Back in 2018 new broke that Sony and Tristar Pictures are teaming up to make a dramatized biography film about Vince McMahon, the man behind pro wrestling’s rise to pop-culture relevance in the 1980s and beyond (and still going strong today). The movie apparently has the official backing of the WWE CEO, with WWE Studios partnering on to help with production. The movie, given the ridiculous/awesome title of Pandemonium, has no director or actors are attached to the project, but there is one glaring question that needs to be answered — who will play Vince McMahon?
The events of the biopic stretch over as many as 30 or 40 years, so it’s possible that Vince will be played by multiple actors over the different generations. So while we were thinking about who could fill those large-sized luxury loafers, we didn’t discriminate based on age. McMahon may be in his 70s these days, but he started changing the business when he was still in his 20s, so we picked actors of all ages. Looking exactly like the WWE boss wasn’t necessarily a requirement, but it did help a few actors make the list.
17. Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper can do it all, from comedy (The Hangover) to gritty (American Sniper) to just plain weird (American Hustle). He even does a pretty great job at voicing a sarcastic raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Basically, he could handle all the ups and downs associated with a life as crazy as McMahon’s. The Academy Award-nominated actor has the ability to match McMahon’s bombastic personality, as well as his quieter, more humble moments (if the film bothers to show us those, that is).
16. Eric Roberts
Here’s one potential candidate to play “Old Vince” in Pandemonium. While Roberts has a lengthy list of stellar acting credits to his name, dating all the way back to the mid-60s (television) and late-80s (film), he’s on this list mostly for a single reason — he kind of looks like Vince McMahon. Maybe it’s just the grey hair and a similar shaped nose, but if you put Roberts in the right McMahon-style power suit, the resemblance would be uncanny. We wonder if Roberts can spit out an angry “YOU’RE FIRED!!!”
15. Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn rose to fame mostly as a comedic actor, starring in films like Swingers, Dodge Ball, Zoolander, and Old School (to name just a few). But every once in a while, he surprises us with some excellent serious roles, like playing Norman Bates in the Psycho remake or his performance in the otherwise forgettable second season of HBO’s True Detective anthology series. No matter what kind of role he’s in, Vaughn definitely has swagger — that kind of fast-talking salesman delivery that would fit in perfectly in a movie about the behind-the-scenes happening of the pro wrestling world.
14. Bryan Cranston
If there’s any actor out there who is familiar with the concept of starting out small, but then ruthlessly eliminating your competition until you are the only one left standing, it’s Bryan Cranston, perhaps most famous for his turn as high-school-science-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White is the excellent Breaking Bad. In many ways, Heisenberg’s rise to the top of his industry mirrored McMahon’s, who was almost vindictive in the way he bought out and took over the old wrestling territories in order to turn his WWF into a global powerhouse. His ego is probably somewhere in the same stratosphere as Walter White’s, as well.
13. Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis can play almost any part in the world, as the renowned method actor completely immerses himself in every role. In order to play McMahon, the Oscar-winning actor would probably buy a small independent wrestling company and then try to take over the competition. Or maybe he’d take steroids and offer them to his new employees. Okay, neither of those things would actually happen. But Day-Lewis definitely has the acting chops to give the role some legitimate dramatic flair.
12. Alec Baldwin
Baldwin has had a long acting career, rejuvenated in 2016 by portraying American presidential candidate (and later, the 45th president of the U.S.A.) Donald Trump. And there’s a direct connection between Trump and McMahon. WrestleMania IV and V were held at Trump Plaza, and The Donald has been a frequent guest star on WWE programming before his days in politics. Trump is even in the WWE Hall of Fame!
If Alec Baldwin can play one braggadocios billionaire, he can easily play another one!
11. Michael Keaton
Michael Keaton was out of the Hollywood spotlight for a little while but has recently given audiences some brilliant performances, starting with 2014’s Birdman and continuing on to Spotlight (2015) and The Founder (2016). To truly showcase his versatility, Keaton joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as baddie The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and as you might expect, he knocked it out of the park. We can only hope Keaton returns to the role of Adrain Tommes in future Spider-Man iterations, but in the meantime, why not play Mr. McMahon.
While his looks may not match Vince’s, that’s nothing a little make-up and movie magic couldn’t fix. In his role as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, we saw his character ruthlessly expand a successful enterprise, driving competitors out of business, and leaving a trail of bad feelings and enemies in his wake. Hmmm, sounds familiar…
10. Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta is probably most fondly remembered as Henry Hill, the local kid who turns into a Wise Guy before becoming an FBI informant (all a true story, by the way). Goodfellas was just Liotta’s sixth film credit, and you could argue that he hasn’t been able to top it since, despite appearing in more than 70 movies since (plus a few dozen television roles).
While we don’t expect Pandemonium to hold up to Goodfellas when compared side-by-side, we do think that Liotta would be a good choice for playing ol’ Vinny Mac. He kind of has the look, and can certainly hold his own in almost any scene.
9. Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender might only qualify to play “Young Vince,” as the busy actor only recently celebrated his 40th birthday. However, he can truly do it all, going from Summer blockbusters in the X-Men film franchise, to cheesy video game adaptions of Assassin’s Creed, to an Academy Award-nominated role in 12 Years a Slave. Fassbender also has experience playing a billionaire CEO that doesn’t always play by the rules — he portrayed Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple, in 2015.
8. Josh Brolin
If being a major villain in two different comic book universes isn’t enough for Josh Brolin, maybe he can carve out some time to play Vince in after his days of playing the Mad Titan have come to an end (we think). A brilliant character actor who has appeared in the likes of Sicario, True Grit, and No Country For Old Men, Brolin could be the exact right age to play both the younger and older versions of Vince, as he sits just shy of his fiftieth birthday.
Much like McMahon, Brolin has a checkered past, including heroin use and stealing cars in his youth. McMahon has also been under fire for drug use of a different kind (steroids) in his lifetime. Brolin also has an edge of toughness surrounding him, which is something that McMahon has used to his advantage throughout his business career.
7. Armie Hammer
Armie Hammer is another candidate for “Young Vince.” In fact, he’s the youngest actor on this list, having just turned 30 in Summer 2016. The young American only has a couple of dozen movies to his name so far, but there are a few big ones in there. He played the Winklevoss twins (aka the “real” inventors of Facebook) in David Fincher’s The Social Network, a KGB agent named Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and he is the voice of brash young racer Jackson Storm in the Cars 3 sequel.
While there are no doubts that Hammer can act, he makes this list because of he kind of looks like a young Vince McMahon, back when the WWF owner was portrayed on TV as a mere ringside commentator, despite actually being the backstage boss. Playing Vince could be a true breakout starring role for Hammer, should he ever be offered the job.
6. Gary Oldman
Let’s be perfectly honest here — is there any role in the movie universe that Gary Oldman wouldn’t knock out of the park? Probably not, since the man is a genuine national film treasure at this point in his incredibly accomplished career. We won’t even try to list Oldman’s excellent performances, because there are simply too many. The point is that Oldman is easily one of the greatest actors of an entire generation and the WWE/Sony would be blessed if they could convince someone with that kind of talent to play Vince McMahon.
Oldman, who turned 61 this year, could probably play both the older and younger versions of McMahon, as he’s no stranger to drastically altering his look for the sake of a role.
5. Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson has turned himself into a bit of an action star late in his film career, and that no-nonsense tough guy act would be perfect for playing one Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The Northern Ireland actor has been in the movie business since the 70s, which is roughly as long as Vince has been in charge of the WWE. While you may think that a serious actor like Neeson would never touch a movie about pro wrestling, we’ll just remind you that he was convinced to make Taken 3, a pretty terrible movie, when the studio basically offered him a dump truck full of money. What we’re saying here is that Neeson can be bought. And Vince (and the WWE) have plenty of money.
4. Jon Hamm
Hamm is already well-versed in playing someone who makes a living wheeling and dealing, rising to fame playing legendary advertising executive Don Draper in Mad Men. Since that award-winning series ended in 2015, Hamm has stayed busy with a handful of movies and dozens of television appearances (or voices). But we think playing McMahon would be a perfect fit.
Hamm has already shown great acting range while playing Don Draper. He can be cold and calculated. Or short-tempered and angry. He can be vulnerable and emotional. Basically, he’s versatile enough to play a man as complicated as the WWE CEO.
3. Michael Shannon
Michael Shannon has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars twice and starred in a fair share of movies on his own, plus a memorable role in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, where he played a religious salesman who finds himself working for the mob after a series of bad decisions.
Shannon was the odds-on-favorite to play the villain Cable in Deadpool 2 before that role surprisingly went to Josh Brolin. We’re sure that an actor as talented as Shannon will have no problems finding more work in Hollywood, but maybe he wants to step into something really abnormal and take on the role of Mr. McMahon.
2. Robert Downey Jr.
Let’s see here… have we ever seen Robert Downey Jr. play an egotistical, brash, loud billionaire before? Oh right.
We admit that we’re a little concerned that Tony Stark and Vince McMahon might have a little too much in common (other than the whole flying superhero in a metal suit thing) for Downey to be able to truly separate the roles. However, Downey is just so damn good at playing Stark that we have to assume he would be just as good playing another outspoken billionaire in Pandemonium.
Of course, starring in the Iron Man and Avengers movies means that Downey Jr. can now command a top paycheck in the movie business, and might be out of the WWE’s price range.
1. Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy can do almost anything. The extremely versatile actor went from playing jacked supervillain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises to playing a quiet unassuming bartender in the excellent mob movie The Drop. He’s also had memorable roles in Christopher Nolan’s Inception and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
We’re confident that Hardy, who turned 41 this year, could easily fill out one of McMahon’s suits and provide some serious dramatic skills to a movie about his life. Now we just need to cast the perfect Hulk Hogan to play opposite Hardy and Pandemonium could end up being a truly engaging film for everyone — wrestling fans and non-wrestling alike.