After beating out throngs of big name actors for the part and filming for four months in Queensland, Australia with 6am 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. But 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 from recent years who weren’t as lucky:
Jon 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 that “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.
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.”
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. 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 in 2006, 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.
Michelle Monaghan: “Unfaithful,” “Syriana,” “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 that 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.