Vol. 6, Issue 8, September 23, 2008
Film Falls Short of Goal to Include Every Living British Actor
The Royal Society has announced that, despite much advance hoolpa and a £1.5 million grant, the recent British film Brideshead Revisited fell exactly six people short of including every known British actor, thwarting the nation's attempt to reach an unprecedented theatrical milestone.
"British thespians are the finest in the world," said Royal Society spokesman Gerold Tremaine, "excepting those dozy gits on East Enders. It stands to reason that including all of them in a single film will represent not only the pinnacle of artistic achievement in Great Britain, but in the Western world. We remain fully committed to this goal and pledge that the full resources of the Royal Society stand ready to make it happen."
Great Britain's strong theatrical traditions, dating back to Shakespeare's day, are today unparalleled, and British actors and actresses are widely renowned.
"It's the accent," said American talk-show host Jon Stewart. "Let's face it; Kiera Knightley could be reading the back of a cereal box and people would still nominate her for an Oscar. Come to think of it, isn't that what happened in Pride and Prejudice?"
Nonetheless, despite the peerless quality of British actors - ranging from the unassailably dignified to the irrepressibly comic - Great Britain has for decades felt upstaged by Hollywood, which has brashly situated itself atop the entertainment heap and shown no signs of moving aside.
"It is our hope that producing a single work of unparalleled majesty and acting brilliance, we can once again make Britain the true epicenter of modern entertainment," said Patrick Stewart, of X-Men and Star Trek fame. "Plus it keeps everyone employed. Believe me, an unemployed actor is a sight no-one wants to behold. There are so many actors, it has a tangible effect on the economy."
There was some hope that the Harry Potter franchise would provide a suitable venue to accomplish the goal, but the big-budget blockbusters have managed to include only 75% of British actors in the installments filmed thus far.
"The problem is there are too many damn kids in the story," said Tremaine. "Ian McKellen may be skilled, but playing a 13-year old is beyond even his formidable powers." A briefly considered plan to dress all extraneous British actors as owls for the Potter films was discarded when a protest was lodged by Animal Welfare, claiming the move would have caused "economic hardship" to the nation's professional owl-wranglers.
The failure of Brideshead Revisited to reach the goal was particularly galling, as the six missing actors were in fact scheduled to appear as extras but failed to show up for filming after an especially hard night drinking at the pub.
"Mark my words: these rascals will be brought to account," said Tremaine. "I don't care how many Oscars Helen Mirren has. Next time she's just got to hold her liquor, or better yet, stay away from the Scrumpy altogether."
With the failure of Brideshead, eyes are now turning to the final film in the Harry Potter series as the best chance to achieve the monumental goal. The film, which is scheduled to begin filming in 2009, will include an enormous battle scene where "we will jolly well get everyone in, whether they like it or not," said Tremaine.
"I don't care if we've got to drag them on set unconscious," said Tremaine. "An unconscious British actor will still turn in a better performance than a conscious American one. We'll nail this yet, mark my words."