10 Actors Originally Cast in Iconic Roles
Last week brought bad news for actress Shailene Woodley. After filming just a few scenes for Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," she learned she would no longer be needed for the role of Mary Jane Watson.
"I made a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen and their relationship," said Webb. "Shailene is an incredibly talented actress, and while we only shot a few scenes with Mary Jane, we all love working with her."
READ: Musicians Who Were Famously Fired From the Band
Those words probably don't comfort Woodley very much, seeing as it's still uncertain whether or not she'll be appearing as Watson in any upcoming sequels. But perhaps it would ease her mind to see the other actors who — for one reason or another — found themselves in the same predicament.
Eric Stoltz Was Almost Marty McFly
Eric Stoltz ("Mask," "Pulp Fiction") was originally cast as Marty McFly in 1985's "Back to the Future," but he was replaced after five weeks of filming. Director Robert Zemekis felt that Stoltz didn't quite have the "comic sensibilities" he was looking for, and executive producer Steven Spielberg agreed after seeing some of the early footage. "So I had to make this horrific decision, which was very heartbreaking for everybody," said Zemekis. He convinced the movie studio to give him more time to finish the film, and the role of Marty McFly was recast with Michael J. Fox.
Marlon Wayans Was Almost Robin
When Tim Burton was making "Batman Returns," he reached out to Marlon Wayans ("Scary Movie," "Requiem For a Dream") for the role of Robin. "I was cast, I was paid and everything," Wayans told Gawker Media's io9. "But there was too many characters," he said, so Wayans (and the Boy Wonder) were put on hold for the third installment. Then, when Tim Burton didn't end up making another Batman, Wayans was out for good. "Joel Schumacher did ["Batman Forever"] and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So he hired Chris O' Donnell," said the actor. (Wayans, however, still gets residual checks for the Batman film he never appeared in.)
Tom Selleck Was Almost Indiana Jones
Tom Selleck was offered the lead in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but had to turn it down due to a previous commitment: He had already signed on star in "Magnum P.I.," and Universal Studios wouldn't let him out of his contract. In the end, filming for "Magnum" was delayed for six months due to a writers strike, meaning that Selleck could have played both Indy and Magnum without disrupting either filming schedule. (Here's part of his "Raiders of the Lost Ark" screen test, which executive producer George Lucas called "really, really good.")
Chris Farley Was Almost Shrek
Before Mike Myers imparted Shrek with a thick Scottish accent, his fellow "SNL" co-star Chris Farley was cast as the big green ogre. In fact, by some estimates, Farley recorded 80–95 percent of the dialogue for the film before his untimely death in 1997. "Shrek" was put on hold until producers recast the role with Mike Myers, who apparently demanded that the entire script be reworked to create a distinctly different Shrek than the one Farley originally voiced. (Oh, and about that Scottish accent he uses — that part was an afterthought by Myers. He had already recorded the film's dialogue without it, but thought his character could be funnier. The animators were forced to go back and reanimate Shrek's lips to match the new accent at a cost of about $4–5 million.)
Jean Claude Van Damme Was Almost The Predator
Before he was an imposing, dreadlocked, pincer-faced creature, the Predator from "Predator" was a gangly gecko-type thing with a protruding head. And he was played by Jean Claude Van Damme. Van Damme was cast as the film's antagonist in order to lend fluidity to the alien being, but he didn't like working in the suit, and apparently felt that it reduced his role to that of a stunt performer. He quit after two days of production, and director John McTiernan seized the chance to have the suit redesigned. Former basketball player Kevin Peter Hall was then hired for the title role.
Harvey Keitel Was Almost Captain Benjamin Willard
Entire books have been written about the infamously problematic production of Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," so it should come as no surprise to learn that Harvey Keitel was fired shortly into filming. According to director Francis Ford Coppola, Keitel disliked working in the Philippine jungles and looked uncomfortable in his own skin while filming. Perhaps that's why Keitel was somewhat relieved when he got word of his firing. Coppola quickly recast the role of Captain Benjamin L. Willard with Martin Sheen, who made his first appearance on set just ten days after Keitel departed.
Billy Dee Williams Was Almost Two-Face
Billy Dee Williams ("The Empire Strikes Back") actually had a small role as Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" film, but part of his decision to accept the role hinged on the fact that Dent would eventually become Two-Face. He reportedly entered into a pay-or-play contract with the studio, basically meaning that if he didn't get to play Two-Face in a future installment, he would get paid instead — and that's exactly what happened. When Joel Schumacher took over for the third film, he paid Williams' fee and gave the role to Tommy Lee Jones.
Bob Hoskins Was Almost Al Capone
In August of '86, Bob Hoskins had officially signed on to play Al Capone in Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables." He was scheduled to be on set in October, so Hoskins took his family on vacation before filming began. That's about when he learned he was being replaced with Robert De Niro. According to Hoskins' agent J. Michael Bloom, Hoskins was paid "roughly $200,000" for his troubles.
Stuart Townsend Was Almost Aragorn
The role of Aragorn in "The Lord of The Rings" — a role that eventually went to Viggo Mortensen — was originally slated for Stuart Townsend. "I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began," Townsend told Entertainment Weekly. The Irish actor also claims that his bosses didn't want to pay him because he hadn't worked on the film long enough. "I have no good feelings for those people in charge [of the movie], I really don't," stated Townsend. "The director [Peter Jackson] wanted me and then apparently thought better of it, because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different."
Annette Bening Was Almost Catwoman
When it comes to Tim Burton's Batman movies, there seems to be a lot of recasting going on. Annette Bening was originally set to play Catwoman in Burton's "Batman Returns" (Billy Crystal even said as much while hosting the 1991 Academy Awards), but she had to back out after she became pregnant. The role went to Michelle Pfeiffer, who earned triple ($3 million) what Bening had earlier agreed to ($1 million).
Also lobbying for the part of Catwoman was "Blade Runner" actress Sean Young, who earned the role of Vicki Vale in 1989's "Batman" before she was recast with Kim Basinger (Young had broken her collarbone four or five weeks into pre-production). The actress showed up unnanounced to the set of "Batman Returns" in a full Catwoman outfit, allegedly causing Burton to hide from her under his desk. Around this time, she also appeared on "The Joan Rivers Show" in her Catwoman garb.