It’s not really cool to like Cameron Crowe anymore, although that’s always been kind of the point of Crowe: He’s uncool. There was a time, however, when his brand of “uncool” was more fashionable, and then he made Elizabethtown and everyone kind of quit on him, even though We Bought a Zoo is a perfectly good feel-good movie.
But feel-good movies aren’t fashionable anymore, either. Nor are hopeful, earnest, glimmery-eyed white-dude protagonists in sappy love stories. I get it, too. But I don’t care. I fucking love Cameron Crowe (and though I wasn’t a huge fan of Elizabethtown, I still listen to the soundtrack frequently).
Aloha comes out tonight — with Bradley Cooper, Emma Thompson, John Krasinski, and Rachel McAdams (all noticeably absent from late-night talk shows) — and though reviews have not been kind, the trailer for the film hits every single one of my pleasure points. Maybe it’ll suck. Maybe it won’t. But it won’t tarnish anything that came before it from Cameron Crowe. He’s a dopey good guy with a huge heart that he plunks right on his sleeve and grins obliviously while everyone else takes whacks at it. That takes bravery. THAT TAKES 20 SECONDS OF COURAGE.
Looking back, though, Crowe’s movies could’ve been wildly different because on almost every movie he’s made, he went through a lot of auditions, casting considerations, and recasting decisions before ultimately settling on his final cast.
Here are the actors and actresses that were considered — or sometimes even hired and then fired — for roles in previous Crowe efforts.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
— Cameron Crowe only wrote the film. It was Amy Heckerling who directed, although David Lynch was first offered an opportunity to direct.
— Nicolas Cage was originally considered for Judge Reinhold’s role, but — at 17 — he couldn’t work as many hours as 18-year-old Rienhold, so Judge landed the role instead. Tom Hanks was also considered for the role.
— Jodie Foster declined to auditioned for the role of Stacey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) because she was attending Yale at the time. Brooke Shields and Ellen Barkin also declined the part.
— Phoebe Cates’ role of Linda was originally offered to Justine Bateman, but she turned it down for some silly show called Family Ties.
— Robert Downey, Jr. declined the lead role of Lloyd Dobler, and Cameron Crowe rejected Christian Slater for the lead in favor of Cusack. Kirk Cameron was also heavily considered. WHAT?
— Before settling on Ione Skye as Diane Court, Jennifer Connelly nearly landed the role. Julia Roberts, Elisabeth Shue, and Pamela Adlon also auditioned (Adlon, instead, landed the role of Rebecca.
—- Johnny Depp was originally considered for the male lead in Singles (Campbell Scott’s role), and in that iteration, Bridget Fonda would’ve taken Kyra Sedgwick’s role, Linda. But Depp wouldn’t pull the trigger, and Bridget Fonda didn’t want to abandon the Janet role, which had been written for her.
— Jennifer Jason Leigh was originally cast as Linda, but dropped out. Jodie Foster and Mary Stuart Masterson were also considered.
— Tom Hanks was the original choice to play the lead in Jerry Maguire, but it took so long for Cameron Crowe to write the script that Hanks had aged out of the role. Hanks also had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from taking the role.
— Likewise, Renee Zellweger’s role in Jerry Maguire was originally written for Winona Ryder. Ryder didn’t work out, however, because she and Tom Cruise looked too much like brother and sister.
— Ed Burns was offered the role after Tom Hanks, but he declined to focus on his own projects.
— Believe it or not, Janeane Garofalo was also offered the role of Dorothy, if she could lose weight. By the time she had, however, the role had been given to Zellweger.
— Alec Baldwin, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Bruce Willis were all also considered for the lead in Jerry Maguire.
— Patricia Arquette, Nicole Kidman, Molly Ringwald, Courtney Love, Parker Posey, Jennifer Lopez and Uma Thurman were also considered for the role of Dorothy.
— Jamie Foxx auditioned for the role of Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
— Several actresses were considered and/or auditioned for the role of Avery (Kelly Preston), including Alyssa Milano, Tori Spelling, Diane Lane, Jennifer Connelly and Meg Ryan.
— There does exist audition footage of Brad Pitt as Russell Hammond and Natalie Portman as Penny Lane. That would’ve been crazy. Brad Pitt actually worked on the movie for a month before admitting he “just didn’t get it.”
— Tobey Maguire was considered for the role of their manager, a role that went to Jimmy Fallon.
— Uh, Vanilla Sky was a title that was considered for Almost Famous.
— Sarah Polley was also considered for Penny Lane, but dropped out to do her own film. Kirsten Dunst also auditioned. Uma Thurman actually declined the role. Kate Hudson, who originally had Zooey Deschanel’s role of William’s sister, moved into the role.
— Jon Favreau and Jack Black auditioned for Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
— Elijah Wood auditioned for the role of William.
— Kate Hudson declined the role of Julia, which went to Cameron Diaz. Maggie Gyllenhaal also auditioned (she would’ve been perfect).
— For some reason, the role of Drew was written for Orlando Bloom, but he had a scheduling conflict, so Cameron Crowe cast Ashton Kutcher, but later fired Kutcher because he had no chemistry with Dunst. Seann William Scott, James Franco, Colin Hanks and Chris Evans then auditioned for the role, but by that time, Bloom’s schedule had freed him up to take the role.
— Kirsten Dunst was the first choice for Claire (for some reason), but was committed to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, so Evan Rachel Wood was considered before Dunst dropped out of The Village to take the role in Elizabethtown.
We Bought a Zoo
— Ben Stiller, Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio were considered for the role of Benjamin Mee before Matt Damon snagged it.
— Amy Adams, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rachel McAdams were considered for the role of Kelly Foster before Scarlett Johansson won it.