Believe it or not, actors don’t always agree to appear in movies because they loved the script or because they just HAD to work with that Amazing Co-Star or Visionary Director.
Usually, it’s because if they don’t accept it, they’ll go broke and have to trade in their Lamborghini for a Vauxhall Vectra. Sometimes they’re honest about it, like Michael Caine. However, other actors sign on for movie roles for bizarre reasons unrelated to their craft or their wallet…
Michael Caine - Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
The reason: The ‘Jaws’ franchise had already jumped the shark by the time the fourth movie went into production ('Jaws 3D’ was set in an aquatic theme park, FYI), so Michael Caine knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed on the dotted line.
Commenting on why he agreed to star in 'Jaws: The Revenge’ – a movie in which a psychic shark exacts a confused revenge on the wife of a man earlier killed by another unrelated shark – Caine said: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” The housing market will crash, Mr Caine, but 'Jaws IV’ will always be terrible.
Bill Murray - Garfield (2004)
The reason: The story goes that Bill Murray only agreed to voice the laconic, lasagne-obsessed CG cat because he read the script and thought it was written by Joel Coen of Coen Brothers fame (never mind the fact that in no sane universe would this ever happen). In actual fact, the script was written by Joel Cohen, who had just finished writing 'Cheaper By The Dozen’. Says Murray: “I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, 'Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the f**k was Coen thinking?’ And then they explained it to me: It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen.” It’s a cute story, but it still doesn’t explain why Murray returned for 'Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties’.
Josh Brolin - No Country For Old Men (2007)
The reason: Take this one with a pinch of salt. According to the Coen Brothers – the real ones this time – they had planned to cast James Brolin in the role of Llewelyn Moss and had the contracts signed. “There were some red faces on the set the first day of shooting when Jim Brolin’s son Josh showed up to play the part,” Ethan and Joel told GQ. “Crossed wires, misunderstanding – who knows what kind of snafu – had resulted in our casting office offering the part to an actor who was patently thirty years too young.” The Coens claim they rolled with the punches and changed the period of the movie to suit the casting mistake. But then, those Coens do have a knack for spinning a yarn.
Harrison Ford - Indiana Jones 5
The reason: You’d have thought he’d have learned his lesson from 'Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’, but no: Harrison Ford is apparently insistent that a fifth Indy movie needs to happen. Not to continue the character’s cinematic legacy, you understand, but to better his bank balance. When the notoriously grumpy actor appeared on Conan O'Brien’s chat show in 2010, the host asked him why he was interested in reprising the role. “Really, because I feel I owe the fans a proper Indiana Jones adventure after the misfire that was Crystal Skull,” said Ford. Just kidding. He made the international gesture for 'a big wad of money’ and everyone laughed. He got his way eventually though, ‘Indy 5′ is coming to cinemas in 2019.
Edward Norton - The Italian Job (2003)
The reason: It’s not for nothing that Edward Norton has a reputation for being difficult – remember his creative wrangles over 'The Incredible Hulk’? There’s a reason he didn’t return for The Avengers. The root of Norton’s rep may stem back to his involvement with Paramount Pictures, with whom the actor signed a three picture deal back in 1996, starting with his breakout, 'Primal Fear’. Norton allegedly kept turning down follow-up scripts until Paramount had to strong-arm him into accepting a role in their remake of 'The Italian Job’ or face a lawsuit. It’s why Norton appeared to phone in the role and didn’t take part in any promotion for the movie at all. It’s also why he became known as The Incredible Sulk.
Richard Gere - Movie 43 (2013)
The reason: Guilt. Richard Gere made a movie out of guilt. Richard Gere, the world-respected actor from movies like 'Pretty Woman’ and 'An Officer And A Gentlemen’, will always have 'Movie 43’ on his resume, a film in which co-star Hugh Jackman has a pair of balls hanging from his chin, because of guilt. Director Peter Farrelly explained his casting strategy: “Wait them out. Shoot when they want to shoot. Guilt them to death.” Gere – who we assume also received a tasty paycheque – turned down his role countless times, until the Farrellys moved production 3,000 miles to suit him. Once it became clear they wouldn’t take no for an answer, Gere relented; he should have just told the Farrellys to “f*** off” like George Clooney allegedly did.
Dennis Hopper - Super Mario Bros. (1993)
The reason: It’s sweet, really. Hopper – a man known primarily for playing menacing villains in extremely freaky and extremely violent movies – agreed to play relatively cuddly videogame bad guy King Koopa in the ill-advised adaptation of the popular Nintendo videogame. Why? Because of his six-year-old son. Except his son knew better. Hopper told Conan in 2008: “[My son] said, 'Dad, why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in 'Super Mario Bros.’?’ and I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,’ and he said, 'Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.’” Ouch. Put some cold water on that burn.
Keanu Reeves - The Watcher (2000)
The reason: Be careful what you say and to whom in Hollywood, because even the most empty of promises might come back to haunt you. Just ask Keanu Reeves, who was hot off 'The Matrix’ but had to honour a verbal promise to appear in director Joe Charbanic’s thriller 'The Watcher’ playing a serial killer. When Reeves expressed his interest, the film was a low-budget affair and the character was little more than a cameo; with him 'on board’, however, the script was rewritten to maximise Reeves’ involvement but the stars who signed on wound up getting paid more than Keanu. He tried to drop out, but agreed to go through with it as long as his part in the film was downplayed: that’s why he’s hardly in the trailer and his face is blacked out on the DVD cover.
Image credits: Rex Features/Relativity Media/Paramount/20th Century Fox