As most know, I head up a firm that, aside from handling print, Indian casino and underwear model clients, looks after quite a number of known actors and actresses. One of those, and someone I’ve personally looked after for a couple of years now, is the beautiful and talented Claudia Wells, who most know for her role as Jennifer Parker from “Back to the Future”.
Now, as most are aware, the beautiful miss Claudia didn’t return to reprise her role as Marty’s doona-sharer in “Back to the Future Part II” and “III”.
What most don’t seem to be aware of are the reasons behind Wells no-show in the sequel, and the necessity to bring a wiggy Elisabeth Shue in fill her spot.
So here’s the answer : In short, Claudia’s mother was sick with Cancer at the time that the offer for the sequels came in and, as most would, she graciously put family before her career. When folks suddenly fall very sick, or in this case, terminally ill those that care about them will generally do anything to help and support them – the ailing one becomes their main focus. So be it a job, a personal predicament or a role in a “Back to the Future” film, everything pales in comparison to the prospect of either losing a loved one or seeing one suffering. Claudia, in a testament to her humanness and inspiring selfishness, put her loved one first… and never regretted the decision. Not one bit.
Things worked out well for Clauds anyway, she ended up running a very successful Armani store and is now back in front of the camera, but at the end she was forced to press pause on her on-screen relationship with a McFly and let Ms Shue have her fun with him.
So that’s the rejoin to one of the most often asked questions when I mention Claudia’s name, or, I imagine, she introduces herself to someone.
Not that Claudia’s the only actor or actress that hasn’t returned to play a character in a sequel or follow-up project of some sort. There have been many.
Look at some of the films of the past and just how many actors in them have been last-minute replacement for the ‘too expensive’ – like the Terrence Howard/Don Cheadle “Iron Man” situation; the Edward Norton/Mark Ruffalo “Avengers” deal; Melissa George in the DTV “30 Days of Night” sequel – or, for their own personal reasons, someone has opted not to come back for seconds – Katie Holmes ducked out on “The Dark Knight”, Maria Bello didn’t want in on that third “Mummy” movie; the kids in each “Vacation” movie… What about one of the more famous ones? She won an Oscar for playing FBI Agent Clarice Starling in “Silence of the Lambs”, yet Jodie Foster wasn’t up for reprising the role for the sequel. In an interview with Total Film, Foster said she was busy at the time and thus, the studio was forced to cast Julianne Moore in the role of Starling. “The official reason I didn’t do Hannibal is I was doing another movie, Flora Plum [a long-cherished project that has yet to be shot]. So I get to say, in a nice, dignified way, that I wasn’t available when that movie was being shot. But Clarice meant so much to Jonathan and I, she really did, and I know it sounds kind of strange to say but there was no way that either of us could really trample on her.” Foster, adding that she did see “Hannibal” but “won’t comment” on what she thought, in other words thought the script sucked.
Here’s a look at some other actors that have had to skip out on sequels for one reason or another, and who replaced them.
George of the Jungle | George of the Jungle 2
Brendan Fraser played the muscle-man in the loin-cloth in the original 1997 film, but when a sequel plan was hatched, Fraser’s star had risen considerably so Disney opted to save a few bucks and rope in a Fraser-look-a-like to play “new George”. Chris Showerman, a model at the time, owes Fraser for his film career in many respects. And me, of course. Being the brains to his brawn and all that. (I represent Showerman, too).
Splash | Splash Too!
Much like the “George of the Jungle” situation, Disney decided they wanted to do a sequel to the 1984 comedy starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah but couldn’t entice either actor back for the few bucks they were offering for them to be in 1988’s “Splash Too!”. The pic was ultimately produced for Television (though seen by more on VHS) with a mostly fresh cast (Dody Goodman reprised her role as Mrs Stimler), including Todd Waring in the Hanks part, and Amy Yasbeck starring in for Hannah as the fish-tailed blonde.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 | A Nightmare on Elm Street 4
Patricia Arquette played ‘Dream Warrior’ Kristen Parker in Freddy Krueger’s third outing, but by the time “Elm Street 4” came around, Tuesday Knight had stepped into the role. Nobody but much noticed because Knight went out of her way to not only look like Arquette, but did a terrific imitation of her Kristen. There are a few reasons why Arquette didn’t reprise the role, but mainly the actress – whose star was quickly rising by that stage – decided that there wasn’t enough for her to do in the film, particularly with her character biting the dust pretty early-on. Arquette would, however, grace us with her presence in the Corey Haim rollerblading movie “Prayer of the Rollerboys” a couple of years later, so it all balanced out.
Rocky 5 | Rocky Balboa
It’s probably not news to anyone that Sylvester Stallone has a rather, erm, rocky relationship with his real-life son Sage. At the time of “Rocky 5”, the Stallone’s were getting along terrifically, thus, Sly had his real boy play his on-screen movie son. Sage would also appear opposite his father in a second film, “Daylight”, a couple of years after “Rocky 5”. By the time “Rocky Balboa” came about in 2006, Sage decided against reprising his Rocky Jr role and Dad was forced to recast the part, with “Heroes” actor Milo Ventimiglia.
Robocop 2 | Robocop 3
Tired of smelling like sour oil and rusty boots, and having moved on to meatier fare like “The Naked Lunch”, actor Peter Weller opted to hang up his heavy RoboCop suit after 1990’s “RoboCop 2”. Robert J.Burke, a New Yorkian who has since gone on to become a recognizabe and in-demand television actor (with regular roles in shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Rescue Me”), stepped in to play the half-man half-machine in the ill-fated “RoboCop 3”. Wise move, Pete!
Young Guns | Young Guns II
Pat Garrett only appeared briefly in the original 1998 “Young Guns”, and was played by a relatively unknown actor named Patrick Wayne. When the sequel came about, and Garrett’s part had been upped to that of the film’s main villain (I guess you’d say?), the studio opted to bring in a bigger name – in this case, acclaimed actor William L.Peterson, then known for his role in “Cousins” and “Manhunter”. Gotta fell bad for folks like Wayne, in this case though.
Terminator 2 | Terminator 3
Edward Furlong was in the thrust of his naughty-boy stage when “Terminator 3” went into production, therefore the studio didn’t want him back as John Connor, the role he originated in 1991’s “Terminator 2 : Judgement Day”. Safer-bet Nick Stahl (who, funnily enough, has been in the headlines lately for his uninsurable behaviour) was asked to take on the part. Furlong told me that he wasn’t actually given a reason for his snubbing though. “I don’t know [what happened.. just wasn’t the time. I was going through my own thing at the point in my life – whatever, it just wasn’t meant to be”. Furlong also didn’t see the film, but “heard it wasn’t very good”.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer | I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer
Muse Watson, who played killer fisherman Ben Willis in the first two “I Know What You Did Last Summer” films, wasn’t asked to reprise the role in the third (straight-to-video) chapter. Granted, Watson didn’t miss out on much – the third film was an instantly forgettable mess, with the ‘fisherman’ character reduced to being some sort of faceless zombie (and played by stuntman Don Shanks).
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Veteran actor Richard Harris (“Unforgiven”) had originated the role of Dumbledore in the first two “Harry Potter” films, but when the actor tragically passed away – just a couple of weeks shy of the “Chamber of Secrets” premiere – Warner Bros was forced to hire another actor to take over the part for the remainder of the series (6 more films). Beginning with “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, Michael Gambon (“Sleepy Hollow”) took over Dumbledore.
Batman | Batman Forever
Billy Dee Williams, of the “Star Wars” series, portrayed Harvey Dent in the first of Warner’s big-screen “Batman” movies (1989). Though promised the role again should Warners ever decide to bring back Dent (and have him turn into alter-ego ‘Two-Face’), even having papers drawn up to make sure they fulfilled the promise, Williams ultimately ended up being shafted. Story goes that the studio wanted a bigger name for Dent/Two Face come “Batman Forever” (1995) and paid Williams off so that Tommy Lee Jones could take his spot. Sure, Billy was robbed – but he was paid for the privilege.
Undisputed | Undisputed II
Walter Hill’s “Undisputed”, a jail-set boxing flick which teamed Wesley Snipes with Ving Rhames, didn’t do anything financially-speaking so no surprise that its sequel was produced exclusively for the DVD market. Also no surprise that Rhames, someone rather costly, wouldn’t be asked back to reprise his role as George Chambers. Instead, Michael Jai White (“Spawn”) was asked to play the part.
Honey, I Blew Up The Kid | Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves
Rick Moranis was likely munificently rewarded to reprise his role as the mad professor at the centre of this third, straight-to-video “Honey” sequel, but Marcia Strassman – who played the role of the long-suffering wife in the first two films – probably wasn’t offered anywhere near the kind of bribe money he was. As such, Eve Gordon (Connie on “Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23”) took over the role of Diane Szalinski in the forgettable “Shrunk Ourselves”.
The Lawnmower Man | The Lawnmower Man II
Jeff Fahey played the role of Jobe , the dimish gardener cum virtual-reality mad-man in the first “Lawnmower Man” movie (said to be based on the Stephen King story, only it’s nothing like it) but a sequel five years would later would require a recast. Max Headroom-himself, Matt Frewer was rather appropriately, considering his work as computer-created characters of the past, cast in the sequel. Fahey dodged a bullet, “Lawnmower Man II” sucked big time!
New Moon| Eclipse
One of the more controversial recastings in recent years, Rachele LaFevere – and her followers – were up in arms when she was shamefully informed she wouldn’t be reprising her role as “Twilight” vixen Victoria for the third film in that series, “Eclipse”. Though the studio said she’d been replaced because of a scheduling conflict (and that was somewhat true, considering there was a minor overlap there), it’s more a case of ‘We need a bigger star this time around because the character will have more screen-time’. Bryce Dallas Howard would don the fangs for “Eclipse”.
The Exorcist | The Exorcist III
The ‘true’ sequel to William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” was bringing back original cop character Detective Kinderman, and in a more significant capacity. Unfortunately, actor Lee J.Cobb, who originated the role in the ’70s classic, and would appear in the first sequel- had passed on, so George C.Scott took over the gig.
Child’s Play 2 | Child’s Play 3
Though he’d played the part of Andy, the hero at the heart of the horror series, since its beginning, actor Alex Vincent was informed he wasn’t going to be reprising the role for the film’s second sequel, 1991’s “Child’s Play 3”. Justin Whalin, who would go on to claim fame as Jimmy Olsen on TV’s “Lois & Clark”, was hired to play Andy. My guess is, because the ‘Andy’ in “Child’s Play 3” is a few years older than what Vincent would’ve been in real life at the time, they needed a bigger boy.
Star Trek II | Star Trek III
Kristie Alley originated the role of Vulcan Saavik in the blockbuster “Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan” but she wasn’t the one wearing the ears for “Star Trek III : The Search for Spock”. The actress, who at the time was quickly gaining a reputation as a formidable screen comedienne, skipped on a second trip to space claiming crappy pay. Instead, the producers were forced to bring actress Robin Curtis into play the part. Seemingly always keen on having Alley back as Saavik, there were two other times that Paramount tried to lure the “Cheers” star back to the Enterprise – for “Star Trek 6” and for an episode of the “Star Trek : The Next Generation” TV series.
Major League | Major League II
Not long after the release of 1989’s “Major League”, the world started to recognize one of its break-out stars, Wesley Snipes – some of his success could even be attributed to the former film. And much like his co-stars on the baseball comedy, Snipes, like Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger, was soon headlining his own vehicles – particularly action movies. When “Major League II” was released in 1994, director David S.Ward was forced to recast the part of Willy Hays Mays, having Omar Epps take over. If he ever gets “Major League 3” of the ground, and he wants to, Ward tells Moviehole that he’d love to have Snipes back to play the part of the wise-cracking fielder.
Daddy Day Care | Daddy Day Camp
Eddie Murphy originated the role of Charlie, the unlikely kid-sitter in “Daddy Day Camp”, but Oscar Winner Cuba Gooding Jr took over the role for the sequel. But Gooding Jr won’t dare admit he takes on Murphy’s sloppy seconds, saying at the time of the film’s release that “We weren’t looking to make a sequel. We weren’t looking to do anything. If anything, we were making a remake with a re-imagined cast and conceptualization. The only thing that we stayed true to was the Daddy Day theme of a father connecting with his children.” Deep!
Midnight Run | Midnight Run Around
Robert De Niro counts Jack Walsh, the bounty hunter character he played in “Midnight Run”, as one of his all-time favourite characters (so much so he’s developing a sequel). When Universal sprung a light bulb, coming up with an idea to do of a series of DTV sequels featuring the character, De Niro decided he didn’t like him that much. Happy to have his face on a couple of VHS sleeves, and willing to work for peanuts, actor Christopher McDonald (“Happy Gilmore”) would inherit the role of the leather-jacket wearing Walsh for the DTV sequels.