For actors, the goal is to reach a certain level of fame, or acclaim, that it affords you the opportunity to do the passion projects that appeal to you, without having to worry about money. Some actors become such big names that they can influence the entire direction a movie is going to take. Now, some former heavyweight directors, like Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick, would shudder at the very thought of an actor influencing their movies.
However, it’s clear in the modern movie landscape that this does happen. Whether or not an actor having the ability to shape or change a movie is a good thing or a bad thing is kind of a moot point these days. Sometimes these changes can be small and insignificant, but other times they can be massive. These are some of the best examples of movies that were changed on the whim of their star.
The Mummy (2017)
Let’s get something clear – we love Tom Cruise, but he does need to be reined in now and again. Apparently, his terms for signing on for The Mummy were that he was given near-total creative control, micromanaging every aspect, from casting and script to marketing. Universal greenlit this, of course, but are probably kicking themselves now because the movie was a box office disaster.
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
The title says it all with this one. Pure satire – and the movie is actually pretty funny. Samuel L. Jackson allegedly agreed to sign on based on the title alone (what a legend). Jackson intervened when the studio wanted to change the name, and also championed more violence and profanity in the movie; again, at odds with what the studio wanted. This is one of those occasions when star demands had a positive outcome, because the final version of the movie is great, and sounds much better than what it could have been!
The Avengers (2012)
We adored The Avengers (then again, we love Joss Whedon), and the change we’re discussing here is only one scene, but it’s a great one. After their victory at the end of the movie, Iron Man asks what they’re going to do next. Robert Downey Jr. felt the line wasn’t ‘Stark’ enough and worked with Joss Whedon to change it. Together they came up with the famous ‘shawarma’ line, and there’s a post-credits scene of the gang enjoying shawarma in a restaurant in NYC.
Gone Girl (2012)
Ben Affleck is a hugely talented actor and director, and there’s only one thing in his life that matches his passion for movies – sport. During the filming of Gone Girl, the script had his character Nick wear a New York Yankees baseball cap to disguise himself. Affleck is a lifelong and avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, and point blank refused to wear a Yankees cap. Director David Fincher was able to negotiate and get Affleck to agree to a Mets cap instead!
Sometimes actors can be a funny bunch, and sometimes their egos get the best of them. We are all for creative input in movies, and actors should definitely offer their views and opinions. But changing a movie too much to suit the whims of your star is never advisable!