When one thinks of the word “genius,” the first image that pops into most people’s heads is that of scientist Albert Einstein and his unique hair style. Considered a pioneer of human knowledge, Einstein quickly became one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century. No major film autobiography has ever been made of him, but Walt Disney Pictures almost did make one in the 1980s, starring Richard Dreyfuss as the famous physicist. However, Dreyfuss was more interested in playing another famous figure of the 20th century. As Disney insider Jim Hill says,
“This was a film that was supposed to be done right after Tron. Richard Dreyfuss came in and signed a deal with Disney…. They were going to do the film autobiography of Albert Einstein…. They were actually going to use the CG graphics that were done for Tron to explain Albert Einstein’s revolutionary theories. I mean, you were literally going to see E=MC2, but done as a piece of animation. So, Dreyfuss comes through the door and says, ‘Sure, I’ll do this for you but you know the character I really, really want to play is Walt Disney! I want to play the young Walt who was scheming and made Snow White and made Mickey. Look I’ve got a moustache and I’m really active!’ The Disney family was charmed by his request but said, ‘No, we’re not going to allow anybody to do Walt.’”
For reasons unknown – possibly due to Tron’s “failure” at the box office or because Disney simply did not want to pursue the idea – the Albert Einstein film was never made. Dreyfuss also didn’t get to play Walt Disney. However, recently Disney has announced a new project, Saving Mr. Banks, for which Tom Hanks has been considered for the role of Walt. Albert Einstein has still been portrayed in films by actors such as Walter Matthau (I.Q.), Andy Serkis (“Einstein and Eddington”), and even Robert Downey Jr. (That’s Adequate). A new Albert Einstein film based on his life is being written by Stephen Schiff (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps). If anything, why not cast Dreyfuss now? He could look more like Albert Einstein now than he did then! Or maybe John Carpenter. Who do you think could play Albert Einstein?