Being an actor isn’t as easy as it looks. Sure, there’s the glamour, but film-making can be damn hard. It takes a lot of work (and a few lucky breaks) to make it to the big time. Actors go through a lot of stuff to keep their fame up, and that includes making sure they can handle the big movies. Many actors have gone from just another face to a blockbuster mega star with a role in the right film. Some of these roles aren't even starring but rather a supporting role, which can lead to bigger stuff as well. All of this is, as long as you actually get into the movie.
It’s no secret that movies can change a lot as production goes. There are shifts in story-lines, some subplots being all together cut. Terrance Malick is infamous for shaping his movies as they go, so folks who signed to what they thought were major roles find out they’re almost nothing by the time the film comes out. You can understand the frustration - You show up, put up with makeup, costume, and rehearsals, shoots and reshoots, sometimes for months on end and it turns out to be all for nothing.
At least DVDs have given some of these performances a chance to be seen, but it must still be annoying that, for so many actors, their attempts to do a good job end up being nothing in the final product. A famous case is Eric Stoltz, who was the original choice for Marty McFly in Back to the Future but was replaced by Michael J. Fox. It varies from case to case. Some actors were cut massively, while others never showed up at all save for DVD or “extended cuts.” They range from actors little known at the time to true mega-stars in movies that run among the biggest imaginable. Here are 20 of cases of actors who found their work hitting the cutting room floor, and how getting ahead in the entertainment industry doesn’t always work if you can’t get in the picture itself.
9 Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain and Amanda Peet - To The Wonder
8 Rob Lowe - Austin Powers
7 Sienna Miller - White Mass
6 Shailene Woodley - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
5 Chris Cooper - The Ring
4 Tobey Maguire - Empire Records and Life of Pi
Maguire has two entries on this list. First, he was cast in a small role in the 1995 cult movie Empire Records, as a nutty customer. That didn’t make it into the final film, which was not a huge deal as the role was small and Maguire wasn’t a name then.
3 Leonardo DiCaprio (And Others) - The Thin Red Line
To The Wonder was one thing but The Thin Red Line might well be the ultimate example of why you never trust Terrance Malick with a role. This World War II epic was in development for years, only to be a grueling shoot for those involved as Malick still shaping the storyline as it went.
2 Michelle Monaghan - Unfaithful, Syraina and Constantine
1 Harrison Ford - E.T.
One would think Steven Spielberg would do most anything with Harrison Ford again after making Raiders of the Lost Ark a massive hit. To that end, Spielberg cast Ford in a role as the principal for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The part would have Ford shot from behind, his face hidden as Spielberg wanted this more a child’s movie, but his voice would be unmistakable as he talks to Elliot about his issues in school and tries to give warm advice. It ended up cut and something of a legend until the 20th anniversary Blu-Ray finally showed it. Interesting how Ford could have added yet another major blockbuster hit to his impressive resume.
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