7 Roles Clearly Written For (Different) Famous Actors
We all know that Tom Selleck was nearly Indiana Jones, that Winona Ryder was supposed to be Mary in The Godfather Part III, and that Paul Blart was originally to be played by a children's sock puppet full of dead hamsters. In most cases, the new actors make the characters their own -- Harrison Ford didn't try to act like Tom Selleck, and Steven Spielberg didn't slap a mustache and an uncomfortably revealing pair of shorts on him to make him more Tom Selleck-like.
Then, there are other films with roles so clearly meant to be played by different actors that they don't even bother to hide their disappointment at having to settle for someone else, like ...
Skyfall Conspicuously Features An Old, Bearded Scotsman (That Isn't Sean Connery)
Skyfall found Daniel Craig's 007 battling a former agent hellbent on destroying Judi Dench, a scheme which strains even the credibility of a franchise full of jetpacks and invisible cars, because she is a goddamn treasure. The mysterious term "Skyfall" is revealed to be the name of a frumpy old house in Scotland where Bond grew up.
Like Hogwarts' sad, depressing brother.
In one of the worst plans in the history of plans, Bond whisks M away from London and takes her to his titular childhood home, which they promptly outfit with crazy booby traps, as if they're expecting the Wet Bandits and not an elite squad of professional killers. And who helps them in this Kevin McCallister-like endeavor? Kincade, an old, bearded Scotsman -- you know, like the old, bearded Scotsman who played James Bond back in the 1960s.
The Finding Forrester hat is a dead giveaway.
It turns out that, yup, the filmmakers originally wanted Sir Sean Connery, the 007 of yesteryear, to cameo as Kincade. Because seemingly every franchise these days has to fashion its story as a meta allegory for the making of the movie, Connery would be playing the gamekeeper who helped raise James Bond and make him who he is. Get it? It would literally be James Bond returning to his roots. They even drive there in a goddamn Aston Martin.
According to director Sam Mendes, he opted not to bring Connery back because it would "take you out of the movie." Plus, it's doubtful they'd ever be able to coax Connery out of retirement, and even more doubtful they'd be able to convince him to take a role where he tries to save a woman's life, instead of smacking her in the mouth for talking back to him.
The Beatles Were Supposed To Be In A Disney Movie (And Kind Of Still Are)
While a lot of modern animation seems to consist of lavishly constructed computer graphics voiced by a random cast of '90s comedians, legendary British actors, and American television stars assembled at the last minute, older animated features used to pay way more attention to their voice casts. For example, a lot of animated characters actually resemble their respective actors, from the highs of Robin Williams' Genie in Aladdin, to the lows of Rover Dangerfield.
"Hey everybody, I'm gonna get paid."
However, this can backfire hugely when you've spent a year and a half animating characters only to have the casting ultimately not work out. For example, Disney's The Jungle Book inexplicably features four mop-topped vultures with Liverpool accents who are distinctly not voiced by the actual Beatles (even more baffling is the fact that one of the vultures is bald, presumably because Walt Disney thought Ringo had alopecia).
At least they got his nose right.
You see, Disney wanted The Beatles to be in the movie. And apparently they almost were, but the agreement fell through, either because of "scheduling problems" or because John Lennon said, " I don't wanna do an animated film." True to his legendary integrity, this is an area in which Lennon never compromised.
"No, I meant I don't want to do an animated film unless it's exclusively about us."
By the time The Beatles officially backed out, too much work had been done animating them into The Jungle Book to start all over again, so Disney just left them in there and had some sound-alikes record the voices.
And the title character in Shrek was famously supposed to be voiced by Chris Farley, until Farley died and left the weight of the cartoon ogre on the shoulders of Mike Myers. By that point, the character's design had more or less been finalized, and it's pretty easy to see that it more closely resembles Beverly Hills Ninja than The Love Guru.
However, after 16 years of sequels, all three films are equally unwatchable.
Michael Keaton Plays A Snowman Who Looks Suspiciously Like George Clooney
Presumably pitched as Frosty The Snowman but with necromancy, Jack Frost is easily one of the most terrible, insane movies of 1998 and all time -- a small boy accidentally conjures his dead father's soul into the body of a snowman using a magical blues harmonica. The titular dead father snowman is played by Michael Keaton, so of course the snowman in the film looks absolutely nothing like him:
Except for those 45-degree-angle eyebrows.
Either the harmonica transformed Keaton into a wrong-faced homunculus as payment for its magicks, or the grieving son accidentally summoned a different person, who is now merely pretending to be his dead father to avoid being banished back into the netherverse.
It's almost as if the snowman puppet was modeled after a different actor -- which is exactly what happened. The face-lending actor in question was George Clooney.
You totally see it in their coal, dead eyes.
Clooney was originally supposed to play the undead snow demon (and the movie was originally supposed to be directed by Evil Dead's Sam Raimi), but Clooney ultimately backed out of the project to continue doing other things in his life that weren't Jack Frost. Unfortunately, construction of the snowman puppet was already well underway, and making a whole new one would've taken more time and effort than any human being on Earth was willing to spend on it. So they simply altered the chin and lips slightly to be more Michael Keaton-ish and dared anyone to give a shit about this movie. Predictably, maybe eight people did.
And half of them accidentally rented the 1997 Jack Frost
that has a snowman rape scene.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Changed The Casting Of Shredder, Probably To Avoid Seeming Racist
The Michael Bay-produced version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a lot of questionable shit in it for longtime fans, from the fact that the turtles were April's childhood pets to the glaring lack of Vanilla Ice cameos.
The weirdest part of the movie, though, is Shredder. For some reason the movie has two villains: wealthy bad guy Eric Sacks, who is the film's primary villain, and Shredder, who we barely see. The few times we do see Shredder, he's dancing around in CGI Transformers armor.
"WHERE IS OPTIMUS PRIME!?"
When he's not in his robot suit, Shredder is less of a badass leader and more of a creepy shut-in. He just seems to hang out in one room and only ever interacts with Sacks, making it seem like they are just figments of each other's imagination.
"... I think I'm Beautiful Minding you right now."
With the exception of these scenes, it really seems like Sacks is Shredder -- especially because his name is "Eric Sacks," an anglicized version of Shredder's original name, Oroku Saki.
Surprise, surprise -- in the original version of the film, Eric Sacks was Shredder. After the film's release, actor William Fichtner came clean, revealing that his character was Shredder in the version they originally filmed. However, after this tidbit of information leaked and the Internet lost its collective shit, some quick reshoots were thrown together to shoehorn in a different, more Asian actor as the Turtles' arch-nemesis. The end result is a baffling film in which Fichtner's character no longer makes any sense, yet commands a considerable amount of screen time.
Alec Baldwin Refused To Play Himself In A Hollywood Satire, So Bruce Willis Did Instead
What Just Happened, another Hollywood movie about how hilarious Hollywood is, features legendary actor Robert De Niro as a producer navigating the politics of the motion picture business and dealing with difficult stars, specifically Bruce Willis.
Willis (who plays himself) derails a film production after showing up to set with a giant beard, which he refuses to shave, despite the fact that it makes no sense for his character. Considering this is a movie about the film industry, you might assume this is an inside joke about how notoriously dickish Bruce Willis can be behind the scenes. And you would be half right -- it is an inside joke, but it's a joke about how much of a dick Alec Baldwin is.
You see, back when Alec Baldwin was getting ready to film The Edge, the instantly forgettable movie about him and Anthony Hopkins fighting each other and a bear over the right to have sex with Elle Macpherson, he showed up to set with a giant beard. The producers patiently explained that the beard made no sense for his character, who was a clean-cut fashion photographer, and that furthermore, the film was about Baldwin and Hopkins getting lost in the wilderness -- growing a beard is something that would need to happen to the character over the course of the film. If Tom Hanks had shown up on the first day of shooting Cast Away looking like the bass player for Fleet Foxes, that movie wouldn't have worked. But Baldwin refused to shave it off, to the point of getting combative with everyone involved over his beard-growing decision.
"Everyone knows you can grow only one beard in your lifetime! It's science!"
So when What Just Happened was getting made, the filmmakers had the idea of asking Baldwin to play himself in a self-deprecating cameo inspired by the incident. Robert De Niro thought, "He might have a sense of humor about it," and he actually approached Baldwin, only to discover that no, he did not have a sense of humor about it. So they cast Bruce Willis instead, who was more than happy to play himself as a prick, because the one thing everyone can agree on about Bruce Willis is that he has a thoroughly bizarre and unpredictable sense of humor.
Mission: Impossible Originally Wanted The Show's Star To Return As A Villain
While most people today probably think of Mission: Impossible as a billion-dollar film franchise slash outlet for Tom Cruise's escalating midlife crises, the original film from way back in 1996 was based on the classic TV series of the same name. It even featured one of the original show's main characters: Jim Phelps, a silver-haired secret agent played by Peter Graves. Strangely, Phelps is portrayed in the movie by Jon Voight, despite the fact that Peter Graves was still alive and working at the time. Did they not bother to ask him, or something?
Could he not hear them through that hair helmet?
Actually, they did. And Graves told them to swallow a self-destructing secret message with their buttholes.
Early reports from when the movie was in pre-production indicated that Graves would reprise his role. However, right around the same time, Martin Landau, another regular from the original series, publicly stated that he had also been asked to reprise his role in the film, but that he and all of his fellow original TV show cast members would be horribly killed in the opening scene of the movie ... which understandably wasn't super appealing. So they called Emilio Estevez, because Emilio Estevez will do almost anything.
Including get stabbed in the face by elevator claws.
If coming back to a role after 30 years only to get killed off almost before the opening credits are finished rolling wasn't enough to dissuade Graves from returning, the fact that his character turns out to be a traitorous villain probably sealed the deal. After all, imagine playing a heroic character on TV for eight years, then having the movie version casually turn that character into a villain. That would be like John Stamos returning to Fuller House only to have it revealed that Uncle Jesse secretly spent the '90s murdering college students in the San Francisco area.
At least the name "Jesse and the Rippers" would finally make sense.
Eddie Murphy Was Supposed To Be Winston In Ghostbusters, Which Ended Up Sucking For Ernie Hudson
If you're a fan at all of Ghostbusters, this website, or minutiae in general, you've probably heard that Eddie Murphy was supposed to be Winston in Ghostbusters. At first it seems kind of obvious, considering the Ghostbusters were three-quarters sketch comedy performers ...
... and one-quarter random film actor:
What they lost in comedy chops, they gained in superior facial hair.
So it makes sense that they would've originally intended for Winston to be played by another sketch comedy performer like Eddie Murphy. Curiously, director Ivan Reitman denies that Murphy was considered for the part, while Dan Aykroyd has gone on the record as saying he wrote the script with Murphy in mind. So, who are we to believe? The respected film director, or the guy who sells vodka encased in glass skulls like a goddamned lunatic? Well, let's turn it over to Ernie Hudson.
Hudson's account of things is pretty fucked up. He accepted the role with a pay cut because he liked the script so much, only to find out the day before shooting started that his part had been drastically reduced. For example, his introduction was moved from page 8 to page 68, and his character's military background had been removed and replaced with the less distinct detail that he just needs a paycheck.
Yeah, that'd be our reaction too.
An early version of the script seems to corroborate Hudson's story. Winston does show up way earlier and actually has a backstory beyond owning a gray blazer and a copy of the want ads. Come to think of it, this scene makes sense only if it occurs earlier in the movie, because why is only one person applying for a job with the guys who were just on the cover of Time magazine for proving the existence of an afterlife?
"So I guess the real question is, what can you do for me?"
Because of his earlier arrival, Winston is present for the Ghostbusters' first job, catching Slimer at the Sedgewick Hotel. Some of Winston's dialogue wound up being shifted to Bill Murray in the final movie.
Winston is even the one who gets slimed:
... OK, so not all of the original dialogue was an improvement.
All of this really seems to point to the fact that they had another comedian (like Eddie Murphy) in mind for the role, although we may never know for certain. However, arguably more frustrating is that neither Reitman nor Aykroyd will confirm that Vigo the Carpathian was supposed to be Val Kilmer.
You're not fooling anyone.
J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop culture nostalgia podcast Rewatchability, which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.
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It turns out there's more stories out there just as crazy as Ernie Hudson's. Check them out in 5 Famous Actors Who Hate Their Most Iconic Roles and 7 Famous Movie Roles (With Insane Secret Backstories).
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