Buddy Comedies That Almost Starred Completely Different Buddies
Buddy comedies live and die based on the chemistry of their leads, which is why they’re called “buddy comedies” and not “people barely acquainted with each other comedies.” These films are so strongly associated with their star actors that it’s hard to imagine them even existing with someone else in those roles, yet many of them nearly did. But how different would they really have been? Let’s examine the evidence...
Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz in Bad Boys
Other than the characters being older and whiter, one big change this movie would have had if they’d gone with the original plan of casting SNL’s Church Lady and Hanukkah Harry in the lead roles is “less promiscuity.” Reportedly, Carvey didn’t care for his (eventually Will Smith’s) character’s philandering ways, so that scene in the trailer where he wakes up next to two naked women that he doesn’t seem to remember would have been different. Presumably, he would have said, “Good morning, Margaret and Roberta. Please put some clothes on and tell me about your week” while bringing them breakfast.
Martin Lawrence and Chris Farley in Rush Hour
Lawrence’s potential involvement with this movie has been confirmed by multiple credible sources, while Farley’s... not so much. Still, as the story goes, Rush Hour was originally supposed to be about a “hapless white officer” who gets paired with a “smart-talking” Black one, leading to endless jokes about how white cops drive like this and Black cops drive like this. The biggest difference in this Jackie Chan-less version would have probably been “way less martial arts,” but Farley did have previous experience playing a master of ninjitsu, so who knows?
Sylvester Stallone and Nobody in Beverly Hills Cop
We know almost exactly what Stallone’s version of Beverly Hills Cop would have looked like because, after leaving the project, he actually went ahead and made his version anyway under the name of Cobra. Why “almost”? Because Stallone has mentioned scenes that didn’t make it into Cobra, like when he steals a Ferrari and plays a game of chicken with a freight train or when his “buddy” in this “buddy comedy” (Judge Reinhold’s character) gets violently murdered halfway through the film. Cue the funky 1980s synths.
Clint Eastwood and Richard Pryor in 48 Hrs.
In the 1970s, 48 Hrs. was supposed to star Clint Eastwood... as the criminal. Please imagine Eastwood saying, “I’ve been in prison for three years. My dick gets hard if the wind blows.” The director wanted “someone like” Eastwood as the hard-ass cop and Richard Pryor as the wise-ass criminal, but no one liked the idea. It’s kinda hard to imagine Eastwood and Pryor pissing each other off as hilariously as Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte did, but hey, maybe there’s a parallel universe where they became pals and Pryor ended up making a bunch of comedies with Dirty Harry instead of Willy Wonka.
Clint Eastwood and David Schwimmer in Men in Black
Hollywood was determined to have Eastwood in a high-concept buddy comedy, one way or another. When Men in Black was in development, the studio really wanted Eastwood as the grizzled old-timer instead of Tommy Lee Jones (which we can totally see), while Will Smith’s hip, street-savvy new recruit role was offered to David Schwimmer (which we cannot). Would it have been a better movie? Probably not. Does part of us still wish we could see Eastwood staring at the dweeb from Friends with total contempt for 98 minutes? Absolutely.
Mel Gibson and George Clooney in Wild Wild West
Don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time imagining Mel Gibson pulling off that theme song. Tom Cruise was reportedly courted for a role, too, which means there was a very real chance that he would have died trying to fight a real mechanical spider in the mid-1990s. George Clooney was actually locked in for the Artemus role once Will Smith was in, so there’s an alternate world where having his nipples sculpted in rubber by Joel Schumacher wasn’t his worst blockbuster experience.
Kurt Russell and Macaulay Culkin in Cop and a Half
Remember Cop and a Half? With Burt Reynolds and... that kid who starred in nothing else of note? There’s a slightly bigger chance you would if it actually starred Snake Plissken and Kevin McCallister as initially planned. Hell, the movie might have ended up with 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes instead of the current 14 percent! They’re probably kicking themselves to this day.
Stephen Baldwin and Ellen DeGeneres in Speed
The youngest Baldwin was reportedly the first choice for Speed’s star but turned it down, probably thinking, “What kind of movie offers the lead to Stephen Baldwin first?” Meanwhile, the Sandra Bullock role was intended for Ellen DeGeneres, which, combined with Baldwin, would have given this endeavor a distinctly more “TV movie” vibe. No word on who would have played the villain in this version instead of Dennis Hopper, so I’m gonna go ahead and guess “Bulk from the Power Rangers.“
Samuel L. Jackson and Matt Damon in Training Day
Why are we counting this as a “buddy comedy”? Because, with all due respect to Jackson’s considerable dramatic abilities, a movie where he drives Damon around the hood and spooks the hell out of him is 100 percent a comedy, sorry. They could have kept the exact same script word for word, and it’d still be funny. He wouldn’t even have needed to add any extra “motherf@#%ers.”
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Die Hard with a Vengeance
Yep, the script that became the third Die Hard movie was at one point considered for the fourth Lethal Weapon one, so maybe instead of being Hans Gruber’s brother, “Simon” could have been some random henchman Martin Riggs shot in the dick in a previous film. Also, we could see Gibson floating the idea of moving the sandwich board scene from Harlem to an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood and changing the slur on the sign, only to get strange looks and drop it. There’s only one change we can be absolutely sure of: way more saxophones.