Over yet another saddle, and I got my first glimpse of Mt Taranaki, with its distinctive cone. Reminds you of another mountain, a famous one in Japan perhaps? Well you’re not the only one as the producers of The Last Samurai thought exactly the same thing and hence shot most of that distinctly Japanese film in the Taranaki region. I stopped for a late lunch at a hilltop cafe not far from this point, where Mr Cruise and family apparently helicoptered in for afternoon tea one day. Such Hollywood excess.
Since it was Toby’s birthday this week (hmm, another Taurus), it’s fitting that I write up another Toby Post!
Last post I talked about the virtues of Toby’s performance in The Rising. Well, as I watched The Last Samurai for the first time last weekend, which was a very good film by the way (with a good story and very detailed production values), I kept on thinking, ‘How good would it have been if had been Toby instead of Tom Cruise?’
There are a lot of similarities between the two films. Both dealt with uprisings, the military and Westerners living in an Eastern world. Both had a good portion of foreign language, plus sword-play and battles. Both had very exquisite, detailed productions. So the differentiating factor for me was the acting.
Exhibit 1: Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
Now compare this with…
Exhibit 2: Toby Stephens in The Rising
Now, how good would The Last Samurai have been if it was Toby in the lead? Unfortunately, the audiences would have been helluva lot smaller too, and we know that the studio bosses put bank balances first when it comes to large productions.
Still, I’ve watched almost all of Toby’s back-catalog now and I’m still astonished by the gems I find. Last week I saw him in an episode of Waking the Dead, the British equivalent of CSI/Cold Case. I was totally in love with his performance as the deceitful but sad and pitiful Dr. Nick Henderson. I liked him playing a (relatively) normal, modern guy too.
Lastly, there’s been lots of news about Toby’s newest theatre role. Apparently the theatre is so small that Toby is within touching distance. Argh! Now I really wish that I was living in London and not 20 flying hours away.