Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Stephen Tobolowsky Could Play Any Character In James Gunn's New DCU If Hollywood Wasn't Full Of Cowards

"The singular character has no important qualities. He is not kind, or loved, or smart. He is only a pair of glasses and a toboggan cap."

The process of creating a motion picture is just shy of alchemic. Thousands upon thousands of pieces have to click into place harmoniously. The thoughts of untold hundreds of creative minds must mesh and cohere. If just one thing goes wrong –- if an overworked sound editor drops the ball, if a gel isn't placed correctly –- the illusion crumbles.

How remarkable is it, then, with his near-unimaginable body of work, Stephen Tobolowsky has never been the weak link? His career spans six decades and nearly 300 credits. He unknowingly observed the Punxsutawney time loop and bore witness to a mother and daughter swapping bodies one Friday in 2003. He portrayed at least eight separate school principals across projects ranging from "The Goldbergs" to "The New Adventures of Old Christine," then retook his place at the front of the classroom and challenged his students to seek the hard answers on "Community." He was on an episode of "Arli$$." Not everyone can say that.

In a field where William Goldman observed that "nobody knows anything," everyone knows one thing: Tobolowsky is the utility player that you can count on. When you invest in Tobolowsky, you don't get flash and pizzazz. You get raw talent, truth, and reliability –- three things that James Gunn's new DCU is going to desperately need. The fact of the matter? Hollywood could cast Tobolowsky as literally anyone in the DC canon of characters without fear of regret. They could wake up one morning, cast Tobolowsky, and then go right back to bed knowing that they'd spent their day creating a better world.

But they won't.

Because they're cowards.

Exhibit A: Stephen Lobolowsky

A lot of jabber-jawing has been making the rounds lately about Jason Momoa transitioning from Aquaman to the Main Man, abandoning his place as the monarch of the sea in order to spend less of his life holding his breath for a living. We're not saying that the physicality isn't there –- Momoa looks like he was pulled straight from the pages of a "Lobo" one-shot. We're also not saying that he lacks the acting chops to play an interplanetary bounty hunter.

But if you want to save time, you go to the guy with experience doing the job. Who's logged more hours hunting people? Jason Momoa? Did Jason Momoa appear in 11 episodes of "Heroes" playing enigmatic Company co-founder and procurer of extraordinary humans Bob Bishop? As FBI Agent Max, did Momoa chase to the ends of the earth both Thelma and Louise in that one movie, what's-it-called? Lobo rides a motorcycle. Did Jason Momoa appear in "Wild Hogs?"

That was all rhetorical, but the answer to each question, in turn, is "No. You're thinking of Stephen Tobolowsky. You're always thinking about him."

But will DC cast him in the role?

No, they won't.

Because they lack courage.

Exhibit B: Red Tornadobolowsky

Some casting just works. Some actors fall into a role just as easily as Mr. Magoo falling into an open manhole cover in the Stephen Tobolowsky movie "Mr. Magoo." That's what fans could expect if they ever got the chance to see Tobolowsky playing Red Tornado in the DCU. They probably won't, because Hollywood has no conviction.

Red Tornado is a part of a science fiction archetype with roots at the genre's very core, a machine superior to humanity in almost every way, but who still aspires to be more like us. He is Data, and Vision, and Pinocchio and K.I.T.T. from "Knight Rider" if he ever wanted to kiss a girl. He is a robust and complicated character. He deserves a robust and complicated character actor.

It's not just that Tobolowsky has already proven himself to be gifted at portraying machines –- he has, and anyone who tells you otherwise has never seen him as Calculator in "The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" or the Bigmouth Executive in 2005's "Robots." It's deeper than that. It's the ability to turn in an over-the-top camp villain performance in 1987's "Spaceballs," then a chilling portrayal of a hate monger and demagogue in the next year's "Mississippi Burning." If your character longs to comprehend the human experience, you need a performer capable of expressing not just that longing, but the breadth of said experience. Stephen Tobolowsky is that performer. Also, he was really good in that Super Bowl commercial where they redid "Groundhog Day" for Jeep a couple of years ago.

Exhibit C: Stephen Mogolowsky, the Green Tobolantern

You probably know Alan Moore, the creator of "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta." What you might not be as familiar with are his contributions to the mainstream DC universe. Some, like John Constantine, permeated the collective pop culture consciousness. Others, like Mogo, remain relatively obscure.

Mogo is a member of the Green Lantern Corps and a living planet, introduced by Moore and future "Watchmen" collaborator David Gibbons in 1985's "Green Lantern" volume 2 number 188. He wouldn't be the first sentient planet to make it to the contemporary superhero big screen, but he would be the first sentient planet to make it to the contemporary superhero big screen as played by Stephen Tobolowsky.

And you know what? Maybe that would finally be enough to get Alan Moore to stop whining about superhero movies all the time. Maybe that would be the factor that convinced him to take a cab to the movie theater, where heartbreak somehow feels good, and soak in the wonder that comes with experiencing a more magical world. A world, in this case, quite literally made of Stephen Tobolowsky.

But they probably won't do it. Studio executives. Not a spine between them.