7 missing performances I’d like to see

Replaced after weeks of shooting, these are the actors who were nearly in some very big films...

Jon Finch as Kane in Alien (1979)

There are probably some damn good reasons why these particular performances were excised from these movies, but aren’t you curious…?

Harvey Keitel in Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola was famously beset by problems in the 1976 principal photography of Apocalypse Now. Not the least of these was the realisation, two weeks in, that leading man Keitel was just ‘not’ Willard. The energy was wrong, the brooding quietness was lacking…and original choice Martin Sheen had become available. But wouldn’t it be fun to see Keitel trying to sit still?

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Jon Finch in Alien (1979)

John Hurt was Ridley Scott’s first choice to play Kane in Alien, but Hurt was committed to filming in South Africa and had to turn down the part. Jon Finch, who had risen to fame both as a theatre actor in Britain and in lead roles in Zeffirelli’s Romeo And Juliet (1969), Polanski’s Macbeth (1970) and Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972), stepped in. On the first day of shooting, Finch fell ill with the cameras on him, appearing to turn yellow and lifeless. Ridley Scott stopped the shot and had to get Finch helped out of his navigator’s chair on the Nostromo set. Sent off to hospital, the actor was diagnosed with diabetes. Scott spent that evening talking a now-returned John Hurt into the part at his Hampstead home, and went on to work with Finch again in Kingdom Of Heaven (2005). The shot where Finch fell ill is included, with the actor’s permission, on the Alien Quadrilogy extras, though I don’t know if that was the only thing he filmed.

Eric Stoltz in Back To The Future (1985)

A small amount of footage and a few publicity shots have been released over the years of Stoltz’s brief tenure as Marty McFly. After two weeks of shooting, both Stoltz and director Robert Zemeckis realised that the casting was wrong. Stoltz, whose turns in Pulp Fiction and Killing Zoë prove that he’s no slouch at playing comedy, seems to have approached the part from the wrong direction, and all intimations are that he gave McFly a little more gravity than the part required.

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James Remar in Aliens (1986)

Dexter’s dad reputedly had some personal issues with drugs back in the 1980s, and these are amongst the causes ascribed to his replacement in the role of Hicks- after several days’ shooting – by Cameron stalwart Michael Biehn. By the time Remar had been replaced, the Skotak brothers had already trashed a very elaborate hanging miniature used to enlarge the processor plant set where the marines first encounter the aliens. Luckily in the single shot that uses the miniature, James Remar turns his head away from the camera the moment it hits him, so the transition to Biehn as Hicks is unmarred and there was no need for a re-shoot.

Lynda Carter in Apocalypse Now (1979)

Lynda Carter was originally cast in the role of one of the visiting Playboy bunnies but the filming of her scenes was interrupted by the famous storm that wrecked the theatre set, prompting nearly two month’s delay for rebuilding. By the time Coppola was ready to shoot again, Carter’s contractual obligations to Wonder Woman forced her back to the states, and her scenes were re-shot with Colleen Camp. The only evidence remaining of Carter’s involvement are the Playboy centrefolds that were specially shot by the magazine as movie props. At one point in the Redux version of Apocalypse Now, a glimpse of Carter’s pinup is visible. As the only nude work ascribed to the actress outside of Bobby Jo And The Outlaw (1976), the authenticity of the very airbrushed Carter spread has been put into question over the years. However the sequence of events suggest that her version of the pose was shot well before Camp’s, and that Camp’s version aped the original so closely for continuity reasons, in order to be able to use some of the pre-storm footage.

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Mick Jagger in Fitzcarraldo (1981)

One frenetic shot remains of Mick Jagger ringing a bell as the visionary Fitzcarraldo’s eccentric assistant Wilbur in Werner Herzog’s cinematic milestone. Planning a strict shooting schedule with a director like Herzog is perhaps something you only do when you’ve been smoking something you shouldn’t. Fitzcarraldo proved a legendarily long and arduous shoot, and Jagger’s allotment of time for the film quickly ran into his commitment to tour with the Stones. Herzog himself praised Jagger and his performance, and reshot the early parts of the film not only without Jagger but without his character, as the director felt that no-one could replace him. I’d like to see these missing scenes because Jagger has not proved the best musician-turned-actor in the entertainment world, and it sounds like something was really sparking for him on this project. Klaus Kinski, who took the title role, was himself a last-minute replacement for Jason Robards, who fell ill during production.

Robert Shaw in Jaws (1975)

Yeah, I know he was actually in Jaws, but I’d still like to see the footage of him trying to get through the ‘scar-showing’ scene on the boat totally smashed, before begging Spielberg for a reshoot the next day and blowing everyone away with a killer performance.

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Casually interested: – Genevieve Bujold’s three days as Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager – David Rappaport’s final performance as Kivas Fajo in the Star Trek:TNG episode “The Most Toys” (during the production of which the actor committed suicide)

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Tuesday, 03 February, 2009