Actors that rewrote the scripts of their TV shows and movies

Movies and TV shows often bring us iconic lines and memorable moments. While the credit usually goes to the writers, there are times when actors contribute significantly to the script. Here are some occasions when stars left their mark by rewriting or suggesting changes to their characters’ lines and scenes.

Jenna Ortega’s Influence on “Wednesday”

Jenna Ortega wasn’t just acting on the set of “Wednesday” Season 1. She often opted out of delivering lines that she believed didn’t resonate with her character.

During a Netflix Q&A, Jenna revealed, “There was a line about a dress that didn’t feel right. We tried to steer away from dialogue that made her sound less authentic.”

For the upcoming Season 2, Jenna’s involvement deepens as she joins as a producer. She expressed her enthusiasm about being involved in early script discussions in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

Reese Witherspoon’s Take on “Cruel Intentions”

Reese Witherspoon wasn’t entirely on board with her character, Annette Hargrove, in the original “Cruel Intentions” script. She collaborated with writer/director Roger Kumble for a week to give Annette a stronger voice.

Roger, speaking to Entertainment Weekly, acknowledged, “Without Reese’s input as a writer, the movie wouldn’t have been the same.”

The “Iron Man” Script Overhaul

Jeff Bridges revealed that he, Robert Downey Jr., and director Jon Favreau spent two weeks revising the “Iron Man” script. Their efforts, however, faced pushback from Marvel.

Discussing their process on the Hollywood Reporter’s Actor’s Roundtable, Bridges mentioned, “Just as we were about to shoot, Marvel disagreed with our changes. It led to a lot of on-the-fly adjustments.”

Robert Downey Jr.’s Touch on “Iron Man 3”

Known for his improvisational prowess, Robert Downey Jr. often felt the need to adjust his dialogue in “Iron Man 3.” Director Shane Black, speaking to CinemaBlend, said, “Downey would stop scenes to refine his lines. We’d rewrite together.”

Paul Rudd’s Role in “Ant-Man”

After Edgar Wright’s departure from “Ant-Man,” Paul Rudd collaborated with Adam McKay to revamp the script. Adam praised Rudd’s writing skills in an interview with Collider, noting their intensive weeks-long joint effort.

Michael Douglas, however, was initially hesitant about the leading actor’s involvement in scriptwriting, expressing his concerns to Collider.

Meryl Streep’s Strong Presence in “Kramer vs. Kramer”

Upon reading the novel “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Meryl Streep had reservations about her character, Joanna. Determined to make her more authentic, Streep accepted the role on the condition that the character be revised. Additionally, she personally penned Joanna’s impactful courtroom monologue.

Various accounts have emerged about Streep’s casting and her interactions with the crew. She did, however, make a significant impact on her character’s portrayal.

Alan Rickman’s Secret Weapon for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”

Alan Rickman wasn’t thrilled with the initial script for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Without informing the screenwriters, he sought the help of Ruby Wax and Peter Barnes for rewrites.

In an interview with the Times, Rickman shared his clandestine rewrite sessions, including impromptu meetings over pizza. The results? Lines so humorous that the crew struggled to suppress their laughter on set.

Crispin Glover: The Silent Assassin in “Charlie’s Angels”

In a bold move, Crispin Glover proposed his character, the Thin Man, be devoid of any dialogue in “Charlie’s Angels.” He deemed the initial lines “terrible” and “expositional,” which eventually led to an eerily silent and iconic character in the film. Glover’s switch to prioritizing high-paying roles to fund his personal filmmaking showcases his adaptive nature in Hollywood.

Mahershala Ali: A Blade with Precision

The departure of director Bassam Tariq from the “Blade” movie saw lead actor Mahershala Ali stepping up. Not only was he discontent with the script, but he also took an active role in the rewrites. His dedication to the role even included personally pitching himself to Kevin Feige.

Tom Cruise: Helming “The Mummy”

Tom Cruise wasn’t just the lead actor for “The Mummy” (2017); he was the driving force behind its narrative changes. Cruise reportedly integrated new writers to mold the story, increasing his screen presence and adding dramatic twists. His collaboration with Andrew Mondshein, an editor and longtime ally, further demonstrated his commitment to the film.

Marlon Brando: The Method Actor in “Apocalypse Now”

Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Colonel Walter Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now” was as unpredictable as it was brilliant. Opting for method acting, he improvised a majority of his scenes, pushing director Francis Ford Coppola to adapt swiftly.

Jack Nicholson: Crafting Frank Costello in “The Departed”

Initially, Frank Costello’s character didn’t exist in “The Departed.” However, the combined creative prowess of Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, and Leonardo DiCaprio brought this character to life, resulting in a multi-layered antagonist that resonated with audiences.

Edward Norton: An “Incredible” Rewrite

Edward Norton’s involvement in “The Incredible Hulk” came with a stipulation — he would rewrite Zak Penn’s screenplay. While many of his scenes were ultimately discarded, his strong vision for the character was evident.

Sylvester Stallone: From “Beverly Hills Cop” to “Cobra”

Originally cast in “Beverly Hills Cop,” Sylvester Stallone revamped the script to match his action-star persona. The elevated budget of his rendition prompted him to exit, taking his ideas to create the film “Cobra.” Ironically, his replacement in the initial movie was the comedic genius Eddie Murphy.

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