One of Michael Douglas’s best roles is as D-Fens in Falling Down. He has the charisma and devil-may-care attitude that attracts people. When the movie came out in 1993, he was right in his prime with Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct preceding it.
Yet, there were so many great actors — especially action hero stars — that could have also nailed this role. Actors like Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson were also in the running.
Let’s explore what a few other actors may have brought to the table as the frustrated vigilante D-Fens.
Alec Baldwin has experience with playing anti-heroes. Miami Blues premiered only three years before Falling Down and is a perfect example of that. In that film, Baldwin plays a criminal fresh out of jail who masquerades as a police officer. His performance there was fun to watch, if a little out-there at times. If given another shot at a more serious, malicious character, Baldwin could have really shown off his acting chops. He could have given the character a more menacing and unpredictable tone, merely increasing D-Fens’s frightening persona.
Harrison Ford hasn’t played many villains in his career. The only few that come to mind are from early in his career in American Graffiti and a guest appearance or two on older TV shows. There’s just something about him that people are drawn to. Falling Down could have exploited that likability to make him into a terrifying character. Even in his hero roles, Ford is able to portray a sense of wildness that really could have aided him in the part of D-Fens. It would have been a jump, for sure, but one he could have made.
Mel Gibson shines brightest in action films. He’s at his best with a gun or other weapon in his hand, ready to incite a little violence. D-Fens would have been a perfect role for him. The opportunity to strut around with a bag full of guns while being quick to anger fits him to a tee. He’s not necessarily the most imposing figure in the film industry, but his personality more than makes up for it. Gibson could have provided the character with a sense of stolidity that would have added greatly to a film that already had an engaging plot.
Personally, I feel like George Clooney would have been great in a lot of different roles. He not only has star power but he has a disarming charisma that makes people want to root for him. The role of D-Fens may have been a little different than his other roles; he would have to have been a lot more reserved, but his charisma would have been an interesting factor to throw in. Of course, we run into the same problem here as we did with Harrison Ford in that it’s hard to see Clooney as a villain. Still, he is talented and experienced enough that he could have pulled it off.
I love Denzel Washington in everything he does. He melts into his roles in a way that is absolutely fascinating to watch. Having him play D-Fens in Falling Down would have been incredible. The role requires a level of grace mixed with a killer instinct. Washington could nail that. He’s played similar characters in his career and coming off the success of Malcolm X would have pulled people in. Washington could have provided one of the best performances of his career on this one. It’s a shame we’ll never get to know.
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