I was watching the latest trailer for A Little Piece of Heaven, Kate Hudson’s latest absurd-looking romantic comedy, which has two virtues going for it: the fact that Gael Garcia Bernal gets to play a romantic lead without being singled out as That Mexican Guy Kate Hudson Is Falling For, and the fact that a subplot in the movie apparently involves Peter Dinklage as a gigolo hired to cheer Hudson up. While Like Crazy’s unlikely to be remotely creative or unconventional in any other way, it did get me thinking about actors who should have a shot at playing romantic leads if only Hollywood had the courage to cast them:
1. Peter Dinklage: I’ve been beating the drum about the ridiculous hotness of Dinklage for years—in 2009, I wrote “He is not an affirmative action hire, and he is not a plain guy. He seems entirely capable of seducing older men, Liz Lemon, or anyone else who passes him by.”—and I’m thrilled that Game of Thrones has introduced a much broader audience to how sexy he is. I would love it if someone had the guts to just cast him in a romantic lead that doesn’t have to make a big deal about his stature. Dude’s earned it.
2. Demian Bichir: Bichir shot onto the national scene last year with an Academy Award-nominated performance as an undocumented gardener in A Better Life. But he’s long been a big star in his native Mexico, where his potential as a romantic lead is more appreciated than it is here. He’d be an awesome love interest for Diane Lane or Viola Davis if he wants to cash out, and if some director is smart enough to let him.
3. Romany Malco: Malco’s best known as a chatty movie number two, whether he’s giving Steve Carrell disgusting sexual advice in The 40-Year-Old Virgin or advising Tina Fey on getting knocked up as her doorman in Baby Mama. But his good looks and gift of gab really ought to bump him up to first tier as a worthy verbal sparring partner for a cerebral-but-sexy leading lady.
4. Patton Oswalt: To a certain extent, Oswalt got a shot at this kind of role in this winter’s Young Adult, where he plays a lovelorn high school friend to Charlize Theron’s hugely unpleasant YA writer—and he knocked it out of the park. In a world where we’re deluged by romantic comedies where schlubby losers score hot babes, Oswalt brought substance and depth to the stereotype, making it heartfelt and heartbreaking. He’s earned the opportunity to move the trope into a second, and more mature, generation. And come on, who doesn’t want to cuddle up with him and live-Tweet Downton Abbey?
5. Neil Patrick Harris and Zack Quinto: In recent years, both openly gay actors have made a point of proving that just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t play winningly heterosexual, whether it’s the hyper horndogs Harris has portrayed in the Harold and Kumar movies and How I Met Your Mother, or a Spock who’s had his emotional side awoken by Uhura in the rebooted Star Trek franchise. Now, it would be great for them that it’s not just straight dudes like Jake Gyllenhaal who can switch effortlessly and credibly between gay and straight love stories. Casting directors, put these two dudes in a movie together, stat.