Title : “Macbeth”
Substitute : Marion CotillardDirector : Justin Kurzel
Rest of the cast : Michael Fassbender
Story : A “visceral” retelling of the classic Shakespeare play. Producers say that it will be a “truthful reimagining of what wartime must have really been like for one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition.”
Reported by : Coming Soon (April 2013)
When?: Filming begins early 2014
What happened? : Natalie was attached to play Lady Macbeth but had to pull out due to, we believe, a conflict with her directorial debut – A Tale Of Love And Darkness.
Title : “Pride And Prejudice And Zombies”
Director : ?
Genre : Comedy Horror…Period Romance?
Story : “Features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.”
Production : Handsome Charlie Films and Darko Films
Reported by : Cinemablend and Shocktillyoudrop (February 2009) and eventually announced by Variety (December 2009)
When : ?
What happened? : David O. Russell was on board to direct with Natalie starring, however Russell, who also adapted the script, dropped out, presumably because he felt the budget was too low. Natalie soon also dropped out, stating that she was now too old for the role. Mike White was briefly on board to direct but he too dropped out. The direction of the project is still up in the air, but Natalie is still on board as a producer.
Title : “Wuthering Heights”
Substitute : Kaya Scodelario
Director : Andrea Arnold
Rest of the cast : James Howson and Oliver Milburn
Reported by : EW, Variety, The Daily Mail, The First Post…
When : 2011
What happened? : There are two theories. The first reports said that Natalie pulled out because of a conflict with another project. John Maybury was attached to direct at the time (he has since left citing disagreements in the direction of the project) and offered different take:“Natalie was very honest and said she didn’t feel confident about doing the accent, which she’d been concerned about from the beginning.”
After Natalie left the part was offered to Keira Knightley (who didn’t want Natalie’s “sloppy seconds” and Sienna Miller (who had scheduling conflicts) before eventually being given to Australian actress, Abbie Cornish.
After several years, and with Cornish having moved on, the project was eventually picked up with Andrea Arnold to direct and Kaya Scodelario was cast in the role. The film will be released later in 2011.
Title : “Head in the clouds”
Substitute : Charlize Theron
Director : John Duigan.
Rest of the cast : Jay Rodan, Penelope Cruz, Hugh Grant, Thomas Kretschmann, Amy Sloan…
Reported by : Variety, Yahoo, The Montreal Gazette, The Hollywood Reporter, Coming Soon,ScreenDaily.com…
When : 2003.
What happened? : “Creative differences” Portman’s rep justified. But sources report either money or nudity issues: “Sources say the Star Wars star recently dropped out of the 1930s war romance Head in the Clouds because she and her parents had second thoughts about the part, which required nudity.” (Teen People, September 2003) Duigan says that “maybe she ultimately wasn’t confident that the part was for her?. (Premiere, September 2003)
Natalie, originally set to play Gilda Besse dropped out at the last minute and Charlize Theron slid into the vacated role. Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton and Stuart Townsend (replacing Jay Rodan) joined her in the cast. Portman’s departure forced the producers to push back shooting two months. Maxime Remillard, the Canadian producer of Head in the Clouds, admitted the $26 million film nearly fell apart when they lost Portman. “Charlize is a very different actress,”Duigan says, “and closer to the age of the character as I had originally conceived it.” But producer Andre Rouleau seems to be bitter about Portman’s departure: “This is the best thing that could have happened to the movie, its give us the wonderful opportunity to work with Charlize who is a more talented actress”
Title : “Le Divorce”
Substitute : Kate Hudson
Director : James Ivory.
Rest of the cast : Naomi Watts, Leslie Caron, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Matthew Modine, Jean-Marc Barr, Melvil Poupaud, Thierry Lhermitte, Romain Duris ….
Reported by : The New York Times: “At Le Cirque, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory said they start filming “Le Divorce” in Paris in January. “Le divorce” will be Natalie Portman’s new movie!”
When : 2001.
What happened? : No official word but… According to the NYPOST’s Page Six (gossip page), Natalie has had to back out from the start of filming of “Le Divorce” due to the death of a family member in Israel: “Filming begins immediately in Paris. The problem is, it lost its leading ladies. The script deals with two sisters whose characters require some resemblance and the qualities of innocence and charm. It was to star Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder. Winona’s difficulties we know. Natalie has just suffered the shooting of a family member in Israel. She said: “I cannot start this project right now. I feel I’m letting you down, but my mind is not there.” James Ivory told her: “We understand. Don’t worry.”
Title : “The Horse Whisperer”
Substitute : Scarlett Johansson
Director : Robert Redford.
Rest of the cast : Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Dianne Wiest, Kate Bosworth…
What happened? : Natalie withdrew from the starring role in “The Horse Whisperer” to appear in “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway instead. “I’m not doing The Horse Whisperer anymore, no. Because i’m doing the play Anne Frank in the fall and so, i didn’t want to go… i wanted to be able to do the play and i wouldn’t have been able to do the play if i did the movie so i decided not to do that.” (1996)
ROLES THAT NATALIE WAS OFFERED BUT TURNED DOWN
Title : “Gravity”
Director : Alfonso Cuaron
Substitute : Sandra Bullock
Rest of the cast : George Clooney
When : 2012?
Why? : It’s unknown why Natalie turned down the role. Possibly due to her pregnancy.
Title : “Cloud Atlas”
Director : The Wachowski’s
Substitute : ?
Rest of the cast : Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, James McAvoy
When : ?
Why? : After being linked to the project for a long while, Natalie eventually attached herself to it. However, with Natalie’s pregnancy and planned down time, it’s likely that Natalie is no longer attached.
Title : “Which Brings Me To You”
Director : Susanne Bier
Substitute : Kate Winslet (rumoured)
Rest of the cast : Bradley Cooper…
When : 2010/11?
Why? : Natalie was offered the this romantic comedy role and had some interest but eventually decided to pass on the project. Possibly because of a really hectic schedule of projects during this period.
Title : “Doubt”
Substitute : Amy Adams
Director : Patrick Shanley
Rest of the cast : Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis…
When : 2008
Why? : News first broke when director, Patrick Shanley, said this in a junket, “Well, we asked Natalie Portman, and Natalie was very interested but kept saying she had a problem. And we finally nailed down as to what the problem was. She basically said she didn’t understand celibacy,” (Gossip Sauce, November 2008) Amy Adams confirms as much, saying, “They had offered it (to Portman). I called every week, to see if she was doing it.” (Post Chronicle, December 2008) We were able to find out that Natalie was offered the role and she did turn it down, but that the celibacy line was a joke and there were other reasons for not accepting the role.
Trivia : Amy Adams received an Oscar nomination for the role.
Title : “Cinderella” (TV)
Substitute : Brandy
Director : Robert Iscove.
Rest of the cast : Whoopi Goldberg, Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander…
When : 1997.
Why? : To make “The Diary of Anne Frank”.
Title : “Lolita”
Substitute : Dominique Swain
Director : Adrian Lyne.
Rest of the cast : Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith, Frank Langella…
When : 1996.
Why? : “I met with the director but I immediately told him there’s no way I’m gonna do this movie,” she recalls. “Kubrick’s film of the book is great because nothing is really shown, but this one will be explicit. He told me they’d use body doubles but I said people will still think it’s me, so no thank you.” (Los Angeles Times – February 1996) “I don’t think there needs to be a film about a thirteen year old girl having, um, intercourse with a fifty year old man,” she states. (Good Morning America – February 1996) “It wasn’t the right thing for me to do at that time. I wasn’t willing to put myself in a sexual role, you know, when I was 13 or 14. And still right now, i mean, i don’t think i’d be able to do it now. There was nudity and sex involved and I think there’s enough exploitation out there, it’s not necessary to do more of that.” (1996) “Let me tell you, this movie’s going to be sleaze.” (…) “People have made a big deal about that particular project,” she says now. “It’s just a film that I hope turned out to be a good, entertaining, not offensive film. I discussed it with my parents and we just didn’t think it was a suitable project for me to take. I don’t want to be treated as a sex symbol yet. Maybe I’ll be ready for it when I’m older.” (Neon – February 1997) “It was widely reported that my parents were over-protective prudes. They’re not – they just didn’t want to see their 14-year-old daughter having sex with Jeremy Irons. I think I would have been pretty upset to be in a sex scene at 14, before I’d even experienced it in real life. That’s not something that I should have had to deal with when I was growing up and I’m very lucky that I didn’t.” (Esquire – June 2002)
Trivia : Dustin Hoffman was originally signed to play Humbert before being replaced by Jeremy Irons and Gerard Depardieu was originally signed to play Quilty before being replaced by Frank Langella.
Title : “The Ice Storm”
Substitute : Christina Ricci (who has said she often gets the projects Natalie turns down).
Director : Ang Lee.
Rest of the cast : Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Allison Janney…
When : 1996.
Why? : “Too dark”Natalie said first. Before admitting: “I don’t want to do nudity and I turned down the Christina Ricci role in ‘The Ice Storm’ for the same reason. Young actors often don’t think of the consequences of doing nudity or sex scenes. They want the role so badly they agree to be exploited and then end up embarrassing family, friends and even strangers.”(Popcorn.co.uk – December 1999)
AUDITIONED BUT NOT CHOSEN
Title : “Almost famous”
Substitute : Kate Hudson
Director : Cameron Crowe.
Rest of the cast : Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Patrick Fugit, Jason Lee, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Kimmy Fallon, Zooey Deschanel, Noah Taylor…
When : 1999.
What happened? Here’s Cameron Crowe’s explanation: “Somewhere there?s some fascinating audition footage of Brad Pitt as Russell Hammond and Natalie Portman as Penny Lane. That would have been a completely different movie. One were Penny Lane would have been a kind of protected child and her naivete was so important to all of them that they all protected her. Russell would have been the guy to break that spell and mistreat her. That was a version that would have been completely different from the version we have. Kind of a sadder Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m not sure it would have been better, it just would have been different. It would have been more of a fairy tale. That’s one of the amazing things about the casting process because you get to see all these different versions of your movie. Kate Hudson was the Penny Lane who was completely fresh, but you believe she had a past, which was perfect for the movie I wanted to make. That mix and match happens a lot and you have to make these huge casting decisions on the spur of the moment and they last forever. It’s funny, there are a million different versions of every movie floating around because the actors all come in and audition and work on the parts. So you have many different alternate realities to choose from. Hats off to Gail Levin, our casting director, who keeps us all on track.” (The Uncool – July 2003)
Trivia : The roles of Russell Hammond and Penny Lane were originally set to go to Brad Pitt and Sarah Polley. Polley dropped out to to take a role in the low-budget Canadian movie “The Law of Enclosures”, and Pitt, for whom writer/director Cameron Crowe had written the part of the “guitarist with mystique”, worked with Crowe for months before finally admitting, according to Crowe, “I just don’t get it enough to do it.”.
Kate Hudson, who took over, had been originally cast as William’s sister.
Title : “Romeo + Juliet”
Substitute : Claire Danes
Director : Baz Luhrmann
Rest of the cast : Leonardo Di Caprio, John Leguizamo, Jamie Kennedy, Paul Rudd, Paul Sorvino.
When : 1995.
What happened? : Too young for the role. Portman got as far as flying to Luhrmann’s hometown, Sydney, to film scenes with DiCaprio, when 20th Century Fox couldn’t quite visualize the director’s off-the-wall concept. Luhrmann says, “Although she’s a fantastic young actor, she’s a tiny little girl and Leonardo’s six feet tall. He’s 21, but can look 18. She made him look all of 21, and it just became obscene.”
Portman’s version is this: “They said it looked like Leonardo was molesting me when we kissed. It was really disappointing, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the movie and have it look wrong. If I was in the film, I would have wanted it to be perfect.” (Neon – February 1997) “It was a complicated situation. At the time, i was 13 and Leonardo was 21 and it wasn’t appropriate. It was a mutual decision that it wasn’t going to be right at the time and i think the film came out really really beautifully and Claire Danes did a really really wonderful job and it just wasn’t the right time.” (1996)
Trivia: Ewan Mcgregor auditioned for the part of Mercutio while Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt were considered for the part of Juliet. Claire Danes & Sarah Michelle Gellar both auditioned later for Natalie’s role in “Where the heart is” and Leonardo Di Caprio met George Lucas for Anakin’s part in “Star Wars II: Attack of the clones”.