Extremely Reduced & Incredibly Diminished: Movie Characters Who Were Cut Out of the Final Film


While audiences will have the chance to see “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” beginning this week, there's one actor whose been part of the film's IMDb page for months that they won't see. While James Gandolfini’s good name was used for both the film’s poster and its first trailer for the adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, his character saw the cutting room floor after test audiences didn’t respond to him as a love interest for Sandra Bullock who she meets at a 9/11 victims’ support group, according to the Los Angeles Times. Still, he's hardly the first famous thespian to learn they've been trimmed from the final film.

After beating out throngs of big name actors for the part and filming for four months in Queensland, Australia with 6 a.m. call times every day, Adrien Brody thought he was sitting pretty when he attended a press screening for Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" in 1998. Yet 170 minutes later, Brody felt more like a soldier than ever as he saw his performance as Corporal Fife winnowed down to a supporting and largely silent role. As he recalled to The New York Press' Matt Zoller Seitz, "You spend all this time in an unfamiliar place, you experience incredible things, and then you come home, you're wounded psychologically, and you have nothing to show for it."

At least Brody made the cut. Here are a few who weren't as lucky.

JonStewartFirstWivesClubJon Stewart — "The First Wives Club"

Imagine, if you will, the future host of "The Daily Show" sitting by his TV watching "Laugh-In" and wishing for the day he could play boy toy to Goldie Hawn in a big motion picture. You can't? Neither could Hawn, who told USA Today in 1996, "As much as I love Jon, before it was even cast I said to Scott [Rudin, the film's producer], 'Let's get rid of this. It's not pertinent to the plot. You are going to cut this.' And sure enough it was the first to go." So much for the vote of confidence, but the film was supposed to be Stewart's big break into movies after his first talk show on MTV came to an end in 1995. Still, as he said to the Calgary Sun, "My butt stayed in the previews. There's this great moment with Goldie kicking me out of the apartment. I guess they loved the look on her face."

Chris Cooper – "The Ring"

Considering "The Ring" became a sleeper hit largely thanks to teenagers, DreamWorks execs probably made the right call when they decided to open the film with a perky Amber Tamblyn than a dour Chris Cooper. Yet Cooper, who would earn an Oscar nomination for "Adaptation" the same year, found his portrayal of an imprisoned serial killer of children left on the cutting room floor, including an opening sequence where the character attempts to persuade Naomi Watts' journalist that's he's rehabilitated in his bid for parole. The kicker was that Watts would deliver the killer videotape to his cell at the end of the film as a bookend.

Janeane Garofalo — "Southland Tales"

And to think Mandy Moore was worried she might not make the final cut. After the disastrous premiere of Richard Kelly's sophomore film at Cannes, no one was safe from the chopping block as Kelly tried to appease potential distributors with a shorter running time. Eventually, Garofalo's militant General Teena MacArthur who operated out of a Venice Beach storefront was excised. All that remains of Garofalo's performance is a shot of the General celebrating the end of the world at the film's conclusion.

MichelleMonaghanConstantineMichelle Monaghan — "Unfaithful," "Syriana," and "Constantine"

Three strikes usually means you're out, but Monaghan appears to have beat the odds. Before landing leads in "Gone Baby Gone" and the upcoming indie "Trucker," the actress was trimmed from a bit part as Richard Gere's secretary in "Unfaithful" before being poised for a banner year in 2005 with roles as a demon-human hybrid in "Constantine" and a beauty pageant queen who travels to the Middle East in "Syriana." The only problem was her subplots in both films were dropped from the final product. Fortunately for Monaghan, she still appeared in meaty roles in "North Country" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and even her turn in "Constantine" wasn't for naught — J.J. Abrams brought the actress on "Mission: Impossible III" after seeing her audition tape from the Keanu Reeves thriller.

Andy Garcia — "Dangerous Minds"

If 2007's Hilary Swank drama "Freedom Writers" was an update of the Michelle Pfeiffer inner city school drama "Dangerous Minds," then Patrick Dempsey was the modern version of the crusading teacher's nag of a love interest as Garcia was in the 1995 film. Except Garcia's turn was even more thankless than Dempsey's turn since it never saw the light of day. And it couldn't have come at a worse time for Garcia, whose days as a leading man were numbered with the release of his next film, "Steal Big Steal Little." Pfeiffer claimed to have fought for the actor in a 1995 interview with the Sunday Mail…to a point. "I argued against cutting him out," said Pfeiffer. "In the end, I can't really say whether or not it was the right choice. People seem to like (the movie)."

Tobey Maguire — "Empire Records"

Like "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or "Dazed and Confused," "Empire Records" seemed to have one of those casts — a quirky quorum of young actors who were destined to become movie stars out of this low budget comedy about the closure of an indie record store. Some, including Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger, did, while some, including Brendan Sexton III and Rory Cochrane found steady work as character actors. But Maguire said that he felt like an "extreme outsider" on the North Carolina set of the film and suffered what he called a "kind of semi-breakdown" before asking director Allan Moyle if he could fly home to Los Angeles. Moyle agreed to cut Maguire and his character loose, though not before the actor went skinny dipping with the cast one night and wound up throwing up in the ocean in close proximity of Tyler.

Liv Tyler — "Everyone Says I Love You"

Speaking of Tyler, she spent a few days on the set of Woody Allen's musical, "Everyone Says I Love You" with nothing on celluloid to show for it. Even though the role didn't call for Tyler to use her genetically sound set of pipes, the actress was to have played what Allen called "a sexy, sensuous, hot right wing Republican" to woo Lukas Haas' lone conservative from a family of liberals. Tyler later told The Times of London, "He wrote me a letter, which I keep on my desk and look at occasionally, saying that he was really sorry and it was nice to work with me and we would work again. But he's never asked me again. And he wouldn't even hear me sing, and I love to sing. So I guess maybe he doesn't like me so much."

James Van Der Beek — "Storytelling"

Itching to break away from the clean cut image he cultivated on "Dawson's Creek," Van Der Beek didn’t blink when he signed on to star in the "Fiction" segment of Todd Solondz's fourth film as a sexually confused high school jock in the 1980s who, according to those who saw the original NC-17 cut, was a little less confused after an explicit "Brown Bunny"-esque scene with another man. Heather Matarazzo and Emmanuelle Chriqui were also casualties of editing down the two and a half hour film to the 87 minute, R-rated affair it became. When Van Der Beek made the rounds with "The Rules of Attraction, " which finally did earn him some indie cred, he ended his self-imposed gag order about "Storytelling" on Moviehole, saying, "I remember saying to Todd [Solondz] the director, when I was doing ADR, that 'even if I get cut from this movie, I just want to say what a fabulous time I've had on this.' I will never say that to a director again!"

OrlandoJonesMagnoliaOrlando Jones — "Magnolia"

Obsessive fans of Paul Thomas Anderson already know they can find the ill-fated storyline of The Worm in the published shooting script of "Magnolia," but oddly The Worm's alter ego Jones logs more time on the making of documentary than he does in the film. Although as part of the "Magnolia" production diaries, there is a tantalizing scene in a diner featuring The Worm, the desperate-for-cash father of Dixon, the young boy John C. Reilly's cop meets in the first act, Jones is nowhere to be found in the final cut. As Jones told the Sunday Express in 2001, "Paul called me and said: "You're great in the movie but we're four hours." Apparently, Tom Cruise wasn't as expendable.

Terrence Stamp & Jacqueline Bisset and Keith David & Angela Bassett — "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"

Jennifer Aniston wasn't the only collateral damage from the chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. As a positively flummoxed Doug Liman explains on the "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" special edition DVD, test screening audiences were so caught up with Brangelina as dueling assassins that the film's main villains, which were the two bosses behind Mr. and Mrs. Smith named only Mother and Father, simply weren't necessary. Still, Liman went through two quarreling killer couples in Stamp and Bisset and David and Bassett before eliminating their performances from the film completely — well, David and Bassett's voices made it in. As did William Fichtner, who is never seen as the Smiths' marriage therapist.

Katherine Towne — "Sweet Home Alabama"

The daughter of "Chinatown" scribe Robert Towne probably knew the Hollywood maxim that a film gets written three times: first on the page, then on the set and finally in the editing room — Katherine just probably assumed that her role as Erin, the personal assistant to Reese Witherspoon's fashion designer would make it after the second draft. Unfortunately, test screening audiences were troubled by her crush on Witherspoon’s fiancé, played by Patrick Dempsey and director Andy Tennant 86'ed the character without hesitation, though not completely without regret. As Tennant cops to on the DVD, Erin provided a happy ending to the film and a punchline when Dempsey's onscreen mother discovers that her jilted son's ex-fiancé's personal assistant is a Vanderbilt.

Ronee Blakely — "Hammett"

Actors marry their directors all the time, but Blakely is a cautionary tale for any thespian who wants to untie the knot too soon. After close to 90 percent of the revisionist detective tale "Hammett" was in the can, the "Nashville" star filed for divorce from director Wim Wenders, which when coupled with studio dissatisfaction with the movie in general, prompted Wenders to change up the role and cast Marilu Henner instead as the detective's confidante.

Kevin Costner — "The Big Chill"

Perhaps the most famous character to be left on the cutting room floor, Costner's Alex commits suicide before "The Big Chill" begins, but appeared in a series of flashbacks throughout the film after his friends from college reunite for his funeral. Audiences had their best chance at seeing the performance in 1998 when Columbia wanted to re-release the film with the Costner scenes as a selling point, but director Lawrence Kasdan was "very adamant" about keeping the film the way it was, according to the studio's Michael Schlesinger, who spoke to USA Today at the time. Still, there was no harm done between Costner and Kasdan, who made amends by casting Costner in his next film, "Silverado."

HaroldRamisHighfidelityHarold Ramis — "High Fidelity"

Seth Rogen may have been a handful in "Knocked Up," but Ramis perfected his fatherly advice as the sweatsuit clad old man to John Cusack's introspective record clerk in the 2000 adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel. In an exchange between the two Chicago natives, Cusack's Rob asks for advice about sex from his dad, who bluntly explains how his experience is limited to one woman and to "just go out and do it." The scene didn't make the final cut, nor did a cameo by Beverly D'Angelo as an angry wife who is eager to sell her husband's record collection, but both can be found in the deleted scenes on the film's DVD. And thanks to Ramis' quality time with Cusack on the set, the two worked together again with Ramis as director on the 2006 crime caper "The Ice Harvest."

Harrison Ford — "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial"

Since Ford's pal Steven Spielberg was directing the alien tale from a script by Melissa Mathison, Ford's wife at the time, it only made sense that the actor would show his face during the production. Actually, it was only his back, which was turned to the camera, for his cameo as the principal at Elliot's school who gives a stern talk to the boy. Spielberg ultimately decided to scrap the scene in favor of an ending that didn't leave audiences wondering whether or not Indiana Jones had taken an acting gig in between "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Temple of Doom."

Are there more examples that we might've missed? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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