Close Casting Misfires

Some say casting is everything. And after reading the following, you would have to agree. Listed below are a number of close casting misfires, sure to leave you shaken at the thought of your favourite character played by the wrong actor.

AL PACINO AS HAN SOLO (STAR WARS)

 

The Breakdown

Star Wars creator George Lucas offered the critical role of space smuggler Han Solo to almost every leading man in Hollywood. Among them was brooding method actor Al Pacino, who turned the role down flat.

 

What Could Have Been...

With Pacino cast as Han Solo, Harrison Ford's career as a leading man would not exist. With no Ford, influential films such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Blade Runner would not have had the right movie star to see them through. As far as Pacino is concerned, there is a high possibility that due to the mega success which Star Wars would have garnered, the notorious media shy actor would have retreated to the stage in order to stay away from the prying media, counting his Star Wars royalty cheques while playing Richard III for the umpteenth time.   

 

CHEVY CHASE AS LESTER BURNHAM (AMERICAN BEAUTY)

 

The Breakdown

In his bid to focus on more family orientated material, veteran funny man Chevy Chase turned down the opportunity to play Lester Burnham in American Beauty. Kevin Spacey was cast in the role instead, and won a second Oscar for his trouble.

 

What Could Have Been...

Chase as Burnham could only go two ways: either it would be seen as a masterful move, with Chase receiving the same kind of critical acclaim that Bill Murray would a few years later for Lost In Translation; or, the film would fail due to Chase's performance, taking with it the career of director Sam Mendes. All bets should be placed on the latter.  

 

SYLVESTER STALLONE AS AXEL FOLEY (BEVERLY HILLS COP)

The Breakdown

Action star Sylvester Stallone was all set to play Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, yet Stallone's constant script changes saw the film slowly turn away from its comedic roots and into much darker territory. Concerned with the film's new direction, producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson decided to let Stallone go, and cast rising star Eddie Murphy in the lead role. Due to Murphy's hilarious performance, Beverly Hills Cop became a worldwide success. Stallone went on to film Cobra.

What Could Have Been...

Had Bruckheimer and Simpson stuck with Stallone, Beverly Hills Cop would just be Cobra, only with a different name. As a result, one of Hollywood's more profitable and entertaining franchises (well, the first two films) would not exist, and the film career of Eddie Murphy would languish. Then again, we would not have Norbit. Or, Best Defence. Or, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash. Or... 

 

MOLLY RINGWALD AS VIVIAN WARD (PRETTY WOMAN)

 

The Breakdown

Perhaps as a result of post-John Hughes disorder (cue Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy), former Brat Pack member Molly Ringwald turned down the role of hooker with a heart of gold, Vivian Ward, in the influential romantic comedy, Pretty Woman. Ringwald has since stated that she did not like the idea of playing a prostitute. Rising actress Julia Roberts was cast instead, was nominated for an Oscar, and has since ruled the nest as the world's most popular actress.

 

What Could Have Been...

With no Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts' career as a lead actress would have been bleak, to say the least. It was the role that brought her natural talent, warm charisma, and those big white choppers to the masses. Ringwald, on the other hand, would have made the successful transition from popular teen actress to profitable leading lady, especially if she took on the role of Patrick Swayze's love interest in Ghost, which the poor girl also turned down. 

 

ERIC STOLTZ AS MARTY MCFLY (BACK TO THE FUTURE)

 

The Breakdown

Popular TV actor Michael J. Fox was Robert Zemeckis' first choice to play adolescent time traveller Marty McFly, yet scheduling conflicts saw the role go to Eric Stoltz instead. After a week of turbulent filming, Stoltz was let go and Fox was urged to take his place. Fox agreed, simultaneously working on Back To The Future and his TV show Family Ties, averaging a few hours sleep between projects. 

 

What Could Have Been...

Had Fox not committed to the film, and had Zemeckis given in to Stoltz's interpretation of Marty McFly, then Back To The Future would had been one of those expensive duds, fallen under the strain of too many personalities pulling in vastly different directions. Fox would still have his TV career, yet without Back To The Future a future in feature films would have been a hard task. And, no, Teen Wolf would not have boosted Fox's stock in Hollywood.   

 

BILL MURRAY AS BRUCE WAYNE/ BATMAN (BATMAN)

 

The Breakdown

Warner Bros. seriously contemplated bringing back the Batman character by resurrecting the style and tone of the 1960s television series to the big screen. The role of the caped crusader was offered to comedian Bill Murray. When Tim Burton came on board, his new, dark direction had no place for Murray's patented, deadpan delivery.

What Could Have Been...

Batman was Burton's breakthrough into the mainstream, so had Warner Bros. taken the campy route and not hired him, then the career of one of cinema's great visionaries would not have come to fruition. And with no Tim Burton, there is a good chance that Johnny Depp would not have much of a career, either. As far as Murray is concerned, there is the possibility that his career would go on unscathed, although he would possibly not be so enthusiastic about his portrayal of the Dark Knight, ala George Clooney and that actor's much maligned turn in Batman and Robin

 

NICOLAS CAGE AS SUPERMAN (SUPERMAN LIVES)

 

The Breakdown

Before Superman Returns hit the multiplexes, Warner Bros. had several projects stuck in development hell which featured the famed superhero. The one with the most momentum was director Tim Burton's Superman Lives, which was based on a script by Kevin Smith. Superman fanatic Nicolas Cage was cast in the title role, and even went so far as to attend costume fittings of the character's all-new black garb.

 

What Could Have Been...

Thankfully, the project never got off the ground, and spared us all the horror of witnessing Cage parade in tights! But seriously, had the film gone ahead, and had it become a success, then - much like Batman before him - the tone and style of the Superman character would have been altered for some time to come.  

 

RICHARD GRIECO AS JACK TRAVEN (SPEED)

 

The Breakdown

Former 21 Jump St. and Booker pinup boy Richard Grieco turned down the role of Jack Traven in Speed, because "the script sucked". Keanu Reeves was cast in his place, and the film went on to become a box office smash, and an influential stable in the action genre. Grieco made a steady career as a C-grade leading man, while Reeves became Hollywood's new golden boy.  

 

What Could Have Been...

Reeves' career had been gearing up to this point, and had he not been given the role of Jack Traven, then his standing as a leading man would have been given quite a battering.

As far as Grieco is concerned, it's highly doubtful that the star of If Looks Could Kill would have been able to put bums on seats, no matter how many gimmicks featuring a rigged-to-blow bus were thrown at the audience.    

TOM CRUISE AS EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS)

 

The Breakdown

Believe it or not, blockbuster king Tom Cruise was attached to play shy and sensitive freak Edward, in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. However, Cruise's insistence that Edward should be more masculine prompted Burton to look elsewhere.

 

What Could Have Been...

Edward Scissorhands was TV star and teen heart throb Johnny Depp's breakthrough film role, and proved to the world that he was a major new talent. Without this film, Depp would not have landed roles in Ed Wood, or Pirates Of The Caribbean

 

RYAN O'NEAL AS ROCKY BALBOA (ROCKY)

 

The Breakdown

With all of his hopes placed in his script about a down-and-out boxer given a one in a million shot, struggling actor Sylvester Stallone knocked back repeated offers by producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff to let a big name actor play the title role of Rocky Balboa. At one point, Stallone was offered $350,000 for the rights to his script, and for Ryan O'Neal to play Rocky. However, Stallone would not budge.  

 

What Could Have Been... 

Rocky is an immensely popular and influential film, which has been embedded in popular culture. Without Stallone portraying The Italian Stallion, there is no way that the film would have been a critical or commercial success. To some, this would be ideal, since the film's five (!) sequels would not exist. Yet without the Rocky franchise, Dolph Lundgren and Mr. T would not have careers. Think about that next time you munch into your Snickers bar while watching Red Scorpion

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