You can practically set your watch by the seasonal speculations about Jake Gyllenhaal's Oscar chances. In an effort to compensate for the Academy's rejection of his turn in Nightcrawler just last year, fans of the 'Haal have assigned his new starring position in Southpaw as the one to beat. In the film, Gyllenhaal plays boxer Billy Hope, a man torn asunder by the risk of losing his daughter to the whims of a Child Protective Services Agent, played by Naomie Harris. Even if you haven't seen the movie, which was directed by Training Day helmer Antoine Fuqua, you'd likely expect Gyllenhaal's naturalistic intensity and startlingly sculpted abdominal topography to render him a great choice for the character. However, he wasn't exactly the movie's first option — in fact, as Business Insider notes, Southpaw sorted through a few possible incarnations of Billy Hope before landing on Gyllenhaal.
What's more, the character of Child Protective Services Agent Angela Rivera wasn't originally Harris'. While the film may have ended up with an ensemble well suited for its dramatic vigor, it's tough not to wonder what some of Fuqua's earlier considerations for Hope and Rivera might have lent to Southpaw.
Here's a quick look at some of the actors that almost headlined the gritty boxing picture.
Rapper Marshall Mathers has a few screen credits to his name, notably 8 Mile and a comedic cameo in last year's The Interview— but he isn't exactly known as a great dramatist. However, as Bustle's own Sage Young notes, when screenwriter Kurt Sutter first began work on Southpaw, he envisioned Mathers as the lead, and communicated with the performance artist throughout the early stages of production. Ultimately, Eminem was ousted as the picture's lead — but stayed attached to Southpaw via contribution of a number of original songs.
After opting out of another 2015 picture, Fifty Shades of Grey , at the beginning of production, Sutter's Sons of Anarchy star Hunnam found himself in consideration for Southpaw's Billy Hope role. As Vanity Fair reports, while director Fuqua ultimately decided not to go with the Australian actor, we'll see him soon enough in Crimson Peak, his anticipated reunion with Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro.
Another rising star who got his start on the small screen, Breaking Bad's own Jesse Pinkman was also a contender for Southpaw's lead position, Business Insider reports. A fan of Paul though I may be, it's difficult to imagine the indelibly sweet actor taking on a role as grim and gritty as Gyllenhaal's. Even in his darkest moments on Breaking Bad, Paul managed to let a special innocence shine through... and if you've watched his BoJack Horseman work, that charming personality is all the harder to forget.
A candidate with somewhat slimmer renown, The Wrap reports that Vikings star Fimmel met with Fuqua, but didn't wind up going home with the part. Don't feel too bad for the Australian native, however; he's got a role in the Warcraft movie to look forward to.
It was just about the only thing anyone could talk about a year and a half ago: The 12 Years a Slave star was signed on early in production to play the Child Protective Services Agent with whom Billy Hope contends throughout the movie. Nyong'o left the film in 2014, leaving the part open for Skyfall actress Harris. Right around the same time, Nyong'o landed a role in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens... so we all don't have to worry too much about her.
Southpaw hit theaters July 24.
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