Once actors make it to the A-list in Hollywood, they - and their agents - reasonably assume their role in a movie is guaranteed to make it out of the cutting room entact. However, due to ruthless editing, storyline complications or diva directors, that’s not always the case. Even some of the biggest names in Hollywood have put in hours and hours of hard work – only to have their names stripped from the credits and their roles left on the cutting room floor.
In some cases, the actor doesn't find out until the final premiere, when the final credits roll, the house lights come on and the realization sinks in that their faces attained zero screen time during the film. In other cases, an actor may start a film and get fired on set, their footage to be replaced with a new face. Of course, for the majority of actors who have had their roles cut, it’s simple nothing personal - merely a decision made due to the creative limits and time constraints of the movie in question - and their work shows up as nice little Easter Eggs in the deleted scenes of DVD releases.
Whether it was the fault of the actor or just bad planning on the part of the crew, the following are ten Hollywood A-listers were used to seeing as the leading role – but who have found their hard work completely cut out of a finished Hollywood product.
7 Uma Thurman, Savages
In Savages, two weed farmers go rogue and plan an attack on a Mexican cartel after their (shared) girlfriend is kidnapped. Starring Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson and Blake Lively as the kidnapped girlfriend, first cuts of the film came in at an excessive two hours. In order to cut it down, director Oliver Stone was compelled to vaporise a couple of plotlines included in the film, including one featuring Blake Lively’s onscreen mother - played by Uma Thurman. Despite her proven track record and major leading roles in Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and a number of other box office hits, Thurman’s role was reduced to one mere mention of her characters’ name at the end of the film.
6 James Gandolfini, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
James Gandolfini had an iconic career creating memorable characters, from Tony Soprano to Carol in Where The Wild Things Are. However, despite an actors' range and indisputable talents, Hollywood directors find that their hands are tied when it comes to how their films test with sample audiences before a premiere.
In 2011, Gandolfini played a love interest opposite Sandra Bullock in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close when their characters meet at a 9/11 victims’ support group. Unfortunately, during test showings before the final premiere, director Stephen Daldry found that audiences just weren't connecting with Gandolfini's character or the plotline surrounding him. For the sake of a more cohesive final product, Gandolfini’s role was cut out entirely, although his name and image were still used in the movie’s trailers and other marketing media.
5 Robert Pattinson, Vanity Fair
In addition to proving his acting chops in films like Remember Me and Cosmopolis, Pattinson obviously has the star power to draw in huge crowds at the box office since his starring role in The Twilight Saga. Before his big break, however, Pattinson worked on 2004’s Vanity Fair – but his entire role was cut out of the final product.
Starring Reese Witherspoon, the period drama follows an impoverished young girl as she climbs the social ladder in 18th century London. In the original script and first cuts of the film, Pattinson played Witherspoon’s son. He would later joke about his unseen work at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, when he remarked to Witherspoon, “it’s not always a bad thing to have sexual chemistry with your mother” – referring to the fact that after Vanity Fair, the two went on to play lovers in Water for Elephants.
4 Adrien Brody, The Thin Red Line
When Adrien Brody showed up to the premiere of Terrence Malick’s 1998 film, The Thin Red Line, he expected to watch himself play the lead of the movie. Instead, he was blindsided. He discovered he’d been cut out of the movie almost entirely. To be exact, his original role – pitched to him as “carrying the movie” - was reduced to 2 lines and about 5 minutes of screen time in the final cut.
Adding insult to injury, Brody had already begun the press tour before learning of the fate of his role. His only consolation was that he wasn't alone – a long line of big Hollywood A-Listers, including George Clooney, John Travolta, and Mickey Rourke found their roles significantly reduced or removed from the final film entirely.
3 Tobey Maguire, Life of Pi
For 2012’s Life of Pi, director Ang Lee made a number of difficult decisions en route to winning four Academy Awards. Among those; relying on a digitally produced tiger and an unknown foreign actor to carry the film. Cutting Tobey Maguire entirely out of the film was another of those decisions – that is, cutting him after his role had been shot, edited and fitted into the first few cuts of the movie.
Originally, Maguire played the role of the writer who interviews the older version of Pi and sets the story in motion. According to Lee, the role was so small – it’s simply listed as “Writer” in the credits – that Maguire’s star power and the fact that audiences associated him with Spider-Man distracted from the film and just didn't work. For the final, award-winning version, the scenes were reshot with a relatively unknown foreign actor named Rafe Spall.
2 Paul Rudd, Bridesmaids
The original cut of Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids was filled with hilarious subplots and A-list cameos. One of the funniest – and most agonizing - for Wigg to cut out of the final release was a scene where she and Paul Rudd go on a blind date that spirals out of control. Instead of Rudd’s usual nice-guy character, he plays a rageaholic with an incredibly short fuse, which made audiences “go crazy” with excitement, according to Wigg. Unfortunately, the subplot where Annie goes on a number of failed dates was ultimately cut, and Rudd’s hilarious scenes can only be seen in the Deleted Scenes on the DVD-release.
2. Harrison Ford, E.T.
If you watch Steven Spielberg’s classic .ET., you'll notice that most adults (besides Elliot’s mom) are shot from behind or from the waist down, as a directorial choice to focus on the faces of children in the film. In one deleted scene, Elliot gets lectured by his school principal (who is only shown from the back) for misbehaving, and inexplicably starts levitating because E.T. is doing the same at home. The actor who played the faceless principal? Harrison Ford. While his scenes were entirely cut out of the finished product, one contribution did make it to the final cut – the idea for E.T. to have healing powers originally came from a conversation between Spielberg and Harrison’s two young sons.
1 Amy Poehler, Anchorman
Will Ferrell’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy became an instant cult hit when it hit theaters in 2004, featuring a long list of comedy A-listers and cameos. One of those notably missing from the final theatrical release was Amy Poehler, who played a bank teller who was robbed by Maya Rudolph as part of a subplot in which terrorists were targeting San Diego. Poehler admitted to one reporter “Even back then, I was like, ‘This movie is so long, I’m never going to make it in this.’” As it turned out, her intuition was right. Her scenes were combined with the rest of the extensive unused footage for the release of Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, which was released alongside the DVD in 2004.
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