Actors who successfully campaigned for movie roles and those who failed
For most actors, the process of being cast in movie is a complicated one. There are taped auditions, casting calls, line readings, screen tests, and many hours waiting by the phone to see if that dream role will be yours. For some, however, things have been a bit more direct.
The connected world has made it easier than ever to get your message out there, and some have utilised their platform to make there intentions known about a franchise or role they would like to be a part of.
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We’ve rounded up some of the most notable instances where a star has publicly chased a role and won, as well as some attempts that have misfired.
Success: Helen Mirren - Fast & Furious franchise (2017-present)
Known for prestige roles such as her Oscar-winning turn in The Queen, Dame Helen Mirren might not be the first name you think of for a fast-paced action franchise, but apparently the acting legend was a fan.
“Things explode all around you, it’s unbelievable fun” she told Graham Norton in 2016 about making action movies. “That with cars, would be my dream come true,” she added.
Apparently Vin Diesel heard her wish, and she was cast in 2017's Fast & Furious 8, and has been a part of three movies in the franchise as Magdalene, the mother of Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw.
Failure: Sean Young - Batman Returns (1992)
Television exposure isn't always successful, as Sean Young found out prior to the making of Batman Returns. Blade Runner star Young was originally cast as Vicky Vale in 1989's Batman, but was replaced by Kim Basinger following a horse riding accident.
Undeterred, Young appeared "in character" as Catwoman on The Joan Rivers Show in 1991 to plead her case. Unfortunately for her, Michelle Pfeiffer won the part.
Success: Simu Liu - Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings (2021)
One of Marvel’s latest heroes used a very modern means of getting their attention. When Shang-Chi was announced in 2018, Simu Liu — then a popular TV actor on shows like Kim’s Convenience — tweeted bluntly “Ok, Marvel, are we gonna talk or what?”
Despite the apparent confidence, even the actor himself was taken aback when he was cast, replying to his own tweet eight months later with “well s***”.
Failure: Michael Jackson - Hook (1990)
There are many rumours surrounding Michael Jackson’s involvement in Steven Spielberg’s Peter Pan sequel, but the late King of Pop was undoubtedly keen on playing the role of Peter Pan in Hook.
Jackson, who named his home Neverland Ranch after JM Barrie’s story, saw an ideal chance to live his dream with Spielberg, then the most prominent director in Hollywood.
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However, the filmmaker recalls that the pair parted ways due to the direction of the movie, where Peter would be an adult.
"Michael understood at that point it wasn’t the same Peter Pan he wanted to make," Spielberg told EW in 2011.
Success: Samuel L Jackson - Star Wars prequels (1999-2005)
Samuel L Jackson’s Jedi Knight Mace Windu was an integral part of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but it may not have happened were it not for a TV show. In 1996, the Pulp Fiction star appeared on UK chat show TFI Friday and, when asked by host Chris Evans (not that one) what his one dream role would be, Jackson replied that he would do 'anything' to appear in George Lucas’ upcoming films.
Someone at Lucasfilm saw the interview, and the rest is history.
Failure: Tyrese Gibson - Django Unchained (2012)
The Fast & Furious actor went as far as filming his own audition tape for Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 Western Django Unchained, bookending the video with quotes stating how he wished to show a different side to his repertoire.
Despite a committed performance that drew praise when it leaked online, the role eventually went to Jamie Foxx.
Success: Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool (2017-present)
Sometimes, you just have to let the people decide. He played an alternative version of the character as part of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but Ryan Reynolds had been pushing for a Deadpool solo movie since 2004 when a studio exec told him his performance in Blade: Trinity reminded him of Wade Wilson.
A decade later, test footage starring the actor as the character was leaked online, causing a huge wave of support that resulted in the 2016 hit Deadpool. Was it Reynolds who leaked the footage? "I'm 70% sure it wasn't me," he teased to chat show host Jimmy Fallon in 2016, revealing that he had discussed leaking it in the past.
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Whether or not he's the culprit, a 12 year campaign to do the character justice paid off thanks to fan enthusiasm and two minutes of mayhem. He's set to carry on the role in the MCU in the future, with The Adam Project director Shawn Levy at the helm.
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