Samantha Morton - ‘Her’ (Spike Jonze, 2013)
If you’ve seen Spike Jonze’s sci-fi-tinged rom-com ‘Her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix, you’ll know Scarlett Johansson lends her sultry tone to the sexy AI that he falls for.
But Scarlett wasn’t the first actress to lend her vocal cords to the AI. British actress Samantha Morton was initially cast, but was only changed very late into production.
"Samantha was really involved in giving Joaquin [Phoenix] a lot…to work from." Jonze explained to Hitfix, "And then when we got into editing, we realised that what Samantha and I had done together wasn’t working for what the character needed, and so we ended up having to recast at that point in time."
Shailene Woodley - ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ (Marc Webb, 2014)
The actress of the moment was due to play Mary-Jane Watson in the second and third ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ films, but found her part cut from ‘2’ at the last minute.
Director Marc Webb felt adding her at this stage in Peter’s relationship with Gwen would be disrespectful to the audience, so her part was cut. She’ll not get her chance to reprise the role now, as she’s committed to two ‘Divergent’ sequels.
Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen, Jessica Chastain - ‘To The Wonder’, (Terrence Malick, 2012)
As Rachel Wiesz, Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain recently discovered, being left on the cutting room floor can be tough.
All three were dropped by serial offender Terrence Malick for ‘To the Wonder’ despite having shot scenes for the film. They’re not along though, as Barry Pepper and Amanda Peet also found their scenes excised from the final cut.
Weisz commented ”I had the experience of working with him [Malick] but I will not have the pleasure of seeing my work.”
Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Sheen, Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Lukas Haas, Viggo Mortensen and Mickey Rourke - The Thin Red Line (Terence Malick, 1998)
By most director’s standards, this is an all-star cast in itself. But as staggering as it is, all these actors’ performances were cut from Malick’s World War II epic (him again). This may be because Malick’s first edit took seven months to complete, and it still ran to five hours.
Something - or as it transpired someone - clearly had to give. But that’s a bloodbath, particularly considering Jared Leto actually made it into the final film. A travesty.
Kevin Costner — The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, 1983)
Kevin Costner was supposed to be the star of ‘The Big Chill’. Well, kind of. He was set to play the man whose suicide draws the characters of the film, all former college friends, together.
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It was to be his big break. But all the flashback scenes Costner filmed were eventually dropped, leaving Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum and William Hurt get on with the business of mourning his death.
The wrists of his corpse are seen early on, but that’s the lot. But he went on to do OK… until he did a little indie flick called ‘Waterworld’.
Eric Stoltz — Back To The Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Perhaps the most extreme case here, Eric Stoltz had the world at his feet when he was gifted the role of a teenager called Marty McFly in an ambitious teen comedy about time travel. But he just didn’t nail it.
His entire performance was cut, and the role was recast with Michael J. Fox as the body-warmer-wearing skateboarder, who they had originally wanted for the role in the first place, but who couldn’t film at the time because of commitments to his sit-com ‘Family Ties’. All’s well that ends well. Well, for Michael J. Fox anyway.
Sam Shepard, Christopher Walken, Maureen O’Sullivan and Charles Durning — September (Woody Allen, 1987)
Notoriously picky Woody Allen essentially remade his 1987 film ‘September’ with different actors after his first pass didn’t come up to snuff.
The first version was finished and edited, but he decided it wasn’t good enough, so cut the whole ruddy lot, recast with Denholm Elliot, Dianne Wiest, his then-girlfriend Mia Farrow and Jack Warden and made it again. He even cut Farrow’s actress mother, Maureen O’Sullivan, who was 76 at the time. Cold.
Andy Garcia - Dangerous Minds (John N. Smith, 1995)
Andy Garcia dodged a bullet here. He filmed scenes playing the love interest of Louanne Johnson, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, in the cornball schoolroom drama in which an ex-marine turned teacher gets through to tough pupils using unorthodox teaching methods and starts to make a difference, damnit. It was decided that Pfeiffer’s character didn’t need the distraction, and after a couple of snips, all trace of Garcia was gone. Phew.
James Gandolfini — Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Stephen Daldry, 2011)
In another case of dodging a bullet, Tony Soprano himself was canned from the roundly-panned adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel after test audiences failed to warm to the scenes in which he played 9/11 widow Sandra Bullock’s potential love interest. The scenes were cut, and Gandolfini’s reputation remained unsullied.
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La Toya Jackson — Brüno (Larry Charles, 2009)
La Toya Jackson originally featured in a toe-curling interview with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Austrian fashion journalist, in which she was invited to eat sushi off the naked body of an obese man. In the scene, which was eventually included in the DVD release, Brüno pesters her about wanting to meet her brother Michael, and asks if she might consider impersonating him instead as the next best thing. It was removed following the unexpected death of Jackson just before the film’s release.
Michael Biehn — Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron, 1991)
Biehn played Kyle Reese in the original ‘Terminator’ in 1984, fighting against Schwarzenegger’s robotic antagonist from the future. He scored himself a scene in the follow up in 1991, in a dream sequence conjured from the mind of loopy Sarah Connor when she’s locked up in the psychiatric hospital. Cameron cut the scene from the cinema release, but decided to restore it to the director’s cut. God only knows why, as it’s wincingly awful.
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