Ripley, Aragorn, Gandalf, Tony Montana and others still … Characters passed down to posterity thanks to the talents of their respective interpreters who knew how to appropriate their roles. Roles which, however, were not intended for them!
Ripley, Aragorn and Gandalf, the Terminator, Indiana Jones, Tony Montana … to name just a tiny handful. Characters that have become iconic, entered the history of cinema. Alongside them, compositions of characters that are sometimes less iconic, but which are nonetheless memorable.
Here are ten great roles played by their respective talents, who have largely been able to appropriate their characters … which were not, however, originally written for them!
The T-800 in Terminator
Can you imagine anyone other than our favorite Arny playing the cult role of the Terminator T-800? Impossible. However, before the first installment of James Cameron’s saga made Schwarzenegger an undisputed international star, the production considered entrusting this mythical role to … OJ Simpson. Please do not laugh.
But she had the good idea to sideline him, fearing the audience wouldn’t take him seriously enough. It was then Lance Henriksen (who will finally play Detective Vukovich) who was the favorite. When Arnold Schwarzenegger read the script, he was immediately interested, not in the Terminator, but in the character of Kyle Reese (which Michael Biehn will play). It was James Cameron who insisted that Arnie play the T-800. Thanks James.
Need to convince yourself in video? No problem !
Vivian Ward in “Pretty Woman”
Years after the cult film was shot, Julia Roberts had the opportunity to humorously admit the difficulty with which she got the role that made her famous. It was indeed when the film was bought by Disney that the star, then unknown, was forced to retake the casting for which she had already been selected.
“Producers Steven Reuther and Laura Ziskin liked her and advised me to keep her. But I didn’t know her at all. She was barely 21.” Garry Marshall explained. While Disney was also eyeing Meg Ryan’s side and Gary Marshall was also thinking of Michelle Pfeiffer, the latter finally decided to test the first intended actress anyway: “I don’t know what to do with you, some say you don’t want to get naked (…), what are you for? Okay … smile, that’s what you do best”, he would have said to Julia Roberts before making her the cult heroine that we know.
Tony Montana in “Scarface”
It’s hard to imagine for a moment Brian de Palma’s Scarface without its main performer: Al Pacino delivers such a Bigger than Life with its monstrous slaughter and its punchlines that it has become cult. A character who has even become iconic, imposing the standard of 80s gangster films.
However, the role was initially offered to another legend of theActors Studio : Robert de Niro, who declined the offer. So much the better: it’s hard to imagine him holding his assault rifle – grenade launcher and slaughtering the henchmen of drug lord Sosa …“Say Hello to my Little friend!”
Did you ask for a cult sequence? No problem !
Sam Wheat in “Ghost”
Unlike Ghost screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who fought hard for Patrick Swayze to step into Sam Wheat’s skin, production and director Jerry Zucker had many other names in mind. Among those who declined the role are Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, John Travolta, Alec Baldwin … Yes, it makes people on the balcony. We can even add for good measure a certain Bruce Willis, who was at the time married to the actress and female star of the film, Demi Moore.
With this film, and Point Break released the following year in 1991, Patrick Swayze was at the peak of his career / popularity. And then, it’s still hard to imagine, when examining the list of talents who refused the role, an actor like Nicolas Cage or Mad Mel instead of Swayze in the now famous pottery scene …
Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
If social networks have been quite ironic about the age of Harrison Ford when he shoots the 5th part of the (mis) adventures of Indiana Jones – the actor will then be 77 when he shoots the film in 2019 -, we must give thanks to the actor for having passed down to posterity this absolute icon of the 7th Art that is Indy, a character full of charm and humor, entered through the great door of Pop Culture from Les Aventuriers de l’Arche lost in 1981. Indiana Jones, or the quintessence of adventure films that no longer exist.
And yet to think that Ford was not even the first choice of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who rather squinted on the side of Tom Selleck in 1980. Luckily for us, Selleck was forced to decline the offer because of imminent shooting from the successful Magnum series. This didn’t stop him from doing some tests for Spielberg’s film, as shown in the video below.
Django in “Django Unchained”
This is not really a discovery, just as he admitted / declared himself: Will Smith often refused to shoot in films which could compromise his image, and / or too violent, to the point of passing after de famous roles, like that of Neo in The Matrix. Moreover, he has only a few “R” rated films to his credit: the two Bad Boys films, pending the 3rd opus, Ali, Ennemi d’Etat or Diversion.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly and speaking about the character who will ultimately be played in style by Jamie Foxx, Will Smith said: “Django didn’t have a central role, and I wanted a central role. The other character [NDR : le Dr King Schultz, joué par Christoph Waltz] was the main character! I said to Quentin, “I MUST kill the villain in the movie!”
After finally declining the role, the character of Dr. King Schultz was significantly withdrawn in favor of that of Django, while Jamie Foxx donned the clothes of the former slave thirsty for revenge.
Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” saga
After spending two months of intensive training, grinding his sword like no one else to prepare for the role of Aragorn, Stuart Townsend took a hell of a blow to the head since he was replaced altogether the day before the start. of the shooting …
Officially, he was fired due to numerous disagreements between the director and the actor. In fact, the actor was deemed too young and not comfortable enough in the costume. “They finally wanted someone 20 years older than me!” explained the actor. Strange all the same that the production did not notice it before … Beyond that, the relations between Townsend and the production soured; the latter refusing to pay him for the two months spent preparing for the role.
It is as everyone knows, Viggo Mortensen who took over the role. At the sight of the interpretation of his character in the film and with hindsight, it is frankly difficult to imagine someone other than him in the place that suits him best: that of King of Gondor.
Aragorn, a character who deserved his little organic Give me Five sauce …
Lieutenant Matthew Kowalski in “Gravity”
Alfonso Cuaron’s powerful Oscar-winning multi-film could have been very different … If we think for a moment that instead of the formidable and moving George Clooney stoically accepting his death in the sidereal void, there could have been a certain Robert Downey Jr, who has mostly been seen in recent years in the metallic Iron Man suit.
The latter declined the role after hearing that the Screen Test that he had to perform lasted from 2 to 4 hours. Moreover, on the director’s side, he explained that Robert Downey Jr’s style of play was not quite compatible with the technologies used, and that this would have greatly limited and possibly frustrated him …
On the actress side, Sandra Bullock, who is making a real comeback with the film, was not even the first choice of the production. Originally, her role was to be played by Angelina Jolie. When the latter abandoned the project, a host of actresses were approached. Some of the more serious contenders include Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively and Natalie Portman, who ultimately declined the role because of her pregnancy. Race results for the actress: a citation for the Oscar for Best Actress.
Ellen Ripley in “Alien, the Eighth Passenger”
Authentic matrix of the Badass heroines of cinema, the female character of Ripley has undoubtedly entered the Pantheon of the 7th Art and of Pop Culture. And it is to Sigourney Weaver that we owe it. However, the production squinted at a completely different actress, who has never shone in the register of SF, even if she is a huge actress: Meryl Streep. After briefly considering actress Veronica Cartwright to play Ripley, Ridley Scott changed his mind by giving the role to Sigourney Weaver, while Cartwright took over that of Chief Navigator Lambert. A wise choice.
Below, Sigourney Weaver’s essays for the role …
Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings saga “
Let it be said: Ian McKellen has passed to posterity for his wonderful incarnation of the sorcerer Gandalf in the river saga orchestrated by Peter Jackson. Yet the filmmaker didn’t have the actor in mind at all, but Sean Connery, one of Hollywood’s most respectable and respected figures.
The latter refused the role, and explained it during an interview given to the newspaper New Zealand Herald : “I didn’t understand anything about the story. I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. And I still don’t understand it. I’ll be interested in doing something I don’t understand. not fully, but not for 18 months “. So it’s clear. It will be remembered for the form and to finish that the actor refused famous roles, like that of Morpheus in Matrix (and refused it there too because he did not understand the story!); that of Deckard in Blade Runner; or Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter saga.