Today, we look at five movie characters that went undercover using their actual names.
In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five things from pop culture that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently enough to be worth pointing it out). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I’ll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is “missing” if it is not listed. It’s just not one of the five examples that I chose. You can always feel free to suggest ANOTHER example that fits the theme, if you’d like, but nothing is “missing” from this list.
September is a month of Drawing Crazy Patterns!
Often times in films, characters have to go undercover. Typically, they come up with fake names, but occasionally, they do just fine using their actual names. Here are five times using their real names worked for undercover characters in films.
LUKE SKYWALKER AND OBI-WAN KENOBI
As the joke goes, “Hmmmm…I have to hide Luke Skywalker from Anakin Skywalker, so where should I hide him? I know, I’ll leave him with Anakin’s half-brother and keep his name Luke Skywalker. Who’s going to notice?” And, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi was correct, but still! Meanwhile, in 1977’s Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) hides on Tatooine nearby Luke to keep an eye on him, and totally disguises himself by changing his name to BEN Kenobi, which disguises him so well that the moment Luke (Mark Hamill) hears Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) say, “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Luke is, like, “Well, there’s Ben Kenobi,” which makes it pretty clear that the name Kenobi is not a common one, so, like, what’s the deal, Obi-Wan?! It’d be like if Grigori Rasputin went into hiding, and people were looking for him, and they said, “Grigori Rasputin? Well, there’s Joe Rasputin down the block. Maybe that’s him?”
There is a cute bit in the 1979 film, Time After Time, where H.G. Wells, having traveled to the present day via a time machine, tries to come up with an alias that he figures no one will know, and so he uses “Sherlock Holmes,” figuring the character would be obscure by this point in time. He was, of course, incorrect. Luckily for him, no one really knows what the H.G stands for in his name, so he just used his full name, Herbert George Wells, and that worked perfectly well as an alias.
In the 1997 film, Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) goes undercover as a banker to get close to the bad guy. His undercover name? James Bond. Bond also just uses his real name in Casino Royale, as well, but there, he is doing it because he assumes the guy he is trailing knows he is a spy, and since he knows it already, why bother hiding?
Like mother, like son, as in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) pulls a Luke and Obi-Wan and goes undercover as one of her own handmaidens while using the name Padmé Naberrie, which is actually her real name, as Amidala is a name she received when she became Queen. So it’s Queen Padme Amidala, with Naberrie being her original surname.
In the 2018 film, BlacKkKlansman, John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, who goes undercover in the Ku Klux Klan, interacting with the Klan over the phone, using his real name. He enlists his neighbor (played by Adam Driver) to go undercover as Ron Stallworth when it comes time for the actual in-person meeting (of course, Driver’s appearance makes the Klan members question whether Stallworth is secretly Jewish).
Okay, folks, if you have suggestions for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! I don’t have 30 topics just yet, so I could use the suggestions!