Six years before he went Ghost busting in director Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996), Michael J.Fox was offered the opportunity to play a spite himself.
The Back to the Future star, out promoting Apple’s incredible new documentary on his career and inspirational battle with Parkinson’s disease, Still : A Michael J.Fox Movie, tells Variety that he was offered the role of Sam Wheat in 1990’s Ghost.
The film, directed by Jerry Zucker, ultimately starred Patrick Swayze in the male lead role with Demi Moore playing Sam’s beloved Molly.
While it’s widely known that Australian actor Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) was offered the movie, he admitting later it was one of the biggest mistakes he made in his brief Hollywood career, Fox’s association with the project hasn’t been talked about.
Says the actor, “I didn’t see how it would work”.
In the Paramount released film, written by Bruce Joel Rubin, Sam (Swayze) is a murdered banker whose ghost sets out to save his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Moore), from the person who killed him – through the help of the psychic Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg).
“It shows I can be an idiot too”, Fox, whose production company Snowback Productions then had a two-year production pact at Paramount Pictures to develop film and television projects.
Other actors offered the Ghost role include Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Michael J.Fox and Bruce Willis, who later called himself a “knucklehead” for not joining then wife Moore in the blockbuster.
Ghost went on to gross $505 million against a budget of $22–23 million and emerged as the highest-grossing film of 1990.
Fox instead ended up fronting Back to the Future Part III, it too one of 1990’s biggest successes.
Earlier this year it was announced that Channing Tatum would star in and produce a new version of Ghost.