like Spider-Man: Edge of Time.

Steve Buscemi
Doesn't Buscemi just feel like an honest, natural fit to this sort of character? I'm not sure about you, but if I was ever mugged at gunpoint by a raccoon, I'd sort of expect Buscemi's voice to come out. It's just got that certain kind of flavor to it that goes hand-in-hand with a pissed-off hairball toting large handguns. On movies alone, Buscemi might have been a passing thought for the role, but his pervasiveness on HBO's Boardwalk Empire has really gotten me used to hearing his voice in mass quantities, and it does sort of have a nice, albeit calming, quality. I think he's a better choice than Simon Pegg, at least. No disrespect to Pegg, but there's not really a Marvel superhero I want to see him take on, Hank Pym included.

Ian McShane

As far as I'm concerned, there's only one man who has the ability to work heavy, poetic dialogue (and make it sound as natural as possible) like the great Peter O'Toole, and that man is Ian McShane. He not only obliterates every script handed to him with ease, but he's got a fantastically deep, distinctive voice that comes well-equipped with subtle growls and tenacity necessary for Rocket. Anyone who's seen McShane's work on Deadwood as the infamous Al Swearengen can attest to McShane's demanding presence, practically through voice alone. But would the thespian ever consider the part? Normally, I'd say "no," but seeing how the film has already bagged Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close, nothing would surprise me. That, and he was in Hot Rod.

Quentin Tarantino 

I'm completely and entirely serious and absolutely confident in this choice. Tarantino as Rocket Raccon fits almost too well. A quick-lipped, violence-loving guy with a distinct and wacky voice was who this part was made for, and it's not just Tarantino doing's Tarantino doing voice-work for a James Gunn movie. Perfect, weird combo? I most definitely think so, yes, I do.

So, who do you think should be the man behind Rocket Raccoon? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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