by D.W. Lundberg

Saturday, June 19, 2010


As an addendum to last week's post, I thought I'd entertain those less "in the know," as they say, with some of the more famous instances of Actors Replaced By Other Actors In Major Studio Tentpoles. (This is different from Actors Who Filled In For Other Actors Who Died, as it happened with Harry Potter or Superman, which may or may not be the subject of a post sometime in the future.)

Here are five cases I've always found particularly fascinating:


Actor/Role: George Lazenby as James Bond, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Replaced By: Sean Connery, Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Why: One of the earliest, most criticized casting changes, following Sean Connery's retirement from spy duty after You Only Live Twice in 1967. Born in Australia, George Lazenby was cast in the part after producer Albert R. Broccoli saw him in a TV commercial.

Legacy: Lazenby is the most notorious of all Bonds: he's a void at the center of an otherwise terrific adventure, and though he was signed for an exclusive seven-picture run as 007, Lazenby's agent convinced him it was wiser to pursue other venues. Good call, George.

Irony Alert: After Lazenby walked away from the part (after only one movie!), producers lured Connery back for Diamonds, which has to be one of the only cases in history of an actor replacing the actor who replaced him in the first place.

Actor/Role: Crispin Glover as George McFly, Back To The Future (1985)

Replaced By: Jeffrey Weissman, Back To The Future Part II (1989)

Why: Crispin Glover apparently made too many demands when it came time to sign on again as George McFly, including a salary equal to that of Michael J. Fox. Nope, said producers, and hired Jeffrey Weissman for the part instead.

Legacy: In an attempt to mask the switch, director Robert Zemeckis either shot Weissman in elderly makeup (upside down, no less), or from a distance. They even killed off the character halfway through Part II, presumably so they wouldn't have to deal with him.

Irony Alert: Glover, however, would have the last laugh. After finding out the producers had re-used footage of him from Part 1 without permission, he sued Universal Pictures and was eventually awarded a cash settlement out of court. This in turn helped create a clause in the Screen Actors Guild, which stipulated that studios didn't own the rights to an actor's image.

Actor/Role: Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan, The Hunt For Red October (1990)

Replaced By: Harrison Ford, Patriot Games (1992)

Why: Released in March of 1990, Red October became "[t]he first you-gotta-see-it blockbuster of the 90s," as critic Joel Siegel so eloquently put it. When it came time to shoot Patriot Games, Baldwin was already committed to star in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. Rather than work around his schedule, producers turned to Harrison Ford.

Legacy: Alec Baldwin was a natural fit for the part of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. He stands up for himself, he's not afraid to drop into ice-cold water to gain entry aboard a nuclear submarine, and does a wicked Sean Connery impression. But Ford better embodied the Boy Scout heroics of Tom Clancy's political hero.

Irony Alert: Ford had actually been offered the part of Ryan in Red October - but turned it down because he wanted Connery's part instead.

Actor/Role: Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Batman Returns (1992)

Replaced By: Val Kilmer, Batman Forever (1995)

Why: It pleased no one to learn that Michael Keaton, an actor known only for his comedic roles, had been cast as the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton's Frank Miller-inspired Batman (1989). But Keaton's intensity matched Bruce Wayne's tortured psyche perfectly, and helped turn the movie into a box- office behemoth. When Returns' dark tone and kinky sexual underpinnings blindsided movie-goers three years later, Burton was forced to step down as director. Keaton followed suit, deciding he didn't like the new direction the franchise was taking.

Legacy: Thus Batman Forever, with Joel Schumacher at the helm and Val Kilmer cast as Batman. Kilmer does what he can in the part (dig that crazy cartoon voice of his!), but plays second fiddle to the likes of Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey.

Irony Alert: Kilmer allegedly engaged in an on-set shoving match with Schumacher. Obviously neither man was keen on teaming up again, so Kilmer pulled a Lazenby, and relinquished the part to George Clooney.

Actor/Role: Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Replaced By: Julianne Moore, Hannibal (2001)

Why: A controversial decision on Jodie Foster's part, who chose not to reprise her Oscar-winning role as FBI agent Starling. Thomas Harris' sequel novel was poorly received by Foster and Silence director Jonathan Demme, who argued that (SPOILER ALERT!) Starling would never run off with Hannibal Lecter at the end.

Legacy: Producers hired Ridley Scott (Gladiator) as Demme's replacement and cast Julianne Moore as Starling. The difference in actresses is negligible, as both movies vary so much in purpose and tone it's hardly worth comparing them. Moore is a talented actress in her own right, and makes the role her own amidst all the macabre plot devices and gore.

Irony Alert: Brian Cox was actually the first actor to play Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter on screen, in Michael Mann's Manhunter (1983). But Lecter didn't become a household name until Anthony Hopkins took over the part, so that isn't the particular switch I wanted to mention here.


So there's five. Can you think of any others? Got something to say about them? Please comment below!

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