Joe Lavin

January 29, 2008

Performance Enhancement Hits Hollywood

As you get ready to watch the new Rambo movie, know this: John Rambo is juiced. Recently, Sylvester Stallone admitted using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to get into shape for the role, and defends it by saying, "HGH is nothing."

I, for one, am appalled. Who knew there was HGH inside the actor's studio? It's just not right for actors to be taking any performance-enhancing drugs. Next thing you know, Stallone will win an Oscar for "Rambo," and we'll all know that the performance wasn't legitimate. After a movie, whenever you say, "What a performance," you'll catch yourself wondering whether the actor might have been on something. Well, something performance-enhancing, that is.

The whole profession could be tainted. You know, Tom Hanks was just a goofy little comic actor sharing screen time with dogs and mermaids, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he won two Best Actor Oscars in a row, equaling the total of such acting luminaries as Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, and Marlon Brando.

Sure, we have no evidence, but what if Hanks was juiced at the time? What if he somehow cheated? It just wouldn't be fair. After all, Spencer Tracy didn't have the luxury of using HGH or steroids to improve his acting chops, now did he?

As for Stallone, I've seen some of the trailers for "Rambo." I don't want to be the one to tell him, but I think Stallone might be using the wrong type of performance enhancers. Or maybe he's got the dosage wrong. I liked him in "Get Carter." He should use whatever HGH he was on back then.

And, if you ask me, some performances just don't need to be enhanced. I shudder to think of what mind-numbing performances Daniel Day-Lewis or Sean Penn could turn in under the influence of these drugs.

I don't mean to pick on Daniel Day-Lewis. After all, he was great in "My Big Toe," but he is a weird guy. For example, he always stays in character while on set, which must be kind of annoying since so often he's playing a jerk. According to IMDB, "Day- Lewis got sick during [the] shooting [of "Gangs of New York"], refusing to trade his character's threadbare coat for a warmer coat because the warmer coat did not exist in the 19th century."

For the other actors, this must get tedious really quickly.

"Hey, Dan, did you see that basketball game the Lakers won last night?"

"What is this basketball of which you speak? I do not believe it exists yet, good Sir. Kindly pass the mutton, please."

Unfortunately for him, "There Will Be Blood" is mostly set in the early 1900s before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences existed, so it looks like no Oscar for him. I guess this also explains how he didn't win for "Gangs of New York." Luckily, all we need to do is keep him in period pieces before there were steroids, and we should be safe.

As for Sean Penn, I believe he's the finest actor working today, whose films I have no interest in seeing. Really, he's excellent, but there's almost always something else playing at the multiplex. Frankly, I was willing to give him the Oscar for "I Am Sam," just in exchange for not having to see the film. Maybe we can just tell him that they make HGH in third-world sweatshops, and he'll start a movement to boycott it.

Still, it seems that steroids are everywhere these days. Just the other day, I received an e-mail offering me performance enhancing drugs, although, come to think of it, it might have been for a whole different kind of performance. Still, luckily there is one place that is safe from all this: "American Gladiators." Yes, the new gladiators are tested strenuously to make sure they are free of steroids.

I think it says something when "American Gladiators" has more stringent steroid testing than Major League Baseball. It would certainly be a shame for the use of steroids to turn "American Gladiators" into some sort of farce, although part of me is disappointed. If there's anywhere I would like to see more steroids used, it's on "American Gladiators."

Obviously, the American Gladiators are a beacon of hope for so much in this world, and, in this case, I think Hollywood should take their lead and ban the use of all performance enhancing drugs in film. They must act now before it's too late, or at least before Kenneth Branagh gets around to casting another Shakespeare film.

©2008 Joe Lavin

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