Who was the original star? : Split (2016)

Before James McAvoy offered us twenty-four of his best character turns in the space of 117 minutes, another young actor was set to play ‘The Beast’ in M.Night Shyamalan’s 2016 hit ‘‘Split”.

Joaquin Phoenix in “The Village”

Joaquin Phoenix, who was somewhat of a go-to for Manoj Nelliyattu “M. Night” Shyamalan, having worked with him on both ”Signs” and ”The Village”, was the filmmaker’s first pick for the role of Kevin, a sufferer of dissociative identity disorder who kidnaps three high school girls. Shyamalan has admitted to writing the project – based on a character he had originally considered including in his 2002 film ”Unbreakable” – with the Oscar Winning actor in mind.

But sometimes stuff just don’t work out.

Just as the film was getting moving, Phoenix dropped out due to scheduling difficulties – no other reason; the future ‘Joker’ just couldn’t squeeze it in. Rather than wait, Shyamalan and Blumhouse, who were bankrolling the film, decided to go out to an actor the filmmaker had briefly met at Comic-Con a few months earlier – “X-Men” alum McAvoy.

The Glasgow-born actor, though becoming somewhat of a name thanks to showy turns in the ”X-Men”’ films and ”The Last King of Scotland”, was nowhere near the star that Phoenix was at the time the film was being prepped but his lower fee would’ve likely helped Blumhouse keep the film on budget Plus as it turned out, McAvoy gave one of the best performances of his career in the film. In fact, his performance won such heavy raves that Blumhouse and Shyamalan quickly organized to do a sequel/spin-off to the film, one that would feature McAvoy’s character/s from “Split” going toe-to-toe with Bruce Willis and Samuel L.Jackson’s duo from his earlier film ”Unbreakable”. ”Glass”, released a couple of days ago, has gone on to so far gross over $100 m.

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