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13 Strange Reasons Actors Agreed To Take On Famous Roles

July 30, 2021 4k votes 775 voters 212.1k views13 items

List RulesVote up the strangest reasons actors said, 'Yes.'

Most actors take on movie roles because of the money, the fame, a great script, or the opportunity to work with an acclaimed actor or director. Then, there are these strange reasons actors agreed to take on famous roles.

Which grandfather only signed on to Harry Potter because his granddaughter threatened to never speak with him again? Which muscled actor got totally duped and starred in a goofball comedy because he thought his Hollywood rival wanted the part? Which Hollywood legend only returned to the franchise that made him famous so that he could retire his character?

Make your voice heard. Vote up the strangest reasons actors said, "Yes."

  • First-time director Bradley Cooper had a vision for his 2018 remake of A Star Is Born. Part of that vision included stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle in the role of Jackson Maine's (Cooper) good friend George "Noodles" Stone. 

    Cooper and Chappelle had only briefly met one other time before the Academy Award-nominated actor flew out to Ohio to convince the comic to be in his movie. He sent Chappelle the script, but he wasn't interested and didn't even read it. Then, the persistent filmmaker kept calling Chappelle every couple of days. According to Chappelle, he only agreed to be in the movie because Cooper wouldn't stop pestering him.

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  • The first two Taken movies absolutely showed off at the box office and turned a 60-something-year-old Liam Neeson into a late-blooming action star. Audiences and producers loved the movie mostly because of its extremely simple premise: someone gets kidnapped, and Neeson’s retired CIA agent character Bryan Mills squares off against the bad guys to get them back. Neeson's character even gets himself taken in Taken 2.

    However, the Irish actor refused to finish up the Taken trilogy if the third installment followed the same winning formula. “They called me up and I said, ‘I’ll do it… but only as long as nobody gets taken,’” said Neeson.

    The filmmakers agreed to Neeson's odd demand. Instead of someone close to Mills being taken, the former agent is framed for murder. 

    It didn't really matter what the movie was about. Despite lukewarm reviews, Taken 3 took in $326 million at the global box office (the first installment earned $226 million and the sequel raked in $376 million).

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  • Surely, there must be a reason why NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took a role in the 1980 parody movie Airplane! at the height of his career. 

    According to writer-director Jerry Zucker, they offered the six-time MVP award winner $30,000 for the small role of co-pilot Roger Murdock. However, Abdul-Jabbar apparently had his eye on something special. 

    "I think we offered him $30,000, and then the agent asked for $35,000 because that’s how much this rug cost that Kareem wanted to buy," explained Zucker. "It was an oriental rug - an art piece, not one to walk on, I don’t think - so our initial reaction was, 'That’s got to be the best line we’ve ever heard from an agent.'"

    Just the sight of the basketball center resulted in easy laughs. "Putting Kareem in the cockpit was a hilarious sight gag to begin with, a 7-foot-2 man trying to make his way into that space, but then having to pull him out, with his jockstrap hanging down through his jersey. It was just absolutely hilarious stuff," said actor Frank Ashmore, who played Victor Basta in the comedy.

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  • At the age of 35, Harrison Ford went from a relatively unknown actor to a movie star after his performance as Han Solo in 1977's Star Wars. He also appeared in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, then seemed ready to hang up his lightsaber forever. Ford reportedly even asked George Lucas to retire his character in Return of the Jedi

    Thirty-two years later, Ford finally returned to a galaxy far, far away in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the film, Han attempts to save his son Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from further plummeting into the dark side, but he winds up making the ultimate sacrifice instead.

    One reason why Ford agreed to co-star in Episode 7 was because he wanted his character to die a hero. “I think it's a fitting use of the character. I've been arguing for Han Solo to [perish] for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight," said Ford.

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