Recently, I wrote a post about the dollar value of rare books, and was interested to learn that a pristine copy of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922) by T.E. Lawrence is valued at around $120,000. If you’re interested in reading some of Lawrence’s ramblings, The Seven Pillars… is reproduced in its entirety on this website, and it’s totally free.
I know next to nothing about The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but I am kind of an expert on Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which is an excellent film. I’m not going to write a gushing review of Lawrence because that has been done to death. Instead, I’m going to think of actors whom I would consider casting as the new T. E. Lawrence in my imaginary 2008 remake of the epic film. Why am I doing this? It will all become clear in a little while.
Before I begin my little journey, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what this movie means to me. My dad took us to see a rerelease on the big screen when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I was enthralled the entire time. It was just so BIG–I’d never seen anything like it. I was very impressed with Peter O’Toole because he reminded me of my maternal grandfather. Physically, they were quite similar, tall and lanky, and their aquamarine eyes were almost the same color. I think I must have been smitten because I’ve had a soft spot for tall fair-haired, blue-eyed men ever since.
It wasn’t until years later, when I began reading about T. E. Lawrence, that I found out that he was short. Lawrence was not just a little short, he was very short. T. E. Lawrence was 5′ 5 1/2″ tall. This kind of blew me out of the water because Peter O’Toole is 6′ 3″ tall. Quite a disparity there! I can completely understand why O’Toole was cast in the movie, because the movie was larger-than-life, so a larger-than-life actor was essential to play the hero. But what if the same film were being cast in the ’70’s or 80’s or today? What if David Lean decided that he needed to find a short actor in order to preserve the historical integrity of the film? Who would he choose? (I know David Lean has been dead for 15 years, but this is pretend, remember?)
Here are some of the actors he could choose from:
Dustin Hoffman – 5′ 5 1/2″ – Mr. Hoffman is the perfect height, and he’s very versatile. In Tootsie, he said he could wear lifts and be taller, or he could be younger or older. He could even be a woman! The only problem is that I can’t picture Mr. Hoffman being in the correct frame-of-mind. I keep imagining him saying in his nasally voice, “Uh-oh, I’ve got sand in my underwear. I need to get more underwear at K-Mart.”
Joe Pesci – 5′ 5″ – Mr. Pesci is definitely ferocious and brave enough to play T. E. Lawrence. The problem with Pesci is that he might mistake some of his Arab allies for Utes (or is that youths) and beat them to death with shovels. Joe has a real attitude problem. He’d say, “What the f**k are you looking at” once too often, and, the next thing you know, he’d be buried in the sand with a mud brick tied around his ankles.
Woody Allen – 5′ 5″ – Mr. Allen is not right for this part at all. He’s too neurotic and wimpy, and he’s probably allergic to sand and camels. He’d be sneezing all over the place and sand would be flying. I just can’t see him leading anyone to victory, and he’d look comical in long flowing white robes. Plus, by now, I believe he’s way too old and bald.
Sean Astin – 5′ 5″ – Mr. Astin proved himself to be loyal and courageous in The Lord of the Rings movies. He fought orcs, cave trolls and a giant spider. He could withstand pain, although he did weep a bit too often. He had a very close relationship with Frodo Baggins, but he turned out to be hetero (or at least bisexual) in the end. Scholars have questioned T. E. Lawrence’s sexuality as well. Many think he was homosexual, but his brother claimed that he was asexual and completely turned-off by the merest mention of sex. Sean Astin’s head seems to be a bit large in proportion to the rest of his body, just like T. E. Lawrence’s. Could Mr. Astin be an effective military leader? I think so. He’s determined and methodical, whereas Lawrence was often crazed and maniacal, but I think Mr. Astin could be trained to let go a little bit. I think we have a winner here!
So there you have it. Sean Astin will play T. E. Lawrence in the 2008 remake of Lawrence of Arabia. It will be a huge success. I wonder who will take Omar Sharif’s role?