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Who is John Galt? Clay, or Pitt? March 29, 2008

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Culture, Film, Nina Rosenstand's Posts.

You may have seen bumper stickers around the country—not as many now as in previous decades, but I think we are likely to see more of them: “Who is John Galt?” Some of you will know that John Galt is one of the main characters in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s novel from 1957, and in the novel the question of John Galt’s identity is increasingly important as the plot develops. And perhaps, after more than 50 years, we will actually get to see a film based on Atlas Shrugged! Amazingly, this American classic hasn’t been officially visualized yet, but it isn’t for lack of trying: According to Wikipedia, attempts to boil the mammoth novel down to movie size have been underway since 1972, and Rand herself was working on the screenplay when she died ten years later. And now Lionsgate is striving to bring it to a theater near you in 2009, with (possibly) Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart. Can Jolie portray a literary hero of mythical stature? We shall see. I’d probably prefer someone else as Dagny, but I’ll watch it, and I plan on being magnanimous and ready to welcome an even partially good film. Reading about the production on the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) website made me curious: the elusive but all-important character of John Galt has two actors listed: Brad Pitt (“rumored,” it says), and an unknown, Jamie Clay. Now it isn’t likely that John Galt will be portrayed by two people, so what’s up? It turns out to be a prank: Jamie Clay is not an actor, but he is an Ayn Rand fan with friends who have a sense of humor, and they posted his name on IMDB as the new incarnation of John Galt. In this (supposedly authentic) letter posted on the Ayn Rand website The Atlasphere Clay tells the story, and claims they’d have to torture him to play John Galt. Apparently IMDB was informed that it was a prank, and the name disappeared, only to reappear again.

Now why is this worth blogging about? Because it is, in a sense, completely in the spirit of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged. In the novel the identity of John Galt is a mystery to all but a select few, and now the movie hype is reviving the Galt mystery, apparently inadvertently.  In Old Hollywood of 50 years ago, such a mystery would have been created on purpose as part of the hype, and the tabloids would have been guessing as to the actor’s identity. Today the Internet picks up a story and it acquires a life of its own—free advertising for Lionsgate. Even so, it amuses this mostly cynical heart of mine; in a universe of conspiracies, I think Jamie Clay would probably be John Galt: Double disinformation. For those who really care, some Ayn Rand fans would rather see Christian Bale than Brad Pitt as John Galt…



1. Charlette Lin - March 30, 2008

Hehe, I liked what Jamie wrote in response:

“If you’re offended by my lack of concern on this issue, I’m sorry, take a deep breath and enjoy knowing that your hero is still safe and no doubt will be played by some formula hunk that fits what you’ve imagined.”

I found it interesting when you said “in a universe of conspiracies.”

Just last night I had a dream about how our education system was one big conspiracy by the government to keep people close-minded.

2. Stephen - April 1, 2008

I think that Jolie would be a terrible choice for Dagny. I also think Galt should be played by someone unknown to keep the characters spirit intact, even though Pitt and Bale would both probably be good in the role (especially during the torture scene).

3. Dwight Furrow - April 3, 2008

Well, I guess Pitt plays a psychopath as well as anyone.

It seems like I’ve seen this film before. A film about how the fate of civilization rests on a reckless, manipulative, zombie with delusions of grandiosity. Oh. That would be any Hollywood action film.

Do we really need another one of these?

4. Shasta - May 15, 2008

I agree with Stephen that to keep the integrity of the character of John Galt alive an unfamiliar actor should be cast. On a darker note, while some people might be excited to see this novel be brought to life, it seems to me that it might just fall victim to one of the oldest crimes in Hollywood- taking a good book, and casting big name actors to boost ticket sales instead of actually casting GOOD actors, therefore resulting in a very sad adaptation of a good book. It will be interesting for sure though to see what the director of the film does with this challenge. It’s too bad Ann is not alive to have a hand in this and therefore hopefully not let her book be desecrated as it is turned into a movie.

5. Meagan - April 1, 2010

Good afternoon, Happy Fool’s Day!

Mildred came back from her annual check up with her doctor in an unusually good mood, and her husband asked her what had made her day.
Mildred said, “The doctor told me that I have the breasts of an eighteen year old.”
To which her husband responded, “What did he say about your forty-six year old ass?”
Milly retorted, “He didn’t say a word about you!”

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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