Another Look at Actors Who Almost Got the Big Role
Princess Leia as a D.C. madam? The Blues Brothers as Amigos? Who wouldn't have wanted to see that?
We delve again into the hypothetical world where actors got the roles they missed out on. Where 'Mrs. Doubtfire' was a 'Home Improvement' adaptation, Jackie Chan ran into Big Trouble in Little China, and Sandra Bullock didn't become America's Sweetheart in 'Demolition Man'.
James Remar was originally cast as Corporal Hicks, but was replaced by Michael Biehn a few days into filming. The original reason given was creative differences between Remar and director James Cameron. It wasn’t until years later when Remar set the record straight on a podcast, saying he was fired from the film after being arrested for drug possession. Biehn was called on Friday and asked to take over the role, and had to be in London for filming on Monday.
Legendary musician David Bowie nearly added Batman’s greatest foe and a Bond villain to his resume. One of several actors considered for the Joker in Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’, Bowie was a favorite among fans and even comic book artists who continued to model the Joker after Bowie even though he didn’t get the part. Bowie was also approached for the lead villain role, Max Zorin, in the James Bond film ‘A View to a Kill’. However, Bowie turned down the role after reading the script, citing a lack of enthusiasm for the project.
Carrie Fisher was originally cast as Washington D.C. madam Miss Scarlett in the movie adaptation of the board game ‘Clue’. Unfortunately, Fisher was sent to rehab just four days before filming, requiring Leslie Ann Warren to take the role last minute. For the curvy French maid, producers considered Demi Moore, Madonna, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Colleen Camp attended her audition in full costume, with her impressive figure in the outfit being a deciding factor in her casting
Continuing the trend of last-minute replacements, Anjelica Huston was originally cast as Delia, Lydia’ step-mother, in ‘Beetlejuice’, but had to be replaced by Catherine O’Hara due to illness. The list of potential Lydias including Juliette Lewis, Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, and Jennifer Connelly, with the final decision coming down to either Alyssa Milano or Wynonna Rider.
Rumor has it that Leo DiCaprio was offered the lead role in the Universal reboot of ‘The Mummy’, but was unable to accept the part due to commitments to ‘The Beach’. DiCaprio reportedly loved the script and even tried to have production delayed on ‘The Beach’ to allow him to do both. Ironically, after the part went to Brendan Fraiser, production on ‘The Beach’ was delayed anyway. Other names considered for O’Connell included Sylvester Stallone, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise, who is starring in the 2017 reboot.
At a recent convention, former ‘Doctor Who’ star Matt Smith admitted that he Karen Gillan were both in consideration for parts on the television series ‘Merlin’ when they both received the call they’d been cast as the Doctor and Amy Pond in the 5th series of the restarted ‘Doctor Who’.
When the BBC was looking to relaunch the ‘Doctor Who’ franchise in the 90s in America with a made-for-TV movie, future Doctors Peter Capaldi and Christopher Eccleston were both asked to audition for the role. Both declined, with Capaldi believing he didn’t stand a chance and Eccleston feeling it was too early in his career to attach himself to a beloved franchise. Anthony Stewart Head auditioned for The Doctor before becoming Buffy’s Watcher Giles in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (Head would eventually guest star in the second series/season of the relaunched BBC series), and Christopher Lloyd was wanted for the role of The Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, but producers vetoed his consideration out of concern for how much they’d have to pay him. Ironically, they ended up paying Eric Roberts more than they would have had to pay Lloyd.
In an interview with ‘True West’ magazine, Kurt Russell mentioned that the filmmakers had originally approached Richard Gere and Willem Dafoe for the roles of Wyatt and Doc, respectively. Reportedly, Buena Vista refused to distribute the film if Dafoe was cast because of his role in the controversial film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’.
Rumors suggest that at some point during the process of adapting ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ from book to screen, the idea was suggested of adapting it into a feature film version of ‘Home Improvement’, and changing the characters to fit those from the show. Stars Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson reportedly hated the idea and felt that ‘Home Improvement’ didn’t need a feature film. When the film was going forward with Robin Williams, a young Blake Lively was a main contender for the role of the youngest Hillard child, Natalie. Lively made it to the final round of auditions, losing out to Mara Wilson in her feature film debut.
While promoting ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, Olivia Munn noted that she was offered the chance to play Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa in the wildly successful ‘Deadpool’. Munn says she declined the role because she didn’t want to play a typical girlfriend part again, instead wanting to play more action packed roles like Psylocke in X-Men.
Lori Petty had to be replaced by Sandra Bullock just days into filming over creative differences. Jackie Chan was approached to play the villain Simon Phoenix, but turned it down out of fear of how Chinese audiences would react to him playing the bad guy. Van Damme was also offered the part of Phoenix, and expressed interest in the project but only if he could play the heroic John Spartan. Segal was also approached to play Phoenix but outright declined.
In a 1980 Playboy interview, Steve Martin said that the original plan for the film was to have Martin star with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as ‘The Three Caballeros'. Later, Steven Spielberg was considered for the directing position, saying he planned on casting Bill Murray as Dusty Bottoms and Robin Williams as Ned Nederlander in addition to Steve Martin.
Jackie Chan was director John Carpenter’s first choice for the role of Wang Chi, widely considered the hero of the film. However, Chan declined the role, preferring to focus on his career in Hong Kong.