A tad pudgier than Damon, and definitely more blond, is the FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell. Less twinkly-eyed, taciturn, betraying superficial smile, much more real, and hence scarier, Mitchell is played with aplomb by Jesse Plemons. You don’t want to be handled by this agent. He chokes your breath by slowly squeezing your balls. Has Matt Damon ever exuded such meanness on screen? DiCaprio also needed Tarantinoesque tropes- dialogues, mannerisms and sequences- to come across as even remotely menacing.
Anyway, don’t let the title of the blog mislead you. Jesse Plemons bears uncanny resemblance to Philip Seymour Hoffman as well. Paul Thomas Anderson had spotted this likeness, and had cast him as Hoffman’s son in The Master (2012). That Jesse had managed to get noticed in the presence of Philip, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern and Rami Malek goes to his credit.
Next, Plemons appeared in the fifth season of Breaking Bad as Todd Alquist, a villainous character, who managed to evoke disgust in the presence of grandees like Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Saul Goodman, Gus Fring and Mark Ehrmantraut. Todd Alquist’s charming politeness and respectful gestures, especially towards Walt, were interspersed with sudden violent acts. He was a psychologically-disturbed child-killer, who had shot a kid off his bike for no worthwhile reason other than leaving behind no live witness of his crime. After this role, his friends began to call him Meth Damon, for the obvious methamphetamine connections of the show, and the uncanny likeness with the man who played Jason Bourne.
As a child artist (he has been acting since he was three years old!), Jesse had played a teenaged Matt in Billy Bob Thornton’s 2000 film, All the Pretty Horses. Over the years, Plemons has done some damn good work in The Post, Game Night, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Other People and the Irishman.
Jesse was seen as Al Jimmy Hoffa Pacino’s adopted son in the Irishman. Perhaps this has what inspired Leonardo DiCaprio to seek changes in the script of Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon. DiCaprio has now segued into the second lead and plays Robert DeNiro’s nephew, whereas his original leading role has passed onto Jesse. One is tempted to ask if Jesse is substituting for Meth Damon here. Didn’t Scorsese once pit DiCaprio against Damon in the Departed? That also raises a question if Jesse Plemons is now one of the horses of the Marty Stable. Second film in a row, wow!
If one attempts a cross between Damon and DiCaprio, one might develop Plemons in the lab. The changing loyalties of the Departed spring to mind. In Judas & the Black Messiah, Jesse has played an FBI cop who is J. Edgar Hoover’s agent, spittoon or pig (depends on how you look at it), and guess who played J.Edgar in Clint Eastwood’s film? Leonardo Dicaprio.
The Texan Plemons is just 32, is easily mouldable, and can play part with studied self-assurance. DiCaprio is 46, and Boston boy Damon has turned 50. The generations are different. With the lead role in Marty’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Plemons has broken ground. Even in Judas…., the film gets darker and more intense with the interactions between Roy Mitchell (Jessie) and Bill O’ Neill (Lakeith Stanfield). Both Daniel Kaluuya and Stanfield have bagged Best Supporting Actor nominations, but even Plemmons deserved one for his efforts. Expect this once ersatz Damon, Fat Damon, Meth Damon to play many meatier roles in the future. He has now arrived.
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