Slap on a grey wig and skip the six hours in a makeup chair, and you can make any actor appear much older / closer to their age than they usually look. But ask any teen drama star who looks like they have two mortgages and an ulcer, and you'll know that getting actors to look younger is the real challenge. But now, Hollywood seems to have a new way to get the job done: an amazing trick called nepotism.
Being a famous actor's actor kid can be either a blessing or a curse, otherwise known as the Colin Hanks / Charlie Sheen spectrum. (Of course, it can also be both.) But this week, it was definitely a blessing for Michael Gandolfini, who was cast in his father's old role as Tony Soprano in the upcoming Sopranos prequel The Many Saints Of Newark. Show creator David Chase and the producers looked at countless actors to fill the teenage version of James Gandolfini's iconic role, but eventually settled on his 19-year-old son Michael, because he's a talented actor who's currently breaking out and has extensive experience in looking like a wee James Gandolfini.
Not that hiring actors to play the young versions of their parents is anything new. Mamie Gummer took over from Mommy Meryl Streep in Evening's flashbacks, Emilio Estevez popped up in old tapes to play a young Martin Sheen in The West Wing, and they even got Steve Buscemi's grandson to play him in a 30 Rock scene.
But getting spawn to take over prequels or origin stories, which is the case with Michael Gandolfini and O'Shea Jackson Jr. in Straight Outta Compton, is definitely a newer development, and maybe that's not all that surprising. The only alternative to getting a close facial match is through CGI, which clearly hasn't been perfected. Marvel and Disney have probably poured myriad millions into de-aging special effects, and the best they ever managed was a 40-year-old Michael Douglas -- and he still looked like a cross between The Annoying Orange and Julia Roberts mid-stroke.
Now consider how we'll run out of oxygen long before we run out of prequels and origin stories, and then brace for the possibility that older actors may soon start popping out kids on a five-year schedule just to keep their franchise game on point.
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