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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

5 Examples From the Movies That Not Getting Your First Choice May Be a Great "Ding!"

Often we get so fixated on an outcome we want to have happen that when we don't get it we get dejected and may even give up. This is sad, because sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is to NOT get your first choice. Rather than giving up, if you adopt the mentality of "I will make this work the best I can," you may find the circumstances work out much, much better for you.

Here are five examples from Hollywood where the director did not get his/her first choice, and how we all benefited:

1) Raiders of the Lost Ark

Tom Selleck (yes, Mr. Magnum P.I. himself) was originally cast as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If that doesn't skeeve you out, I've got five words for ya': Indiana Jones with a mustache. I suppose it may have worked if they also cast John Hillerman (a.k.a. "Higgins") as Sala. On second thought, no, that wouldn't have worked at all...

Four movies and a gajillion dollars later, can you imagine anyone besides Harrison Ford as Indiana?

Trivia according to Wikipedia: Spielberg wanted Ford originally, but Lucas did not. Just goes to show, Lucas has not made a good filmmaking move since her let Irvin Kershner direct The Empire Strikes Back.

2) The Matrix

Will Smith turned down the role of Neo because a) he wanted to make Wild Wild West and b) he was skeptical about the team's ability to pull off the "bullet time" special effects. Strike 1 and 2! (Or in my parlance, Ding 1! Ding 2!).

Choice 2 was Nick Cage, who turned it down too. Yes, the man who after killing a man in Con Air said, "Why couldn't you put the bunny back in the box?" could have been Neo. That would have been truly awful. ("What in the name of Zeus's bunghole, is the Matrix?!?!?")

How the producers didn't think of Keanu Reeves initially is beyond me. Here's a movie based around a guy who is thrust into a new world and spends a good chunk of the film incredulous. Keanu Reeves only has *one* on-screen emotion: Incredulous! ("whoa"). It's a perfect fit.

Fortunately, the stars aligned and Keanu got the role. And we got one great movie, one revolution in special effects, one bad sequel with some great action scenes, and one ridiculously pretentious self-absorbed ending to a once great series. But at least we didn't have to suffer through a Will Smith theme song rap for the Matrix.

Trivia according to Wikipedia: Sandra Bullock was originally offered the role of Trinity, but turned it down because she didn't see herself working with the originally cast lead. I love Sandra (kinda literally; I used to have a huge crush on her) but she would have been an AWFUL Trinity. But if her and Reeves had done it, it would have been SPEED IN THE MATRIX. Three words: Best. Movie. Ever.

Instead, the first re-pairing of Reeves and Bullock was The Lake House. *shudder*

3) Pretty Woman

Julia Roberts was pretty much an unknown when she was cast as Vivian in Pretty Woman. She was also basically the last choice for the role! The part was offered to Daryl Hannah ("Pretty Mermaid!"), Meg Ryan ("Pretty in Seattle!"), Michelle Pfeiffer("Pretty Liaisons!"), Molly Ringwald ("Pretty in Pink!"), Jennifer Jason Leigh ("Pretty White Female!"). Could the movie have worked with one of them? Maybe...maybe...but probably not.

Julia Roberts really rocked out the role and earned herself an Oscar nomination. The movie went on to be one of the top grossing romantic comedies of all time. And I got myself a "second favorite movie of all time." Not bad for the last choice of lead actress...

Trivia according to Wikipedia: The movie was originally intended to be a dark drama about prostitution in LA. It was originally going to end with the Edward throwing Vivian out of the car and the two of them not being together. Now that would have been a very, very different movie - which probably wouldn't have grossed $464 million dollars!

4) Beverly Hills Cop

The role of Axel Foley was originally intended for Sylvester Stallone! Let that sink in for a moment. Go ahead and visualize Rambo saying, "It should be more natural, brother. It should flow out, like this - "Look, man, I ain't fallin' for no banana in my tailpipe!"" Or hanging off the back of a truck while Glen fry's "The Heat is On" plays in the background. Can't do it, can you?

Beverly Hills Cop went on to be the second highest grossing movie of 1984 (just behind Ghostbusters). You think the producers and director are sad things didn't work out with Sly?

Trivia according to Wikipedia: "Sylvester Stallone was originally intended to play Axel Foley. After his departure due to differences in scope (he wanted more action than the producers would budget for) the role was re-written for Murphy. Stallone went on to use his version of the film as the basis for his movie Cobra. " Cobra?!?! Cobra vs. Beverly Hills Cop. You tell me...

5) Die Hard

Bruce Willis was not the first choice to play John McClane. Not at all. he was number five. Let's take a look at how the casting conversation might have gone:

Producer 1: "This is going to be a huge action movie. With Schwarzenegger or Stallone, it'll be a blockbuster!"
Producer 2: "We didn't get them."
Producer 1: "Oh. Well how about that Burt Reynolds guy? He's very popular and he's done some great action flicks."
Producer 2: "No, we couldn't get Burt either."
Producer 1: "All right. How about Richard Gere? he's a big box office draw at least..."
Producer 2: "Nope"
Producer 1: "Then who did we get??"
Producer 2: "Bruce Willis"
Producer 1: "Who?"
Producer 2: "Bruce Willis. The guy from Moonlighting. That weird detective agency comedy show."
Producer 1: "Oh boy. This movie is going to flop..."

Of course, Die Hard did not flop at all. In fact, in 2007 Entertainment Weekly heralded it as the greatest action movie of all time (they're probably right) and the movie is credited with redefining the action genre. From this point on, rather than having a ridiculously powerful hero, action movies began having human heroes with human weaknesses who usually faced unbelievable odds. That wouldn't have happened if one of the producers' first two choices had been available.

Trivia according to Wikipedia: Die Hard was based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which was a sequel to the book The Detective, which was made into a movie in 1968 starring Frank Sinatra. Could you imagine Sinatra, in the late 80's?! How awesome would that have been?? "Dooby dooby do, motherf****r!"

In all of the above cases, the producers and directors did not get their first choice. In some, they didn't even get their second, third, or fourth choice. But in all the cases things worked out soooooo much better.

When Ding Happens (like when you don't get your first choice) great improvisers quickly refocus on how to make the most of what they did get. They don't get hung up on what could have been; they focus on what is and what can be.

Think of it this way: the present is perfect, because it can not be any different. You can intend the future to be different, but make the most of what you have right now.

Bonus lesson: Don't be offended if you are not the first choice. You think Julia Roberts cares now that Gary Marshall didn't think of her first? Make the most of whatever opportunities you have, wherever they come from.

Note: my research is from what I have researched on the internet. If you know for a fact I am wrong, good for you. The lessons still apply...

1 comment:

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