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Actor Demands That Changed Movie Details

When actors reach a certain level of fame, with it comes the ability to shape a movie to their own whim, whether it's because they've built up an impressive level of experience or simply because of their sheer star power. It's the type of thing that happens in every office around the world, but when movie stars do it, audiences get to see the impact of their decisions. Sometimes these changes barely affect the movie—minor scene alterations, for example, or a different take on the delivery of a line. Sometimes, however, they can completely change the final product—for better or worse. We've gone behind the scenes of some of your favorite films to ferret out the stories of the many ways in which a star wanted something that wasn't originally in the script—and got their way. Here are some of the most memorable—and often amusing—examples of movies that were significantly altered by actors' demands.

The Mummy (2017)

When you've got as much clout as Tom Cruise, you can make all sorts of stipulations when you sign on for a movie—and reportedly, Cruise's demands for the 2017 Mummy movie included near-total creative control. As later outlined in a Variety investigation, Cruise was accused of micro-managing almost every aspect of the film's production, changing everything from the script to the way it was marketed. Cruise's track record at the box office meant these changes were approved by Universal, despite some internal doubts.

Perhaps most notably, Cruise allegedly insisted that his character, Nick Morton, be given more screen time than the mummy. According to one source, the original script had Morton sharing "nearly equal screen time" with the undead villain, which apparently didn't sit well with Cruise; his presence was beefed up accordingly, effectively turning the horror franchise reboot into another of the star's blockbuster action vehicles. Ultimately, audiences might have preferred less Cruise and more mummy—the movie was a major flop.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Stars have all sorts of reasons for agreeing to take a role. Samuel L. Jackson, for example, admitted he only wanted to star in Snakes on a Plane because of its title—which he loved so much that when executives considered changing it to Pacific Flight 121, he personally intervened, telling them it was "the stupidest damn thing I ever heard."

Jackson also advocated for more violence and profanity, an issue because the studio envisioned Snakes as a campy PG-13 action movie. Eventually, they agreed with his more adult-oriented take and he agreed to re-shoots to secure an R rating—partly for the fans who'd already started freaking out over the idea of a Samuel L. Jackson movie titled Snakes on a Plane, and partly because that's what he'd wanted anyway.

The Avengers (2012)

In the original script for The Avengers, the scene immediately following the near-defeat of the Chitauri was much less light-hearted, with Tony Stark simply asking "What's next?" after being roused by his comrades. Robert Downey Jr. felt this line fell a little flat and suggested trying something different, workshopping a better version of the scene with Joss Whedon.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Whedon put together three pages of new lines based on Downey's suggestion, and in the newly revamped scene, Iron Man has a little more banter with his teammates before suggesting they all go for shawarma, a random line that ended up being the cast's favorite—in fact, everyone liked the line so much that just before production wrapped, a bonus post-credits scene was filmed of the entire cast eating.

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World earned largely positive reviews—and a whole lot of money—but more than a few critics and fans complained that Bryce Dallas Howard's character somehow outruns 22 tons of T-rex in high heels. Director Colin Trevorrow was keenly aware of how ridiculous this was, and reportedly spent much of the film's production trying to convince her to literally slip into something more comfortable. Howard staunchly refused, insisting that her character had to wear heels while outrunning that giant dinosaur. 

Trevorrow would later admit that he wasn't sure exactly why Howard was so insistent, but he respected her decision, musing that perhaps Howard "felt like surrendering the heels felt like surrendering the femininity of the character." Howard herself would later say she never expected wearing the heels to be such a major talking point, but she was happy to have the effort she put into running through the jungle acknowledged, noting that no camera trickery was used—she really did wear the shoes in every scene.

Star Trek (1966)

First shown in the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within," the Vulcan Nerve Pinch was a technique employed by Spock to disable his opponents—and envisioned by the man who played the character, Leonard Nimoy himself, as the go-to way for Vulcans to end physical confrontations. The original script for the episode supposedly called for Nimoy to subdue an evil copy of Captain Kirk by either backhanding him with his phaser or karate-chopping the back of his head. Whatever the case, Nimoy didn't like the idea of Spock ending a fight with violence, surmising that the logic-based Vulcans would naturally have a more elegant way of knocking someone out. 

According to Nimoy, while screenwriter Richard Matheson was open to giving it a shot, it was really William Shatner's over the top, scenery-chewing reaction to the pinch during an early take that sold it—and it's been a staple of Star Trek and science fiction ever since. 

Pulp Fiction (1994)

According to the original script for Pulp Fiction, everyone's favorite Bible-quoting hitman with a heart of gold, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), was supposed to sport a giant Afro that would stand in contrast to the slicked-back hair of his cohort Vincent (John Travolta). However, according to Jackson, the person sent to buy a wig had no idea what an Afro was, and returned from the store with one styled into a Jheri curl—something that infinitely amused the star. 

Rather than insisting on a replacement, Jackson decided to just roll with it, with the actor later telling MTV that as soon as he put it on he knew that's the way the character had to look. As he told writer-director Quentin Tarantino, "this is Jules."

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Bubo the clockwork owl is one of the most memorable parts of the original Clash of the Titans, so naturally, director Louis Leterrier planned on making it a major part of his 2010 remake. Unfortunately, star Sam Worthington hated Bubo: Leterrier later recounted that Worthington complained about the owl at every opportunity and repeatedly threatened to punch it, going as far to accuse the director of trying to ruin his career by making him star opposite something so ridiculous. Leterrier goaded Worthington by saying he wasn't trying to ruin his career, just damage it—which didn't exactly help matters. Ultimately, to appease his star, Leterrier completely excised the owl from the film, relegating it to a brief cameo.

Gone Girl (2014)

According to the DVD commentary recorded for Gone Girl, the script called for Ben Affleck's character to try and hide his identity by donning a Yankees cap. Affleck, a lifelong Red Sox fan, absolutely refused to do this—and shut down production for four days over the disagreement. 

Director David Fincher tried and failed multiple times to convince the actor to change his mind, each time being told that Affleck's friends would never let him live it down if footage existed of him wearing a Yankees hat. As Affleck told the New York Times, he said to Fincher, "David, I love you, I would do anything for you. But I will not wear a Yankees hat." Fincher finally relented and suggested a compromise—a Mets hat.

Shrek (2001)

Shrek's signature Scottish brogue went through a couple of major changes before audiences fell in love with the big green ogre. Saturday Night Live vet Chris Farley was originally supposed to voice the character, but died before he could finish recording his lines; after his passing, Farley's fellow SNL alum Mike Myers stepped in. It wasn't until after roughly a third of the movie had been animated, however, that Myers decided Shrek should be Scottish.

Myers' reasoning was that since the movie's villain, Lord Farquaad, spoke with an upper-class English accent, Shrek should sound more blue-collar, to highlight the difference between them. He also felt that the Scottish accent lent itself better to dramatic, abrupt shifts in tone and would allow him to emote in a more exaggerated fashion. 

DreamWorks exec Jeffrey Katzenberg pegged the cost of reworking the already animated scenes at $4 to $5 million—roughly 10 percent of the movie's overall budget. Understandably reluctant to part with that kind of money but willing to trust his star's process, he agreed—and the rest is blockbuster franchise history.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

After watching a rough cut of the Battle for Geonosis with Star Wars creator George Lucas, Samuel L. Jackson noticed it was hard to spot his own character, Mace Windu, amongst the dozens of Jedi on screen, and he asked Lucas if it'd be possible for Windu to wield a purple lightsaber—partly because it'd stand out more, and partly because purple is Jackson's favorite color.

Lucas initially turned down the request, explaining that lightsabers are generally only a handful of colors due to how they're made. Jackson countered by saying "I'm like the second baddest Jedi in the universe next to Yoda," presumably before pointing out to Lucas that the entire Star Wars universe existed in his head so he could make whatever changes he damn well felt like. This apparently swayed Lucas, who made the change—and later wryly noted to Jackson that his idea had "caused a s—storm online."

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Family Guy has mocked a lot of people over the years—and it came back to haunt creator Seth MacFarlane when he asked Liam Neeson to star in his comedy western A Million Ways to Die in the West. Years earlier, Family Guy had made a joke about how stupid it would be for Neeson to play a cowboy in a western because of his inability to convincingly mask his distinctive Irish accent. Neeson pointed this out to MacFarlane before stating that his singular condition for appearing in the film was that he speak in a broad Irish accent throughout.

MacFarlane agreed and as a result, Neeson speaks with his natural accent the entire time he's on screen—all because of a throwaway line in an old episode of Family Guy suggesting that it'd be pretty stupid for anyone to hire Liam Neeson to star in a western.

The Hunger Games (2012)

In the Hunger Games novels, Buttercup the cat is described as "hideous-looking" with a muddy yellow coat, half an ear missing, and eyes the color of rotten squash. It's a pretty distinctive description, which is why fans were kind of miffed when a black and white cat played the animal in the first Hunger Games movie. According to producer Nina Jacobson, she knew immediately that fans would be annoyed by the mistake, going as far as suggesting using digital effects to edit in a new cat in post-production. The studio shot down the idea, of course. 

As Jacobson expected, soon after the film's release fans complained about the error, with author Suzanne Collins personally expressing her annoyance in interviews. After seeing the reaction from fans and the author, the studio quietly recast the cat, although as director Francis Lawrence pointed out, not everyone was happy with the change. "It's funny because now people are split," he shrugged. "Some people think we should have continued on with what happened in the first movie. And some people are really happy. You never win."

Alien 3 (1992)

It's hard to believe today, but Alien 3 was once the most despised entry in the franchise. Even director David Fincher has disowned it, saying "no one hates it more than me." Ouch, David.

But given where the franchise has gone since (exhibits A, B, CD and E), Alien 3 is...well, still a pretty bad movie, but hardly the worst. One person who foresaw where the franchise was headed and didn't like it: Lt. Ellen Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver, who heard through the studio grapevine that the Alien franchise was evolving into a spinoff/crossover series, Aliens vs. Predator. While the eventual film didn't come out until 2004, plans were already underway as early as 1992. She wasn't happy.

"I heard that Fox was gonna do Alien vs. Predator. Which really depressed me because I was very proud of the movies", Weaver told London Film and Comic Con in 2015.

Who can blame her? Alien and Aliens are masterpieces, and Aliens even earned Weaver an Oscar nomination. The prestige sci-fi franchise descending into a schlocky cash grab undermined everything the series stood for. While Weaver couldn't stop Fox, she did the next best thing: demand Ripley die. Though marred by a mediocre movie, Ripley's sacrifice by plunging into a fiery inferno is one of the most heroic and emotional deaths in movie history... until Weaver returned as Ripley's clone five years later in Alien: Resurrection.

The Fast & The Furious (2001)

The relationship between Michelle Rodriguez's Letty Ortiz and Vin Diesel's Dominic "Dom" Toretto is the heart (or should we say "engine"?) of the Fast & Furious franchise, but their love story nearly crashed right out of the gate. The Fast & The Furious was set to feature a love triangle between Dom, Letty and the late Paul Walker's Brian O'Connor. It was a formulaic, but understandable choice — what better way to create tension between two dudes than fighting over a girl? 

But in Rodriguez's opinion, it was absolutely wrong. "They just followed the format without thinking about the reality of it," said Rodriguez. "Is it realistic for a Latin girl who's with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down."

This took chutzpah. After all, Rodriguez wasn't a movie star at this point, and defiance could have gotten her fired or even sued. Thankfully, she had an ally in the film's star, Vin Diesel. "Vin was the first one to pull me to the side while I was crying, and he just looked at me and said, 'I got your back.' That was the beginning of the Letty fairytale."

And what a fairytale it was — the franchise earned a staggering $5 billion worldwide over its first eight installments, and behind all the money and muscle cars is Dom and Letty's love story. Almost makes you want to write a poem or steal a car.

Miami Vice (2006)

When notorious partier Colin Farrell is the most stable person on set, you've got problems. While Michael Mann and Jamie Foxx are known for being difficult, they got along well enough during Collateral to earn Foxx an Oscar nomination. However, Foxx also won an Oscar that year for Ray — and the ego that came with it. Foxx signed onto Miami Vice pre-Ray. Now with his new superstar power, he demanded private jets, a bigger salary, and to not shoot scenes on boats or planes. Maybe he'd never seen the '80s TV show that inspired the movie?

Things got really dicey when the production moved to the Dominican Republic, where security was tight and tensions were high. One night a local police officer allegedly approached the set and pulled a gun on a guard, who shot him. That was enough for Foxx, who bounced with his entourage, never to return.

"Jamie basically changed the whole movie in one stroke," a crew member said. Mann had endings planned for Paraguay and Miami, but Foxx's retreat to the States forced his hand. "It was like turning an oil tanker around on a dime," Mann said. "But the Miami ending worked out to be the better ending."

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

When it came to making strange demands, Marlon Brando was the gift that kept on giving. Unless you were a director or co-star, in which case his whims could push you past the brink of your own sanity. While there are many examples of Marlon's madness to choose from, what makes Brando's bizarre behavior in The Island of Dr. Moreau so memorable is that he managed to make a weird movie even weirder.

Based on the H.G. Wells novel, Moreau has Brando playing the titular mad scientist, whose contribution to the field of bio-genetics is to create human-animal hybrids. If the storyline was already strange, Brando made it bonkers. He insisted that his character be allergic to the sun and caked in white makeup, creating the movie's most memorable visual. Brando also wore an ice bucket on his head, and when he took a liking to a two-foot-tall supporting actor, he demanded Moreau always appear with this identically dressed little person. Brando's demands turned what might have been a thought-provoking horror film into an eccentric expose of a movie star's hubris.

While Brando's madness dramatically changed the movie, it was co-star Val Kilmer's attitude that nearly broke director John Frankenheimer, who allegedly later vowed he wouldn't cast Kilmer again "even if I was directing a film called The Life of Val Kilmer." Maybe he could have cast Brando instead?

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Clint Eastwood is one of the most legendary stars in Hollywood history, with the awards and global praise to prove it. Even so, Eastwood's somewhat diva-like behavior on one of his most famous films did more than change a single movie — it helped change the entire American movie industry.

In 1976, Eastwood was at the pinnacle of his star power and had recently gotten into directing, with four films under his belt in only five years. His next film, The Outlaw Josey Wales, became the fifth, though not without controversy.

The film's original director, Philip Kaufman, was a slow, methodical perfectionist, who would do multiple takes to get the exact shot he wanted. Eastwood prefers only a few takes. The power struggle ended with Eastwood using his influence to have Kaufman fired. Eastwood then took over the director's chair for the film.

The trouble was, Kaufman had already put a significant amount of work into the film, including co-writing the screenplay. While the Director's Guild of America fought to have Kaufman reinstated, Eastwood proved indomitable. While the DGA couldn't save Kaufman, the guild set out to prevent future directors from succumbing to a similar fate. The DGA instituted a rule that prohibits anyone involved with a film — from actor, to producer, to caterer — from having a director fired and taking over his job. The popular, unofficial name for this edict: the "Eastwood Rule."