It's undeniable that with the uptick of box office for Judd Apatow's stable of recent comedies, the rise of the dweeb as a viable leading man in film has arrived. Nothing to scoff at, although more often than not the fellers at the center of these films are still paired off with lovely, though fairly conventional ingénues and not necessarily ladies who can go toe to toe with them on geek cred. Which begs the question: When the geeks finally, completely inherit the earth, who are the actors beloved by internetters and nrrrrds who could open a picture to $35M in this new reality? Which power couplings should steal the limelight away from the Clooney/Roberts, Pitt/Jolie, and Diaz/Kutcher (urgh!) staples? Here are some suggestions. (And for those keeping score, we count at least five below who have been on the cover of Geek Monthly so far):
Nathan Fillion and Katee Sackhoff
Okay, so we’re starting off with a bit of a cheat: These two have already shared top billing together. As any die-hard sci-fi lover will tell you, however, the smouldering, charming rogue of Firefly and Dr. Horrible and the sexy, tomboy hard case of Battlestar Galactica definitely deserve a do-over when that first pairing was the direct-to-video stinker White Noise 2: The Light. Doesn’t have to be sci-fi, either; a clever spy thriller, maybe, or a straight-up action adventure would fit these two endlessly charismatic powerhouses like a glove. The only requisites are explosions, ass-whuppins, and plenty of room for acerbic one-liners bursting at the seams with sexual tension. If Joss Whedon writes it, all the better.
Simon Pegg and Tina Fey
In their respective countries, these two are already A-list. Fey’s Sarah Palin impression has been a constant headline-get and she just won three Emmys for 30 Rock. Meanwhile in his native UK, Pegg’s last three films opened at #1 (Run Fatboy Run held the top spot for five weeks – holla!). Cross the pond for either, though, and they’re still more or less cult favorites beloved by a dedicated group of comedy aficionados, not to mention textbook examples of “the thinking man’s/woman’s sex symbol.” So let’s do our part for foreign relations and get them in a vehicle together, something meaty and hilarious in the vein of Lost In America or The Out-of-Towners (duh, the original of course!); they’d be fab as a bickering couple way over their heads forced to rediscover why they fell in love in the first place. Geekily.
Paul Rudd and Mary-Lynn Rajskub
This one strikes straight at the issue we addressed above, where we’ve seen (and admittedly, enjoyed) plenty of vehicles where the nebbishy guy wins over the girl who’s out of his league. But let's flip the blueprint: Rudd’s undeniable mastery of comedic skills in Apatow’s flicks and more belies his staggering babeishness, and he’d be the perfect Keaton-like, attractive foil for a sweetly neurotic, would-be-Woody everywoman like Rajskub, who though she’s best known as 24’s socially inept Girl Friday is no stranger to serious funny, as anyone who’s seen her do standup can testify. No, of course we’re not suggesting a remake of Annie Hall, there will be no points awarded for laziness or thievery! Just saying…
Greg Grunberg and Zooey Deschanel
Alright, this one’s for the dudes. And the ladies in the nerd house, protest though they may the inequalities in celluloid for the average Jane rising above her station, would certainly admit the appeal of the cuddly boy next door, which on geek staples like Alias and Heroes has become Grunberg’s bread and butter. The obscenely talented Deschanel (OMG, that voice!), meanwhile, has done plenty of love-interest work in A-list films but is usually the best thing in them by a country mile. Both are intuitive actors who can handle humor as well as pathos, so we’d like to see them in a poignant, unlikely romance like the one in Sideways. Giamatti and Madsen, watch your backs.
Martin Starr and Kristen Schaal
You know what? To hell with it, we’re going for broke; no him and her beloved of our target audience have utterly inhabited the uber-geek like these two. A charter member of the Apatow mob, Starr has so far lingered in the background in the films while his barn-storming performance in Freaks & Geeks remains a testimonial to his potential for higher heights. Schaal, the hang-dog professional stalker…er, mega-fan of Flight of the Conchords and upstart sarcasmic correspondent on The Daily Show, would certainly deliver the gape-mouthed, nasally yin to his yang. We’re almost loathe to suggest an appropriate pitch for them to star in together, because frankly we’d watch them in anything; clearly a comedy would be ideal but anything goes. Stick them in a very, very off-kilter redux of The Rainmaker and we’d eat it up like candy-coated crack.
Of course, it’s somewhat limiting to stick to mere he said/she said pairings in this, and we can think of plenty of other superb match-ups of the same-sex variety. Maybe Chiwetel Eijofor and Mos Def in a whip-smart buddy flick that would do Bad Boys 2 one better? Or serial scene-stealers Amy Sedaris and Jane Lynch brought to the fore in a grand dames of geeks battle royale that would rival Davis and Crawford? Yeah, we’ve got loads of ideas – but we want to hear yours. Fire away in the comments below.