The Unkindest Cut: When Actors Hit The Cutting Room Floor

May 7, 2016
With Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham chopped from this week’s Bad Neighbours 2, here are a dozen other actors who found themselves on the cutting room floor.

32ee9e28bbe0883276866499bcb22fc6-650-80ROBERT PATTINSON IN VANITY FAIR

In the well-received 2011 romantic drama, Water For Elephants, Twilight superstar, Robert Pattinson, and Oscar winning American sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon, made for an appropriately celluloid-searing couple. Sure, the chiselled cheekboned teen heartthrob is obviously considerably younger than the much loved mother-of-two, but that hardly hindered the duo’s on-screen chemistry, and audiences were easily carried away into their tragedy-tinged relationship. Their on-screen partnership in Water For Elephants did, however, have a slightly perverse cinematic foreshadowing. In 2004, director, Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala), had cast a young Robert Pattinson (in what was effectively his debut film role) to play the abandoned adult son of Reese Witherspoon’s ruthless social climber, Becky Sharp, in her vivid, colourful adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel, Vanity Fair. “I think that’s kind of bizarre that they cast me as her son,” Pattinson said on Today. In an alternate ending shot for the film, a dashing-looking but rather forlorn Pattinson is seen at a funeral reluctantly accepting his errant mother’s quietly stated need to reconnect. Even back then, however, there was a little sexual chemistry between Witherspoon and Pattinson. “He was walking down the corridor,” Witherspoon said on Entertainment Tonight, “and I said to the director, ‘That’s my son? He’s so good looking!’ I was like, ‘He’s so hot!’” Though Pattinson was eighteen-years-old at the time, and the 28-year-old Witherspoon was caked in age makeup in an effort to make her look like she was in her mid-forties, the pair didn’t exactly look like a believable mother and son, which may hint at why the scene was eventually excised from the final film. “It seems so long ago now,” Pattinson said on Entertainment Tonight, “but even then, I realised on the set that I looked too old to be playing her son. It’s probably why the scene was cut!”

vlcsnap-2015-02-21-14h30m01s83LIAM NEESON IN THE HANGOVER: PART II

For such a small part, the role of Tattoo Joe – the philosophical Bangkok ink artist who applies the hapless Stu’s hilarious Mike Tyson-style facial tattoo – turned out to be the most contentious and difficult one to fill in The Hangover: Part II, the hilarious 2011 sequel to the 2009 comedy megahit. When director, Todd Phillips, cast the much debated Mel Gibson in the small but pivotal role of Tattoo Joe, he had to rescind his offer when several people involved with the film voiced their dissatisfaction with the controversial actor appearing in the film. “You’re a family when you shoot a movie, and you don’t necessarily want to rupture that family over a two-minute cameo,” the director told FilmInk. “Mel, being the gentleman that he is, quite honestly understood on the first instance, and it wasn’t this huge thing. The problem that I had with the whole thing was that it should never have been a story because it was always meant to be a surprise cameo anyway.” Interestingly, the apparently morally outraged cast and crew had no problem with boxer, ear-biter and convicted rapist, Mike Tyson, dropping in for a particularly lame cameo. Fearing a self-righteous crew mutiny, Phillips then tapped the obviously morally sound Liam Neeson to play Tattoo Joe. The actor filmed his scene, but when reshoots were needed, Neeson couldn’t do it because he was busy working on Wrath Of The Titans. As a result, the Oscar nominee’s work hit the cutting room floor. Phillips’ third choice for the role ended up being Nick Cassavetes, a successful director (The Notebook) and occasional actor (Face/Off, The Astronaut’s Wife). “We were in a complete time crunch, so I called Nick, and asked if he would do the part,” Phillips told Variety. “He came in and crushed it. It turned out great.”


When producer/director, George Lucas, brought his Star Wars prequel bandwagon down under for extensive shooting at Sydney’s Fox Studios, he tapped several high profile actors to appear in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones, including Joel Edgerton, Jack Thompson, Rose Byrne, Leeanna Walsman, Susie Porter and Jay Laga’aia. He also cast Claudia Karvan, Graeme Blundell and Trisha Noble, but ultimately sent their scene hurtling to a galaxy far, far away…also known as the “deleted scenes” section of the film’s DVD release. In this quiet, interior scene, young hero, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christenson), meets the parents (Blundell and Noble) and sister (Karvan) of Natalie Portman’s Padme – with whom he is obviously besotted – over a polite lunch. There’s also something in the scene that has no place in the Star Wars universe: people doing the dishes. When Padme and her mother and sister gush about Anakin while in the kitchen after lunch, everything just feels way too prosaic. Lucas, however, had trouble letting the scene go, and had no problems with the Australian actors’ performances. “I really liked that scene, and it went a long way to telling us what Padme’s problems were,” the director says. “But when I got very hardnosed about the length of the film, I realised that those ideas were actually conveyed in other scenes.” Claudia Karvan certainly bears no ill will towards the Star Wars godhead. “It was good fun, actually,” the actress said on Enough Rope. “It was one day’s work, and there were about ten wardrobe calls for that one day. Amazing outfits. It felt a bit like, ‘Whew, this is big!’ But then you get on the set, and it’s an all-Australian crew, which was lovely. I felt comfortable. And George Lucas was lovely, really lovely. I wouldn’t mind working with him again,” she laughed.


When Adelaide-born Anthony LaPaglia decamped to America with the dream of following in the footsteps of his big screen heroes, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, one of the first acting jobs that he booked was the title role in Nitti: The Enforcer. The strongly made 1988 television movie told of Mafia hardman, Frank Nitti, who provided the muscle and intimidation factor for Chicago mob figurehead, Al Capone. By 2002, LaPaglia – after highly accomplished turns in the likes of Lantana, The House Of Mirth, Sweet And Lowdown, Summer Of Sam and the TV series, Murder One – had moved up the cinematic ladder enough to go from henchman to mob boss, with Oscar winning director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty), casting him in the role of Al Capone in his lyrical crime drama, Road To Perdition, which follows a hitman (Tom Hanks) on the run from the Irish mob. In one of the most unusual portrayals of Capone ever committed to celluloid (the real life gangster has been played by the likes of Robert De Niro, Rod Steiger, Jason Robards, Ben Gazzara and Eric Roberts), LaPaglia is seen prowling around a huge, ornate office nursing a horrible cold (he’s clutching an icepack and wearing no shoes, no less) and ranting about why Hanks’ hitman is ripping holes in his business. “He’s plaguing me,” Capone bellows. “He’s like some old, ancient plague. I’m hemorrhaging…I’m bleeding c-notes in three states! People are laughing at me!” It’s a fierce, funny, threatening performance from LaPaglia – who director Sam Mendes appropriately calls “wonderful” on the film’s DVD – but the scene was ultimately cut from the film. “Like a slightly mad animal presence, we realised as we cut the film together that you felt his presence more keenly if you didn’t meet him, partly because he is this mythic, iconic figure,” the director explains.


Acclaimed director, Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days Of Heaven), is famous for his on-set eccentricities and total unwillingness to be interviewed by the press, or attend award shows, even when he’s nominated. Malick is also a noted proponent of “finding the film” in the editing room, with most of his movies changing radically during their journey from script to screen. With his epic 1998 adaptation of James Jones’ WW2 novel, The Thin Red Line, Malick dispatched an extraordinary cast of actors (including Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, John Cusack and many more) to Far North Queensland (doubling for Guadalcanal), and proceeded to film hours of footage. After Malick’s long, film-shifting editing process, there were a number of major casualties. George Clooney’s role was cut to a cameo, and Adrien Brody’s was graphically reduced, while a few actors (Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Lukas Haas, Billy Bob Thornton) were rumoured to have been dropped from the film completely. One actor definitely cut from The Thin Red Line was Mickey Rourke, who played a haunted, mentally unbalanced jungle sniper. At the time, the once popular actor was stone cold dead in Hollywood terms, but Malick hired him anyway. “The studio didn’t want me,” Rourke told FilmInk in 2005. “They said that Terry could hire anybody in this town that he wanted, except Mickey Rourke.” Featured on the film’s recent Blu-ray release, the deleted scene with Rourke is extremely brief, but the actor told FilmInk that he was chest-puff-proud of his work. “I gave probably one of my best performances ever that nobody will ever see,” he said. When FilmInk suggested that the other people who got cut out would probably say the same thing, Rourke laughed. “Yeah, well, they say it, but it might not be true. In my case, it was true. You can take that to the bank.”


Though a star in her native England – thanks to her superlative performance as the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet in the much loved BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice – the beautiful and charming Jennifer Ehle is yet to make a major splash in the US…and getting cut out of the 2007 Oscar nominated legal drama, Michael Clayton, certainly didn’t help. Ehle filmed a few scenes as the girlfriend of George Clooney’s titular compromised law firm “fixer”, who finds himself in over his head when he gets caught up in a multi-billion-dollar class action suit. “They realised that it was better for his character to be alone, and not to have somebody that he was intimate with in his life,” Ehle told FilmInk. The story does, however, have a happy ending. Michael Clayton was executive produced by director Steven Soderbergh, who saw Ehle’s scene, and promptly cast her as the saintly Dr. Ally Hextall in his brilliant 2011 virus-run-amok thriller, Contagion. “I was absolutely gobsmacked that Steven would have the faintest idea who I was or where I was or that he would even want to work with me,” Ehle told FilmInk. “I can’t imagine that it didn’t have something to do with the fact that I was in Michael Clayton. I’m sure that Steven might have seen that…I really don’t know. I took Contagion assuming that I was going to be cut, but I was thrilled because I had a wonderful time making it, and in fact, they ended up adding two or three scenes. It’s a dream come true.” If that wasn’t enough to make up for Ehle’s chop from Michael Clayton, actor/writer/director George Clooney also cast the actress in a small supporting role as his wife in the Oscar nominated political drama, The Ides Of March.


Does any Hollywood actress have worse luck than Sean Young? She had to drop out of Tim Burton’s Batman when she injured her shoulder during a horse riding accident, and was then snubbed by the director when she lobbied to play Catwoman in Batman Returns; she was unceremoniously sacked from Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy; and was infamously involved in an ugly public spat with actor and ex-lover, James Woods. On top of spells in rehab and an almost irreparably damaged public image, the talented but seemingly cursed Sean Young has also been tossed on the cutting room floor by legendary writer/director Woody Allen…twice. Young filmed a number of scenes with Allen himself for his highly regarded 1989 comedy drama, Crimes And Misdemeanors, but didn’t make the final cut. “This is very typical of an Allen picture,” a publicist for the film told People. “Sean only worked two days. Woody shot a scene with Sean at the very end of the movie, and then decided that he didn’t want to go in that direction. It’s his way of writing. But he had nothing against Sean. He thought she was great, and is looking forward to working with her again.” Indeed, when Sean Young was interviewed by Movieline the following year, she didn’t have a cross word for the director. “Woody wrote me a letter saying, ‘Don’t feel bad about this. I was experimenting, and my performance and your performance just didn’t work,’” the actress said. At the time of the Movieline interview, Young had actually just done a day’s work on Allen’s following film, Alice. “I don’t even know my character’s name, but I got to do a few jokes in a scene with Mia Farrow and William Hurt. Woody respects me a lot, and I adore him.” Maybe not anymore…the director subsequently cut Sean Young out of Alice too.


When he was shooting the masterful 2001 drama, Storytelling – the follow up to his 1998 dysfunctional indie epic, Happiness – writer/director, Todd Solondz, was enjoying (or probably enduring, considering the director’s misanthropic world view) a rapid ascent toward the top tiers of hip American filmmaking. Thus, when he cut young actor, James Van Der Beek (himself hot off the popular TV series, Dawson’s Creek), out of his duel-story look at pain, exploitation and human cruelty, much was made of the excision. “I’ve done this with every movie, but because people didn’t follow me like they do now, nobody wrote about it,” Solondz told FilmInk in 2001. “But now because I get monitored very closely, people say all kinds of things on the internet. Some of it’s true and some of it’s not. It was very sad…it would have been wonderful if I could have kept James in the film.” Van Der Beek played a college footballer coming to terms with his burgeoning homosexuality, and featured in a highly explicit sex scene. “It was all connected to the first part of the film, and he’d done wonderful work, but in shaping the film, it just wasn’t fitting, so I decided to drop it,” Solondz told FilmInk. Rumours also swirled that the story had been dropped to appease the notoriously conservative ratings board in the US, who wanted to slap the film with an X certificate. When FilmInk asked Solondz if we’d ever see James Van Der Beek’s work on a DVD of Storytelling, the director was resolute. “The movie’s what it is,” he said. “That’s the movie. If you write a book, and it’s 800 pages, and you submit it as 800 and then it’s published at 400 pages, you don’t need to see what was cut out.” So we’ll never get to see James Van Der Beek? “Alas, alas…”

19251644.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxxJOHNNY KNOXVILLE IN KILLSHOT

When it comes to getting hit in the cags and throwing himself in front of moving vehicles, Jackass star, Johnny Knoxville, is a prankster superhero. But when it comes to his sideline career as an actor, the charismatic on-screen anarchist has been far less successful, with his performances in the likes of The Dukes Of Hazzard, The Ringer and Walking Tall being far from celebrated. It was allegedly Knoxville’s lack of acting finesse that saw him cut out of the barely released 2008 thriller, Killshot, which was adapted from Elmore Leonard’s novel. The film tells of a couple (Thomas Jane and Diane Lane) who tangle with a mob hitman (Mickey Rourke) and end up in Witness Protection, from which they are then abruptly released upon being told rather ridiculously that it is now “safe” for them at home. The cause of this gaping plot hole? Johnny Knoxville shot scenes (as per the novel) as a character who develops a sinister obsession with Diane Lane’s Carmen, and then proceeds to stalk the couple. Their disgust with this “new life” is what causes the couple to return home and face the hitman. Test audiences, however, gave the creepy character – and Knoxville’s performance – the big thumbs-down. The actor’s scenes were then cut out, leaving the film feeling unbalanced and poorly constructed. Killshot sat on the shelf for a number of years (it was eventually released on DVD in Australia), which was when Mickey Rourke delivered an hilarious update on its status. “I don’t know what’s going on with that,” the notoriously candid actor told MetroMix South Florida. “They hired an actor at the beginning who really sucked, and they started cutting his part out. Then when they cut it out completely, the ending didn’t make any sense. So they ended up with their finger up their ass.”


In its transcendent run from 1976 to 1981, Jim Henson’s classic TV series, The Muppet Show – in which a bunch of loveable puppets struggle to put on a weekly variety show –featured an extraordinary array of guest stars, including (to name just a very select few) Peter Sellers, Sylvester Stallone, Raquel Welch, Brooke Shields, Roger Moore, Johnny Cash, Vincent Price, Gene Kelly, James Coburn and the cast of Star Wars. So when co-writers, Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller (the director of Bad Neighbours 2), penned the script for their fantastic revamp of the series with the highly successful 2011 film, The Muppets, early drafts featured potential cameos for big names like Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Ben Stiller, Steve Carell, George Clooney, Mel Brooks, Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway and (the ultimately too expensive!) Elmo. While none of these stars actually filmed any scenes for the film, quite a few big names did turn up on set for director, James Bobin. Billy Crystal, Ricky Gervais, Kathy Griffin, Mila Kunis, Wanda Sykes, and Danny Trejo all filmed cameos, but were ultimately cut from the final film. “I can’t talk about how many celebrities we had to cut out,” Bobin lamented to FilmInk just prior to the film’s release. The director had also played around with an anger management scene featuring Mel Gibson and Christian Bale, and allegedly edited out a Lady Gaga musical number. “The cameos are my least favourite conversation, because I think you’ll enjoy the movie way more if you watch it not knowing who’s in it. When I shot it, I was keen to reveal cameos, so I’d shoot them in a way where you’ll go, ‘Oh! That person’s in it!’ Cameos are way more fun if you don’t know who they are.” Those who did finally make the cameo cut included Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Mickey Rooney, Emily Blunt, and Jim Parsons.

tumblr_ng114s4hmQ1u24u0io3_500JIM CAVIEZEL IN ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

Brawling bad boy director, Oliver Stone, has a habit of cutting good actors out of his films. He famously excised Ashley Judd’s powerfully performed scenes from his incendiary 1994 bloodbath, Natural Born Killers (comedian/actor, Denis Leary, hit the cutting room floor on that film too), and also lopped Oscar nominee, Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road), from his 2008 George W. Bush biopic, W. The director famously shoots abundant amounts of footage, and then carves away in the editing room until he has what he wants. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find room for Jim Caviezel in his battering 1999 gridiron epic, Any Given Sunday. The young actor, who was then hot off his magnetic turn in Terrence Malick’s WW2 masterpiece, The Thin Red Line, was cast as the embittered son of Al Pacino’s Tony D’Amato, a workaholic football coach who has put his job before everything, including his own family. In a moving scene, D’Amato arranges a breakfast meeting with his estranged son, and pleads to see his grandchildren. Further adding to the tension is an incongruously upbeat waitress, who demands that the dour D’Amato give her a smile. “Take a walk,” he gruffly replies. After much angst, and painful conversation (“It’s too goddamned late,” the anguished Caviezel laments), the somewhat uptight son finally relents…but only if a child psychologist is present at the meeting between grandfather and grandchildren. “What the fuck is that?” the bullish D’Amato responds. “There seems to be a remarkable sensitivity in both their faces, and their acting really complemented each other,” Oliver Stone says on the film’s DVD. “Jim did a great job, and I was really sad that I had to cut the scene.” For Caviezel, however, the role was merely an addendum to his extraordinary experience shooting The Thin Red Line. “What could you possibly do to top it?” he sighed to This Is London.

paul-rudd-bridesmaidsPAUL RUDD IN BRIDESMAIDS

After making a name for herself on Saturday Night Live, and stealing her scenes in Paul and Whip It, beautiful and talented comedienne, Kristen Wiig, made herself a legitimate movie star with the raw and raunchy Bridesmaids (which she co-wrote and starred in) which cannily mixed heart and feeling with ribald humour to ultimately rate as one of the success stories of last year. The film – about the complex and hilarious relationships between a group of bridesmaids – is filled with raw laughs and reams of improvised humour, leading to a big task in the editing room for director, Paul Feig. The biggest casualty of the cutting process was unquestionably comic actor, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War), who featured in a very, very funny minor supporting role as Dave, who Kristen Wiig’s Annie goes out on a blind date with. Though at first he seems like a nice guy, this counsellor to hoarders (“When I walk in, I don’t smell trash and faeces, I smell pain…and someone who’s hurting inside”) is soon revealed to be a man with serious anger management issues, calling a red-headed, pre-adolescent boy a “ginger fuck” when the kid accidentally runs over his finger at an ice skating rink. In this gut-bustingly funny movie, they could have been a highlight, but Rudd’s scenes were sadly dropped. “We did screenings, and when he popped up, people just went crazy,” Wiig told Entertainment Weekly. “You rarely get to see that side of Paul Rudd because he’s such a nice person, and in this scene, he’s such an asshole. We had so much fun on the days that he was there, and cutting him was so incredibly painful. Our first cut was just so long. It’s the hardest thing to have to cut stuff.” Mmmm, almost as hard as being cut…



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