Movie Mt. Rushmore is a new feature at Monkeys Fighting Robots, where we dive into genres and decades to try and disseminate who, among the collection of candidates, belong on the Mt. Rushmore of said genre and decade. Only four can make it, who will it be?
This time around, we take a look at Sci-Fi Stars. There are countless actors who had their breakout in sci-fi, but decidedly fewer actors who cornered the market by starring in two or more great sci-fi flicks over their career. That is the one prerequisite I used when considering actors and their place in the genre. Let’s see who made the cut…
Place #1: Harrison Ford – Star Wars may have been all about the growth and maturation of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. But let’s face it, everyone wanted to be Han Solo. Ford’s brash ego-fueled bandit was the fiery undercurrent of the original Star Wars films, and his return in The Force Awakens has fans stirred into a frenzy of anticipation.
Aside from creating one of the most iconic sci-fi characters of all time, Ford starred in a little film called Blade Runner. As Rick Deckard, Ford created yet another iconic look. While Blade Runner wasn’t well received back in 1982, it has since become a staple of sci-fi cinema. Ford’s return to sci-fi in Cowboys and Aliens may have missed the mark, but it didn’t take away from the fact he created the most impactful sci-fi character in cinematic history.
Place #2: Sigourney Weaver – Weaver changed the game for science fiction films in 1979’s Alien, simply by being a female. In a world dominated by male action stars, Weaver’s Ellen Ripley was a fresh perspective. Her performance in Aliens is one of the best of the genre, and it earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, an unprecedented nom for a genre film.
Weaver also starred in the much maligned but worthy Alien 3, and the much maligned and deservedly so Alien Resurrection. Aside from her Alien films, Weaver also starred in Avatar. Say what you will about James Cameron’s 3D epic, but it is still the second highest-grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation.
Place #3: Charlton Heston – Many may have forgotten about the late Charlton Heston, but before there was Star Wars and Solo, there was the sci-fi run of Heston. It started with Planet of The Apes, one of the best of all time. Heston’s grizzled demeanor and ability to play up desperation was a great fit for a film about a man bewildered in a new, confusing environment. That played well in Soylent Green, another classic sci-fi. Spoiler alert…
Aside from these two gems, Heston appeared in Beneath the Planet of The Apes, arguably the only worthy sequel to the original film. Thankfully he bailed after that. He also starred in The Omega Man, one of the better adaptations of Richard Matheson’s last-man-on-Earth story I Am Legend.
Place #4: Tom Cruise – As always, the fourth entry on these lists will bring with it the most controversy. Tom Cruise got into the sci-fi game late, well after he’d established himself as THE action star in films like Mission: Impossible and Top Gun. Then, in 2002, Cruise teamed up with Steven Spielberg for Minority Report, one of the more underrated sci-fi classics of the modern era. The duo’s follow-up to Minority Report was War of The Worlds. While some may dismiss the film, there are some serious post-9/11 undertones and great action at the core of the alien invasion remake. Cruise was perfect in the role.
Recently, Cruise starred in one mediocre sci-fi in Oblivion, and one of the best sci-fi action films of 2014 in Edge of Tomorrow. The latter suffered from poor marketing, but nevertheless is an ingenious and original entity, made even better by Cruise’s determination to his craft.
Who would you have on your Sci-Fi stars Movie Mt. Rushmore?