Jessica Chastain, Harrison Ford and Other Stars Who Were Completely Cut From Movies
Jessica Chastain - The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan announced in Feb. that the Oscar-nominated actress’ role in the long-gestating ensemble drama — set to be his first English-language feature — had been cut “after a long period of reflection.” Chastain reportedly played a ruthless gossip columist in the film, which also stars Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, and Kathy Bates.
Dolan took to Instagram on Feb. 4 to explain his decision:
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make. I feel, toward Jessica, a very sincere love and great admiration. The decision was editorial and narrative, in that it has nothing to do with a performance, and everything to do with a character, and the compatibility of its storyline. This ‘villain’ subplot, albeit funny and entertaining, didn’t feel like it belonged to the rest of the story, which ended up not being on heroes or their nemesis, but rather on childhood, and its dreams.”
Harrison Ford - E.T.
After starring as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg cast Ford as the principal of Elliot's school in E.T. The Extra-Terristrial. Ford was only filmed from behind and in an eventually-deleted scene, he can be seen reprimanding Elliot for releasing frogs in school who were about to be dissected.
Sienna Miller - Black Mass
Miller was tapped to play Catherine Greig, Johnny Depp's character James "Whitey" Bulger’s girlfriend in the 2015 film, but director Scott Cooper decided to cut Miller's character in order to focus the narrative more directly.
Ashley Judd - Natural Born Killers
Judd portrayed Grace Mulberry, a young witness who testifies against serial killer couple, Mickey and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, respectively). Her character was then stabbed by Harrelson's while he cross-examined her, but director Oliver Stone eventually decided to cut the scene altogether because of time restraints.
Paul Rudd - Bridesmaids
Rudd played Dave, a character who Kristen Wiig's Annie goes on a date with after deciding to jump back into the dating scene. However, it was revealed that Rudd's character was cut because of negative test audience reactions.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wiig explained the decision saying, "We had so much fun the days he was there and [cutting him] was so incredibly painful. Our first cut was so long. It’s the hardest thing to have to cut stuff.”
Uma Thurman - Savages
Thurman teammed up with Pulp Fiction co-star John Travolta to play the mother of Blake Lively's character in the 2012 Oliver Stone film, but her part was cut due to studio demands for the film to be shorter.
In an interview with Collider, Lively talked about Thurman's character in the film, "Her mom is off with her eight different husbands. It’s a shame that you will miss that, in the movie. It was really beautiful stuff with Uma Thurman, and I think it really told a lot more of how a girl could end up this way," Lively said.
Chris Cooper - The Ring
Cooper had a small role in the 2002 film as a convicted rapist who Naomi Watts' character Rachel Keller interrogates in the opening scene. Cooper's character originally also popped back up at the end of the film, but director Gore Verbinski decided to cut his character out altogether after test audiences found Cooper's performance too good to only use minimally.
Shailene Woodley - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Big Little Lies star portrayed Peter Parker's famed love interest Mary Jane Watson, but the film was already deemed too character saturated and director Marc Webb ultimately decided to cut her role out of the film calling it “a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen.”
Tobey Maguire - Life of Pi
Maguire had already filmed his scenes as the reporter who interviews the older Pi before director Ang Lee decided that Maguire was too famous to play the role and recast the role.
"I misjudged the situation," says Lee. "I underestimated the power of stars."
Kevin Costner - The Big Chill
Years before Costner made it big in Hollywood, he played a small but crucial role as Alex in the 1983 film. His character commits suicide before the film begins, which sets the film's plot in motion. Costner filmed several flashback scenes for the film, but his character was ultimately cut out completely except for a brief shot of his slashed wrists.
Rachel Weisz - To the Wonder
Weisz's portrayal of Dinah, a close friend to Ben Affleck's Neil, was cut, but she wasn't the only actor whose character was left on the cutting room floor. Director Terrence Malick also decided to remove Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet and Michael Sheen from the 2012 film.
Regarding her character's cut, Weisz told SF Gate:
“I did it for the experience of working with him, but one never knows with Terrence Malick. You can shoot for three months and end up not being in the movie. That’s what happened to my storyline. So I had the experience of filming with him, but I didn’t get to see my work.”