Category Archives: What Might Have Been

What Might Have Been Wednesday: Cindy Williams as Princess Leia

Cindy Williams as Leia

Several actresses were considered for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars.  At one point, the character was supposed to be a teenager.  When that was the case, George Lucas had Jodie Foster in mind.  One actress who came very close to being cast was Cindy Williams.  Williams had already worked for Lucas on American Graffiti.  Williams expresses embarrassment over her Star Wars screentest, so of course we need to watch it.

Williams said she wasn’t sure why she was passed over in favor of Carrie Fisher.  “I don’t really know what happened, I think George Lucas might have wanted to go younger. I was already starring in Laverne & Shirley by then.”



What Might Have Been Wednesday: Robert Englund as Han Solo

Robert Englund as Han Solo

Robert Englund, better known as the actor who portrayed Freddy Kruger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, was one of many actors to audition for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars.  Englund found out about the movie after auditioning for the part of a surfer in Apocalypse Now.  Francis Ford Coppola rejected Englund on the basis that he was too old to play one of the surfers, but recommended that the actor try out for Star Wars instead.  He was frustrated to be rejected for the part of Han Solo because he was “too young”.

Englund’s audition didn’t change his life the way he might of hoped, but what he did afterwards changed the course of movie history.  According to Englund:

“And then I went home and told a little kid that was sleeping on my couch, after a six-pack of Heineken, all about [Star Wars], and his name was Mark Hamill. I said, ‘Hey, Lucas is doing this space movie. Maybe you’re right for it. The lead guy’s like a teenager…. So Mark got on the phone to his agent and I think he went up the next day. He nailed it, and the rest is history.”

What Might Have Been Wednesday: Billy Crystal as Buzz Lightyear

Billy Crystal - Buzz Lightyear

Twenty years after the premiere of Toy Story, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Tim Allen voicing the space ranger Buzz Lightyear.  But before Allen was cast, the part was offered to comedian Billy Crystal.  Crystal said he turned down the part because he didn’t understand how a movie about talking toys would work.  He later called turning down the part the biggest regret of his career.  So when Pixar came back and offered him a role in Monsters Inc, Crystal immediately accepted.

Here is a screen test which was done using some of Crystal’s dialogue from When Harry Met Sally…

What Might Have Been Wednesday: James Caan in Rocky

James Caan as Rocky

The story of Rocky Balboa overcoming long odds parallels the success of his creator, writer and actor Sylvester Stallone.  Stallone wrote the script for Rocky because he was having trouble finding work as an actor.  He refused to sell the script unless he was allowed to play the lead, but the studio had other ideas.  United Artists wanted James Caan, Burt Reynolds or Ryan O’Neal to play the Italian Stallion.

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What Might Have Been Wednesday: Tom Hanks in Police Academy

Tom Hanks in Police Academy

The raunchy cop comedy, Police Academy, made Steve Guttenberg a star in 1984 (or at least a viable leading man).  But Guttenberg wasn’t the producers’ first choice for the role of Mahoney.  They wanted Tom Hanks who starred in Bachelor Party and Splash that year instead.  Their wish list also included Michael Keaton and Judge Reinhold.  After their top three choices passed, they settled on the Goot.  Which is probably for the best.  I don’t see Hanks or Keaton sticking around for Police Academy 4.

What Might Have Been Wednesday: Demi Moore in Flashdance

Demi Moore in Flash Dance

In honor of Demi Moore‘s birthday, we’re looking one of the actress’ early missed roles.

When casting the lead role in the 1983 movie Flashdance, Paramount narrowed the list of candidates down to three; Leslie Wing, Demi Moore and Jennifer Beals.  Rumor has it that when executives couldn’t decide who to cast, they found a group of construction workers on the lot and showed them pictures of the three finalists.  The story goes that the construction workers showed a strong preference for Beals who was ultimately cast.

What Might Have Been Wednesday: Sam Neill as James Bond

Sam Neill - The Living Daylights

If you’re thinking that I have gotten a lot better at photomanipulation over the last week, that’s because this is a screen capture of an actual screentest of Sam Neill playing James Bond.  In the early 80’s when Roger Moore was making noise about retiring, the Bond producers decided to audition Neill as a replacement.  In 1983, he did a screentest in which he read a scene from From Russia With Love.

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What Might Have Been Wednesday: Winona Ryder in The Godfather: Part III

Ryder in Godfather III

In honor of Winona Ryder‘s birthday, we’re looking at one of the actress’ biggest missed opportunities.  Originally, Ryder was supposed to appear in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III which was released in 1990.  But Ryder dropped out of the picture at the last-minute citing exhaustion (or something – accounts are vague and sometimes contradictory).  The role was eventually played by Coppola’s daughter, Sofia, who proved that as an actress, she makes a great director.

Many claim that Sofia Coppola’s stiff performance in a key role ruined the ending of the beloved trilogy.  I don’t know about all that.  The third movie in the series had flaws that had nothing to do with Sofia’s performance.  But there’s no denying that an actress of Ryder’s calibre would have been an improvement.

What Might Have Been: Supergirl

Demi Moore as Supergirl

In 1984, Helen Slater was chosen from countless candidates to play Supergirl in what was intended to be the first movie of a trilogy.  Among the actresses who got passed over for the part was an unknown named Demi Moore.

What Might Have Been: Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson came from Australia to conquer Hollywood.  He became one of the most beloved actors in the world and an Academy Award winning director.  But then his career imploded.  In fact, that doesn’t cover it.  Gibson’s outrageous behavior destroyed his career spectacularly.  And yet, he seems unrepentant to this day.

On might speculate about where Gibson would be today if he managed to fight off his inner demons or at least keep them from spilling out into public view.  (He’d be better off, I’m guessing.)  Instead, we’re going to look at how his career may have changed if he had made different decisions along the way.

Here’s a look at what might have been…

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What Might Have Been: Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger was a model-turned actress who went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.  She’s been a Bond girl and Batman’s girlfriend.  Not to mention an iconic sex symbol of the 80’s thanks to movies like 9 1/2 Weeks.  But like any successful actress, Basinger had to pass on a lot of roles that could have taken her career in a different direction.

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What Might Have Been: Sean Young

Sean Young

Sean Young

Few actresses embody the concept of a “missed opportunity” as well as Sean Young.  For a time, she seemed to be the next big A-list star.  A leading lady for the 80s.  Young herself has compared herself more than once to Julia Roberts.  But somehow, she never became America’s Sweetheart.  We’ve already examined what happened to her.  So now, it’s time to look at what might have been.

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What Might Have Been: Debra Winger

Debra Winger

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