Creative Differences…

The Truth Comes Out For One of the Most Famous Movie Replacements in Modern-Day Hollywood… After the Break…

Creative Differences…

Odds are, the specific company that you are currently employed to wasn’t your first choice. Odds are, your profession wasn’t your first choice, either. Spouse? You probably went through a few boy- or girlfriends before you got there. Where you live? You’ve probably moved a few times before finally settling down.

We are all roulette balls on a roulette wheel, bouncing around before finally settling into job or a spouse or a location or an industry. We rarely get our first choice and, even when we do, sometimes we realize that our first choice isn’t the best choice for the long term.

The movie industry is notorious for passing over their first choice for acting or directing roles, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is simply the nature of the industry: The actors that are likely to increase the box office receipts for a movie are highly sought after. Those actors may or may not prefer the script. They may not like the director. They may be busy with other projects. Their monetary and other demands may be too much for the movie’s production.

There once was a comedic exercise where comedians would have to write down a humorous equation. It went like this, “Wanted [Actor X], Was Offered [Actor Y], Settled For [Actor Z].” For instance, an example would be, “Wanted Patrick Stewart, Was Offered Timothy Dalton, Settled For Hugh Grant.” The point of the exercise is that you would start off with a really bankable & serious star, be offered a less known but still feasible alternative and than wind up with someone who was barely appropriate for the role. A lot of the examples were humorous but it served a serious point: This is how Hollywood works.

There are a lot of examples of where a starring role changes actors before the cameras begin rolling. A star likes a script but leaves the production when the script is altered or the director leaves or when the production is delayed. Those sorts of changes occur in practically all high-level movie productions.

Then there are the changes that occur once the cameras roll. Those changes are a lot less common. They still occur but they happen far less often because of all of the logistics that need to occur because of it. There’s a lot of political and financial fallout whenever an actor, actress or director leaves a production once the cameras begin to roll. No one wants to be known as the actress who’s too fickle to stay through an entire difficult movie shoot. No one wants to be known as the hot-headed director who fires actors for completely trivial reasons.

It has happened before: Harvey Keitel was replaced by Sydney Pollack in the movie “Eyes Wide Shut.” Claire Forlani was replaced by Famke Janssen in the film “Deep Rising.” John Hurt replaced Jon Finch in the film “Alien.”

Sometimes, the change occurs for completely innocent reasons. An actor becomes unavailable for re-shoots (when a movie wants to re-do a scene for whatever reason after principal photography has ended) and so the role must be recast, as was the case with Harvey Keitel in “Eyes Wide Shut.” Sometimes, there is a medical emergency that occurs and a new actor must be found to take over the role, as was the case of Jon Finch in “Alien.”

Sometimes, though, the working relationship between actor and director just never reaches a critical mass. Sometimes, egos, politics, artistic interpretations and other factors conspire to set the production back to a point where a decision must be made. In the normal course of business, when things aren’t working out, the employer fires an employee. They are “fired.” You failed to do your job. Goodbye. In Hollywood, though, they have a very polite and diplomatic term for it:

Creative differences.

This is what happened to Claire Forlani in “Deep Rising.” That was why she left and Famke Janssen came in quickly to take over the role.

With all due respect though, to the production of “Deep Rising” or to Famke Janssen and Claire Forlani… No one really cares. It wasn’t an important occurrence in the grand scheme of Hollywood. “Deep Rising” is a little bit of a cult flick but it didn’t make a huge impression on Hollywood. There was no sequel. It didn’t launch anyone’s career (with maybe the exception of director Stephen Sommers). No one is wondering what came between actress and director to cause one to leave and be replaced by another.

The same, though, can not be said of the film “Aliens.” “Aliens” is the sequel to the movie “Alien” and is often regarded as one of the best sequels in movie history. It is regarded as being on the same level as “The Godfather Part II,” “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Wrath of Khan” when it comes to movie sequels that are as good as or even better than the original that the franchise was based on. “Aliens” is often regarded as the Great-Grandfather of first-person shooter games even though it is a motion picture, that the film depicts a first-person shooter but in a movie format.

“Aliens” is a big film that launched the career of director James Cameron and propelled several of the movie’s cast into more prominent roles. Sigourney Weaver was already a star but actors such as Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser all significantly benefited from being in the film.

Except Michael Biehn wasn’t supposed to be there. He wasn’t originally cast in the film. James Remar was supposed to play “Corporal Dwayne Hicks”… And he did. This wasn’t a case of an actor turning down a role before the cameras began rolling… This was a case of James Remar being replaced after scenes had been shot of him as the character… And for decades, people had always wondered why he was replaced.

Creative differences. It’s like putting “heart failure” as the cause of death on a death certificate. It could have meant anything. It is the ultimate political, diplomatic explanation.

It wasn’t hard to speculate. James Cameron is a famously difficult director to work for. And for decades, that explanation worked. James Cameron and James Remar just didn’t get along with one another. They didn’t see “eye-to-eye.”

But that wasn’t the truth. And now we know why.

James Remar admits that his prior addiction to drugs was the reason for the casting change. He was arrested for drug possession while in England filming “Aliens” and was subsequently fired from the production. It wasn’t about interpreting a character or bad acting. It wasn’t a “creative difference.”

The nice part about history is that, if you wait long enough, the truth eventually emerges. The hard part is the waiting.


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