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  • Writer's picturePhilip Bryer

Nobody Knows Anything

Updated: Apr 17

Title courtesy of ace screenwriter William Goldman — his description of Hollywood

A recent viewing of the Beverly Hills Cop movie trilogy served not only as a reminder of the law of diminishing returns when applied to film sequels but also led me to uncover some fascinating facts.

Pull up a squad car and read on:

·       The original script was for a straight action flick before rewrites took it into comic caper territory. Then, God forbid, Sylvester Stallone got his hands on it and, surprise! Took all the jokes out, armed himself with a massive shooter, swiftly killed off any supporting characters who might have competed for audience affection — such as Billy Rosewood — and the producers were left with a treatment which, said one, spent far too much time on Sylv “soaping down his muscles”.

·       Fast-forward through the standard Hollywood machinations, the script was eventually redrafted with extensive revisions and heavy input from the new star Eddie Murphy and shooting began before the ink had dried on the rewrites.

·       Considered for the role of Axel Foley (or Elly Axel as he was known in the first iteration): Mickey Rourke,  Richard Pryor, Al Pacino, and James Caan. An offer was made to Harrison Ford but he turned it down.

·       As for the bloke who eventually landed the Rosewood part, aw-shucks-nice-guy Judge Reinhold, his top-flight Hollywood career hit the buffers in 1988: "That's when the phone stopped ringing," he says. He also became known as one of those “difficult” actors. "I was spoiled, and I was arrogant," he explains. "I was very demanding, had an overblown image of who I was and got a reputation for being difficult. And rightfully so." Still, look at his cheeky face.

·       A fourth edition, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is slated for Netflix release in July 2024. Eddie Murphy’s in it — expect machine-gunned wisecracks and that endearing/irritating laugh — as is Judge Reinhold and his old cop buddy John Ashton, reprising his role as Sergeant John Taggart, despite retiring from the force in Beverly Hills Cop III. In 1994.

Marilyn Monroe and the Hollywood sign

There are, of course, tales aplenty of who was up for famous roles before the face that became synonymous with the role was settled on:

·       Jaws Robert Duvall was offered Roy Scheider’s part as Chief Brody but saw himself playing Quint; however, Steven Spielberg...not so much. Quint was offered to Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden, neither of whom bit, and Robert Shaw — no fan of the book — had to be talked into playing the in-no-way-traumatised batshit old seadog by his family.  

·       Titanic Director, shipwreck nut, and surely the only person in the world to care for Avatar, James Cameron had earmarked River Phoenix early on for the role of Jack, but the Phoenix stymied those plans when he proved himself unable to rise from the ashes. Jared Leto might have got it, but he refused to entertain the impertinent idea that he audition. Others came and went, ruled out as too old or, in the case of completely normal Scientologist T. Cruise, too pricey. So, Leo DC it was, despite all his mucking about at the audition.

·       Titanic II Not a sequel in that sense, obviously, more a look at the trials of casting Rose. Plenty turned the part down — Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder, and Reese Witherspoon, for three — but once Kate Winslet got a sniff of it, she lobbied Cameron HARD: Daily notes from England, a single rose with a card signed, "From Your Rose", and tracking him down and calling him in his car, saying, "I am Rose! I don't know why you're even seeing anyone else!"

·       Indiana Jones A lot of actors were in the frame, but Tom Selleck seemingly had the edge. CBS — who had him lined up for a TV pilot — got wind of this and, fearful of losing him, greenlit the entire new series, Magnum PI, which effectively left Selleck contractually unable to take on Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now, I’ve nothing against old 3.1415926, but it wouldn’t have been the same, would it? Well, we say that because we associate Harrison Ford so firmly with Indy, but if it had been Selleck, we’d have known no different and it wouldn’t matter a jot.

As my aim is always to shut these things down before the reader gets restless — Yes, all right, settle down — I’ll leave you with this:

Can you imagine being offered the biggest role of your short career in a blockbuster movie, with a ‘name’ director, a hot script, and a buzz about it already? Can you further envisage what it was like to be handed your hat after work had begun on the picture? No? Just ask Eric Stoltz — Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis decided Stoltz was not right for the part of Marty McFly and bent over backwards to hire his original choice, Michael J Fox.

“Hey, Eric! What are you doing at the laundromat watching your clothes go round and round, with a glassy look in your eye? I thought you were working on that big movie?”

“Well, it’s the funniest story: The producers decided they’d rather shoot all my scenes again but without me in them and spend four million bucks in the process of not having me involved.”

Here are Eric's deleted scenes:

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