Casting is one of the most important decisions in the film making process, and easily one of the easiest to get wrong. Succeed in your selection and your character can become a pop cultural icon, becoming forever synonymous with the actor who plays them. Think along the lines of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, or Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump. But if you should fail then the on screen portrayal can become catastrophic. Apologies for bringing Keeanu Reeves’ performance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula to everybody’s attention.
Thus, we can invariably conclude that the correct casting is indeed essential, and never is this more true for a comedy film where delivery is key to successfully making the audience laugh, rather than cry with despair. With all this in mind, let us examine 10 examples of actors who were nearly cast for a comedy role that would almost certainly ruined the film…
10. Nicolas Cage As John Bender In “The Breakfast Club”
Lets be honest with ourselves here: we all have a soft spot for old Nick Cage. He’s just impossible to hate. His acting may get a little dubious at times such as in a very famous scene involving bees or, more specifically, in any scene where an element of subtlety is required, but we simply love him all the more for his quirky, unpredictable style. However, I think we are all in agreement that he would not be suited to playing the rebellious, deeply troubled teenager that is John Bender in the 80′s classic The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985). Nevertheless, Cage was offered the part, but for financial reasons (namely Cage being a little too expensive) the part instead went to Judd Nelson.
Nelson is able to convey the huge emotional range of the complex individual of Bender, allowing the audience to sympathize with a character who, on paper, seems almost completely unlikable with no redeemable qualities. This is no easy task. Now, as much as we all love to indulge in a thick slice of Cage every now and again, it seems thoroughly unlikely that Nicolas would have been able to showcase the troubled inner humanity of Bender without devolving into silliness and taking away the undertones of seriousness in this comedy.
The film is undeniably funny, but it is for its deep interior meaning that it remains a classic. If Nick had been cast we would inevitably still end up liking Bender, but for a massively different reason; namely, for his crazed wackiness rather than his tortured soul.
This article was first posted on August 11, 2013