But I Want It That Way – How A Star Can Flip The Script

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A Movie Can Be Re-Defined By Its Cast
By now, you’ve probably seen a few movies that have changed considerably from script to screen. Many times this is due to an actor or actress’ influence, such as the southern drawl and the unforgettable bunny incorporated into Con Air by Nicolas Cage. Perhaps the originally male protagonist in Salt being altered to accommodate the lovely Angelina Jolie slipped under your radar; the equally articulate espionage expert Edwin Salt (originally to be played by Tom Cruise) became Evelyn Salt to shoe-in Jolie as the lead. There seems to be a trend here: scripts are like clay, and the extremely famous are like the modern day Donatellos, waltzing in and pressing the malleable material into what they see fit.

Sometimes, It Just Happens Naturally
When an unanticipated performer joins the cast, sometimes things just tend to bend around them so that they can enjoy the usual spotlight that follows. Any action movie you throw Bruce Willis into is likely to feel at least a little Die Hard-esque. Likewise, if we cast Vin Diesel in a light-hearted family movie (The Pacifier, anyone?) we can expect that the already action including script will become at least a tad more action packed. A-list celebrities have a tendency to carry a persona with them throughout their filmography, so it makes sense that the characteristics of that persona would undoubtedly shine through in a similar-natural role.

They’ve Been There, They’ve Done That
Many times an actor or actress will approach the director and/or screenwriters with an idea that, from their experience, seemingly fits the scheme of the story. In these scenarios, it makes sense that a writer would at least entertain their suggestion, and in many cases it ends up being a welcome addition to the film. Sometimes though actors just wing it. For instance, the famous “Here’s Johhny!” line from Stephen King’s The Shining. Ironically, this phrase which gave plenty of 80’s children (and adults) the heebie jeebies was hearkened to the introduction given to the harmless Johhny Carson by Ed McMahon. This proves that some stars’ spur of the moment ideas can be not only comedic (or terrifying) but also legendary.

Tragedy Strikes
Sometimes things are cut short or altered due to something horrible, with varying degrees of results. Take a look at the Paul Walker situation, for example, a brilliant young man who’d been part of the Fast and Furious since the jump lost his life during the final part of filming for one of the franchise’s movies,and a last minute decision was made to use the ending sequence of the film as a tribute to him, using his brother as a stand-in (with some killer post-production editing) to give fans one final look at the amazing front-man of the series. Another prime example is Heath Ledger’s post Dark Knight death resulting in the film he was currently working on, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, needing some creative efforts to be finished. Due to the scope of the story, the remaining scenes were of an imaginative sort, meaning contributions by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel, and Jude Law were worked in rather flawlessly considering the situation at hand. On a less tragic note, who could forget the iconic scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark, in which a food poisoned Harrison Ford and a conundrum facing Spielberg came to an agreement which led to Indy simply drawing his trust revolver and gunning down his foe rather than participating in a flashy whip versus sword duel.

Stars Can Change Everything
Obviously, stars can have a profound impact on a movie’s script, sometimes altering or throwing out pieces entirely to fit their needs. It’s amazing to take a look at how many blockbuster movies changed course during production to account for either the circumstances or requests of a movie star. Truthfully though, so many of the iconic scenes which we’ll never forget were fostered by this process of creative license, and many of the movies we love would be completely different if it weren’t for these changes.

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