16 Movies That Almost Starred Tom Hanks

Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Tom Hanks—who turns 61 years old today—is one of the most accomplished actors on the planet, with two Academy Awards for Best Actor. He’s also known as being one of the nicest human beings in show business (definitely not someone who would pocket your student ID). As you can imagine, Hanks’ services are requested often, but even a benevolent soul like Hanks cannot say "yes" to every single movie he's offered. In honor of his birthday, we're looking back at some of Hanks' lost roles.

1. GET CRAZY (1983)

It was very early in the actor's movie career, yet director Allan Arkush knew that he wanted Tom Hanks as his lead Neil Allen. Instead, studio executive Herb Solow insisted on Daniel Stern. According to Arkush, Solow also nixed the casting of Mariska Hargitay and Jerry Orbach.

2. POLICE ACADEMY (1984)

In 2005, Police Academy creator Paul Maslansky claimed that the producers’ wish list for Mahoney read, in no particular order: Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, and Judge Reinhold. Steven Guttenberg ended up with the part.

3. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)

Director Rob Reiner talked to Hanks about playing Harry, as well as Albert Brooks, Richard Dreyfuss, and Michael Keaton. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal had immediate chemistry, and the rest is cinema (and delicatessen) history.

4. SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993)

According to Jeff Ryan’s book Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, Hanks was hired to play Mario before he was fired for Bob Hoskins, who was asking for less money anyway. Hanks won his Oscars in the movies Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, which came out the same year and the year after as Super Mario Bros., a film that was universally panned and Hoskins later called his biggest disappointment in life.

5. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)

Director Harold Ramis admitted in a 2009 Q&A that he initially wanted Hanks to play Phil Connors. Hanks later told Ramis he made the right choice in Bill Murray, saying, "Audiences would have been sitting there waiting for me to become nice, because I always play nice. But Bill’s such a miserable S.O.B. on- and offscreen, you didn’t know what was going to happen."

6. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

Hanks, Kevin Costner, and Tom Cruise passed on Andy Dufresne before Tim Robbins got the role of a lifetime.

7. WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (1994)

Tom Hanks was originally set to play Michael Green, until the first director rewrote Al Franken and Ronald Bass’ darkly comedic script about codependency. After a couple of years, director Luis Mandoki came on board and fixed the script with Franken and Bass. Hanks had moved on by then, and Andy Garcia took the gig instead.

8. SPEED (1994)

Screenwriter Graham Yost recalled that the studio went to Hanks and Cruise first, then Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, and others before Keanu Reeves’ name was ever brought up to potentially play Jack.

9. NIXON (1995)

Hanks had been set to play the 37th President of the United States in The Passion of Richard Nixon, a project that never saw the light of day. Knowing this, Oliver Stone approached Hanks about playing Nixon in his Tricky Dick movie instead. Anthony Hopkins signed on after Hanks turned Stone down.

10. JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)

Cameron Crowe wrote the movie with Hanks in mind as the protagonist. Hanks was busy directing his movie That Thing You Do!. He later told Crowe the movie was perfect with Cruise as the lead.

11. STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996)

Hanks also missed out on playing Zefram Cochrane as a result of being too busy working on That Thing You Do!. This pass might have hurt more, since Hanks is a huge Star Trek fan, and had already expressed regret two years earlier that he didn’t have time appear in a Star Trek: Next Generation episode or Star Trek movie.

12. PRIMARY COLORS (1998)

Hanks initially agreed to play the lead in the Mike Nichols-directed adaptation of the book known to be about Bill Clinton’s first successful presidential campaign, until he realized he was too busy. The media alleged Hanks backed out because of his friendship with Clinton, and had to deny that was the case. In fact, Hanks claimed Clinton told him he had his blessing to take the role. John Travolta got the honor instead.

13. THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION (2001)

Woody Allen alleged that both Hanks and Jack Nicholson turned down the lead in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, possibly because they weren’t offered enough money.

14. KINSEY (2004)

According to E! Online columnist Anderson Jones, Hanks was among a group of A-list actors who “flirted” with the part of Kinsey. Liam Neeson ended up playing the controversial sexologist.

15. SHOPGIRL (2005)

Steve Martin approached Hanks to play Ray. Hanks was too busy, so Martin took the role he had written himself.

16. DINO

Martin Scorsese co-wrote the screenplay and was set to direct a Dean Martin biopic, with Hanks playing the singer/comedian. Scorsese had planned to make it after Gangs of New York, but it never got made.

Matt LeBlanc Says "Weird Things" Happened at the Peak of Friends's Popularity

Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

Even though it went off the air in 2004, Friends continues find new generations of fans—so much so that there's even an unscripted reunion special in the works. With all the love surrounding the show, one can only imagine that the actors who played the six main characters have experienced the effects of its popularity—both good and bad.

As reported by Digital Spy, Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, spoke during a pre-recorded interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show about "weird things" that happened while he was filming Friends. When pressed to give an example, LeBlanc recalled a time he saw his house, along with the homes of the five other cast members, on the news—while he was home.

"I remember one time, it was during the week, I had been flipping channels and watching the news and for some reason, they had a split-screen on the TV, six quadrants," he told Clarkson. "Each was a live shot of each one of our houses, like a helicopter shot. I was watching it and there was no information or news, it was just showing [our] houses."

Even though the actor found the situation bizarre, there was a very practical silver lining. “I remember looking closely at my house and thinking, 'F**k I need a new roof.' So the helicopter flies away and I get the ladder and I go up there,” LeBlanc added.

[h/t Digital Spy]

7 Timeless Facts About Paul Rudd

Rich Fury, Getty Images
Rich Fury, Getty Images

Younger fans may know Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, one of the newest members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the actor has been a Hollywood mainstay for half his life.

Rudd's breakout role came in 1995’s Clueless, where he played Josh, Alicia Silverstone's charming love interest in Amy Heckerling's beloved spin on Jane Austen's Emma. In the 2000s, Rudd became better known for his comedic work when he starred in movies like Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Anchorman (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), and I Love You, Man (2009).

It wasn’t until 2015 that Rudd stepped into the ever-growing world of superhero movies when he was cast as Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, and became part of the MCU.

Rudd has proven he can take on any part, serious or goofy. More amazingly, he never seems to age. But in honor of (what is allegedly) his 51st birthday on April 6, here are some things you might not have known about the star.

1. Paul Rudd is technically Paul Rudnitzky.

Though Paul Rudd was born in Passaic, New Jersey, both of his parents hail from London—his father was from Edgware and his mother from Surbiton. Both of his parents were descendants of Jewish immigrants who moved to England from from Russia and Poland. Rudd’s last name was actually Rudnitzky, but it was changed by his grandfather.

2. Paul Rudd's parents are second cousins.

In a 2017 episode of Finding Your Roots, Rudd learned that his parents were actually second cousins. Rudd responded to the discovery in typical comedic fashion: "Which explains why I have six nipples." He also wondered what that meant for his own family. "Does this make my son also my uncle?," he asked.

3. Paul Rudd loved comic books as a kid.

While Rudd did read Marvel Comics as a kid, he preferred Archie Comics and other funny stories. His English cousins would send him British comics, too, like Beano and Dandy, which he loved.

4. Paul Rudd wanted to play Christian in Clueless. And Murray.

Clueless would have been a completely different movie if Rudd had been cast as the suave Christian instead of the cute older step-brother-turned-love-interest Josh. But before he was cast as Cher’s beau, he initially wanted the role of the “ringa ding kid” Christian.

"I thought Justin Walker’s character, Christian, was a really good part," Rudd told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. "It was a cool idea, something I’d never seen in a movie before—the cool gay kid. And then I asked to read for Donald Faison's part, because I thought he was kind of a funny hip-hop wannabe. I didn’t realize that the character was African-American.”

5. Paul Rudd idolizes Paul Newman.

In a 2008 interview for Role Models, which he both co-wrote and starred in, Rudd was asked about his real-life role model. He answered Paul Newman, saying he admired the legendary actor because he gave a lot to the world before leaving it.

6. Before Paul Rudd was Ant-Man, he wanted to be Adam Ant.

In a 2011 interview with Grantland, Rudd talked about his teenage obsession with '80s English rocker Adam Ant. "Puberty hit me like a Mack truck, and my hair went from straight to curly overnight," Rudd explained. "But it was an easier pill to swallow because Adam Ant had curly hair. I used to ask my mom to try and shave my head on the sides to give me a receding hairline because Adam Ant had one. I didn’t know what a receding hairline was. I just thought he looked cool. She said, 'Absolutely not,' but I was used to that."

Ant wasn't the only musician Rudd tried to emulate. "[My mom] also shot me down when I asked if I could bleach just the top of my head like Howard Jones. Any other kid would’ve been like, 'F*** you, mom! I’m bleaching my hair.' I was too nice," he said.

7. Romeo + Juliet wasn’t Paul Rudd's first go as a Shakespearean actor.

Yet another one of Rudd's iconic '90s roles was in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, but it was far from the actor's first brush with Shakespeare. Rudd spent three years studying Jacobean theater in Oxford, England, and starred in a production of Twelfth Night. He was described by his director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, as having “emotional and intellectual volatility.” Hytner’s praise was a big deal, considering he was the director of London's National Theatre from 2003 until 2015.

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