The Boyfriend of the Week

Karl Urban Karl Urban

March 29, 2011 [comment on this write-up]

I know, I know. 2011 is off to a really lame start here at the Boyfriend of the Week. I'm working on a number of other writing projects these days (including -- shhhh! -- a novel!) and it's increasingly hard to find the time for these things, I'm afraid. I'm shooting for one write-up a month, but we'll see how it goes. Oh, YOU know how it goes. You guys ain't new or nuthin'.

That said, the real reason this write-up is so late is because it's the third one I've started since January's post about Alton Brown. The problem was that after I wrote the first one, it occurred to me the guy was a total geek, and I thought I probably shouldn't run a geek so closely on the heels of a nerd-chef.

A couple of weeks after that, I got really excited about this other guy, and started to draft a write-up for him -- only to realize a page into it that he, too, was an absolute geek.

Hmmm, notice a trend developing here? Me too. And while I know many of you, like me, go utterly enervated in the patellae (nerdy way of saying "weak in the knees") when confronted with dorky smart people, I figured hammering you guys with multiple geeks in a row was asking a lot. We love geeks, sure. But we also love hunks, right?

And so, HERE! It's Karl Urban! HE'S A HUNK! OMG!!!1!!

Now, the good news is, Urban's a Boyfriend I've gotten gazillions of requests for ever since his days as Eomer of the Flowing Hair and Frowning Face in The Two Towers. The bad news, though, is that while he's certainly ridiculously good looking, there's one major drawback to Karl Urban for me, and that's the fact he, er. . . how best to put this?

CANNOT ACT. (*duck!*)

That's not a make-it-or-break-it kind of thing at the BotW web site, obviously. I mean, I've featured plenty of Boyfriends of the Week who couldn't act, and not all of them were baseball players. And, after all, my husband can't act either and I MARRIED that guy. So, acting schmacting, I say. Karl Urban is gorgeous, and that goes a long way toward making up for cardboard character-play, if you ask me. (And since you're here, I'm assuming you were asking me.)

It should be noted, though, that while I was preparing for this write-up, I realized I haven't really seen much of Karl's work. Perhaps I've simply missed his amazing, emotive performance in thus-and-such? I'm sure if I did, y'all'll let me know. Meanwhile, here's the rundown on my Urban Experience thus far:

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King. This is the first thing I ever saw Karl Urban in, and later on, when he showed up in Star Trek, I didn't even recognize him. Can you blame me? LOOK AT THAT HAIR! My God! I can't decide, really, whether he looks better with long hair or short; it's a total toss-up. He looks incredibly delicious either way, which is rare in a man. But his acting in these films? Eh, mediocre would be putting it nicely. All he does is scowl a lot, swing a sword around on his horse, and periodically yell something somewhat rallying at his troops. But hey, he sure looked good doin' it, and that's not worth nothing, right?

Star Trek (2009). Here's where all the Karl Urban fans are immediately going to open up their respective email clients and start hammering out their own "You are senceless pie!" hate-mail to send to me (inside joke for those who remember the origins of the name of my movie/book/TV review blog). I almost don't want to say it, I'm so sure I'm about to offend people. But I have a duty to be true to myself, and so here goes: 

I thought Urban was absolutely TERRIBLE as Bones in the Star Trek reboot.

I know! I'm sorry! But he talked so funny, like he was trying to mimic DeForest Kelley's cadences but had no rhythm. And he was completely wooden. Boring. Scowly! (Dude, if you're not careful, you're going to end up with a two-foot furrow between your brows just like DiCaprio.) But hey, you know what? He sure looked good doin' it, and this, as previously mentioned, is not worth nothing. Plus, he looks utterly yums in uniform. Here's hoping we get to see him OUT of uniform in the next one, wink, nudge. (You can read my review of the otherwise-awesome Star Trek here.)

Red (2010). Listen to me: this movie is a total BLAST and you should go rent it immediately. In this one, Urban plays a CIA agent chasing (and chasing and chasing) a group of retired agents he's been ordered to take down (the retired agents are played by Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich -- truly a cast worth your time, my peoples). And hey, guess what! Urban spends the whole movie scowling (go figure). Even worse, when it comes time for him to act emotionally conflicted about the direction his job is taking him in, he mostly just growls his way through it, stiff as a stale gummi worm. Not a lot of grace to this guy's talent, I'm afraid. But man, does he ever look good doin' it, which is not worth nothing, of course. (You can read my recent review of Red here.)

The Bourne Supremacy (2004). I was flipping past channels the other day when I stumbled across this flick, the second in Matt Damon's Jason Bourne trilogy. I saw it when it first came out, but back then I didn't know who Urban was, so I took little notice of him. Luckily, I happened to flip across it this round just as Urban's scene was up. And guess what! Yeah, so: scowling, growling, that's about it. Yawnsville. The nice thing, though? He sure looks good doin' it (which is not worth nothing). Also, as it turns out, he even looks great with practically no hair at all. Talk about versatility (at least in the coiffure department).

Those four films, plus 2002's Ghost Ship, which I've seen several times now (don't ask me why -- it's terrible!) but don't remember Karl from at all, represent my complete experience with Urban's oeuvre. In every single case, he spoke with a growly, scowly American accent that did him few favors, in my book. A growly, unnatural American accent is kind of what kills Christian Bale for me most times as well, though since I didn't even know Urban was from New Zealand until recently, I suppose it must be said he at least does a fairly convincing job of sounding like he's from the States. One of the really, really cranky states. Texas, perhaps.

Now, members of the Karl Urban Fan Club, take note: I'm completely willing to accept the notion that the real problem here lies in the fact these are all big-budget Hollywood flicks. Perhaps if Urban were given a small film with a better, more emotional role, he would be incredible. If you've seen him in something where he totally blew you away with his talent, make sure you hit the comments and let me know what it was!

In any case, what's important here is that he's so damn handsome it's hard to care too much about whether or not he can act. After all, looking really good worked for Harrison Ford when it came to being a successful actor who couldn't act, right? (*duck* again!) And it's working well for Karl Urban too.


Quick bio about Karl Urban: he was born on June 7, 1972, making him juuuuust about the perfect age for me. FATE, PEOPLE. FATE. Growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, his first acting role came at age 8 when he was given a single line in a TV show. After that, he didn't act again until 1992, when he was offered a role in the New Zealand TV drama Shortland Street.

Over the next few years, he worked a lot in Wellington theater, eventually moving to Auckland, where he landed several guest spots in NZ TV. Eventually, he scored recurring roles in the popular fantasy shows Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess (both filmed in New Zealand). He was also in a film described on one web site as an "offbeat rural romance" called The Price of Milk, a role that earned him a nomination in the NZ Quantas Film and Television Awards -- perhaps I need to track a copy of that one down? Anyone seen it? Is that the one I need to see?

Urban's big American break came in the aforementioned horror flick Ghost Ship in 2002. Since then, he's been in a number of American feature films, and was even considered for the role of James Bond, though he lost out to the equally hunkazoidal Daniel Craig. Craig may be a better actor, but he sure can't pull off nearly as many hairstyles. (Pause here a moment, close your eyes, and try to picture Daniel Craig with Eomer hair. See how long you can go without laughing. I lasted 4.2 seconds before: snicker, snort.)

Karl's married to make-up artist Natalie Wihongi, that lucky, lucky lady, and has two kids: Hunter and Indiana. In his spare time, he serves as an ambassador for the charity KidsCan, which supports disadvantaged children in New Zealand, providing them with food, coats, shoes, and more. That's pretty cool, man. Hunky AND he cares about kids in need -- did I mention fate? Because: FATE. (You can donate to KidsCan on their web site, by the way, if you're interested in supporting Urban's favorite cause:

Up next for Karl Urban are three new movies, including the long-awaited (by me, anyway) sequel to Star Trek. Woo hoo! Stun me with your phasers set on stun! Tickle me with your fluffy quivering tribbles! Make the veins in my enormous Talosian head pulse with excitement! I could not possibly be more ready to explore strange new worlds! To seek out new life and new civilizations! To boldly go where no man has gone before! (Annnnd with that we're back to super-geeky write-ups, sorry.)

Before we can split more infinitives in our quest to explore the final frontier, though, we'll be seeing Karl in the horror film Priest, which stars Paul Bettany as a priest who is living a peaceful, introverted life after the horrific "Vampire Wars" until his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vamps and he's forced to come out of hiding and save her (there are jokes to be made here about the fact Bettany keeps playing priests, by the way -- this is at least his third or fourth time -- but I don't want to upset the Pope so I'll just move on). Karl Urban is slated to play a character named "Black Hat," though I can't figure out who that will actually be. Presumably a character who wears a black hat, I'm thinking.

In any case, it sounds profoundly silly, which is why I absolutely cannot WAIT to see it. You can expect me to report back as soon as it's out, which should be relatively soon, I think, as I just caught a preview for it at the theater this weekend.

After that comes Dredd, a "reboot" of Sly Stallone's film Judge Dredd. . .

Meg: Wait, hold up, Hollywood. Could you repeat that?

Hollywood: Which part?

Meg: I'm sorry -- did you just say, "A 'reboot' of Sly Stallone's film Judge Dredd"?

Hollywood: I did indeed.

Meg: We. . . need? . . . a reboot of Sly Stallone's film Judge Dredd?

Hollywood: I'm pretty sure we do.

Meg: No, sir, in fact, I'm pretty sure we don't.

Hollywood: But it's already been shot. We already spent the money. Don't tell me this NOW. Now's too late! Plus, hey, you know, the screenplay's co-written by Alex Garland. He's super-good.

Meg: Well, sure, I mean, 28 Days Later. . .

Hollywood: And Sunshine -- don't forget Sunshine. You liked Sunshine.

Meg: Except for the part where the end of Sunshine was really stupid. Also, do I need to mention The Beach, or. . .

Hollywood: The Beach was a novel. It has nothing to do with this.

Meg: Toosh. Nevertheless. . .

Hollywood: Have some faith, would you! Man, I hate the way you critics are always all over me for doing remakes all the time. Sometimes they don't suck, you know? Remakes, I mean! Sometimes they come out really, really good!

Meg: Name one.

Hollywood: I. . . well. . . what about. . . FRAK! I can't think of it, but I know there's been at least one and that you even BLOGGED about how great it was and everything and you know what? I'm done with this conversation. You're just making me mad.

Meg: Okay, champ. Chill out. We'll see what happens. Sure, what you say -- maybe it won't suck [aside to audience: YEAH, RIGHT]. I'll give it a shot when it comes out.

Hollywood: [looks up, surprised] You will? You'll go see it?

Meg: Sure. [pats Hollywood tenderly on head] Sure, I will.

Hollywood: [eyes well up with tears] Thanks, man. Thanks a lot. That really means. . . nobody goes to see my stuff anymore, you know? I mean, it's just getting so hard to impress anybody these days! I keep throwing in lots of explosions and Megan Fox's boobs and stuff and STILL!

Meg: It's okay, H-wood. It'll turn around. [points at adorable poster of cat dangling from tree] You just gotta "hang in there," right?

Hollywood: [looks at poster, laughs] Oh, Meg, you're the best. Plus, you're so funny and smart and pretty and nice! And your web site is fantastic! Hilarious! Brilliant! I tell people in the biz about it all the time. It's just so, so great. LIKE YOU.

Meg: Aw, shucks.

[hugs all around]



In any case, even if Dredd totally sucks arse (which, don't tell Hollywood, but you know it's going to) after that comes more Star Trek, and the day that finally hits theaters is going to be a very good day indeed.

So there you have it, my friends and readers, my gift to you: AN ABSOLUTE HUNK! Enjoy the big muscles and twinkly eyes while you can -- the next two write-ups are going to be about a skinny nerd and a scientific genius! Mrrrrrowl!!

MacGyver Factor Score: 92.398%.

Points off for being sort of dull. I'm sorry, I know you guys love him, but I find his acting really flat. Maybe what we need to do is to throw him into, say, a romantic comedy and see what happens. Can he be sweet and charming? Does anybody know? Somebody call his wife and ask her.

Points back, though, because rare -- RARE! -- is the man who looks that good with both long and almost-no hair. In fact, I think Karl Urban's the only one I've ever encountered. Goddamn, kilogram. Dude's one handsome, handsome devil.

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