I recently caught the trailer for the upcoming film The Whistleblower and near the end, Rachel Weisz, playing, I assume, a whistleblower herself, says this line: “I don’t want a scandal , I’m just doing my job.” Ah yes. You hear these sorts of Candy Cane Lines (sweet, easy, and as subtle as a Christmas decoration) in movies all the time. They typically make you groan. Weisz, an actress I like, appeared to do a decent job of delivering it but the line itself, as it must, got me to thinking. What actor/actress could most capably deliver these words?
This would seem initially to lend itself to simply reciting a person’s list of his or her Top 10 Favorite Actors. But it’s not quite that easy. Billy Crudup’s my guy and he could do a serviceable job with that line, sure, but if my life depended on it, if the fate of all of cinema depended on it, is he the one I’d choose? I’m not so sure. Once upon a time I would have said Daniel Day Lewis but in the face of his last couple films I’m libel to think he’d just scream the line at the top of his lungs (a la latter day Al Pacino) and that’s a cheat. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but DDL is out.
It’s also crucial to note this line only counts if spoken in a dramatic situation. Anyone could pull it off in a comedy. This, of course, eliminates people like Robert Downey Jr. or Owen Wilson. Same goes for Brad Pitt who would get that Brad Pitt twinkle in his eye to let you know he’s in on the joke (ditto his wife who would get the Jolie-esque voluptuous smile) and the key to a line like this is that there is no joke to be in on. It’s all real, man. This person doesn’t want a scandal because this person is just trying to do their job. That’s it.
So……who could say it?
You know the Robert Duvall laugh, right? The small hoarse chuckle that he typically accentuates with an innocent smile? Imagine a bad guy smoking a cigarette ,and perhaps wielding a gun, accusing Duvall of wanting to bring on scandal and then Duvall doing the Duvall laugh, possibly lifting his hands to underscore his innocence, and declaring, “Hey. Come on now. I don’t want a scandal, I’m just doing my job.”
Kate The Great’s best course of action in this scenario, I think, is to go for the Exasperated Winslet Voice. Think of her being overwhelmed by her daughter in Little Children or her husband in Revolutionary Road. She wouldn’t even be upset about this accusation, she’d just find it irritating and tiring and shake her head and roll her eyes and maybe the add that skeptical Winslet “ha!” and say, “What on earth makes you think I’d want a scandal? I’m just trying to do my job.”
Here you can’t think of club-hoppin’, champagne-room-hangin’ Jamie Foxx, you have to think of the cab driver from Collateral. Frazzled, out of his element, and dressed like a flood victim. The bad guy threatening him. And Foxx, low key and desperate, pledging, rather softly, “Look man, I don’t a scandal, I’m just doing my job. That’s all. Just, you know…doing my job.”
7. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Remember the scene in Magnolia where, as Jason Robards’ caretaker, he makes the phone call in which he’s trying to track down Robards’ estranged son and he says to the guy on the other end of the line, “I know this sounds silly and I might sound ridiculous but this is like the scene of the movie where the guy tries to get a hold of the long lost son. But this is that scene.” Now picture that Hoffman on the phone in the news room. “I know this sounds silly and I might sound ridiculous but this is like the scene of the movie where the guy, the intrepid news reporter, tells the people who are trying to get him to shut up that he doesn’t want a scandal, that he’s just trying to do his job. But this is that scene. And I think they have those scenes in movies because they’re true. Because they really happen. And you gotta believe me, this is really happening. Okay? I don’t want a scandal, I’m just doing my job.”
Emotionless face. Little to no body movement. Monotone voice. No inflections. The Bardem accent. “I don’t want a scandal, I’m just doing my job.”
Pages: 1 2