Sansa Stark’s joined the X-Men? Thoughts on popcultural cross contamination.

I’ve yet to see the X-Men Apocalypse movie, so I can’t comment on Sophie Turner’s performance. Her work on Game of Thrones – especially at the moment (NO spoilers in comments please!) – gives me every reason to expect she’ll do a thoroughly good job.

The thing is, though, this is becoming A Thing for me. An amusement at the moment, rather than a distraction, but definitely A Thing.

I caught a trailer for A Knight’s Tale on the TV last week, which is one of my favourite movies. Now though? That’s the one where Robert Baratheon makes The Joker’s armour while The Vision bigs him up to the crowd…

Ripper Street? Did you see the one where Blackfish Tully dragged Bronn out of bed, possibly to chase after Jorah Mormont, or maybe Barristan Selmy, because both of them have turned up, and been up to no good.

Now, this is nothing new – Ronny Cox is merely the first actor who comes to mind for me, thinking about recurrent faces in fan-favourite movies and TV, going back to the 80s. Always doing sterling work. The same goes for Brian Cox. And other actors whose surname isn’t Cox, like James Cosmo.

And I’ve no wish to deny actors work. Their employment and earnings statistics make being a writer look like steady, well-paid work!

But I am curious. Why has this become A Thing for me? The cumulative effect of the sheer volume of stuff that I’ve watched in 50 years? Or because of the particular things I chose to watch?

But as far as my sons are concerned, Sean Connery is and will always be ‘Indiana Jones’s Dad’ because that’s the role they first saw him in. On the basis of one viewing, it seems that Vanessa Redgrave is permanently tagged as ‘Coriolanus‘s Mum’ for them. So maybe not so much.

Because we can watch what we want, when we want, so very much more easily these days? Instead of seeing things on release at the cinema or when they were broadcast – or not at all? So performances weren’t so apt to all come along in a rush?

But then, you could hardly escape James Norton on UK television earlier this year, what with War and Peace, Happy Valley and Grantchester, and that was all down to scheduling.

As I say, I’m curious. I don’t have any particular conclusions, beyond hoping it remains an amusement rather than becoming a distraction.

Anyone else finding this is A Thing?

Author: Juliet

Juliet E McKenna is a British fantasy author living in the Cotswolds, UK. Loving history, myth and other worlds since she first learned to read, she has written fifteen epic fantasy novels so far. Her debut, The Thief’s Gamble, began The Tales of Einarinn in 1999, followed by The Aldabreshin Compass sequence, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, and The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy. The Green Man’s Heir was her first modern fantasy inspired by British folklore in 2018, and The Green Man’s Quarry in 2023 is the sixth title in this ongoing series. Her 2023 novel The Cleaving is a female-centred retelling of the story of King Arthur, while her shorter stories include forays into dark fantasy, steampunk and science fiction. She promotes SF&Fantasy by reviewing, by blogging on book trade issues, attending conventions and teaching creative writing. She has served as a judge for major genre awards. As J M Alvey, she has written historical murder mysteries set in ancient Greece.

10 thoughts on “Sansa Stark’s joined the X-Men? Thoughts on popcultural cross contamination.

  1. Sansa Stark’s should have stayed on Games of Thrones and never joined the X-Men. She and Cyclops are the flattest things in this jumbled disaster of a film. There are three or four times more characters than any film can sustain with none of them getting enough screen time to do more than retread what you’ve seen them do before. I wish I’d avoided it and simply watched one of the earlier X-men films on DVD 🙁

  2. As a fan of Vancouver-based productions, the overlap of actors (and locations, for that matter!) between shows (and films) has been a Thing for me for many years. It’s sufficiently ‘bad’ that there is a long-standing joke in the fan community that there are only 47 actors in Vancouver.

    For the most part, this cross cultural contamination remains an amusement for me. (e.g. Sherlock from Elementary was spotted on the University of Glasgow campus last week… In fact, Jonny Lee Miller was bottle blond and actually reprising his role as Sick Boy for the filming of Trainspotting 2.)

    The moments when it becomes jarring for me are when there is insufficient difference between the portrayals of the different roles. (I tend to find Benedict Cumberbatch rather problematic on this front, for example.)

    1. Yes, I know what you mean about insufficient distinction. For me personally, Stephen Tompkinson only ever appears to give one performance, such that his presence in a leading role is enough to make me dubious about watching a show.

  3. Ah yes,the ultimately incestuous nature of British TV. I’ve a friend who’s got ME, and she finds a lot of modern TV unbearably noisy, so she watches a lot of stuff from the 60s, and regularly comments on the recurrence of particular character actors.

  4. Surely half the fun of watching Joss Whedon’s stuff is spotting which actors from the group he favours is playing what (his Much Ado is a joy for seeing actors in entirely unusual roles). It a favourite family passtime trying to spot familiar actors in early roles. My proudest spots are James Marsters (Spike) as one of the extra school kids sitting at a desk in a pan shot in an early episode of Buffy; Mercedes McNab (Harmony in Buffy) as the girl scout selling cookies in the Addams Family film, and a very early role for Tony Curtis in Winchester ’73 (1950) when doing some ‘research’ on old Westerns.

    1. Playing ‘weren’t they in…?’ is assuredly entertaining. I pride myself on spotting Carmine Giovinazzo – later of CSI New York fame – as the very first vampire victim in the first episode of Buffy when I did a rewatch. I shall have to look out for Spike now!

  5. Remember that sitcom where Magneto and the Master are married and gets regular visits from Ramsay Bolton?

    And we get a lot of this in Swedish TV and film too, since there’s obviously not that many great actors in a population this small – but it can still be a bit shocking to see the gross-out comic of your youth play the hero’s caring, if a bit tragic, dad.

    Add to this that near half the movies made here are shot in my hometown, and you’ve got the fun of wondering how someone ran 5 kilometers in one cut, or realising the kid runnin off to the school building in a huff apparently has his classes in your old classroom.

    1. Watching the TV series Morse is similarly amusing for those who know Oxford. And I’m guessing Grantchester offers the same entertainment for Cambridge folk.

  6. I definitely have that problem with James Norton, since we watched all three of those series!

    I watch a lot more detective shows than I do SF/Fantasy but it is just as bad there – the worst scheduling for me was when Nicola Walker was simultaneously the lead female police officer in both River and Unforgotten.

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