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Troy: the Brad Pitt of Despair

I finally got around to watching the movie Troy the other night. Just couldn't get around to seeing it in the theater.

A lot of it was pretty good. The battle scenes were spectacular, but repetitive. I thought Eric Bana as Hector was marvelous. The two LotR alumni, Orlando Bloom as Paris and Sean Bean as Odysseus, were also very good. The role of Paris in particular is a thankless one, and Orlando made it work. Peter O'Toole seems to have moved into the spot Richard Harris used to occupy as "elderly veteran actor best suited to playing a king in a costume drama." The scene where he begged Achilles for Hector's body was the most moving in the entire piece.

But what deranged casting director hired Brad Pitt to play Achilles?

Don't get me wrong. I like to look at Brad Pitt just as much as any other hetero female. He's even a pretty good actor; I adored his Louis in Interview with the Vampire. But Achilles? Come on! Biceps aside (Brad has very nice biceps, I'll give you that), he is just not by any stretch of the imagination the right actor to play Achilles. Have you read The Iliad? I have. Okay, not lately, but I did read it. Achilles is an invincible brute who lives for war and glory. I'm picturing Vin Diesel in Pitch Black. (That's Pitch Black, not Joe Black.) Or maybe the Rock. Maybe Schwarzenegger when he was thirty. He's certainly better suited to play Achilles than he is for his current job.

And where did Hector's cousin the virgin priestess come from? I don't seem to remember her from The Iliad. Was she an attempt to make Achilles' love for his cousin Patroclus look platonic?

Fairly watchable -- two stars -- but ultimately disappointing. Every time Pitt was on the screen, I kept wondering what the casting director was thinking. I also kept wishing that they'd do part two with Sean Bean.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Billie,

    I was puzzled by your reference to "Hector's cousin the virgin priestess" since I haven't seen the film. However, some Internet research tells me that the character is in fact Briseis. Briseis was not a virgin priestess in Homer, nor a cousin of Hector, but she was a very significant character. At the beginning of The Iliad, Achilles is sulking in his tent, refusing to fight. The reason was because Briseis was taken away from him by Agamemnon when Agamemnon had to return his own bed-warmer. . .er, war-prize Chryses (who was a priestess of Apollo which is why Agamemnon had to return her). Achilles refused to fight unless she was returned to him (which she wasn't) until the death of Patroclus. She's a vital plot device in The Iliad and I'm surprised you don't remember her, though apparently the writers decided to flesh her out a great deal more than Homer did which may have confused you. One thing one should remember about the Greeks is that they had no real concept of homosexuality the way we do-- Achilles was perfectly willing to do to girls what he did to boys. I liked your comments about the mis-casting of Achilles. The first line of the Iliad is after all, "Sing, goddess, of the wrath of Achilles." Achilles' principal characteristic, as you observed, was his wrath. (Maybe the casting director had just watched Se7en? Wasn't it Pitt who personified Wrath in that film? It's no excuse, of course.)

  2. Argh, Billie, I concur that many opportunities were wasted in this film. And I was sitting in the front row (hand clamped over my mouth, trying not to laugh) when Brad Pitt did his best Brando imitation : "HECTOR!!! HECTOR!!!" Three other people who saw the movie agreed we all wanted to yell back "STELLA!"

    And once again, Eric Bana was the best thing in a bad movie.

    I had much more fun with the "reunion" casting, which I'm guessing is what the casting director or Wolfgang were focusing on:

    Peter O'Toole (Priam) and Nigel Terry (chief soothsayer) from LION IN WINTER

    Sean Bean and Orlando Bloom (LOTR 1)

    Sean Bean and Brendan Gleeson (THE FIELD)

    Julie Christie and Peter O'Toole (well, if they had done what I thought should be and cast O'Toole as Dumbledore, then they both would have been in Harry Potter 3)

    Brian Cox and Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart)

    and on...

    And NO CASSANDRA? No Greek wives? Wolfgang, dude, please don't do the Odessey. I'd bet 10-1 you'd cast wrong there too. Or cut out Penelope and her suitors entirely!

  3. Good comments. Loved picking out the Greek love aspect.

    Goes along with my pet beef with historical dramas. Paris's wife was way to old to be having a first child. Marriage then was common at twelve and women were old maids and unmarriable normally after twenty.

  4. Hey Billie. I loved your comment about Arnold being being better suited to play Achilles than his current job. Being from California, like you, I can totally agree with that. What a waste of my vote, and I had just high hopes for him. Anyway, just had to say that. I enjoyed reading your blog!

  5. Good review. In my opinion, casting was not the only failing. The whole story - designed to revolve around Achilles - fell flat. Important elements of the legend - Agammenon sacrificing his daughter, Cassandra and her fate - were missing.

    A better rendition of the Trojan story would be the miniseries 'Helen of Troy' which (imho) hit all the right notes.

  6. To Andrew & All,
    "One thing one should remember about the Greeks is that they had no real concept of homosexuality the way we do"

    I think it's not just the Greeks, but all the people during that time. Say, Alexander the Great, he's not gay at all. Any man during that time can have a relationship with another man without the society labelling him as gay. Same with the women, they can do another woman, but they aren't tomboy, not lesbian. Nowadays, we have all those kind of types, transvestites, homosexuals, lesbians, gays...

  7. hahaha, yeah, why did they cast Pitt as Achilles! It's just like casting Colin Farrell (a blonde Farrel!ugh)as Alexander..so badly portrayed

  8. I agree completly. Its not that Brad Pitt isn't a good actor; in fact I think he's very good. He was just wrong for the part. I can see why he'd want to play it; the part of Achellis is the definition of being an invicible warlord. However the only reason I can see behind Pitt's casting was the director wanted a famous face to front it, and a more attrative one than Vin Diesal. The rest of the cast were steller; Eric Banner steals the show and Brian Cox is brilliant as slippery Agamemnon. Bloom of course is more eye candy but he too does a fine job and Sean Bean is always good in everything. All in all dissapointing. The battle scenes are pretty superb. If I have one complaint its when Hector goes to his death. I mean sure its about pride and Hector's guilt and all, but he's like the main defender for the city. If he falls then the war is lost. Why didn't Preame stop him?


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