It has to be a challenge for any actor who is cast to play the role of God. First of all, it’s God. Those are some big sandals to fill. You need to come off as wise, all-knowing, kind, but yet fearful. Secondly, you have to look good in white or with an epic beard. Regardless of whether or not you deliver in your performance, there will always be detractors saying, “No. No. You got it all wrong. Where are the tentacles?” Goes to show that you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.
In researching this piece, I found it strange that God hasn’t been portrayed on screen more often. Maybe it breaks a commandment or something. Here are the brave actors who were willing to risk eternal damnation for a paycheck.
In his final role, Rodney Dangerfield portrayed God. In a movie made solely for old people, Frank Gorshin portrays a recently-deceased George Burns who is unhappy in Heaven. He wants to be reunited with his soul-mate but cannot because they are at different levels in the afterlife. Dangerfield’s God feels bad for Burns and strikes a deal with him. Go back to Earth and help a musician smuggle Cuban cigars and he’ll be reunited with his love. I know that God works in mysterious ways, but he really comes off lazy here. Are Cubans that coveted that even God himself can’t get them past customs?
George Burns was Hollywood’s go-to God for a few years. His unique power of being sarcastic and ancient made him a shoe-in to play the Creator in films like Oh, God!, Oh, God! Book II, and Oh, God! You Devil. In the film, Burns’s God approaches John Denver’s unassuming grocery manager to have him help spread his message, mostly because no one is going to take a cigar-chomping 96-year old who has made a career out of blonde jokes seriously. And after “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” Denver could have told us all to walk off a cliff and we would have done it.