1. Matt Damon’s single greatest cinematic achievement: His cameo in Eurotrip.
How did that happen? From FilmMonthly:
Oh, did you see it? How is it? Those guys, the directors, Dave [Mandel], Alec [Berg], and Jeff [Schaffer], I went to college with those guys. So I was over in Prague on ‘The Brothers Grimm’ and we were in pre-production and they called me up and said, ‘look, will you come do a day on our movie.’ It’s called ‘Euro Trip.’ I lip sync in that movie, I play like a Henry Rollins wannabe from the suburbs, with earrings and a shaved head. I don’t know, the scene seemed kind of funny to me.
2. Bill Murray’s cameo in Zombieland.
The part was originally written for Patrick Swayze, and he wouldn’t do it. In fact, they had a difficult time finding anyone willing to do the cameo, having been rejected by Joe Pesci, Mark Hamill, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone and The Rock. Matthew McConaughey came the closest, but balked at the last minute. Then, with only a few days before filming, Woody Harrelson thought to ask Bill Murray. Murray being hard to reach, as he is, had to be sent the script via FedEx/Kinkos.
Here’s screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese telling MTV how it went down:
“So, these guys at the FedEx Kinkos — the guys in the aprons — are the most powerful people in Hollywood! They have Bill’s scripts, and they read all this stuff and they decide what he does and doesn’t do!”
“Bill literally walks down to this FedEx/Kinkos, picks up the script, and reads it,” Reese finished, adding that the eccentric star only had a few minor tweaks - including the idea that he’s still a human, but wears zombie makeup to hide from the real thing. “[Murray] was a zombie in that draft [we sent]; he wasn’t alive, talking, he was a zombie. And so, he called Woody back and he said: ‘I love the script and it’s really imaginative, but I don’t really have enough to do. Is there any way I can have more to do?’”
“We re-wrote the scene so that he was alive, so he could talk,” added Reese, remembering the by-necessity genesis of one of the great movie cameos of recent times. “And then, we decided we would kill him off.”
“We sent it back to the Fed-Ex/Kinko’s,” Warnick said with a laugh. “He reads the script, loves it, calls Woody, and Woody persuasively convinces him to do the project. Two days later, he was out on set with us.”
3. Johnny Depp in the 21 Jump Street movie.
Screenwriter Michael Bacall, via HuffPost:
“Jonah [Hill] wanted to approach Johnny Depp very early in the process. It took a while, but we kinda heard through the grapevine that he might be interested in it.”
The caveat was that Depp was interested, but he wanted some “closure” for his character, and closure is exactly what he got.
“It is such a funny idea. Huge credit to him for having that idea. Then we just immediately took that ball and ran with it, and wanted to take it as far as we could.”
4. Brett Favre in There’s Something About Mary:
Favre was actually the third choice for the cameo. The Farrelly Brothers first signed on Drew Bledsoe, but as New England Patriots fans may recall, he got into some trouble after a stage-diving incident at an Everclear concert that resulted in a woman’s injury and a $1.2 million dollar settlement, according to Deadspin:
“They had the mosh incident,” Peter Farrelly interjected. “He was a single guy, went out with his pals, they went to a club, he dove into a mosh pit and someone kind of tweaked their neck, nothing serious, but it was in the news. So he called us up and said ‘I can’t come do your movie in Miami because if they find out I did a movie after that they’re going to run me out of town.’”
The second choice, Steve Young, wouldn’t do it, either:
“Then we went to Steve Young. And Steve Young called one day and said ‘That’s the funniest script I’ve ever read. But I cannot do it, because if I do it, it’s R-rated, and I know all the Mormon kids will be sneaking in and I wouldn’t feel good about that,’” the brothers recalled.
“Stand up guy … then we went to Favre.”
Favre, for his part, joked that he wouldn’t have done it either had he known he was the third choice.
5. Will Smith in Jersey Girl.
That part was actually written for Bruce Willis, long before Kevin Smith cast Willis in Cop Out. Willis, however, declined. Or rather, he never responded, despite the fact that Ben Affleck had recently worked with him on Armageddon.
Here’s Kevin Smith, on casting Will Smith via the BBC:
Suddenly Bruce Willis was out of the picture, so I set it in the present and went back seven years - which was roughly Gertie’s age - to see what was happening at that time. It occurred to me that Will Smith wasn’t Will Smith yet, so I rewrote the scene with him in mind and he signed on. Nicest guy on the planet. I used to think Affleck was the nicest guy in the movie business, but Affleck is a fucking ogre compared to Will Smith. No ego whatsoever, just a really great guy.
Had Smith been able to cast Bruce Willis, instead, he may have learned what a jackass he was before making Cop Out and saved himself a lot of trouble and grief in his career.