September 30 – The Wink

Near Misses

Here is part two of my investigative series looking at roles actors and actresses passed on that cost them millions of box office dollars, increased fame, and iconic characters and franchises. Let’s get right on with it!:

Johnny Depp – Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Depp’s career could have been launched years before he finally broke through, or perhaps it could have fizzled out much like Matthew Broderick’s has. We’ll never really know, as Depp passed on the role of Ferris Bueller and all of his ditching class hijinks. Had he taken the role, perhaps Depp would have never developed into the eclectic actor he is today and we would have missed out on characters like Edward Scissorhands and Capt. Jack Sparrow.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Johnny Depp

Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

An Oscar could have been Pfeiffer’s prize if she had accepted the offer to play Clarice Starling in the wildly successful (both critically and financially) Silence of the Lambs. It’s not like Pfeiffer saw a drop in her career at that point, later playing Catwoman in Batman Returns, but she missed a rare chance to snatch up an elusive Oscar statue. It seems Pfeiffer made a career of turning down roles, including the female leads Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct, Thelma & Louise, and Evita, among others.

Jeremy Irons – Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Sticking with Silence of the Lambs, Irons turned down the role of Hannibal Lecter because he found the script to be too violent. So, let me get this straight, it’s okay to voice an evil lion (Scar) who causes his own brother’s death and nearly his nephew’s, as well (in a kids movie, no less), but wearing the face of another human is not okay!? Irons missed out on a movie that swept the Oscars and is best remembered for being an animated kitty.

Hugh Jackman – James Bond (Casino Royale)

On top of playing everyone’s favourite adamantium-infused mutant, Jackman was also offered the role of iconic spy James Bond. He passed on the part, saying he wasn’t ready to hold down two so very notable characters at the same time… then went on to play freakin’ Jean Valjean! Okay, the Les Miserables protagonist isn’t on the same level as the other two, but I have to get something for sitting through that drudgery. On a positive note, Daniel Craig has been perfect as Bond, thus far.

James Bond - Hugh Jackman

Jackman as Bond could have worked!

Russell Crowe – Wolverine (X-Men)

Speaking of Wolfy, Crowe was originally pegged to play the age-unknown Logan/Wolverine. Rumour has it (or at least the rumour I made up) that Crowe was unable to grow the sideburns necessary for the character and therefore abandoned the project, not wanting to lose any legitimacy if he had used make-up or special effects instead. Crowe and Jackman would later play bitter enemies in Les Mis, with Crowe using his turned down role as inspiration for his hatred towards Jackman’s character.

Dave Chappelle – Bubba (Forrest Gump)

While he has since gone on to have a highly acclaimed TV show (as well as his highly-publicized meltdown and leaving said show), Chappelle was originally offered the role of Bubba in Forrest Gump. Had he taken the part, Chappelle would now have numerous restaurants around the United States in his honour. Perhaps he passed on the character because the slim comedian just couldn’t put back enough shrimp to justify Bubba’s obsession with the seafood.

Jake Gyllenhaal – Jake Sully (Avatar)

Gyllenhaal did finally get to play a cripple (spoiler alert) in Source Code, but he missed out on the Avatar money train and getting to be a computer animated blue guy fighting a mechanized army to save FernGully, the last rainforest. Sam Worthington snatched up the role, which he will reprise for 2016’s Avatar 2 (which has the working subtitle ‘Blue Man Group Rides Again’). It should be noted that Matt Damon also rejected the offer for Avatar.

Drink #273: The Wink

The Wink Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • 0.25 oz Absinthe
  • Splash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Peychaud Bitters
  • Garnish with Lemon Twist

With all the hype recently about who turned down the male lead in 50 Shades of Grey and who eventually accepted the role, it will be interesting to see if there are any regrets in the future. Menopausal women love this garbage, so I smell a big money franchise.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2 Sips out of 5):
This drink is pretty strong and bitter, with the Triple Sec and Simple Syrup only able to do so much to sweeten the mix. After some ice dilution, the cocktail tasted slightly better. It was nice to finally use the Peychaud Bitters Mrs. Sip picked up for me in New Orleans, but I hope to find better recipes to use it in, in the future.

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September 29 – Negroni

Bittersweet

There are some legendary roles that have been passed up by actors and actresses for various reasons. That probably made some of these folks pretty bitter… let’s take a look!:

Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

The Magnum P.I. star and his moustache were slated to play the role of archeologist Indiana Jones, but Selleck wasn’t allowed to vacate his TV role long enough to film the movie. The role went to Harrison Ford instead and three sequels followed. Selleck has done okay since, but lost out on playing such a treasured character. At least Selleck didn’t have to suffer through the backlash The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received.

tom-selleck-indiana-jones

Molly Ringwald – Vivian (Pretty Woman) / Molly (Ghost)

The 1980’s icon missed the boat on a couple big roles in 1990 including Vivian in Pretty Woman and Molly in Ghost, played by Julia Roberts and Demi Moore respectively. Instead, Ringwald was living and acting in France. When she returned stateside, she had parts in TV movies and series but hasn’t done anything of note since her heyday decades ago. Roberts and Moore on the other hand enjoyed strong careers after these movies.

Will Smith – Neo (The Matrix)

I am certainly not a fan of The Matrix trilogy of movies and apparently, neither was Smith. The Fresh Prince turned down the character of Neo, saying he found the script too hard to follow. Instead, Smith would go on to make Wild Wild West, a universally panned film, around the same time. Smith has also admitted that Keanu Reeves was perfect for the role, which I take to mean the character was always intended to be one-dimensional, monotone, and boring.

will smith as neo

Mel Gibson – Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman)

With all the uproar over the selection of Ben Affleck to play Batman, it’s interesting to note actors who previously passed on the iconic role. Gibson turned down the offer for Tim Burton’s 1989 film, believing the movie would be a flop… and this is all before his high-profile meltdown. Michael Keaton, of course, stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park before the franchise took a downswing with Val Kilmer and George Clooney behind the mask.

Sean Connery – Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

The former James Bond legend passed on the role of Gandalf, reasoning that he didn’t “get” fantasy (because, you know, the James Bond plots are super realistic) and instead went on to make The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a movie that involves superheroes and is based on comics. Yup, that seems much more grounded in reality. Connery was paid $17 million for his part in the League, but it also pushed him to retire from acting. Had he accepted the Gandalf role and the offered 15% of the box office, he could have made $400 million through the trilogy!

sean-connery-gandalf

Denzel Washington – Det. David Mills (Se7en)

Denzel reportedly turned down the role later played by Brad Pitt, saying the movie was too dark. Apparently, he later regretted passing on the part, but he did alright for himself eventually, with an Oscar win for Training Day. Se7en launched Pitt into superstardom and also paired him with director David Fincher. Over the years, the two would also combine their efforts for Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Kevin Costner – Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption)

Costner was huge in the early 90’s and his acceptance of the Andy Dufresne role would have helped him avoid the total bomb that became his Waterworld passion project. After Waterworld, it took quite some time for Costner to rid himself of the stench of failure (must have been some stinky water on that set) and some could argue he’s never fully recovered. Tim Robbins took the Andy Dufresne part and went on to enjoy a renaissance of sorts.

Drink #272: Negroni

Negroni Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire East)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Garnish with an Orange Twist

I sincerely hope that every actor and actress whose career was launched by one of these roles originally turned down sends that person some kind of gift basket each year, thanking them for their poor judgment and decision making. Join us tomorrow for part two of this franchise!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
I knew going into this cocktail that I wasn’t going to like it very much. I find Campari’s bitterness to be too harsh and the Sweet Vermouth wasn’t able to bring it back to a tolerable level. I’m unclear as to why this has become such a classic cocktail. I guess there are enough people out there that prefer bitter drinks.