When the pressure’s on from the studio, movie directors are sometimes put in the unenviable position of having to edit out substantial moments from their works. Whether the running time is too long or a subplot dwindles to nowhere, the collateral damage of snipping away at the celluloid means many famous names have landed on the cutting room floor.
1. Chris Cooper - 'The Ring'
In the first cut of horror flick The Ring, Oscar-winner Chris Cooper appears in the opening scene as a child murderer being interviewed by Naomi Watts’ character. In the ending, he re-appears after Watts realizes the power of the cursed videotape and leaves him a copy. Following preview screenings, audiences found Cooper’s re-appearance at the end distracting—they wanted to see more of him—so his entire role was cut.
2. Ashley Judd - 'Natural Born Killers'
Many scenes from the trial portion of this Quentin Tarantino-written and Oliver Stone-directed film about a serial killer couple were shot but left out of the final cut. Judd’s role as young witness Grace Mulberry was one such moment. She testifies against the murderous duo after witnessing them butcher all of her friends at a sleepover. Conducting their defense, Woody Harrelson's Mickey wanders freely around the courtroom cross-examining her before he stabs her straight in the heart. Stone cut it for time restraints.
3. Harrison Ford - 'E.T.'
Steven Spielberg cast his Raiders of the Lost Ark star as the principal of Elliott’s school. Other than Elliott’s mother, another adult's face wasn't shown until the third act, so Ford was always filmed from behind. Ford reprimands the youngster after the scene where Elliott frees all of the frogs about to be dissected. His scenes were ultimately cut for time.
4. Paul Rudd - 'Bridesmaids'
When Annie (Kristen Wiig) tries to get back in the dating scene, she spends an evening with Dave, played by Paul Rudd. Their date at a skating rink goes awry when he falls on the ice and turns into a rude know-it-all.
Wiig revealed that test audiences did not take well to seeing Rudd play against type. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actress said, "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.”
5. Uma Thurman - 'Savages'
In Oliver Stone’s drug-fueled drama Savages, Uma Thurman shot several scenes as the absent mother of hippie girl O, played by Blake Lively. Despite being pressed to submit a shorter cut to the studio, Stone was reluctant to remove her from the film. Her backstory, that of a multiple divorcee, would have gone some way toward explaining O’s unorthodox life choices. During press for the movie, Lively addressed the issue. “Her mom is off with her eight different husbands," she said. "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. She’s the modern girl. Divorces are so much more common now than they were.”
6 and 7. Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh - 'Eyes Wide Shut'
Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut holds the record for the longest ever continuous movie shoot—400 days according to the Guinness Book Of Records. The auteur’s infamous habit of reshooting scenes in aching detail was too much for his original two supporting actors. Keitel participated in a few scenes as Victor Ziegler but was unable to remain on set due to scheduling conflicts. Leigh fared better, having filmed her entire role as Marion Nathanson. When Kubrick wanted to reshoot all of her scenes, her commitment to eXistenZ interfered. Both were recast.
8. Tobey Maguire - 'Life Of Pi'
Too famous for a movie? That’s the reason Ang Lee gave to Tobey Maguire after the actor was informed his short role had been excised from Life of Pi. After filming his role as the interviewer in discussion with the lead character during the movie’s “wraparound” story, Lee opted to go with a less-known actor.
9. Andy Garcia - 'Dangerous Minds'
Michelle Pfeiffer’s teacher in Dangerous Minds originally had a husband, but he was cut from the film. Interestingly enough, the role of her spouse wasn’t even in the initial script. The producers contacted Garcia to see if he was interested in the part—he said the film didn’t need it, but he’d do it. He shot his scenes, got paid, and ended up being deleted anyway.
10. Mickey Rourke - 'The Thin Red Line'
Terrence Malick has a reputation for offering actors the experience of a lifetime: the chance to work with a legendary filmmaker. Of course, he never guarantees that they’ll actually end up seeing their performance on the big screen. Mickey Rourke’s involvement in this sprawling World War II epic was nixed due to Malick’s method of discovering the "true film" during the editing process. Needless to say, Rourke was devastated when what he considered his best work to date never made it to the big screen. Instead, it popped up on the DVD extras.
11. Rachel Weisz - 'To The Wonder'
Another of Malick’s deletions, Weisz’s part in To The Wonder was sliced out of the final print. The actress worked on the shoot for three months as Dinah, a close friend of Ben Affleck’s character. Weisz knew of Malick’s tendency to remove entire performances, and she told interviewers that she was well aware her part might never see the light of day. "It seems that my part has been cut," she said, "So I had the experience of working with him but I will not have the pleasure of seeing my work.”
12. Kevin Costner - 'The Big Chill'
Years before he became a household name, Kevin Costner had a substantial role in Lawrence Kasdan’s '80s classic The Big Chill. His character, Alex, commits suicide before the movie begins and his friends unite at his funeral. After a month of rehearsals with the rest of the ensemble cast, several flashbacks were filmed with Costner. Only a shred of his performance still remains in the finished film: a quick shot of his wrists at the funeral home.
BONUS: Nearly the Entire Cast Of Cursed
Cursed, the werewolf horror movie by Scream director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, suffered a plague of problems from the start. Shooting commenced and, with the majority of the film in the can, production came to a halt. Script issues were cited as the cause of the delay, which led to many actors unable to return a year later for the re-shoots. Following a huge overhaul and complete rewrite, Skeet Ulrich, James Brolin, Illeana Douglas, Robert Forster, Omar Epps, Heather Langenkamp, Scott Foley, Mandy Moore, and Corey Feldman were all excised.