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Phil? Phil Connors? No, That's Just Tom Hanks, But He Almost Was In Groundhog Day

Time loops can be a tricky paradox to navigate, though almost every piece of entertainment that features this kind of trope typically ends once the time loop victim realizes something important. In a way, time loops usually give an individual plenty of time to ruminate on their decisions, mainly because they are constantly reliving them and tweaking their actions. Just think of movies like "Edge of Tomorrow," "Happy Death Day," and 1993's "Groundhog Day," which sees weatherman and all-around terrible person Phil Connors (Bill Murray) stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on February 2.

This auspicious day showcases a local tradition in which a groundhog's actions are interpreted to predict the weather: If he sees his shadow and retreats back to his burrow, there will be six weeks of winter, but if he doesn't see his shadow and spends some time above ground, spring will come early.

Phil isn't exactly enthusiastic about this assignment in the first place, and in a bizarre and hilarious turn of events, he finds himself repeating the same day over and over again, leading him to engage in some very interesting behavior and even musing that he may be a god. In other words, the actor chosen to play Phil definitely needed to have a certain quality, and it was one that prevented Tom Hanks from starring in the movie.

Hanks is happy he turned down the role in Groundhog Day

One of the most important lessons in "Groundhog Day" is that Phil Connors starts out as an unforgiving jerk but begins to soften up a bit after an indeterminate but extended amount of time. While he begins his time loop imprisonment by going on a rampage through town and manipulating locals, he ends it by saving people and even mastering skills such as piano and French. This means that one of the traits that director Harold Ramis needed for the actor playing Phil was the ability to make a convincing bully and rogue, which isn't exactly in Tom Hanks' wheelhouse.

As it turns out, Hanks was one of the original actors suggested for the role, but he turned it down before it ultimately went to Bill Murray (via The Hollywood Reporter). Surprisingly, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, Hanks is actually fairly happy with that choice, saying of his decision, "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."

This makes perfect sense considering that Phil really is unlikable and Hanks would have been a hard sell in that department. In the film's 2002 making-of documentary, "Groundhog Day: The Weight of Time," Ramis explained that Murray was ultimately perfect for the role: "He seems to come by the nasty part quite honestly, the self-centeredness and all. And Bill Murray really does understand that character. I mean, he's not a movie star by accident. He understands vanity and self-centeredness." Still, one has to wonder what an iteration of "Groundhog Day" with Hanks at the helm would have looked like.