An Open Letter to Taylor Kitsch, Upon Hearing That He May Star In the ‘Need for Speed’ Movie
Hi Taylor! How's it going? Good I hope.
….Listen, we need to talk.
I just read that you have been offered the lead role in an upcoming film adaptation of the video game 'Need for Speed.' Since you're in very good shape and a working actor, I'm going to assume that you don't know much about video games or their movie adaptations, so let me help you out a little: 'Need for Speed' is a very popular series of racing video games. You race around a city, exploring it to make jumps, race opponents, etc. and so on. The graphics are amazing, the controls are tight and responsive, the tracks are fun….. notice that I didn't comment on the storyline of the game?
That's because there's not a storyline, really. There's not even a visible protagonist, there's just you, the car. Are you playing the car in this movie?
Now, if you aren't aware, there's not been a huge success rate for movie adaptations of video games. They can be extremely cheesy or overloaded with special effects and underloaded with acting. Video game movies have to honor the video game fans while appealing to the rest of the world, which is a tough line to walk. I'm not sure what it would take to make a good video game movie, because I feel like we still haven't nailed it as a people (don't you dare bring up 'The Wizard' to me, readers), but I don't think 'Need for Speed' is it.
Perhaps a video game that has a fully developed world that is wildly different from our own would make a better movie. 'Need for Speed' takes place in our reality, except that people could care less if you race around their town, wrecking everything. Maybe you take a fully developed world, like 'Bioshock' or 'Mass Effect,' you pick a character that was not a main character in the game, and you develop that character's world. Create a story that is interesting on its own accord and tangential to the plot of the game, and dig in. I don't know if that's possible with a racing game.
I worry about you, Taylor. Following up a board game adaptation movie ('Battleship') with a video game adaptation movie is perhaps setting you up to become a punchline. And I like you. I think of you, Taylor, like a modern Keanu -- best in roles where your emotions are restrained because that's how the character has to be. You're great at just having a hint of anger or sadness touch your wounded eyes and immediately quelched because you have work to do, and you're great at having your shirt off.
My advice? Maybe try to weasel in on a comic book movie, as a distant superhero friend of Captain America, maybe. Develop some of your comedy chops, and keep those abs amazing.
Emily V. Gordon is a couples and family therapist turned freelance writer, comedy producer, and video game talker-abouter. You can find her at Huffington Post, xoJane, and Nerdist! You can find her on Twitter and her own blog too.