For anyone who knows a thing or two about Back To The Future (1985), the name Eric Stoltz might spring to mind. The actor was originally cast as Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis's classic time travel adventure-comedy, and he embodied the now-classic role for five weeks before being surreptitiously replaced by Michael J. Fox.
Many might wonder exactly how different the film would've been if Stoltz was allowed to complete the movie. Unlike fired Eric, though, there are some actors who don't appear in a film because they vetoed the part for one reason or another.
As the Academy Awards approach, let's take a look at some actors who decided to turn down a horror movie role, and who got cast in their place — going on to win an Oscar for it. And don't forget to sound off in the comments section below!
Anjelica Huston, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Debra Winger all turned down the role of...
...Annie Wilkes in 'Misery,' played by Kathy Bates
Huston was originally given the opportunity to take the lead role, and was apparently interested in accepting it, but ultimately she had to turn it down due to her commitment to The Grifters (1990). This shouldn't have come as such a big disappointment for the actress, as she had already won an Oscar for her turn in Prizzi's Honor (1985).
In 1990 she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Enemies: A Love Story (1989), and her role in The Grifters later earned her another Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Midler has previously been nominated for two Oscars, both for Best Actress. These were for The Rose (1979) and For the Boys (1991).
When reflecting on her decision to reject the role of Annie Wilkes, she said:
"I turned that down because I didn’t want to saw off someone’s foot, even though the role won an Oscar.
"It was stupid to say no to those pictures. As an actor you’re supposed to take jobs that will challenge you or force fans to see you in a different light. By the ’90s I wasn’t really an actor anymore. I was someone who went on the road with these gigantic concerts. I got so far away from what they told you in acting class: Do something different. Producers kept offering me the ‘Sister Act’ movie, but I said, ‘My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.'"
Streisand is also reported to have turned down the Misery role. She probably doesn't care that much, seeing as she's been nominated for an Oscar five times and won twice: Best Music, Original Song for A Star Is Born (1976) and Best Actress for Funny Girl (1968).
Irene Dunne and Hedy Lamarr both turned down the role of...
...Paula Alquist in 'Gaslight,' played by Ingrid Bergman
Gaslight (1944) tells the story of Paula Alquist (Bergman), a young entertainer who lives with her Aunt Alice. Following her aunt's murder, Paula is sent away to school. Years later, Paula returns with her new husband Gregory Anton (Oscar-nominated Charles Boyer). Setting up a new life in her aunt's home, Paula starts to feel isolated by her increasingly bizarre husband and soon grows close to an admirer, Brian Cameron ( Joseph Cotten).
The film was originally bought by Columbia Pictures to be used as a vehicle for actress Irene Dunne, who ultimately ended up turning the role down. Unfortunately for Dunne, this may have been the role that finally won her an Oscar, having been nominated five times but never winning. Her nominations include Best Actress in I Remember Mama (1948), Love Affair (1939), The Awful Truth (1937), Theodora Goes Wild (1936) and Cimarron (1931).
After Columbia Pictures sold the rights of the film to MGM, the studio wanted to cast Hedy Lamarr as the lead, but she also turned the role down. This might have been the worst decision by an actress on this list, as the most prestigious award Lamarr ever won was a Golden Apple Award for Least Cooperative Actress. Ouch.
Emma Thompson, Geena Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer all turned down the role of...
...Clarice Starling in 'The Silence of the Lambs,' played by Jodie Foster
Director Jonathan Demme had previously worked with Pfeiffer on Married To The Mob (1988). Pfeiffer was Demme's original choice to play Clarice, but she decided to turn the role down, stating that:
"[It was] a difficult decision, but I got nervous about the subject matter."
At the time, Pfeiffer was hitting the heights, having been Oscar nominated for Best Actress in Love Field (1992) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), and Supporting Actress in Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
Davis (Beetlejuice, 1988) was also given the opportunity to tackle the role of Clarice Starling, as was Thompson (Love Actually, 2003), but both shared Pfeiffer's trepidation about the subject matter.
Thompson was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Sense And Sensibility (1995) and The Remains Of The Day (1993), plus Supporting Actress for In The Name Of The Father (1993). Had she accepted the role of Clarice, she might have won back-to-back Oscars after winning a Best Actress Oscar for Howards End (1992). And her success doesn't stop there. She won an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based On Material Previously Produced Or Published for Sense And Sensibility (1995).
Davis was already an Oscar winner, having picked up an award for Best Supporting Actress for The Accidental Tourist (1988). But when the 1992 Oscars rolled around, she lost out for her turn in Thelma & Louise (1991) to none other than: Jodie Foster in The Silence Of The Lambs (1991).
Apparently, more than 300 actresses applied for the role of Clarice, some of who included Meg Ryan and Melanie Griffith. However, Ted Tally, who wrote the film's screenplay, had been lobbying for Foster to be considered for the role.
Having loved the novel, Foster intended buying the film rights, only to be beaten out by Gene Hackman. After Pfeiffer turned down the role, Demme later agreed to meet Foster in person. She was given the role following that single meeting. Witnessing the strength, determination and attitude that encompassed the character, Demme realized that Foster was indeed the right choice to play the lead.
Jeremy Irons and Sean Connery both turned down the role of...
...Hannibal Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs,' played by Anthony Hopkins
Can you envision the iconic role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter being played by Connery? Believe it or not, he was Demme's original choice to take the lead. The Oscar-winning star of The Untouchables (1987) turned down the role, and Demme's attentions soon turned to Jack Nicholson, who ultimately never got back to him about being cast.
Soon after, Jeremy Irons (The Man In The Iron Mask, 1998) was approached to play the serial killer. However, he had not long finished starring in Reversal Of Fortune (1990), playing the role of Claus von Bülow, and thought otherwise of stepping straight into another dark role. Irons went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Reversal Of Fortune.
Having approached several actors, Demme later considered Anthony Hopkins for the role of Lecter after seeing his performance in The Elephant Man (1980).
During this time, Hopkins was away in London performing in a stage play following a string of unsuccessful movies.
As he began delving into the script for The Silence Of The Lambs, Hopkins was delighted with what he read. Contacting his agent, he requested that an offer was put forward for him to star in the movie, otherwise he would not finish reading it. This paid off, and despite reservations from the studio about casting Hopkins, an offer was made and the rest is history.
Incidentally, Hopkins' total screen time in the movie, at just 24 minutes and 52 seconds, is the second shortest in history to ever win an Oscar for Best Actor. The No. 1 spot goes to David Niven for his role in Separate Tables (1958), which is a full one minute shorter.