And we wonder why the methodology behind film awards is so forked up…
Director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) is reuniting with Tom Cruise for 2016’s Mena, based on the true story of pilot turned drug smuggler turned DEA/CIA informant, Barry Seal. Seal’s life is wholly fascinating, from his early start as a Civil Air Patrol, and Special Forces pilot; Seal claims he flew Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie’s getaway plane following JFK’s assassination. From there, the stories only get crazier: Seal worked as a pilot for TWA until he got caught transporting weapons for a group (possibly as part of Operation 40) trying to take out Fidel Castro, for which he was understandably fired. Seal simply switched gears and contracted himself out as a consultant…and drug smuggler. BUT WAIT! Before I go on, you need to know something really, super important. Fascinating as Seal’s story might be, what you really need to know about the guy is that he was overweight. That’s right, never mind flying covert missions and CIA cover-ups; disregard the Medellín Cartel and Pablo Escobar, and forget that Seal was directly involved in the sting operation against Nicaragua’s Sandinistas — dude was fat. I’m terribly sorry to have tried to bury such a fantastic lede, clearly very important by the trade news headlines:
“Tom Cruise Plans on Gaining Weight for New Role.”
“Tom Cruise to Pack on the Pounds…”
“Tom Cruise Will Reportedly Gain Weight…”
“Tom Cruise Might Pack on the Chunk for his next movie.”
So, uh…is this a Scientology-backed, very early Oscar campaign? Seal reportedly weighed in at somewhere around 300 pounds, but there’s no way Cruise is going to gain that much weight, so exactly how much weight will he add to his coming-off-Mission Impossible frame? Will he wear the fat suit? How far will he go to be an authentically heavy “most important drug informant ever?” Let the speculation begin.
But, just in case you’re still interested in the actual Barry Seal story, in February of 1986, he was shot down in front of a Baton Rouge Salvation Army, either by the cartel or — if you’re into conspiracy stuff — by the Bush family or Reagan. Seal’s crazy life has already been documented in 1991’s Doublecrossed, starring Dennis Hopper and Robert Carradine, but Hopper doesn’t look to have gained much weight for the role, and sadly, he did not win an Oscar.
Cruise and Liman are set to begin production on Mena following this summer’s Mission Impossible 5 release.