Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
For playing the leading man of Jennylyn Mercado in Walang Forever, Jericho Rosales won the Best Actor award in the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). To think, he was not the original choice to portray the character but JM de Guzman.
“I really don’t mind kung second choice or third choice ako,” Rosales said in an interview with ABS-CBN. “As long as the project is fit para sa akin (for me) and I know that I can do a good job in playing a role.”
In another MMFF entry, award-winning actor Cesar Montano also replaced Robin Padilla in the starring role opposite former adult film star Maria Ozawa in Nilalang. According to some reports, Padilla pulled out of the film “in order to take care of his wife Mariel Rodriguez, who was going through a delicate pregnancy, following a miscarriage few months earlier.”
In Hollywood, the film capital of the world, there are some actors who refused to take roles which became famous after the second took them. Warren Beatty, for instance, balked at three movies that became star vehicles for Robert Redford: The Way We Were, The Sting, and The Great Gatsby.
Sigourney Weaver had first option on three steamy potboilers: Fatal Attraction (which went to Glenn Close, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance), Body Heat (the film that launched Kathleen Turner), and 9-1/2 Weeks (turning Kim Basinger into a star in her own right).
Fortunately for Jack Nicholson, he managed to stay as one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors despite turning down the leading roles in The Untouchables, The China Syndrome, Apocalypse Now, Coming Home, The Sting, and The Godfather. Asked why he rejected the Michael Corleone role in the latter, he replied: “I thought you had to be Jewish to play him.”
Shirley Temple was originally tapped to play the little girl with red shoes in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Unfortunately, she couldn’t be released from her mother studio for contractual reasons. And so the role went to Judy Garland, who made the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” phenomenal.
Marlon Brando said no to play the lead role in The Man With the Golden Arm (1955). It went to singer Frank Sinatra who revived his flagging career. The Graduate (1967) made a star out of Dustin Hoffman when Robert Redford refused to play the role.
Film director Paul Thomas Anderson originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio, after seeing him in The Basketball Diaries, to play the role of Eddie in Boogie Nights. DiCaprio enjoyed the screenplay, but had to turn it down because he signed on to star in Titanic. DiCaprio recommended Mark Wahlberg for the role. Joaquin Phoenix was also offered the role of Eddie, but turned it down due to concerns about playing a porn star.
It was not Tom Cruise who was the original choice to play the role of Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986). It was first offered to Matthew Modine but turned it down because he felt the film’s pro-military stance went against his politics.
James Woods was offered a part in Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986), which was shot in the Philippines. He turned the role down saying he “couldn’t face going into another jungle with (Stone).” He appeared in Stone’s previous film, Salvador, which earned him an Oscar nomination.
The role played by Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer was first offered to Kate Jackson but was forced to turn it down. At the time, Jackson was appearing in the TV series Charlie’s Angels and producer Aaron Spelling told her that they were unable to rearrange the shooting schedule to give her time off to do the film.
Agents reportedly sent the script of Rain Man (1988) to Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray. The producers envisioned Murray to play the leading part with Hoffman in the role eventually portrayed by Tom Cruise. Mickey Rourke was also offered a role but he turned it down.
From the book, Hollywood Trivia, by Aubrey Malone, here are more famous roles and the original choices:
Elvis Presley was tempted to play the Kris Kristofferson role in the remake of A Star is Born (1976) to revive his dying movie career but ultimately decided that the idea of playing a drug-addicted rock star was just that bit too near the truth.
Sharon Stone said no to the chance of playing opposite Clint Eastwood in In The Line of Fire (1993) because she thought that old Clint was getting past his prime. The movie proved to be a huge hit for him and made a star of Rene Russo.
Michael Caine rejected Women in Love (1970) because he didn’t like the idea of wrestling naked with Alan Bates. Bastes wasn’t offended and Oliver Reed (a somewhat less inhibited person) stepped in to do the honors.
Richard Dreyfuss refused the lead role in All That Jazz (1979) because he didn’t have enough confidence in Bob Fosse as a director. The role won star status Roy Scheider — and an Oscar nomination as well.
Sylvester Stallone pulled out of Beverly Hills Cop (1984) because he felt that there weren’t enough action scenes in it! Eddie Murphy took the role and the rest was history.
Let’s end this trivia with Robert De Niro. He considered playing Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) but turned it down finally, feeling that his concentration would have been diverted by all the actors who had done the part before.