Seraph was originally written for Michelle Yeoh, who turned it down, after which it went to Li (or as he's known in the industry, "the male Michelle Yeoh"). Although excited about the role, Li eventually backed out after realizing that the process of being motion-captured for CGI would've meant that, much like the fictional Matrix, taking the job (or "plugging in" as they probably called it) would have required surrendering his digital personhood. As Li tells it, Warner Bros. wanted to keep him doing martial arts in front of a green screen for six months in order to "record and copy all [his] moves to a digital library," after which they would own them forever. Fearing that his style would end up being used by Daffy Duck or something, Li said no.
This probably sounded like a bizarre reason to walk away from a generous payday, but it's not exactly outside the realm of possibility. After all, we're looking at a future entirely populated by dead-eyed gray goo replicas of our favorite movie stars. Who knows, maybe there's a universe in which Li took this deal, and found years later to his utter horror that the Wachowskis were having his digital puppet earn a living kicking the shit out of K-pop musicians. It should be him doing that, dammit.
Related: 7 Famous Actors In Hit Movies (That Were A Personal Hell)
Nic Cage Turned Down Shrek Because He Didn't Want To Play An Ugly Character (Kinda)
It's fair to say that when it comes to choosing his roles, Nicolas Cage is a lot more ... open-minded than his contemporaries. Or at least, that's what we're taking from the fact that he didn't merely sign up for a long-in-development-hell movie about a phantom bicyclist (there's got to be a simpler way of saying that, right?), but threw himself into the performance with so much gusto that, against every artistic instinct we have, he fucking killed it.
You know what role he didn't want, though? Shrek.
DreamWorks PicturesImagine Nicolas Cage doing a heavy Scottish accent and tell us you don't want to live in that world.
In an interview, Cage underlined his reasoning by saying that he "just didn't want to look like an ogre." After being asked to elaborate on his comments in a later interview, he clarified with "I'm not afraid to be ugly in a movie ... I want kids to look at [characters I play] and think 'well, he's a little scary, but he's a big teddy bear.' And I wasn't sure I could do that with Shrek."
It's all a little confusing, but in effect, the guy who has played a face-stealing psychopath, a dude who trains his daughter to be a killer, and Fu Manchu is saying that he turned down the role of a green ogre who exists alongside a nonstop soundtrack of classic pop songs and Smash Mouth tracks because he was too irredeemable a character. Of course, this happened before the IRS inspired Cage to move into the "say yes to everything" phase of his career, so ... guess who's definitely available for the inevitable live-action remake, DreamWorks?
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