The Movie Tobey Maguire Was Cut From for Being Too Famous Grossed Over $600 Million
Many filmmakers give famous actors cameo roles in films simply as a way to get more buzz for the movie.
Brad Pitt was credited in Deadpool 2 despite only having a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance. Matt Damon has mastered the famous cameo role, doubling his filmography thanks to several two-minute appearances.
Other filmmakers have the opposite approach. They believe that a short scene with an iconic face can take away from the main storyline, distracting the audience.
That's exactly what happened to Tobey Maguire in 2012's Life of Pi.
He had a role in the original script as a writer who interviewed Pi. The role, only credited as "Writer," ended up going to Prometheus actor Rafe Spall.
Taiwanese director Ang Lee – famous for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – essentially said that Maguire was too famous for the role and he had underestimated the power of film stars. Lee ultimately decided on having a fully international cast for the Hollywood film.
When someone says you're too famous for a role, that's probably a good sign for your career.
Maguire was five years removed from his fan-favorite role in Sam Raimi 's Spider-Man trilogy and only a year away from his role in Great Gatsby. At this time, his fame was at an all-time high.
Life of Pi, however, was lacking notable American stars. Lee cast a few big non-Hollywood actors, including the French icon Gerard Depardieu. Maguire would have stuck out quite visibly among the rest of the cast.
This wouldn't have been the first time Maguire and Lee worked together. Maguire starred in the 1999 Civil War film Ride with the Devil directed by Lee.
His involvement in Life of Pi went as far as shooting the entire scene, though it was eventually cut. Maguire said that he "fully supported" Lee's decision, understanding the direction he wanted to take. He was even able to see the final version of the film before release, saying it was "absolutely beautiful."
Lee said that he looks forward to working with Maguire again, though that day hasn't yet come. He's only released two films since Life of Pi, Gemini Man and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, both of which had star-studded casts. Maguire didn't appear in either.
Without having an iconic name in the cast, Life of Pi did incredibly well. It won four Oscars, including Lee's second for Best Achievement in Directing (the first was Brokeback Mountain). It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, on top of earning over $600 million at the worldwide box office.
Lee's next project will be Thrilla in Manilla, chronicling the final boxing match between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier. Its cast and release date have yet to be announced.