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 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."