Pitch of the Week: Cast John Turturro In a Movie About This Failed Doomsday Prophet

By  · Published on December 29th, 2012

Often I see a real person in the news or in a documentary and my mind immediately comes up with an actor to portray him or her in a biopic. This happened this week when I watched a short film about failed prophet Robert Fitzpatrick, who last year spent his life savings on subway ads in NYC warning that the end of the world would happen on May 21, 2011 (exactly 19 months before the just-passed Mayan choice). The 13-minute documentary, titled We Will Forget, is directed by Garret Harkawik, and you can watch it in full after the jump. Above is a still of Fitzpatrick next to a photo of my choice to play him in a dramatic story of his life, John Turturro.

Perhaps you’ll think of someone else (my wife was reminded more of Bob Balaban; you might prefer Zeljko Ivanek or James Rebhorn), but to me Turturro was just born to play this retired MTA worker from Staten Island. He’s like a cross between Turturro’s turn as the real-life Herbie Stempel from Quiz Show and his role as the lonely, reclusive brother on the TV series Monk. There are some other Turturro characters in there, as well, I’m sure. He could definitely do the accent, the mannerisms and the climactic display of confused disappointment seen sadly at the end of the short. As long as the movie itself garned enough attention, this could be a good part to finally earn Turturro his long-overdue Oscar nomination.

It’s one thing to cast an actor as a real person, but does Fitzpatrick’s life warrant a feature film? Maybe not his whole biography, but the period in which he calculated the date of the Rapture through Biblical code breaking, spent $140,000 on ads about the armageddon, embarrassingly witnessed the date and time pass and then revised his prediction for five months later, all of this could translate to a quiet and bittersweet character study. Something along the lines of The Assassination of Richard Nixon and the first half of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

See for yourself with We Will Forget and let me know if you’d watch a drama about Fitzpatrick starring John Turturro:

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.