Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Posted by emmetocuana at 11:00
These are the faces that could have landed on the blockbuster posters, the names that could have torn a thousand ticket stubs in an hour. Sadly events either conspired against these actors, or they chose a different career trajectory. And perhaps, on reflection, it was for the best. Words cannot express how grateful I am Tom Cruise did not land Iron Man, for example.
This is of course just a sample, but it was the first casting misdirection listed here, Emily Blunt's almost landing of the Black Widow for Avengers, that inspired the piece. Some of the actors below are among my favourites and I wonder what paths their careers would have taken if things had been just a little different.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow.
This one came as a bit of a surprise to me, as Marvel Studios have been so ....gleeful over the casting of Johansson, whose continued popularity baffles me (I was not a fan of Lost in Translation). I wonder then what Blunt would have been like in the role and what caused her to be in the frame in the first place. Granted Blunt's star has risen higher in recent years, although I still rate My Summer of Love as one of her best. It occurs to me though, with her clipped English accent and onscreen froideur, maybe Blunt was in the running so a parallel could be drawn with Anna Chapman? Ah well, we shall never know now. God bless Joss though. He took that vacant, dreary expression on Johansson's face and made her compelling, if for a short while.
This has to be one of the great 'what might have beens' of Star Wars, possibly topping even the originally scripted death of Lando in Return of the Jedi, as well as David Lynch's invitation to direct the final picture. Before Walken became the voice everyone wants to imitate, a delirious vortex of self-parody and good humour ("COWBELL!"), he was a young actor with a certain something. It's interesting to imagine how his take on Han would have differed from the avuncular charm of Ford's. Perhaps he would have played the role with an extra degree of edge or menace? The chap is supposed to be a smuggler after all, he could have done with a degree of darkness.
Oh Dougray. You poor chap. It's sad to note that when I googled the fellow's name a disturbing number of results were about this very same casting mishap. Famously Scott passed up the chance to star as Wolverine in order to be the villain in Mission Impossible II and star in possibly one of the longest and most pointless climactic fight scenes ever. Seriously put it on some day. It makes the rigours of Russian cinema seem like an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. It is a curious coincidence that the film happens to feature Australian actors such as Richard Roxburgh (watch Rake, it's amazing) and is set in Sydney. Scott's replacement was of course Aussie Hugh Jackman, now synonymous with the role of the mutant Wolverine, the part which launched him into Hollywood. Sorry Dougray.
United was great though and you and David Tennant were fantastic in it. 10/10.
Macaulay Culkin as Bart Simpson
This is a weird one, because I cannot corroborate it right now, but I remember loose talk of Culkin starring in a live-action version of the cartoon way back in the early 90s. Of course Matt Groening was smart to hold on until he felt the time was right, insisting on the final movie being an animated feature. Unfortunately South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut beat him to the punch and apart from the memorable Spider-Pig earworm, the eventual film had little to offer.Whether Culkin could have brought Bart to life is academic. At the time he was the child star. His name was probably attached to every role out there. So how he wound up making Getting Even With Dad I have no idea.
A pox on you Remington Steele, a pox on you! The show that famously locked Brosnan into a contract so that he could not take on Bond as a younger man, leaving it to Timothy Dalton who ironically had already turned it down twice, one occasion expressly because he felt he was too young. Brosnan of course later lent his Navan tones to the archetypal British agent. So that's nice.
John Belushi as Peter Venkman
This one is a sad inclusion on this list. Belushi still can leave me gasping with laughter with but a wiggle of his eyebrows. Ackroyd famously wrote a script for Ghostbusters the size of a phonebook, with scenes featuring giant monsters and weird sex - some of which got watered down for the first film and some other elements drifting along into the less successful sequel. But Venkman was going to be his second collaboration with Belushi after The Blues Brothers. Instead tragically Belushi died of a drug overdose and the role was left to Bill Murray, who has proven to be an irascible obstacle in the making of a second sequel. For which I am grateful. Ghostbusters is a classic film and I can always return to it, but I wonder what Belushi would have done with girls floating over beds, slime monsters and of course, the Stay Pufft Marshmallow Man scene.
Emily Browning as Bella Swan
This is an odd one as according to this interview Browning's association with Twilight comes down to the author playing fantasy football with the casting and naming her on a blog. Coming off another project Browning passed on the part and instead we got Ms 'Bites Her Lip A Lot'. Now look I wouldn't have been queuing up to see the film either way, but one of my favourite films is A Series of Unfortunate Events, which she was wonderful in. While more roles have come to her, including showy turns in Sucker Punch and Sleeping Beauty, I can't help but speculate as to whether the expectations landed on her by Meyer altered the trajectory of her career. Zack Snyder's would-be feminist fantasy was a lurid mess. Sleeping Beauty far too impressed with itself, screenwriter Julia Leigh confusing pretension with profundity. I want to see Browning thrive in the industry - please someone, cast her in a film that allows her to come alive.
Maybe there's another Earth where these folks got their names in light a little earlier or in roles that redefined their careers. Where perhaps Armie Hammer's performance as Batman in George Miller's Justice League movie was celebrated as the definitive take on the character. It's nice to wonder sometimes.
Labels: Casting decisions, Christopher Walken, Dougray Scott, Emily Blunt, Emily Browning, Feature, Film, John Belushi, Macaulay Culkin, Pierce Brosnan |