On Sunday there were reports, first appearing in London’s Sunday Times, that the United Nation had appointed Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, as head of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA… the sound an alien might make?). Unfortunately someone seems to have jumped the gun, as Othman has subsequently denied the appointment. To help cope with our disappointment, we thought we’d take a look at 10 Hollywood actors who’d also make fine ambassadors. You know, just in case.
Main Qualifying Role: In Spielberg’s Close Encounter of the Third Kind, Roy Neary, played by Dreyfuss, is haunted by five musical notes after a “close encounter” of the first kind. Eventually an obsession with a mountain-like structure gets him through government red tape to have an encounter of the third kind: contact.
Pros: Overcomes crazed government agents and attempted cover-up in Encounter. Also has experience with fear of the unknown in Jaws. Finally, his roles in the seminal films such as American Graffiti and Mr. Holland’s Opus give him authority on the human experience.
Cons: Obviously goes a little batty in Encounters. Also his last on screen appearance was in Piranha 3D.
Main Qualifying Role: In The Matrix Trilogy, Fishburne played Morpheus, a wise, fatherly figure who found Neo, the One, and extracted/freed him from the Matrix.
Pros: Sure it’s not exactly an alien flick, but Morpheus still gets his shaved head around some pretty mind-bending ideas. And we can’t discount Fishburne’s smooth baritone, which he used in a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello.
Cons: He’s pretty busy freaking out about the fact that his daughter Montana is in porn (too soon?)
Main Qualifying Role: In his 50+ years of acting he’s played the President (Deep Impact), a prison inmate (The Shawshank Redemption), Nelson Mandela (Invictus), and even God (Bruce Almighty).
Pros: Calm, cool, collected and a voice to rival Fishburne’s.
Cons: It would keep from acting?
Tommy Lee Jones
Main Qualifying Role: As Agent Kay in the Men in Black series, we all remember Jones taking a fiery James aka Agent Jay (Will Smith) under his wing, showing him the world of underground extraterrestrial activity.
Pros: Direct, well-dressed and not afraid to use force. Also deals well with crises (Volcano) and missing persons (The Fugitive, US Marshals).
Cons: He might go overboard on the memory zapping pen.
Main Qualifying Role: President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day faces a massive, hostile alien invasion. Unfortunately for them, Whitmore is a vet and they came on Fourth of July weekend.
Cons: Not much else on the resume, but really, what a speech.
Main Qualifying Role: The Governor has plenty of relevant work on his resume that would help him empathize with alienated visitors: he played a robot from the future in the Terminator series and a clone in Total Recall. But it’s his quick thinking, will to survive, and politically successful co-stars in Predator that we’d recommend putting forward to the UN.
Pros: Undeniably a man of action. Also, his intimidating physical physique could help us bargain with the visitors. He’s also the only one on our list with real political experience.
Cons: Few diplomat roles, but that didn’t stop the voters of California.
Main Qualifying Role: Barrymore played Elliott’s little sister Gertie in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. The adorable kid befriends E.T., and later helps Elliott execute a heart-wrenching rescue operation from the government’s prying and decidedly evil scalpel.
Pros: Good at keeping secrets. Empathetic toward and ultimately able to befriend strange-looking creatures.
Cons: She might try to give the aliens makeovers.
Main Qualifying Role: Merrill Hess, aka Mel Gibson’s brother in Signs. M. Night Shymalan lets us in to a home on the farm when aliens attack. At one point (pictured above) Merrill becomes convinced tin foil will protect their minds from the invading aliens.
Pros: In Signs he’s good with humor, kids, and (spoiler alert!) a baseball bat. Phoenix also knows how to take time off from acting.
Cons: Prone to year-long disappearing hoaxes and growing unsightly beards.
Main Qualifying Role: Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek.
Pros: Besides spending a combined 101 episodes familiarizing himself with all sorts of alien life forms, he’s got a voice that can sugar-coat any bad news.
Cons: Aliens might have trouble picking up his iconic rhythm of speech.
Main Qualifying Role: Ellen Ripley, bad ass heroine in the Alien series, who encounters a particularly brutal alien life on a small planet that comes back with them on to their towing spaceship.
Pros: Height. She’s a towering 5’11. Also, she has additional experience relating with non-humans thanks to roles in both Ghostbusters and Avatar.
Cons: People might assume that, with Weaver as our leader, the aliens will be more likely to be of the pop-out-of-your-chest variety.