5 Last-Minute Actor Recasts That Made The Movie

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Hollywood's Guide To Escaping Nazis And Killer Robots

The power of switching – whether it’s something as easy as switching bank accounts or as difficult as swapping career. A good switch can make a big difference. It can save you money and hassle and jolt you out of a personal rut.

Not that change only has an impact on our personal lives; it also has an effect on the arts. Take the movies. When it comes to the Silver Screen there have been a few notable cases where a last-minute switch might just have turned a ‘quickly forgotten’ film into a ‘classic’.

Films like…



1 Lance Henriksen as the Terminator

When James Cameron first wrote the script for Arnie’s greatest monosyllabic creation, he originally wanted the Terminator to look like an ordinary Joe, someone who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Lance Henriksen, a close friend of Cameron, was the director’s first choice and looked set to nab the part. However, when Schwarzenegger came in to read for the role of Kyle Reese, Cameron’s idea of what his killing machine should look like changed and the Terminator we all know was created. Henriksen was eventually cast in the smaller role of Detective Vukovich.

2 Stuart Townsend as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

This legendary role was originally given to Irish actor Stuart Townsend. He even trained for the part for a full two months, only to be replaced the day before filming began. Townsend was 29 at the time, and director Peter Jackson decided he needed an older actor, instead casting the immaculate beard of Viggo Mortensen, 14 years older than Townsend, in this key role.

3 Dougray Scott as Wolverine X Men

Little known Scottish actor Dougray Scott was originally handed the role of angry, adamantine-wielding, super-hero Wolverine. However, Scott ended up missing out on the potentially life-changing character since his filming on Mission Impossible 2 ran over by several weeks. Director Bryan Singer was forced into a last-minute recast, and picked another unknown actor, Hugh Jackman instead. Jackman has since featured in the mega-grossing franchise three more times. Dougray Scott has appeared in Desperate Housewives.

4 Sylvester Stallone as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop

Mickey Rourke was the original favourite for the role of loveable rogue Axel Foley. But when he pulled out, it was handed to Stallone, who went on to rewrite the whole script. He removed all the humour and tried to turn it into an action blockbuster, as Sly is wont to do.  Arguments over budgets meant Stallone and the producers went their separate ways. Writers quickly rewrote the script, and Eddie Murphy landed the role.

5 Eric Stolz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future

Due to contractual obligations with his TV series Family Ties, director Robert Zemeckis’ first choice Michael J. Fox was unavailable for the part of Marty McFly. Eric Stolz was put in place and filming began. Some reports still claim the entire film was shot with Stolz in place. However, the actor’s portrayal came across as humourless and a bit crap. Zemeckis was so unhappy, he decided to reshoot the entire film, replacing Stolz with the now available Michael J. Fox, and a legend of cinema was born.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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