6 Deleted Backstories That Totally Change Classic Movies
If you go through the bonus features on a DVD and watch the deleted scenes, one thing becomes immediately apparent: That shit was deleted for a reason. But, as we've discussed before, sometimes important stuff does get cut from films, and sometimes that stuff includes character moments and backstories that kind of change the whole way you look at the film.
Pretty Woman -- Julia Roberts' Character Was an Addict
In Pretty Woman, millionaire Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) offers a hooker called Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) $3,000 to spend an entire week living with him and pretending to be his date.
Despite their differences, Vivian and Edward eventually fall in love and decide to stay together, in a perfectly happy fairy tale ending ...
The Deleted Backstory
... except for the part where Edward now has to deal with her nasty cocaine habit. Yeah, the fact that she's going through withdrawal throughout the entire movie because Edward won't let her get high certainly casts a new light on their relationship.
The screenplay for Pretty Woman was originally entitled $3,000 and was much darker and more dramatic. Remember that cutesy scene in the film where Edward thinks that Vivian is concealing drugs in the penthouse bathroom, but it turns out she's only holding dental floss? In the script it goes a little different:
In the finished film, Vivian claims that she doesn't use drugs, but let's examine the evidence, shall we? There are numerous points throughout the movie where Vivian appears to be unusually energetic, restless, and talkative. In fact, her loopy behavior becomes the source of a constant running gag: There are no less than five occasions in the movie where Edward tells Vivian to stop fidgeting. And, of course, fidgeting, restlessness, and manic energy are all common signs of cocaine use.
The only direct reference to cocaine in the film comes from Vivian's friend Kit, who owes a drug debt to a dealer. However, the original script reveals that Kit was a full-fledged junkie about two snorts away from an overdose. At one point, Vivian visits Kit at their apartment and it's apparent that if she chooses to stay with Edward, Kit probably will not survive much longer.
Since Pretty Woman was ultimately produced by Touchstone Pictures, a subsidiary of Disney, there's probably no way in hell the protagonist was going to be a cokehead. Ironically, considering how much money this film made for Hollywood producers, there's a huge chance some of that money went back to coke anyway.
The Ring -- Rachel Passes the Curse on to a Child Murderer
In The Ring, Naomi Watts plays Rachel, a journalist who finds a mysterious cursed videotape that causes people to die seven days after watching it (the Rotten Tomatoes rating on that thing must be brutal).
After finding the tape in an isolated motel, Rachel (dumbly) brings it home and shows it to her young son and ex-boyfriend, unwittingly cursing them both. After the boyfriend dies, Rachel realizes that the only way to save her son's life is to make a copy of the tape and show it to someone else, therefore passing on the curse. But who's gonna be the poor sap who will die so that her kid can live? Will she give it to a terminal cancer patient? Send it to America's Funniest Home Videos? Or what?
The Deleted Backstory
An early cut of the film solved this problem by introducing a new character: a charming serial child murderer/rapist played by Chris Cooper.
The film originally opened with Rachel doing a story on Cooper's character, who is trying to get Rachel's help to get paroled. Rachel goes "Yeah, nope" and forgets about the guy, but then remembers him when she needs to unload that pesky curse of hers. The original ending, as filmed, featured Rachel delivering the videotape to Cooper's cell, because, hey, if you just have to pass on a fatal curse to someone, it might as well be a total douche-tank.
So why was he cut? According to the actor, after being introduced to his character, test screening audiences spent the rest of the film asking, "Well, where's Cooper?" Audiences seemed to find this child murderer a lot more intriguing than that creepy long-haired girl climbing out of the well, so they were pretty disappointed when he didn't reappear until the end. And so the filmmakers just cut him out of the film, completely missing the opportunity to Photoshop Cooper's face onto the girl.
Back to the Future Part III -- Biff's Ancestor Murdered Principal Strickland's Grandfather
Mr. Strickland is the ageless, hairless high school principal in the Back to the Future movies. In Back to the Future Part II, we see Strickland get into a hostile confrontation with a teenage Biff Tannen and confiscate his nudie magazine (disguised as a sports almanac).
Principal Strickland gave Biff so much shit during high school that, when Biff becomes the most powerful man in Hill Valley in an alternate timeline, he retaliates by burning the school down and having his thugs systematically terrorize Strickland for the next decade. So why did Strickland hate Biff so much in the first place? Granted, he probably hates everyone, but there's actually a deeper reason for their rivalry ...
The Deleted Backstory
According to a deleted scene from Back to the Future Part III, Biff's ancestor killed Strickland's grandfather in the Old West, so there's that. Strickland's grandfather was the town marshal of 1885 Hill Valley, and his biggest enemy was the notorious outlaw Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, who, of course, happens to be Biff's great-grandfather.
Curiously, Marshal Strickland is nowhere to be seen when Buford is arrested near the end of the movie, but there's an explanation for that: He's dead. In the deleted scene, Buford is on his way to his climactic gunfight with Marty when he is stopped by Strickland. Buford responds by shooting the marshal in the back and leaving him to die in the arms of his young son.
So, yeah, all things considered, Principal Strickland actually shows some admirable restraint around Biff. It must be pretty awkward when one of your students is also the descendant of the man who murdered your grandfather, we're guessing.
The scene was cut because it was too dark, but when you think about it, the implications are even worse. Strickland was killed while Buford was on his way to confront Marty -- meaning that if Marty hadn't traveled back to 1885 and changed the timeline, none of that would have happened. In other words, Marty is indirectly responsible for his principal's grandfather's death.
There's Something About Mary -- Jeffrey Tambor's Character Gets Eaten by a Snake
In There's Something About Mary, Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) is a private investigator who is hired to track down the title character, but he winds up becoming infatuated with her. He gets assistance from a cop friend of his named Sully, played by Jeffrey Tambor, who also plays George Bluth Sr. in Arrested Development.
Sully seems to be the only major male character in the film who does not develop an unhealthy obsession with Mary. In fact, he just disappears from the movie at some point and never comes back. Late in the film, there's a scene that takes place in Sully's apartment, which is a huge mess for some reason, but this is never explained.
The Deleted Backstory
Sully's sudden disappearance is explained in the deleted scenes from the film, and it involves drug abuse and a massive man-eating snake.
According to the movie's original screenplay, Sully is a recovering cocaine addict who has been clean for 19 months. This lasts until the moment when his pal Healy, knowing full well that Sully is trying hard to stay sober, pressures him into drinking a beer.
This sends Sully into a spiral of self-destruction -- later on, we discover that he has fallen completely off the wagon and is snorting cocaine like a vacuum cleaner. As in, from the floor.
Oh, and we also find out that Sully has a giant pet python who hasn't been fed in days. Healy then shows up at Sully's apartment and realizes that he was swallowed by the snake; that's what all the mess you saw in the movie was about.
Now, There's Something About Mary wasn't exactly a Disney movie, but the idea of a reformed coke addict regressing back to his habit and dying a horrible death because of it was deemed slightly too dark, and the entire plotline was cut. Hey, speaking of cocaine ...
Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- Charlie Sheen's Character Explains Ferris
Late in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris' sister, Jeanie, is brought into a police station and winds up sitting next to Charlie Sheen, who is playing a nameless washed-up stoner.
Sheen's entire role consists of telling Jeanie not to be such a square and later making out with her. He was basically just making a cameo appearance in the movie before he was even famous.
The Deleted Backstory
In the original script, however, Sheen's character is named Garth Volbeck, and he has a full backstory that might change the way you think of this movie. More specifically, it might mean that Ferris isn't such a dick after all.
Early in the script, Ferris goes on a spiel about a kid he used to be friends with in the eighth grade, Garth Volbeck:
Ferris explains that Garth came from a troubled family and even had a psycho older brother who once ate "a whole bowl of artificial fruit just so he could see what it was like to have his stomach pumped." Ferris was apparently the only person who ever tried to help Garth and be a friend to him, but Garth would eventually drop out of high school and get into even more trouble.
What kind of trouble, you might ask? The kind that leads to him sitting in the police station next to Jeanie. The scene with Charlie Sheen goes pretty much exactly like in the movie, except for this part:
This backstory actually explains Ferris' whole character: Ferris claims that his entire motivation for skipping school that day is to help his troubled friend, Cameron, but we always assumed that it was just an excuse to take a joy ride in his dad's Ferrari. However, the fact that Ferris had previously tried to help another friend and failed miserably makes him seem a lot more sincere about wanting to help Cameron. Garth represents Cameron's possible future if Ferris doesn't do something.
Of course, for all of Ferris' good intentions, Cameron still ended up trashing his dad's Ferrari, so maybe Garth will soon be getting a new cellmate.
American Beauty -- Kevin Spacey's Killer Frames Spacey's Daughter for the Murder
American Beauty starts with the main character, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), carelessly spoiling the rest of the film by revealing that he dies at the end. However, the movie does keep you in suspense about who is responsible for Lester's death. The opening scenes seem to imply that Lester's teenage daughter, Jane, is planning to murder Lester with her boyfriend, Ricky, as he videotapes her.
Of course, it turns out that Jane and Ricky were just kidding around, and at the end, it's revealed that Ricky's closeted gay father shot Lester in the head. Case closed.
The Deleted Backstory
Ricky's father originally had an even more important role in the movie -- he frames Jane and Ricky for the murder he committed. It turns out that keeping a tape of you and your boyfriend discussing a murder in the house where the actual murderer lives isn't such a good idea after all. In Alan Ball's first draft of the American Beauty screenplay, the story starts with Ricky and Jane going on trial for killing Lester.
The movie was originally supposed to have the framing device of the sensational trial of Jane and Ricky. We later find out that in order to take suspicion off himself, Ricky's father turned in the incriminating videotape where Ricky and Jane joked about killing Lester, and everyone ate it up.
After this tape is shown in court, Ricky and Jane do not have a chance. At the end, they are both found guilty and sent to prison. The movie would have ended with the still unbearably pretentious Ricky singing to himself in his cell as he admires the beauty of a dripping faucet. Yeah, OK, that kid deserved to go to jail.
According to Ball, all of these murder trial scenes were shot but ultimately cut out, since everyone felt that this ending was just too cynical. In the film, we never find out if Ricky's father is going to get away with the murder and ... hey, wait a minute, who's the actor who played him again?
Patrick is a wannabe writer masquerading as an engineer. You can make fun of him on twitter @PTatGT or send him hate mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row.
For more scenes they probably should've left in, check out 7 Famous Movie Flaws That Were Explained in Deleted Scenes. Or discover 10 Deleted Scenes That Would've Ruined The Film.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Medical Breakthroughs Discovered By Terrible Doctors.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see the deleted scene where Han and Luke kiss.
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