The iconic role of Professor John Keating in “The Circle of Missing Poets”, played by the unforgettable Robin Williams, could have been played by another actor. Here is a look back at some of the actors considered for this role.
There are roles that over time remain inseparable from an actor. This is the case with Robin Williams and The Circle of Missing Poets. If the actor has other important scores in his filmography, from Mrs Doubtfire to Good Morning Vietnam without forgetting Will Hunting, there is a character that one can hardly imagine without the features of Robin Willams: John Keating in The Circle missing poets.
In this film directed by Peter Weir, Mr. Keating is an atypical literature teacher, encouraging his students to reject the established order. His lessons changed the life of this class … Robin Williams had brought to this character a certain sweetness and an undeniable charisma. Several generations must have dreamed of having him as a teacher after this film!
When we go back behind the scenes of the film, we discover that Robin Williams was not the first actor envisaged. It was Liam Neeson who was initially to play Professor Keating, at a time when the realization had not yet been entrusted to Peter Weir, but to Jeff Kanew.
The names of many other actors are also associated with this film as having been approached for the lead role. There is a jumble of Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray or even Mickey Rourke.
It is difficult to know if all these actors were indeed solicited, but all these names correspond to actors particularly in sight at this period, carried by family successes like Big for Tom Hanks, Rain Man for Dustin Hoffman or SOS Ghosts for Bill Murray by example.
It is said that as soon as this project passed into the hands of Peter Weir, it was finally to Robin Williams that was entrusted the role.
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For the record, The Circle of Missing Poets is based on screenwriter Tom Schulman’s own college memories. He won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay five years later.
The film was a great success in France, with more than 6.6 million admissions. This is the greatest success in Robin Williams’ career in France. It won the César for best foreign film in 1991.
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