Now that Conan O'Brien's departure from NBC is official according to The Wall Street Journal, everyone is wondering just what he'll do next, especially as his deal may limit him from hosting his own talk show for a period of time. He'll undoubtedly pop up on a new network, and I wouldn't be surprised if he landed a nice little book deal. But could he become a movie star?
It was Adam Sandler who got me thinking about it. He appeared on O'Brien last night, and promised that O'Brien could have a spot making movies with him. Of course he came prepared with movie posters and pitches, and it was all one big joke which you can watch on Hulu if you like. Obviously O'Brien's comedic skills have always been in writing and improv, and we all love him for his zany, madcap antics. But we love a lot of comedians for the exact same reason, and the list of successful comedian-turned-actors is pretty long and illustrious. O'Brien's cameos on 30 Rock as Liz Lemon's boyfriend are terrifyingly normal, and suggest he has a lot more dramatic range than his talk show rivals (we don't need to name names) have.
Don't believe me? Refresh your memory by watching the clip:
I really think someone ought to send O'Brien a film script or two. I think he'd be great in a Judd Apatow movie -- maybe not as the lead, but as a best friend character who isn't named Seth Rogen. Perhaps he could be recruited by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, or star alongside Ben Stiller in something that didn't take place in a nighttime museum. I could even see him in that dreaded genre of genres: romantic comedy. A good one, mind you, one that costarred Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. Something sweet, vaguely geeky, and neurotic in the ways of real life instead of the glamor-rama that Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston dish out. Even an Sandler movie (and a lot of them are guilty, guilty pleasures for me) might be a lot of fun with a big dose of O'Brien. Considering this is the day and age of the "unconventional" matinee idol like Rogen, I feel like it's about time the tall and gingery O'Brien had a chance at the glory.
It's all idle speculation, and undoubtedly born out of a desire to see O'Brien succeed in ways that NBC executives could never, ever dream of. I'd really like to see him emerge from this wreckage a double or triple threat, and a big screen career would be a delightful revenge. Could you see O'Brien as a movie star?
[Editor's Note: Christopher Campbell wondered this very thing in a revenge scenario involving Conan, Jay Leno, and a remake of the film Collision Course.]