Star Wars Episode 7: Nerds in Big Congregations


There has been a considerable amount of time since my last post. Life and work always seems to get in the way of fun hobbies such as this. Only something really substantial would make me take the risk of blogging at work while my boss is in his office. But something that important is about to happen. I think we all know what I am talking about. Yes…. I am of course referring to STAR WARS Episode 7! Continue reading Star Wars Episode 7: Nerds in Big Congregations

What Were They Thinking? -Actors Who Turned Down Big Roles

In general, actors may be prettier than us, richer than us and more successful than we will ever be, but at least we can take solace in the fact that they make stupid work decisions like the rest of us. This is evident with the projects they chose to work on. From time to time even great actors chose uncharacteristically stupid roles or movies to be apart of. I can reconcile this with the fact that it might have sounded better on paper, or merely the fact that bills had to be paid and nothing better was forthcoming. But sometimes I am dumbfounded by the parts that an actor decides to turn down. Granted, I am sure they didn’t think what they were passing up would become an iconic role, but sometimes their arbitrary reasoning for turning down the part gives me serious pause as to whether they have anything in their pretty little heads. Nonetheless perhaps the part would not have been as epic if it had been played by the original choice. Who knows. Though it would be impossible to list every major part passed up by a notable name, I’ve compiled a few.

1. Gwyneth Paltrow- Titanic 
Even though I have never seen Titanic (I know, GASP, but forgive me, I don’t wanna see a movie where I know going in that most people you care about in the movie will die for sure) I know that this film was, and still is, a world wide phenomena, one of the highest grossing films of all time. It launched the careers of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into the stratosphere (as well as creating a really adorable friendship between the two which has lasted over a decade and a half.)  But not as many people know that Paltrow was the first choice to play Rose but Paltrow declined it claiming it wasn’t her “cup of tea.” This is understandable, I too hate success and critical acclaim.

2. Johnny Depp- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

There’s a pretty long list of high profile roles that Depp rejected during the 80’s and 90’s. One of those being Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Why was he against these roles? “I’m not a blockbuster boy” he said. Ha, really? If 90’s Depp could see himself now, he’d cry those beautiful eyes out. Of course none of us can see the future, but it does seem a bit rich for the guy who’s about to start work on Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

3. Julia Roberts- Sleepless in Seattle, The Blind Side, The Proposal

Roberts has suffered her fair share of missed opportunities as each of the films listed above were huge box office success’, not to mention the Oscar win for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Though not stated why she turned down the role in Sleepless in Seattle that was offered to her “many times”, her reasoning for rejecting the lead roles in The Blind Side and The Proposal was due to pure greed. The economy had taken a blow and many lead stars were asked to take a pay cut in films being made during those years, Julia Roberts was no exception, but Roberts refused both films because she was not willing to take a pay cut. Though, I dare say, we benefited from the multi- millionaires greed, as Sandra Bullock was perfect in both films.

4. Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones

Yup ladies and gentleman this is true! Tom Selleck was the original choice to play Indiana Jones and he accepted the offer. He even got in a day of shooting before he had to turn it down because of conflicts with his television show Magnum P.I.

5. Will Smith- Django Unchained
Smith passed on playing Django in this film because he felt that Django was not the main character of the film. (Uhhh… what is the title of the movie friend- and who is on the movie posters? Pretty sure that would be Django.) Smith said that he was only really available for leading roles at this point in his career. I guess these days the only films up to his standard are terrible, half ass-ed movies where he forces his untalented son on us (After Earth).

6. Sean Connery – The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix

The former Bond star turned down the roles of Gandalf and Morpheus in LOTR and The Matrix. According to Connery, “I got offered The Lord of the Rings and I turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I was offered the Matrix a couple times, and turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I’ll be damned if I turn down another role for not understanding it.” How do you not understand the role of Gandalf? He is a smart-ass, sassy old man who occasionally does magic. Not hard. I get not understanding the Matrix though, I still don’t get it.

7. Hugh Jackman- James Bond
  Speaking of James Bond, Jackman said that he was offered the role as the super suave British agent, but he turned it down out of fear that it would limit his opportunities in the future. “I thought it would box me in too much. My natural instinct is to keep as many doors open as possible.” Oh right, cause taking the role of Wolverine wouldn’t box you in at all. Big talk for a guy who has now made 7 movies where he played Wolverine.

Wait… What? -Epic Unscripted Movie Scenes

Much to the frustration of the writers, movie scripts aren’t always ironclad. They are often evolving and changing, sometimes drastically, during the actual filming process. Some films, like Jaws, didn’t even have finished scripts when the cameras started to roll. Talented actors often get very engrossed in their role and often improvise, going off-script while reciting their lines. Sometimes the directors hate it- sometimes they love it. Jim Carey in particular is famous for having a great deal of improvised lines that make it into his movies. Occasionally the improvised lines become some of the most memorable and loved moments in cinema history. Here are a few of my favorites-
1. Gun vs. Sword
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

     -While chasing after his “woman” who has been kidnapped, bad-ass adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) runs into a bad guy with a huge sword (compensating…?). Instead of having a fairly epic fight scene, which was what had been planned, Indy instead just pulls out his revolver and unexpectedly shoots him. The original script called for a long sword fight but the day before Harrison Ford came down with severe food poisoning and decided on the set that he did not have the energy to film the scene, deciding his way would be much easier.
2. The Cat
The Godfather (1972)

     -Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the cold-hearted head of a powerful Italian mob family. This shows when he is seen sentencing a man to be beaten as retaliation for that mans abuse of another man’s daughter- doing all this while stroking a cat. Thing is, the cat was never part of the original script. Brando found the cat roaming around the set and decided he would be a good addition. The cat set the precedent for cats being the companion of all “baddies” in movie future.
3. Slow Clapping
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – The Joker (Heath Ledger) was in jail after having been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the Mayor shows up to witness the man who had caused such mayhem to his city. While there he also promotes Gordon to commissioner. As the officers in the room applaud the promotion, Ledger begins an unexpected slow clap-never changing his unsettling facial expression. It was just a simple addition but one that was ominous, unsettling and darkly brilliant.
4.  Need A Bigger Boat
Jaws (1975)

     – While cumming the waters in an attempt to lure the deadly great white shark within range, police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets his first look at exactly how massive the killer shark truly is. Afraid, shocked and startled he stands up and utters the famous, un-written, line to Captain Quint “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” Turns out he was right.
5. Here’s Looking At You Kid
Casablanca (1942)

     – The very last heartbreaking scene in Casablanca between Bogart and Bergman, as Bogart selflessly puts Bergman on a plane bound for America, Bogart says one of the most iconic lines in all cinematic history “Here’s looking at you kid.” This line was not part of the original script, according to reports Bogart said that phrase “Here’s looking at you kid” multiple times to Bergman while teaching her to play poker between takes and decided to add it in during filming.
6. Hssssss
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
     – The famous “hssss” sound made by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) during his story about eating a liver with beans and a Chianti to the FBI agent (Jodi Foster) wasn’t planned. Apparently it was something Hopkins did during rehearsals to creep out Foster. It worked so well that it was left in.
7. I Know
Star Wars: Episode V (1980)

     – Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is about to be encased in carbonite, princess Leia finally reveals her love for him as he is possibly going to his death. In the script Leia says “I love you” to which Solo is supposed to respond “I love you too.” Ford decided right before the shot that Solo would not say something like that and changed the line in the middle of the scene.

8. Delayed Explosion
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – Originally, the Joker was supposed to walk down the street while the explosion at the hospital began, get on the school bus during the scripted pause, and the bus would drive away while the explosion finished. However, Ledger stopped walking during the pause and in a moment of improvisation began fidgeting with the remote detonator in a very Joker-esque manner – bringing a slight dark humor to what would have just been a serious scene.
9. You Talking to Me?
Taxi Driver (1976)

     – When the screenwriter wrote this scene it simply said “Travis talks to himself in the mirror” – there was no specific dialog given. Everything that Robert Di Nero says during this faux-conversation was improvised by Di Nero on the spot. To this day whenever someone walks past a mirror they can’t help but say “You talking to me?”

These listed are only a very small number of a few of my favorite great ad-libbed lines and scenes done in movies over the years. I guess that’s why the actors get paid the BIG bucks. That and the fact that some have abs that could grate cheese…