It's pretty hackneyed to claim that a blog post or viral video has "won the internet," but then there's Willie Nelson celebrating his 80th birthday by making an audition tape for the upcoming Hobbit sequel. With what appears to be a joint hanging out of his mouth, Nelson and his son Micah Nelson, filling in as Bilbo Baggins, improvise a series of vaguely wizard-sounding lines — "You shall not pass an unlit joint — that's just not cool" and "That giant flaming eye is freaking me the f**k out!" — for Conan O'Brien's production company.
"Nelson, dressed in cloak and wizard hat and staff, blurting out, 'Hey look at that dragon!' might be the best thing you'll hear today," says Francois Marchand at Canada's Vancouver Sun. Based on this audition reel, it's clear "Nelson would make a very good (albeit very stoned) wizard, and some of the lines he delivers on the demo reel are just priceless." But there's one big problem: Director Peter Jackson already has a Gandalf, actor Ian McKellen.
Willie has thought of that, and he doesn't appear to be phased. "So that's it, Peter: You can hire me and fire that Ian McKellen guy," he tells Jackson. "He's a good actor, but hell, I'm Willie Nelson." To add an air of inevitability to the casting switch, Nelson also makes a stoner-papal reference: "Smoke is white — we've got a new wizard!" McKellen doesn't appear to be worried about losing his job:
Dear Willie, You are far too young to play Gandy.But nice try; have a stoner of a birthday. Love and admiration. Ian bit.ly/11S8A3k— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) April 30, 2013
It's pretty adorable that McKellen watched the video and knows that Tuesday is Willie's birthday, says Zach Dionne at New York's Vulture blog. But, um, "Nelson is actually six years older than McKellen."
Regardless, you can't blame Willie for trying, says Mike Usinger at the Canada's The Georgia Straight. "Our favorite dope-smoking Red Headed Stranger is no stranger to the Silver Screen," but he's not going to win an Academy Award for playing "Wedding Band Member" in the movie Get a Job. And after watching Nelson audition for this Oscar-worthy role, "all we have to say is 'Ian McKellen who?'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The uncomfortable truth in The Giving Tree
- The U.S. government is actually trouncing Ebola. When will it get credit?
- Why 2014 may be as good as it gets for the Republican Party
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why America needs more billionaires
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week