Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue is happening - but who should be cast as Hulk Hogan himself? Terry Bollea (better known by his wrestling moniker Hulk Hogan) is no stranger to Hollywood, having appeared in movies like No Holds Barred, Mr. Nanny, and Rocky III in the '80s and '90s. Now, he's getting the Hollywood treatment yet again - only this time, in the form of his very own biopic. And while the "Bollea vs. Gawker" sex tape scandal on which the movie will be based is mostly cut and dry at this point, the same can't be said for who will be cast as the "Sterling Golden" himself.
In 2006, Bollea was at the center of a scandal when Gawker Media published portions of a sex tape that involved Bollea and Heather Clem (she was the wife of radio personality Todd Alan Clem, also known as Bubba the Love Sponge). However, instead of settling things in the ring, Bollea took Gawker to court. The entire hearing erupted into a legal dispute arguing freedom of the press versus personal privacy, but it didn't stop there. Bollea's beef with Gawker only grew from the initial lawsuit. When he was fired from the WWE after Gawker published transcripts of the wrestler using racial slurs, Bollea sued the Gawker yet again - this time with the help of billionaire Peter Thiel (who had been outed as gay by Gawker without his consent).
Now, the movie on which this scandal is based is picking up steam. Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Red Sparrow) will direct, and Charles Randolph (who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Big Short) will pen the screenplay. Speculation is now open as to who will star in the movie as Hogan, Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, Gawker CEO Nick Denton, and Clem.
- This Page: Possible Actors Who Could Play Hulk Hogan
- Page 2: Our Top Hulk Hogan Pick & Casting The Other Key Players In The Gawker Story
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Audiences are more than familiar with the wrestling personality that is Hulk Hogan. Who they may not be as familiar with, however, is the actual man underneath (and, no, his role in the VH1 reality series Hogan Knows Best doesn't count). In a way, this upcoming biopic is giving Bollea a reintroduction. His guard is down, emotions are high, and there will be a kind of vulnerability on display that has been - for over 30 years - mostly nonexistent. Now, the goal is finding an actor who can juggle the physical presence and confidence, but also the sensitive subtleties.
Enter Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Between The Walking Dead, Watchmen, and even less intense roles like The Possession, Morgan has a unique control of himself. When his performances get explosive, they're undercut with finesse; when he's going for extreme, he's reserved; and when he's intimidating, he's able to maintain a sense of calm. Bringing that to a celebrity icon who is fighting for their reputation could be the perfect way to get the humanized makeover this movie is trying to pull off.
When it comes to casting someone as famous as Hulk Hogan, a possible risk is turning the performance into a stylized caricature. In the past, Kevin Spacey tried his hand at Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea (not because he was necessarily right for the role, but because he looked and sounded like him), Leonardo DiCaprio did his best as J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar (despite unforgiving prosthetics), and Ashton Kutcher essentially cosplayed as Steve Jobs in Jobs. So, with that being the case, sometimes not going for the "it" actor to bring someone to life on the big screen, and instead going with someone unexpected but capable is a safer bet.
Dash Mihok, who worked with Lawrence on I Am Legend, has been in the business for decades, but has never been given a shot at headlining a major movie. Now, having grown out of his younger sidekick roles in movies like Romeo + Juliet, and proving his grittier, matured abilities in Ray Donovan, especially, playing Hulk Hogan could potentially become Mihok's crowning achievement, even though he's significantly younger than Bollea.
Even though Woody Harrelson's body type doesn't exactly mirror that of Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea, that shouldn't count him out of the running completely. Especially taking into account his facial likeness, Harrelson's angle on this sort of performance would certainly add to the prestige approach that this movie is apparently going for. A courtroom drama with an Academy Award-winning writer at the helm - someone with Harrelson's gravitas, range, and proven track record with playing real-life people (see: The People vs. Larry Flynt, LBJ) ought to be a given when considering someone to tackle Hogan (not literally, as he clearly wouldn't stand a chance).
Having worked with Lawrence on the Hunger Games series, there is already a relationship between the actor and director; and given that the role requires a lot of attention to detail in order to prevent the performance from feeling hammy or unfocused, comfortability between the director and actor could do wonders in crafting an ideal interpretation.
While aging prosthetics aren't always the most ideal approach with actors, they're not always complete misfires - especially when they're subtly adding realism to a performance (see: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln). What's more is that they allow actors who'd otherwise be incapable of feeling believable in a role believable. And adding to that a specific actor's ability to deliver overwhelmingly commanding performances with extensive range definitely doesn't hurt.
This brings us to Tom Hardy. Not only has he literally proven his abilities in the ring like Hogan in movies like Bronson and Warrior, his range is jarring. Can he handle the enthusiastic presence that most people recognize in someone like Hulk Hogan? Yes. But can he also perfect the quieter, struggling demeanor that Bollea was experiencing outside of his popular character during the trial? Without a doubt.
Tackling this sort of role would certainly require a major physical transformation for Hardy, and history has proven that he's more than capable of exceeding expectations.