Actors go through a lot to get a part. Whether a newcomer or a bona fide box office name, the rigorous process of taking a role and churning out a detailed performance can exhaust both the mind and the body. Consequently, it’s always a huge bummer when scenes are shot, checks are signed, and a last minute choice on the director’s part cuts an entire character like that. Nothing can be done. Liza Minnelli had no say when Martin Scorsese axed her out of The King of Comedy (1983), likewise for poor Anna Paquin, who was sufficiently cut down in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). A dwindled subplot, a lengthy runtime – whatever the cause, filmmakers have washed out entire performances under the public’s very nose.
This sort of thing has gained notoriety in the internet age, with interviews and Twitter opening up the floor to all sorts of juicy details that were previously swept under the rug. Now, instead of wondering why Loki didn’t show up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, actor Tom Hiddleston will just sit down and discuss it. Some have made for major missed opportunities, but others have provided bizarre “what if” scenarios that survive through deleted scenes and DVD extras.
Here are Screen Rant’s 15 Actors Who Were Completely Cut Out Of Movies.
15. Jena Malone (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)
Fans flipped a Batarang when Jena Malone was cast in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Hunger Games actress, tenacious as hell and charismatic beyond her years, seemed a perfect choice to play… whatever it was she was nabbed to play in the anticipated DC blockbuster. Sadly, reports leading up to the film’s release informed that Malone would in fact not be making the final cut. Details were scarce as to why, but best fans could figure, it was in the interest of the project’s already bloated runtime. With Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, and every other over-the-top appearance stuffed into Batman v Superman, the theory didn’t seem too far-fetched.
Still, it would’ve been nice to see the perky actress bring her talents to the table; especially after it was announced that she signed on to play none other than Batgirl herself: Barbara Gordon. Snyder has adamantly denied the Batgirl allegations, but fans will get to find out for themselves when the R-rated director’s cut hits Redbox machines (and theaters?) worldwide. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to spot her in the upcoming Batfleck solo movie.
14. Tobey Maguire (Life of Pi)
This is one of the odder entries to crack the list. Tobey Maguire, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, was originally cast to play a bit part in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), though the director quickly chose against it on the basis Maguire was “too famous.” The actor had already filmed his scenes as the interviewer of the protagonist (Suraj Sharma), but Lee wasn’t having it when he saw the dailies, feeling a movie star status took fans too far out of the story. Ever one to oblige, the affable Maguire took the news in stride and was subsequently recast with English performer Rafe Spall. A shame for the Santa Monica celebrity, who might’ve dovetailed a nuanced turn into a second life as a supporting actor.
Nevertheless, it’s tough to argue with Ang Lee on this one. Life of Pi was such a tenderly contained piece of cinema that any correlation with the outside world would’ve spoiled its singular specialty. Lee’s ability to recognize such things is precisely why he netted a second Academy Award for Best Director. Better luck next time, Tobey.
13. Michelle Monaghan (Unfaithful, Syriana, Constantine)
Is there a status between A-lister and B-lister in Hollywood? Because if so, that’s precisely where Michelle Monaghan has spent the duration of her distinct career. From starring turns in Mission: Impossible III (2006) and Gone Baby Gone (2007) to TV spots on True Detective (2014), the Iowa actress has never quite been able to break through to the next level. Ironically, this hard-luck demeanor has carried over to casting calls, three of which have hired and subsequently cut Monaghan after the fact. Starting off with Unfaithful in 2002, the actresses’ early turn opposite Richard Gere was left on the cutting room floor – ditto for a bit part next to George Clooney in Syriana (2005).
But the real kicker came with a sizable role in the supernatural thriller Constantine (2005). Starring Keanu Reeves as DC’s famed occult detective, Monaghan got a chance to play Ellie, the half-breed demon who doubles as Constantine’s on-and-off girlfriend. The scenes came out well, though the filmmakers felt her presence provided too much companionship for the morbid investigator. As a result, Ellie was taken out, and Monaghan’s hat-trick of rejection came to a rousing close.
12. Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
Christopher Lee’s Saruman was an indelible presence in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, bringing a conceited counterbalance to the majestic magic of Ian McKellen’s Gandalf. The character proved vital to both The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Two Towers (2002), so it only seemed natural that fans would eagerly await his return in The Return of the King (2003). Unfortunately, director Peter Jackson went on record before the film was to be released and divulged that Saruman was in fact cut from the concluding chapter. When asked about whether he would still attend the film’s premiere, Lee merely mused “what’s the point now?”
Ouch. Especially considering Jackson’s idolization of the iconic Lee. To the director’s defense, however, he assured that Saruman’s scenes were not the casualty of studio demands, but rather a creative decision that would be reinstated in the DVD release. The actor and his fans were miffed to say the least, but Jackson handled things with poise and the film did win Best Picture. Just throwing that out there.
11. Ashley Judd (Natural Born Killers)
For all the amazing actors that appear in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), it’s amazing there was still room for others to make the cut. Denis Leary appeared as a prison inmate who got the editing boot, as did Rachel Ticotin playing a state prosecutor. But the real hidden gem performance was that of Ashley Judd, who played a crucial role in the courtroom sequences that closed the film. Brought out to testify against Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis), Judd’s Grace Mulberry drives a pressing scene that details the duo’s deranged murder of young girls. Mickey, serving as his own defense lawyer, wanders freely around the courtroom.
Then, in one fell swoop, he stabs Judd square in the heart, bringing her sanctimonious testimony to a sloppy conclusion. As a shocking scene, it falls perfectly in line with the rest of Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay, equal parts gore and gawkish fun. Time constraints kept this horrific little court exchange out of the final cut, but it’s since become available thanks to the wonders of the internet.
10. Chris Cooper (The Ring)
Starring Naomi Watts as a reporter with a countdown on her soul, the 2002 remake of The Ring wastes little time getting started. As such, the original cut of the film opened on an interrogation between Rachel Keller (Watts) and a convicted rapist, played by Chris Cooper. Brought in to showcase Keller’s professional routine while establishing a mood of dread, the scene bore no impact on the core narrative, which has since become immortalized within horror movie lore. Cooper is fantastic at playing the freak, and his be-speckled creepiness does wonders while trying to convince Keller he’s found God and turned over a new leaf.
The serial killer briefly returns for the film’s finale, in which Keller offers up the cursed videotape as a prison gift. It was a clever idea, no doubt, but the response was ‘less than’ with the audience, who found Cooper’s charismatic performance too good to only use sparingly. Taking such feedback into account, director Gore Verbinski cut him from the film outright – penance for being too darn good.
9. Shailene Woodley (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was bogged down by too many characters and not enough time, so this one comes as a confusing reinforcement of everything that went wrong. To be fair, the studio supposedly pushed for a lot of the stupid stuff that got in (Paul Giamatti as Rhino? Really?), leaving director Marc Webb to hold the bag of blame and berated reputation. Either way, the inclusion of rising star Shailene Woodley would’ve added a whole other aspect for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) to deal with between a fussy Dane DeHaan and an underused Felicity Jones.
Reportedly filmed in a few days, Woodley’s portrayal of Mary Jane Watson was intended as an intro for the future Spider-Man love interest. Consisting mainly of backyard interactions and cutesy couplings, it signified both the maturation of Peter as a man and his splintering relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Webb quickly called the whole thing off, deeming it “a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen.” Given this young love provided the film with it’s best moments, Webb was spot on with this one.
8. Harvey Keitel & Jennifer Jason Leigh (Eyes Wide Shut)
Stanley Kubrick was one dedicated man. His final film, the polarizing erotic yarn Eyes Wide Shut (1999), burned itself into the record books with a shoot that ran over 400 consecutive days. Taking patience and artful room for error to a whole new level, the elderly director churned away at his craft, seeking absolute perfection from lead performers Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The married couple gave it their best shot, but supporting players unable to bend to Kubrick’s obsessive drive were forced to drop out and have their scenes subsequently reshot with new actors.
First, up was Jennifer Jason Leigh, who actually got through an entire performance before Kubrick requested they reshoot all her scenes. Already committed to David Cronenberg’s sci-fi thriller eXistenZ (1999), Leigh was forced to relinquish the part of Marion Nathanson to Marie Richardson. Harvey Keitel found himself in a similar situation while playing sleazy millionaire Victor Ziegler, as the sheer duration of shooting forced the New York icon to drop out in favor of prior commitments. Don’t worry, film fans, Kubrick quickly replaced him with Sydney Pollack, who absolutely kills the part. Everyone walked away a winner here.
7. Everyone (To The Wonder)
A well-documented practitioner of the perfect image, Terrence Malick is a guy who’s historically frivolous when it comes to performance. Perhaps more than any other director working today, he composes his films with feeling instead of form, fleshing narratives out only after the fact. Consequently, this creativity in the editing room often makes way for a bundle of top-notch performers who wind up in the recycle bin instead of onscreen. Seriously, a bundle. The list of actors who shot footage for To The Wonder (2012) is astounding, as Malick saw fit to slice Jessica Chastain, Michael Sheen, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet, and Rachel Weisz out of his moody final product.
Each actor spoke of Malick’s method with great admiration, likening the process to a dance as opposed to the typical acting experience. Regardless, the sheer talent that registers out of those who got cut is amazing to envision; particularly Weisz, who spent over three months shooting scenes as the sister of Ben Affleck’s character Neil. It’d be easy to say all these great actors should’ve remained, but Malick’s all-encompassing vision clearly believed otherwise. And who’s going to argue with him?
6. Kevin Costner (The Big Chill)
A rare case of a character that was cut out while remaining crucial to the plot, Kevin Costner started his career as a corpse. Or more accurately, the flashbacks of a corpse. A good four years from his breakout appearance in The Untouchables (1987), the unproven actor caught a huge break amidst a posse of Jeff Goldblum, Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, and Kevin Kline. Sweet deal, right? Only problem was, director Lawrence Kasdan wanted Costner for the role of Alex, the deceased buddy who brings The Big Chill’s narrative to fruition. Though the role was small, the young actor got to show his stuff and flesh out a thoroughly affecting performance before his character’s offscreen suicide.
Given the ruthless editing that removed each of Alex’s flashbacks, it’s fitting the only image that survived was of Costner’s slashed wrists. Kasdan simply felt a backstory would take away from the small scale immediacy of his message, though he kept the talented Costner in mind by recasting him in 1985’s Silverado. The role obviously did little to diminish the actor’s great career, leaving this Big Chill debacle as a classic case of editing room cuts.
5. Uma Thurman (Savages)
Oliver Stone’s grimy drug drama Savages (2012) didn’t exactly set the critical world on fire, with many deriding the pace and lack of chemistry as crucial weak points. In many ways an attempt to return to the screw loose days of Natural Born Killers (1994), Stone’s violently messy escapade found a lead trio of Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Blake Lively spilling bullets and triangular love while warding off an old school cast of Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta. Funnily enough, Uma Thurman, Travolta’s co-star in the Tarantino-approved Pulp Fiction (1994), was also slated to appear in what sounds like a charismatically killer part.
As Paqu, the livewire mother of Blake Lively’s O, Thurman was given some of Stone’s most outlandish stuff, as least the way Lively spun it: “Her mom is off with her eight different husbands. It’s a shame that you will miss that, it was really beautiful stuff with Uma.” The director apparently echoed his actresses’ uber-positive praise, as the studio’s demands for a shorter cut was the only thing that made Stone drop Uma’s stuff. Too bad, seems like the movie could’ve used some Mia Wallace charm.
4. Paul Rudd (Bridesmaids)
Paul Rudd is a nice guy, everybody knows that. Whether yucking it up in This Is 40 (2012) or saving the world in Ant-Man (2015), the charming comedy actor actually made his way into an early cut of Bridesmaids (2012), at the behest of star Kristen Wiig. Annie (Wiig), down in the dumps and eager to get back into the dating scene, accepts an offer from Dave (Rudd), a dude who seems to have it all together. But a few sequences and an ice skating debacle later, Dave turns out to be an insufferable know-it-all with a nasty mean streak to boot. Director Paul Feig loved it, but early screenings proved than fans felt otherwise.
People just didn’t take to seeing Rudd play against type, as his jerkbag Dave clearly conveyed the point a little too well. Feig and company felt particularly disappointed with such disapproval, as actor/screenwriter Wiig later addressed: “we had so much fun the days he was there and cutting him was so incredibly painful. It’s the hardest thing to have to cut stuff.” Fingers crossed for a Bridesmaids extended cut someday, we can’t let an angry Rudd go to waste.
3. Sienna Miller (Black Mass)
Playing out in similar fashion to Michelle Monaghan in Constantine (2005), Sienna Miller signed onto Black Mass (2015) as Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend Catherine Greig. The notoriously tough chick, nearly twenty years the junior of Bulger (Johnny Depp), spent many an illegal outing by his side in all kinds of Boston shenanigans. Miller, so effective as a companion in 2014 films like Foxcatcher and American Sniper, would’ve undoubtedly brought this strong ethic to the character of Catherine, benefiting Black Mass in even the smallest of ways.
Sadly, director Scott Cooper saw fit to erase her from the gauntlet of Whitey Bulger history covered in the film, stating that Grieg’s exclusion narrowed the focus of the narrative immensely. And while, sure, the decision definitely opened things up for more of Depp’s goblin-esque makeup, mixed reviews and a muddling lack of depth behind Bulger as a man might suggest otherwise. Either way, this is one performance that won’t be added to the DVD release.
2. Harrison Ford (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial)
Yep, Indiana Jones was actually the Principal of Elliott’s middle school. Director Steven Spielberg, hot off the globe-trotting adventure that was Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), couldn’t resist casting Harrison Ford in yet another over-the-top teaching role. Aside from Elliott’s mother (Dee Wallace), another adult face wasn’t shown until the third act of the film, leaving Ford to be filmed from behind in all of his quick little sequences. The action star appeared a few different times throughout the story: one to reprimand Elliott (Henry Thomas) for not properly dissecting a frog, and, in an equally playful sequence, being oblivious to the little boy as he miraculously floats in plain sight.
Fun as these moments may have been, it was obvious they weren’t crucial to the narrative of E.T. (1982). As a result, Ford’s stern Charlie Brown Principal were the first to go when Spielberg and editor Carol Littleton began slimming things down. Be that as it may, the grin-inducing scenes still exist, and can be viewed right here. Karma towards Ford, who got the Indiana Jones gig instead of Peter Coyote, whose scenes go untouched in this film.
1. Everyone Again (The Thin Red Line)
This one’s crazy. First off, Terrence Malick was coming off of a twenty-year hiatus, one which many assumed he would never return from. Second of all, the film at hand, an adaptation of James Jones’ 1962 novel, covered a much larger canvas and cast than either of the director’s two projects combined – things were unproven, to say the least. As it turns out, Malick was more than equipped to deal with the pressure, and churned out a critical crowd pleaser that pulled in 7 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.
The cast is stunning, with Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, and John Cusack being among some of the more notable names. Thing is, the performers that were cut out of the final film almost rival this batch in stardom and quality. Among the actors who shot their scenes under the pretense they be included were Bill Pullman, Mickey Rourke, and Lukas Haas. Boom. That’s an insane amount of talent to place on the editing room floor, and that’s not even getting into planned shoots for Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen, Martin Sheen, and Jason Patric. When all was said and done, the star power presented made things alright, but damn, the possibilities were infinite.
Anyone else you know get cut from a famous movie? Let us know in the comments!