Actors often believe their ability to play pretend on film must mean they're automatically also great musicians. (Just ask Jeremy Renner.) Similarly, there are more than a few thespians who think their skills at reading the words someone else wrote and following someone else's directions on a movie set translate into being able to perform those tasks themselves. Sometimes they're right and you get amazing ad-libs and spur-of-the-moment creative decisions that make for transcendent cinematic touchstones. These ... are not those times.
The Terminator may be a landmark sci-fi horror classic that launched James Cameron's career, but it suffers one glaring deficiency: NOT. ENOUGH. FUNNY PARTS. Arnold Schwarzenegger felt that the film could never become a true classic without a couple of slapstick jokes baked in, so he suggested a scene wherein the T-800 comes across a refrigerator in someone's house, becomes intrigued by a beer can, and drinks it. Then he gets drunk and staggers around, as any unstoppable kill-bot would after dumping one Miller High Life on its circuitry.
Ol' closed-minded Cameron squashed this idea right away, interrupting his star and explaining, "It's a machine, Arnold. It's not a human being. It's not E.T. It can't get drunk." Schwarzenegger noted that Cameron was extremely protective of his script and didn't like suggestions, which sounds exceedingly unreasonable in this instance. Now we'll never know the true masterpiece the film could have been if, 20 minutes before the Terminator's metal skeleton demonically emerged from an inferno, there was a scene of it knocking a bunch of shit over in a house and texting Sarah Connor typo-filled apologies.
Before the original Star Trek pilot was even shot, Leonard Nimoy complained to creator Gene Roddenberry about the "grotesque" and uncomfortable pointy ears he had to wear as Spock. Roddenberry was hesitant to scrap the ears, though, because it's literally the only thing that makes the character look "alien." Without them, he's nothing but a dude with a bowl cut.
The series proceeded with Spock's pointy ears intact, but Nimoy kept hating them. Roddenberry compromised and said that if Nimoy truly wanted to ditch the ears, he'd write an episode in which Spock undergoes an operation to change his ears into human ones, his commitment to logic be damned.
The show's head of makeup, Fred Phillips, finally went to bat for the frustrated first officer. He knew that the real problem was that the studio had already paid a company to make the flimsy ears, and they didn't want to be bothered paying a second time for slightly better ones. But Phillips finally convinced them to lay out the (surely-seven-figure) investment for less-stupid-looking Spock ears, and the iconic Vulcan signifiers remained. And the show was spared from having some ridiculous Spock surgery episode ... until they did the episode "Spock's Brain," where an alien pulls Spock's brain out of his head and the crew has 24 hours to get it back into his body.
Probably the most memorable part of 1979's goofy gang thriller The Warriors (apart from the Baseball Furies, a criminal organization combining the intimidation of little league uniforms with the terror of mimes) was the scene toward the end in which the main villain, Luther, clinks bottles together while taunting the heroes into revealing themselves. Actor David Patrick Kelly came up with the idea (he credits director Walter Hill with the "Come out and play-yay!" line), and it was pretty awesome:
It was creepy and bizarre, and it worked. But the original suggestion was significantly creepier and more bizarre: Instead of bottles, Kelly wanted stick his digits into pigeon corpses.
And he didn't merely spitball a random thought; he actually scrounged up two dead Coney Island pigeons just lying around (at least he didn't set a trap and throttle them himself), stuffed them in a paper sack, and delivered them to Hill like a proud cat after a long day on the prowl. Sadly, Hill reacted to this earnest proposal by stating, " That's not going to work." But the seed of a concept was planted, and the rotting avians were replaced with the bottles we all know and love.
Was that the nuttiest notion to occur on the set of The Warriors? Maybe. But Hill had one that came close. It seems that, to give the film some Homeric gravitas, he tried to recruit Orson Welles to narrate the introduction. But Paramount refused to pay for it and sent poor Welles back to hawking low-end hooch.
The recently deceased Dutch powerhouse Rutger Hauer was notorious for his portrayals of chilling villains, most notably Roy Batty in Blade Runner, for which he largely improvised the iconic "tears in the rain" monologue (which was almost cut). And a decade later, he took his proficiency for playing villains and his love of making bold, weird suggestions to the set of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie.
Hauer and Donald Sutherland were cast to bring some respectability to the Kristy Swanson / Luke Perry teen action-horror-comedy, but both also brought their own strong ideas about about how a "chosen one" cheerleader should go about murdering vampires led by Hauer and Pee-wee Herman. Sutherland kept rejecting screenwriter Joss Whedon's ideas and improvising his lines, while Hauer took great joy in annoying the shit out of Swanson.
Hauer wanted to have his character, the vampire master Lothos, fight Buffy while completely naked under his robe. He then doubled down on this by filming a dream sequence wearing only a pair of black underpants under his robe and letting it fling open. This surprised Swanson, who asked him to put some pants on. She recalled, "And in this tiny voice ... he goes, 'But I waaaaaaant to.' And he put his pants on, but it was so wild and funny."
Chris Pratt was originally only supposed to be in the first season of Parks And Recreation, but he won us over so damn much with his adorably dumb guitar-toting, shoeshine-by-day, secret alter-ego-having detective by night buffoonery. He was kind of like a big dumb lovable golden retriever -- and almost was in a much more specific and way more tragic way.
When the writers were kicking around ideas for the Parks And Rec series finale, they briefly toyed with the idea of doing a twist on the Six Feet Under finale, having the show flash forward to show how each character eventually dies. Pratt suggested having Andy die from overheating after being left in a hot car with the windows rolled up, then having April die of a broken heart right after.
That idea never left the writers' room. For whatever reason, the heartfelt comedy about small-town politics and community opted not to end with a Goodfellas-esque tracking shot of Star-Lord's corpse in a Cadillac.
One reason you almost definitely haven't heard of the 2003 Gary Busey star vehicle Quigley is that it went straight to video. Or maybe it's because it was released in the UK as Daddy Dog Day? Although the biggest reason is probably that Quigley follows a mean businessman who dies in a car accident, goes to Heaven, and is sent back to Earth by God as a Pomeranian to atone for his sins. Overall, maybe 11 people saw this movie, which critics described as " I am actually watching a Pomeranian who's supposed to be Gary Busey."
Obviously, Quigley was never supposed to be Citizen Canine. It was a quick cash grab designed for parents too drunk and/or broke to spring for Finding Nemo tickets. But as one might expect from a children's film starring Gary " I Scream At 11-Year-Olds" Busey, it quickly ran into production problems.
With filming already three days behind schedule, Busey straight-up refused to shoot the Heaven transformation sequence until the producers rearranged the set to make it match what Heaven truly looks like. Which he knew, because he had already been there.
See, in 1988, Busey was in a horrific motorcycle accident that didn't kill him, but did allegedly send him on a brief excursion to the hereafter. And you better believe the real Heaven doesn't look ANYTHING like the cheap shit the Quigley set designer whipped up for this movie, which -- and we can't stress this enough -- stars Busey as a Pomeranian. According to Busey, the sofa in Quigley's Heaven was "all wrong," and the mirrors had to go because "they don't even have mirrors" in Heaven. He was presumably too frustrated to mention the utter lack of angels who looked like " big balls of light that float and carry nothing but love and warmth." Until the set was changed to match Busey's experience, he wasn't going to record a single damn line.
Heavenly decor was so important to Busey that he even ended up nearly getting into a fist fight with another actor who'd apparently also had a near-death experience and visited an entirely different version of Heaven. Was the entire cast of Quigley dead, and Quigley itself just a super weird Purgatory? Yes.
Jordan Breeding also writes for a whole mess of other people, the Twitter, and is a Heavenly Pomeranian. E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD, and he's practically on his knees begging that you pre-order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review.
For more, check out The Awful Spider-Man Movie James Cameron Almost Made:
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