Actor Demands That Changed Movies For The Better

We all know that actor demands can be quite troubling. We’ve heard the horror stories of stars throwing diva-inspired fits on a set that could sometimes shut down production for days or weeks at a time.

But what if they’re all for the greater good?

Credit: Lucasfilm

There are plenty of examples where actors had unique demands for films that actually turned out better than anyone could have thought. Here, we explore some of those stories.

Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes On A Plane

Snakes On A Plane is exactly what you think it is about. The 2006 cult hit stars Samuel L. Jackson who signed on to the project after simply hearing the title for the film.

Credit: Mutual Film Company

During production, he heard that producers intended to change the title to Pacific Flight 121 – and Jackson was not happy. He protested the move and they subsequently left it how it was. The result was a classic cult film that delivers exactly what it promises.

Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers

One of the most beloved scenes in 2012’s The Avengers is the post-credit shawarma clip. We can see our favorite Avengers sharing a meal after the climactic Battle of New York. It turns out, producers added the scene in post-production only a few weeks before the film hit cinemas.

Credit: Marvel Studios

After the battle, Iron Man was supposed to say: ‘what next?’. However, Downey Jr. improvised his lines and said he spotted a shawarma place around the corner. Director Joss Whedon quickly added it in the film and the rest is history!

Tom Cruise in The Mummy

When you’re as big of a star as Tom Cruise, you can make a few demands that change the film. 2017’s The Mummy was no exception. The actor demanded that he have more screen time than the actual mummy – you know, the titular character?

Credit: Universal

Screenwriters scrambled to rewrite the story and adjust the screentime for the characters. The result was a box office flop which ended Universal’s planned Monsters’ Universe – set to expand into Frankenstein, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, and Werewolf.

Mike Myers in Shrek

Mike Myers is known for his voices, characters, and general world building. When he was recording 2001’s Shrek, the actor had a bright idea: Shrek should sound Scottish. This was to play off Lord Farquaad’s posh English accent.

Credit: Dreamworks

Unfortunately, there was only one problem: a third of the film was already been recorded. Dreamworks spent $5 million reworking the pre-recorded voices to accommodate the change in the accent – a gamble that paid off tremendously. Can you imagine Shrek sounding any other way?

Orson Welles in The Black Rose

During the 1950 production of The Black Rose, Orson Welles demanded that the coat he wore be lined with expensive mink fur. The actor, director, and producer’s demands proved burdensome and expensive, but production obliged since he was a star at the time.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Strangely, the coat went missing soon after production – only appearing a year later when Welles was seen wearing it during a performance of Othello! This time, the mink fur was on the outside.

Michelle Rodriguez in The Fast And The Furious

During the production of the famous car franchise, Michelle Rodriguez was faced with a moral issue with the direction of her character, Letty. The original story planned that she was going to cheat on her boyfriend, Dom.

Credit: Universal

Rodriguez was so against the plot point that she threatened to quit the franchise. Vin Diesel took her side and the director ultimately agreed to drop it. Thank goodness, too, since their relationship is one of the most grounded aspects of the franchise.

Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars

We can all agree that the prequel trilogy is no match to the original Star Wars trio. However, one of the most redeeming aspects of the film is Jackson’s Mace Windu, who wowed audiences with his purple lightsaber.

Credit: Lucasfilm

During production, Samuel L. Jackson demanded that his saber be purple instead of the conventional blue or red. Director George Lucas initially declined but had a quick change of heart. Today, the purple saber is one of the most important parts of his character identity.

Shia LaBeouf in Fury

Shia LeBeouf is often known to take things a little too far with his antics both on and off a film set. The World War II film Fury was no exception. His character was supposed to have cuts and scars on his face, so the actor sat in the makeup chair to prepare for the scene.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Halfway through, he got impatient and decided to cut his face with a real knife that was resting nearby. You might think his makeup looked convincing during the film, and that’s because his cuts are 100% real.

Jack Nicholson in The Departed

When an actor like Jack Nicholson makes a film suggestion, you listen. During The Departed, Nicholson wanted to make sure that audiences knew just how evil his Frank Costello was: so he demanded they include a scene with a woman and illegal substances.

Credit: Warner Brothers

When the film was released in 2006, audiences definitely remembered his character as one of the best. The actor also banned any Boston Celtics clothing on set, since he’s a strong LA Lakers supporter.

Gary Busey in Quigley

While filming the heaven scene in 2003’s Quigley, actor Gary Busey had some suggestions. Apparently, he had had a near death experience in 1988 and had specific requests on how to design the set for the film.

Credit: Quigley Productions

Since he had ‘visited’ heaven before, he knew that there were no mirrors and that the sofa was out of place. Before filming began, set designers had to change the entire design so Busey would perform. We can’t say it impacted the film too much.

Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans

Worthington starred in 2010’s Clash of the Titans, but took issue with some of the aspects of the film. Even though it was set in ancient Greece, the actor refused to wear a toga.

Credit: Legendary Pictures

He also had a bit of a personality clash with an electronic owl – the same one that appeared in the original film from the 1980s. He kept shouting and screaming at it until it was removed entirely – only making a small appearance.

Marlon Brando in The Island of Doctor Moreau

This film is considered to have one of the most bizarre film shoots in cinematic history. Its star, Marlon Brando, would make strange demands throughout the shoot, including wearing a bucket on his head when it was hot – causing massive continuity errors.

Credit: New Line Cinema

Halfway through the shoot, Brando became obsessed with Nelson de la Rosa – the world’s smallest man – and demanded he appears alongside him in all future scenes. The final product is one of the weirdest films in history.

Angelina Jolie in Wanted

Angelina Jolie was committed to not appear in any sequel for the 2008 thriller. To make sure this happened, she demanded her character die in the end. The original script stated that Jolie’s character would survive the film, but the actress didn’t want it open for more sequels.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The producers agreed, and she was killed off at the end. If there is ever a sequel to this 2008 hit, don’t expect Jolie to appear. Although nowadays it’s more likely that it will get rebooted.

Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil

Before Resident Evil became the huge franchise it is today, Milla Jovovich had apparently threatened to walk off set of the first film. According to sources, Jovovich felt threatened by Michelle Rodiguez – who’s part had just been rewritten and expanded due to her rising popularity.

Credit: Screen Games

Milla Jovovich was having none of it: she threatened to walk all the set and leave them high and dry if it wasn’t changed back. The director agreed and the film was changed back to its original story.

Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief

Denzel Washington was in the 1993 film The Pelican Brief, alongside Julia Roberts. The initial plot included a love story between the two characters, but Washington rejected the role, saying he didn’t want to offend his black female fans.

Apparently, Washington said that since black women were not often represented in Hollywood as the main love interest, he felt it wasn’t the right thing to do. Since his contract said that he didn’t have to do anything that he didn’t want to do, there wasn’t much of a discussion about it.

Steve McQueen in The Towering Inferno

The Towering Inferno starred Steve McQueen and Paul Newman – two of the biggest stars at the time. Apparently, McQueen was a little bit petty when it came to the amount of screen time. He was horrified to learn Newman had 12 more lines than him.

To keep McQueen happy, screenwriters removed six lines of dialogue from Newman and split the parts evenly. That way, the two actors had the exact same amount of lines in the film.

Will Smith in Men In Black 3

You might not have noticed Will Smith’s demands during Men In Black 3, but they certainly impacted the production. Even though he lived a few minutes from the New York set, he demanded a massive $2 million trailer to be erected nearby.

actor demands
Credit: Sony Pictures

The trailer would close off an entire street and would literally block the sunlight into neighboring buildings. It was a two-bedroom, two bathroom trailer with its own cinema. When there’s a Will, there’s a trailer.

Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek

This small change from Leonard Nimoy may have changed Star Trek. The first time Spock had to subdue a character, the script called on him to karate chop the poor victim in the face.

actor demands

Instead, the actor suggested that they try a little something more subtle, and he tried his luck at squeezing the victim’s shoulder. Fortunately, it looked great and the rest is history. This particular suggestion was cheap, convenient, and had a huge impact – no drama necessary!

Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction

The original script for Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction described Jackson’s Jules as a man with an afro – no problem, right? On the day of filming, a production assistant went out to purchase a wig for Jackson to wear.

actor demands
Credit: Mirimax

However, it wasn’t an afro! They opened up the box and saw that it sat on Jackson’s head a lot differently than they had hoped. Jackson said he wasn’t fazed by the change, and Tarantino himself said he didn’t mind. From then on, Jules had a different haircut. Can you imagine him with an afro?

Liam Neeson in A Million Ways to Die in the West

The adult cartoon Family Guy once made fun of actors who have to change accents for certain roles. One of the random examples they gave was Liam Neeson and his thick Irish accent for a cowboy.

actor demands
Credit: Fox

When Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane asked Neeson to star in A Million Ways to Die in the West, Neeson said he would only accept the role if he could speak in his native accent! So now there’s an Irish cowboy in cinema existence. We don’t think it mattered too much.

Lena Heady and Jerome Flynn in Game of Thrones

Seasoned viewers of Game of Thrones might notice that Cersei and Bronn have never appeared on screen together. While you might think this is a narrative decision, the real reason is a bit more personal.

actor demands
Credit: HBO

It turns out, Heady and Flynn used to date in real life and flat-out refuse to appear opposite each other. Their contracts state that the two of them don’t need to be on screen together, so production must work around their personal feelings to one another.

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters

Can you imagine Ghostbusters without Bill Murray? The film star was responsible for some of the biggest and best moments of the film. Today, it remains one of the most popular franchises in history.

actor demands

However, Murray only agreed to appear in the film if he could also get financing for his passion project, The Razor’s Edge. The film was a critical and financial flop, causing Murray to take a four-year break from acting.

William Shatner in Star Trek

Apparently, during production of Star Trek: The Original Series, William Shatner developed quite an ego. As the show became more successful, he demanded that more storylines be tailored to fit his character and expand the role of Captain Kirk.

actor demands

He would often demand to oversee the writing process and direct the writers to encourage them to take his character in more exciting places. This, of course, caused tensions on set with other actors.

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl

Hell hath no fury like a sports fan scorned! Since Affleck grew up in Boston, he is a huge Red Sox fan. Unfortunately for him, he was asked by director David Fincher to wear a New York Yankees cap for a scene in 2014’s Gone Girl.

actor demands
Credit: Regency Enterprises

The actor flat-out refused to wear it – and production entered an impasse for four days. Eventually, the actor and director compromised and he was seen wearing a New York Mets hat, instead.

Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World

2015’s Jurassic World was largely criticized for having Bryce Dallas Howard’s character outrun a T-Rex while wearing high heels. While audiences initially assumed it was the decision of director Colin Trevorrow, it was actually Bryce Howard who demanded it.

actor demands
Credit: Universal Pictures

She explained that her character would wear the high heels and the actress did in fact film all her scenes wearing the shoes. Upon the film’s release, her shoes became a talking point among cinemagoers who pointed out the unlikely outfit choice.

Crispin Glover in Charlie’s Angels

Crispin Glover thought the script for 2000’s Charlie’s Angels was so terrible that he flat-out refused to say any of his lines. He hated every part of his dialogue so it resulted in him just appearing on camera and being silent. Weirdly, no one challenged him.

actor demands
Credit: Columbia Pictures

Production decided that instead of investing in script changes or recasting the actor, they would just go with it. It turns out that his silence became more of the iconic character moments in the film, and the rest is history.

Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice

Since Jamie Foxx had recently won an Academy Award for 2004’s Ray, the actor had some strange demands due to an inflated ego. His first demand he was to get paid more than his co-star, Colin Farrell. Second, he simply refused to shoot any scene that would take place on a boat or plane.

actor demands
Credit: Universal

After hearing a gunshot in the Dominican Republic, the actor refused to shoot the planned ending in Paraguay. The film studio rewrote the final moments to take place in America instead.

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis is known as an extreme method actor who doesn’t break character for the entire production of any given film. During 2012’s Lincoln, he continued the trend with incredible results.

actor demands
Credit: 20th Century Fox

According to sources from the set, Day-Lewis insisted that everyone call him ‘Mr. President’ throughout the whole production. He even refused to speak to anyone who was British. It might sound severe, but his demands were met and they earned him his third Academy Award for the performance.

Harrison Ford in Star Wars

It turns out, Harrison Ford tried to get Han Solo killed for 30 years. His first request was in 1983 during Return of the Jedi, but director George Lucas refused to do it.

actor demands
Credit: Lucasfilm

In 2015’s The Force Awakens, Ford finally got his wish and Kylo Ren killed Han Solo. Today, he believes his death makes a better film, but we can’t help but wonder what would have happened had he survived into the trilogy. Two years later, another key player in the Star Wars universe died – Luke Skywalker.

Related Topics: