Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Roles That Got Away

Did you know that there is a site dedicated to actors and the roles they turned down? Tis true. Just go to Not Starring and check it out for yourself. The reason I bring it up is because I was cruising the net, looking for something to post about, when I came across a reference that Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings." Now that shocked me. I mean, Sean Connery has been in movies like "Highlander" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," but he turned down the role of Gandalf? Sure it's easy for me to say that now, knowing that the movie was a huge success. But still. Anyway, I was looking to confirm that Connery had indeed turned the role down when I stumbled across NotStarring.com (which oddly doesn't list Connery at all) and I thought it would be fun to list some other famous sci-fi/fantasy roles that were offered to some big names who then turned them down. Neo (The Matrix), offered to: Will Smith I actually think this is a good thing. As much as I joke about Keanu Reeves and his lack of acting range, Will Smith would not have been believable as a computer hacker named Neo. Even Smith agrees, saying in a "Wired" interview “I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be—whereas Keanu was.” Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump), offered to: John Travolta Oh thank God. That is my only reaction to John Travolta not taking this role. I don't know why, but I really love this movie. I think Tom Hanks was wonderful in it and I suspect it wouldn't have been even nearly as great with Travolta. Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark), offered to: Tom Selleck This is a well known fact, so I doubt I'm surprising anyone with this one. I've come to associate Indy with Harrison Ford so strongly that I can't envision Selleck in the role. But who knows, maybe Magnum could have pulled it off... Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), offered to: Daniel Day Lewis This is a mildly interesting one. I think Viggo Mortensen was good in the role, but it isn't one of those parts where I couldn't envision someone else playing the part. I suspect that Lewis would have done an excellent job had he decided to take it-- probably upped the intensity factor a few notches. Madison (Splash), offered to: Diane Lane I bet Diane Lane wishes she had decided to do "Splash" rather than Streets of Fire, though her career seems to have fared very well despite missing out on Darryl Hannah's career making role. This is another one in which I think the part could have been played by either actress and been just fine. Lane would have made a lovely mermaid. James Bond, offered to: Cary Grant Hmmmm. Interesting. I think Grant could have pulled of the suave part of the Bond role (like Pierce Brosnan) but I don't think he could have pulled off the tough-guy part as well as Sean Connery. Thank goodness Connery had the good sense to take this role. Bill (Kill Bill), offered to: Kevin Costner Huh? Kevin Costner? Really? What was Quentin Tarantino thinking? Then again, I would have said the same thing about offering the role of Vincent Vega to John Travolta. Marty McFly (Back to the Future), offered to: Eric Stoltz Again, mildly interesting, though I liked Michael J. Fox in the role. Could the movie have been as good with Stoltz in the role? Hard to say. It would have been different. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), rumored to have been offered to Jim Carrey I found some references that suggested that Carrey was offered the role of Jack Sparrow before Johnny Depp, though I haven't been able to confirm it for sure. I do think he was considered for the role, but I don't know if it went as far as the offer stage. Anyway. Carrey would have been a silly choice IMO. I just can't see Ace Ventura as a pirate. ....Just imagine the movie landscape if some of these roles had gone to the actors who were first in line to take them. I wonder if it would have made that much difference? Probably. "Cat Woman" might have actually been good if Nicole Kidman had a taken the role (as rumored to have been offered to her)...Then again...

15 comments:

RD Williams said...

I saw an interview with Sean once, where he did confirm that he was offered a part in Lord of the Rings(though he didn't say what part) and that he turned it down because he didn't understand the story. From what he said, sci-fi/fantasy has not been his 'thing' as such. He said he took the role in League of EG because after having turned down the part in LoTR he realized that he needed to move forward as an actor and expand.
(Sorry, big Conery fan) :)

SQT said...

Rd

No need to apologise. I think Connery is great. I think that's why I was surprised to hear he didn't take the role as Gandalf. It would probably been a good fit.

Charles Gramlich said...

Carrey as Jack Sparrow would have been a movie killer I'd think. NEver been fond of his work.

The Curmudgeon said...

Shirley Temple was offered Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Buddy Ebsen was actually cast as the Tin Man, but couldn't handle (nearly died because of) the make-up.

And he might have hated wasting "black gold, Texas tea" on his mechanical joints...

And Diane Lane? *Sigh*

SQT said...

Curmudgeon

Good one! I'm not sure I've heard that before. Though I suppose it isn't surprising.

furiousBall said...

DDL as Aragorn would have been interesting, that's the only one I think the audience missed out from what was listed.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

What a relief things were as they were.

Hammer said...

I don't think Sean Connery could have kept himself from bitch slapping those snivelling hobbits.

Vinnie Barabarino as Forest Gump?
I just don't see it.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Cary Grant would have been an awesome Bond, and in my opinion, he played Bond..or at least a character which could have served as an audition tape for the casting agent. I'm talking about "North By Northwest". There are moments of this film which should remind people of moments in "From Russia With Love".

SQT said...

I haven't watched North by Northwest Stu, but now I'll have to just to see how Grant played the role. I'm so used to him as the urbane leading man that I don't think of him as being like Bond.

Avery said...

I think Johnny Depp was the only thing that saved Pirates from being another one of Disney's live-action-cartoons. Depp's performance was silly, no doubt, but the magnitude of his talent pulled the focus from the Disney standard of a forbidden romance between two fairly cardboard characters. I think Jim Carrey's brand of silliness would have intensified the cartoonish nature of the plot and driven the final nail in its coffin.

As for Costner as Bill; I think my soul just died a little. Talk about a wooden actor. He makes Keanu look positively manic.

Carl V. said...

I too like Sean Connery, but I cannot imagine him playing Gandalf. Just don't think it would have worked.

Did you know that Stuart Townsend actually *had* the role of Aragorn, was doing filming and everything, before they decided he was too young and called up Viggo and rushed him over?

SQT said...

Avery

I think Pirates would have died out after the first movie if it hadn't been for Depp.

We can also breath a sigh of relief that Costner didn't do Kill Bill. How much would that have sucked?

Carl

I didn't know that! I didn't see it on any of the "fact" lists that I came along. Great piece of trivia.

marineko said...

I think it was mentioned on E! (which I'm embarrassed to say I watch, but I do, everytime HBO disappoints me, which is always) that Will Smith was offered the part for Jack Sparrow, but he didn't take it.

Steve Malley said...

A favorite game here at Castle Dynamo is 'Who else could have played that role?'

We try to guess who might have been better, and who would have been worse. Billy Zane in The Matrix. Brendan Fraser as Forrest Gump. Either of them as Gandalph.

In fact, imagine Brendan Fraser in pretty much *anything*...

Catwoman needed about 14 fewer rewrites and a real villain. Nicole would have gone down with that ship too...