Not even billionaire playboy Christian Grey could have seen this one coming. Fifty Shades Of Grey star Jamie Dornan has been cut from Burnt , the upcoming Bradley Cooper drama about a Michelin-starred chef named Adam Jones opening a new restaurant in London. The news comes from Entertainment Weekly, who revealed that Dornan would have played a small role in the backstory of co-star Sienna Miller's character, Helene. Although director John Wells was "thrilled to have Jamie" and called his performance "fantastic," that wasn't enough to keep him in the film, with all of the actor's screen time ending up on the cutting room floor.
But Dornan shouldn't feel too bad. He's far from the first actor to have their scenes excised completely from a film. It's one matter for an actor to be cast in a film only to have their role cut before filming begins. It's entirely another to spend days (weeks? months?) shooting a movie... only to be told after the fact that your performance was entirely dispensable. But hey, it happens to the best of them, apparently. Roles have been edited out as long as movies have existed, for a variety of reasons; whether due to overlong runtimes, conflicts with scheduling when reshoots are needed, or — in the case of Dornan and Burnt — a change in creative direction.
So, before Dornan's fans start sharpening their pitchforks, let's take a look at some of the other actors whose performances never saw the light of day. The Fifty Shades star is in some pretty good company, including...
The news about Dornan is especially ironic, considering that his Burnt colleague just went through the exact same thing. Earlier this month, news broke that Miller had been cut from Black Mass , the Whitey Bulger biopic starring Johnny Depp. The actress has already filmed all of her scenes as Bulger's girlfriend Catherine Greig, but like Wells, Black Mass director Scott Cooper cut the part due to "narrative choices," in an effort to "narrow the scope of the story." What made Miller's exclusion particularly remarkable was its speed. While Burnt isn't due out until Oct. 23 (exactly one month from this Wednesday), Mass came out on Sept. 18, little more than two weeks after reports of Miller's excision were released.
Speaking of Black Mass... Johnny Depp himself has also been on the receiving end of this exclusionary practice, although to a slightly lesser extent, in Oliver Stone's 1986 Best Picture-winning Vietnam War drama Platoon. While you can still glimpse Depp in the film (if you know where to look), the majority of his performance as translator Lerner was removed from the film's final cut. The future megastar was supposed to have a substantive role in the movie, but the director felt his storyline distracted from the movie's main plot, and Depp, as The Guardian puts it, became "the victim of Stone's ruthless editing." As it stands, Depp only features prominently in one scene of the two-hour movie; otherwise, he can only be seen in the background before being shipped off wounded in a helicopter, presumably to die offscreen.
Even starring in two of the year's biggest films won't guarantee an actor's safety from overzealous editors. The same year that Woodley starred in Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars, her role as Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was completely discarded. The teen idol fretted about the quality of her performance, remembering her immediate reactions to the news in an interview with Vanity Fair: "Oh, my God, was I awful? Why did they cut me? What are people going to think?" But she needn't have worried; for once, the director sounded equally bummed about the regrettable turn of events. "The relationship between [Peter and Gwen] is so sacred and so powerful, that it just didn't feel right," Marc Webb told Movies.com. "And it sucks because Shailene is such a f**king great actress and so cool and magical but it was just about having this obligation to this romance that I thought was sacred."
The original Spider-Man actor is currently lobbying for awards for his performance in the Bobby Fischer biopic Pawn Sacrifice, but there's one film he could never have won any awards for: Life Of Pi. That's because the actor's performance as The Writer, the person who Pi Patel is telling his story to in the film's framing device, was cut by Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee. In a particularly brutal twist on this practice, Maguire's character wasn't cut for time; in fact, the character still remains in the film. Lee simply recast the role and filmed all of the scenes again. But no offense was meant; the director simply did it, as Gamesradar reports, to "be consistent with the other casting choices made for the film." Given that Lee had "decided to go with an entirely international cast," he found Maguire's presence "too jarringly recognizable." (The role was recast with English actor Rafe Spall.)
Now that he's achieved literal superhero status, no one would dream of cutting Paul Rudd from their movie. But that wasn't the case back in 2011, when he had a small cameo in Bridesmaids as a man who goes on a disastrous blind date with Kristen Wiig's Annie. After Rudd's character suffers an embarrassing wipeout on the ice rink, he quickly shows his (unflattering) true colors. While time was certainly a factor in the decision to cut the scene ("Our first cut was so long," bemoaned Wiig in an interview with Entertainment Weekly), audience reaction might have had something to do with it as well. "We did screenings, and when he popped up on screen, people just went crazy," Wiig remembers. "You rarely get to see that side of Paul Rudd because he’s such a nice person, you know, and in this scene he’s such an ***hole." She doesn't elaborate on whether reactions were good-crazy or bad-crazy — but thankfully, you can judge Rudd's performance for yourself, since his cameo survived as a deleted scene on the DVD.
Perhaps the cruelest example of "cutting room floor" in history belongs to Dances With Wolves star Costner. The actor's Hollywood career was just getting started when The Big Chill hit theaters in 1983 (at the time, his previous credits included "Fratboy #1" and "Newlywed Husband"). But the movie was released minus a few crucial scenes: namely, every single one involving Costner as Alex, the young man whose suicide precipitates the plot of the movie. Originally, audiences were meant to get to know Alex in flashbacks scattered throughout the film, in what could have been a breakout role for Costner. Instead, those scenes were all edited out. The only glimpse of Costner that remains? As the corpse being dressed by the undertaker through the film's opening credits.
If Costner's excision was the cruelest, then Stoltz's is the most notorious. Although Michael J. Fox was director Robert Zemeckis' first choice for the role of Marty McFly in 1985's Back To The Future, the young actor initially couldn't make room in his Family Ties schedule to shoot the film. So the part was given to Eric Stoltz instead — and four weeks into film, both Zemeckis and his writer Bob Gale came to the conclusion that the actor was utterly miscast. "Stoltz was a fine dramatic actor, but he wasn't bringing the screwball energy the film needed," author Caseen Gaines wrote in his book We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy, published earlier this year. "Exactly what transpired between the director and his outgoing leading man during their conversation has been kept between the two of them, but Zemeckis acknowledges that the actor took the news hard, as was to be expected."
It's hard to imagine Back To The Future without Michael J. Fox... which just goes to show that while having your performance cut from a film may undoubtedly be hard on an actor, sometimes it really is for the best.