5 Secret (Bizarre) Projects Of Famous Artists

Either by choice or necessity, the resumes of your favorite writers and directors are filled with some quite unexpected projects.
5 Secret (Bizarre) Projects Of Famous Artists

It's easy to pigeonhole creative people. We know exactly what kind of movies Quentin Tarantino makes, and nobody expects to see Tim Burton make, say, a Thomas Jefferson biopic. But either by choice or necessity, the resumes of your favorite writers and directors are filled with some quite unexpected projects.

George R.R. Martin Wrote For Beauty And The Beast

Nick Briggs/HBO

No, we're not talking about the Disney version (though you're forgiven for thinking so, considering that that movie did sort of imply a horrific, Martin-esque rape that one time). Rather, the author of A Song Of Ice And Fire wrote for the 1987 CBS series of the same name starring Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman.

CBS Television Distribution

Seen here in makeup ... we think.

The show was a 1980s retelling of the tale, with Beast being a lion-something mutant or whatever living in the sewers of New York and solving crimes with John Connor's mom. Martin got a job on the show shortly after the reboot of The Twilight Zone (for which he was a staff writer) was cancelled.

Once he landed the CBS gig, Martin proceeded to immediately train for his future career by insisting the network spice up B&tB with as much sex and violence as possible. Due to what we can only call a profound lack of foresight, the network wouldn't let him.

CBS Television Distribution

"Damn." -- furries

As Martin himself explained it: "There were battles over censorship, how sexual things could be, whether a scene was too 'politically charged,' how violent things could be. Don't want to disturb anyone." Despite that, Martin still managed to write some surprisingly good episodes for a show with such a laughably stupid premise. But in the end, all the limitations wore him down, and he left the show.

Shortly after that, he expelled all of the pent-up sex, violence, sexual violence, and violent sex inside his head onto several reams of paper which would eventually turn into A Song Of Ice And Fire. (He started working on it in 1991 -- it would take until 1996 for the first book to get published.)


Only to have the show's writers immediately ask, "Wouldn't all of these scenes be improved with three or four more pairs of titties?"

And hey, if you're upset that you don't have your dream job in your 30s, keep in mind that Martin was 48 when his magnum opus first hit the shelves. It's never too late to achieve your dreams! It's even more amazing to consider that, based on the current publication schedule, Martin will be 94 when the final book comes out.

James Gunn Wrote Both Guardians Of The Galaxy AND Scooby-Doo

Marvel Studios

The 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo movie makes absolutely no sense because, well, who was its intended audience? Anyone young enough to enjoy watching a live-action Matthew Lillard interacting with a (frankly terrifying) CGI dog would have been born 20 years too late to be familiar with the franchise.

Warner Bros.

In real life, he's holding a green bag of ping pong balls.

Looking back, it seems like an early preview of Hollywood's deeply misguided "reboot everything" obsession ("Modern kids love playing Battleship, right? Here's 200 million dollars!"). So it's not too surprising that the movie was written by the screenwriter of Tromeo And Juliet, in which Juliet is transformed into a monster with a three-foot-long penis. No, really.

Troma Entertainment

You probably don't want to see the unpixelated version(NSFW).

On the other hand, it's considerably more surprising that the movie was written by the director of Guardians Of The Galaxy. That is, they're all the same person: James Gunn, aka the man who made us cry over a fucking tree.

Marvel Studios

*sniff* We are ALL Groot!

We'd make a joke about how writing Scooby-Doo taught Gunn what not to do when making a silly movie with a talking animal in it, but that wouldn't be accurate. By all accounts, the same goofy Gunn energy who made Guardians so good was there in the original Scooby-Doo draft. For one, he apparently wanted Scooby and Shaggy to get high onscreen, and for Velma to be a lesbian. It seems that, from the very beginning, Gunn wanted this movie to be a loving parody of Scooby-Doo, aimed squarely at adults.

The suits shot down the idea -- which, to be fair to them, makes financial sense. If you're spending money on a Scooby-Doo movie, you're doing it to sell lunchboxes and tiny T-shirts. You can't make a movie about a wacky talking dog and then get angry letters from parents who had to explain to a toddler what a bong is. The end result was a movie that lamely tried to split the difference, with jokes that were too confusing for kids and too tepid for adults.

I'm Mary Jane. Like, that's my favorite name.
Warner Bros.

But it hit the jackpot for 15-year-olds ... who had no interest in seeing it.

But a film that was hated by critics (30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) charmed the kiddies to the tune of $275 million worldwide and earned Gunn the chance to write, uh, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Yay?

Guardians wouldn't come for another 12 years, at which point Gunn wrote a hit for all ages which starred a talking CGI animal and also included a joke implying the hero's spaceship was covered in semen. And everyone loved it! See? It was all about waiting for Hollywood to catch up to his vision.

Hey, speaking of the weird pasts of famous superhero movie directors ...

The Owls Of Ga'Hoole Was Directed By Zack Snyder

Warner Bros.

Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole is an animated family movie about a young talking owl caught in the war between two warring factions of other talking owls. Kind of a kid's version of Lord Of The Rings with a primarily avian cast.

Warner Bros.

Frowldo Baggins.

It's not the worst idea for a kids movie we've ever heard, but it did have the weirdest choice for director: Zack "Movies Are Just A Series Of Slow-Motion Murders" Snyder. And this isn't something Snyder did in his youth before he found his voice. It was less than a year after he made Watchmen -- a movie in which, among other things, Jeffrey Dean Morgan murders a pregnant woman. Actually, nothing about Snyder directing a computer-generated cartoon makes sense when you compare it to any movie in his filmography ...

Universal Pictures

Dawn of the Dead

Warner Bros.


Warner Bros.

Sucker Punch

These are all absurdly gritty, bloody festivals of slow-mo violence which often double as masturbation fodder for the criminally insane. Even Man Of Steel and Batman V. Superman were colorless, brooding experiments in whether or not the sight of two men fighting in capes could send an audience into a state of depression. The only thing that would explain The Owls Of Ga'Hoole sharing a director with those movies is Snyder originally wanting this to be a live-action movie with real owls -- which, by the way, are in fact terrifying monsters.

5 Secret (Bizarre) Projects Of Famous Artists

Gnomeo & Juliet Was Elton John's Passion Project

Ernst Vikne/Wiki Commons

Gnomeo & Juliet sounds like a fake movie idea a hack studio executive would come up with in a Saturday Night Live skit. "It's a retelling of Romeo And Juliet with ... wait for it ... GARDEN GNOMES! No, YOU have a cocaine problem!" But because this is Hollywood, an idea that sounds like the result of having scraped two subbasements past the bottom of the barrel was given a budget that could pay a voice cast which included James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart, and Ozzy fucking Osbourne.

The result earned a collective "Eh, it's fine" from critics (55 percent on Rotten Tomatoes -- almost doubling Scooby Doo's score!) and only, uh, $200 million from audiences (seriously, people, kids will pretty much watch anything). If you're wondering: No, they didn't have the star-crossed lovers die at the end.

Walt Disney


So who truly came up with this? A focus group survey? An algorithm which automatically generates marketable movie premises from public domain properties? A new studio exec who happened to be the nephew of the CEO? Try music legend and sunglasses aficionado Elton John. He not only composed some of the music for Gnomeo & Juliet, but was also one of the producers, and he spent 11 goddamned years of his life trying to get the project off the ground.

Yes, a man who has sold 300 million albums, won five Grammy awards, and was freaking knighted in 1998 spent much of his 50s and 60s striving toward one goal: Making an animated Romeo And Juliet film made starring garden gnomes, directed by the guy who made Shrek 2.

If you're thinking that maybe he had some kind of artsy vision that got commercialized by the studio, you're wrong. Elton was reportedly very happy with how the film turned out, and was there every step of the way. His only complaint afterward was that Disney didn't promote it hard enough.

But no matter. The film was a hit and Elton John is producing a sequel, due in 2018: Gnomeo & Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes, starring Johnny Depp. This is how the man chooses to spend his golden years. Who are we to judge?

Famous Geeks Have Secretly Been Writing Huge Blockbusters For Years

Marvel Television

X-Men and X2 were arguably the first movies to set off the modern superhero craze. Then, with X-Men: The Last Stand, something went horribly wrong, and instead of a powerful, moving finale to the series, we got Vinnie Jones quoting a racist meme. What happened? Well, for one thing, the third movie wasn't written by Solid Snake.

In Hideo Kojima's famous Metal Gear games, David Hayter voices the main character Solid Snake, as well as his father (named Naked Snake, because Kojima does not give a fuck). With a bizarre resume like that, Hayter was a natural fit to write a movie about a mutant Canadian in desperate need of a manicure. So that's what he did, ultimately penning Wolverine's first cinematic appearance and its sequel. Hayter would then write Zack Snyder's Watchmen, so if you're one of those people who complained about the movie's lack of a giant squid, you can blame him for that.

Warner Bros.

Hayters gonna hayte.

Meanwhile, Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson from The Avengers and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) wrote the 2000 movie What Lies Beneath, about Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford being haunted by Ford's dead mistress.

DreamWorks Pictures

The full extent of Thanos' influence is as of yet unknown.

But even that career path isn't nearly as unlikely as Danny Strong's. He got his first big break with Buffy The Vampire Slayer as recurring character and part-time villain Jonathan Levinson ...

20th Television

Only villains drink Huge Glug.

... then, after leaving the show, Strong co-created the Fox series Empire and wrote Lee Daniels' The Butler, as well as the last two Hunger Games movies. Oh, and he did it all while still in his 30s.

Toy Story (And Pixar) Looked Doomed ... Until Joss Whedon Came Along

Marvel Studios

Fact: Toy Story is one of the greatest animated films ever. Also fact: The first draft of Toy Story was one of the worst things ever. Don't take our word for it; when Disney executives saw the initial excerpts of the film, they hated it so much that the entire movie was shut down until someone could come in and punch up the script.


Or at least make Woody less nightmare-inducing.

Enter Joss Whedon, the man who would eventually helm Buffy, Firefly, and The Avengers, who was at the time working as a script doctor -- i.e. the guy who got paid to do last-minute emergency fixes on blockbusters. Disney knew that the issue was fairly obvious, but not easy to fix: The main characters in this whimsical children's tale about talking toys were fucking assholes. Woody was a sniping, bitter jerk who was constantly trying to take down Buzz (a pompous dick) out of petty jealousy.

So Disney sent Whedon to Pixar (his hiring was not Pixar's idea), and he took over a script that was, in his words, "in shambles." Whedon pitched them on turning Toy Story into a buddy movie, making it so that both characters were relatable, fun, and above all else, flawed without being total shitheels.

"And switch around that 'You've Got A Fiend In Me' song."

It's true that Whedon was just one part of the process, but it could also be argued that he helped give the movie the heart and personality that not only launched the Pixar brand, but also created a formula they have used to generate nearly $10 billion in box office across 16 films. Oh, and several times that in merchandising -- Cars alone has sold $8 billion worth of toys and other bullshit. Think about it: That same "buddy comedy" dynamic turns up between Marlin and Dory from Finding Nemo, Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc, Lightning and Mater from Cars, and Carl and Russell from Up.

So yeah, sometimes studio meddling works. If they hire the right guy.

Tara Marie writes a lot.

For more strange projects from unexpected sources, check out 6 Famous Movies Made By The Last Person You'd Expect and 6 Hit Songs Written By the Last Person You'd Expect.

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