HeadScratcher No. 17: The international language...

155012__robertdeniro_lSo what do James Caviezel, Robert De Niro (left, in The Godfather Part II), Jodie Foster, Mary McDonnell, and Mira Sorvino have in common?

Call the Vatican! A lot of you saw a large-scale Catholic conspiracy, identifying the quintet’s roles in movies like Sleepers, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, and The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. You claimed they have all worked with/for Mel Gibson (not true). Some of you even guessed that they were all Catholic actors themselves (beats me).

But no. The real answer is far more secular, edifying even. They’re all American actors who have taken on a role in which most of their dialogue is in another language. Caviezel, of course, played Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, speaking only in Aramaic and Latin. De Niro, as the young Vito Corleone, spoke primarily nell’italiano. Foster, the product of a bilingual education, spoke French in a small role in A Very Long Engagement. And McDonnell conversed in a Sioux dialect as "Stands With Fist" in Dances With Wolves.

Then we get to Mira Sorvino.

addCredit(“The Godfather Part II: The Kobal Collection”)

I had a little panic attack over the weekend when I reviewed her performance in Whit Stillman’s Barcelonaand discovered that her character, the Catalan temptress Marta, did infact speak Spanish in the film, but she also spoke almost as muchEnglish. So I apologize if Sorvino’s inclusion threw you off. Thoughtechnically acccurate, her role, more than the others, relies less onnon-English dialogue.

I had thought about including Geraldine Chaplin, the daughter ofCharlie Chaplin and Oona (O’Neil) Chaplin, who gives a sweetperformance in Spanish as the devoted dance teacher in PedroAlmodóvar’s Talk to Her. But the truth is: I don’t know thatmuch about her, and I was betting you didn’t either. She appears tohave been born in California, though her famous dad was British, and itseems likely that she was raised abroad. So I dithered. Sigh.

Despite my fumblings, 11 of you got the gist of my question. Thisweek’s favorite child is Kerin Lou, who not only knew the connection,but correctly identified the five aforementioned films. As a "prize,"Kerin is invited to PopWatch’s annual Christmas concert on the islandin Times Square. As soon as they clear out that giant Kong out of theway (see story tomorrow), I will lead the PW chorus in a rousingrendition of that "chestnuts roasting on an open fire…" song. Therewill also be Schnapps.

The other 10 of you got the connection, but didn’t know the films. Nonetheless, a hearty "well done" and a firm handshake to:

Kelly Abbott
Diana E. Betz
David Bromberg
Amy Glidewell
Mark R. Kuykendall
Heidi Nelson
Scott Mertz
Anthony Schaefer
J.D. Sivert
Patrick A. Yearout

Thanks for playing, PopWatchers — stay tuned for a new challenge on Friday!

Comments (15 total) Add your comment
  • Josh

    But they all were in relgious-themed movies too, it’s also in common… Sigh, the language thing occured to me, but I was thrown of by De Niro. Don’t hate me… but I’ve never seen the Godfather movies.

  • Kerin Lou

    Aw, gosh! I’d be gloating like crazy…if my name hadn’t been misspelled.

  • Njeri Eaton

    Don’t for Jodie Foster spoke gibberish for her titular role in “Nell.”

  • nessa

    What about the actors who learned “Elvish” for Lord of the Rings….

  • Josh

    there were a lot of themes that were in common between these actors, though no others that connected them all besides religious films (and okay your language thing)… Many have an Ashley Judd connection, and many have been in movies that play with the concept of time (‘Frequency’, ‘Donnie Darko,’ ‘Contact’). Lots of false leads

  • Middento

    Chaplin has been living in Spain for ages, even marrying a Spanish director.

  • Ed

    oops– fixed, Kerin! Sorry!

  • Scott

    Mira Sorvino is also currently filming a movie called “Leningrad” which is entirely in Russian, according to imdb.com. I visited with my suspicions Friday night but never returned to e-mail my answer. Oh well! There’s always next week.

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