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7 Iconic Movie Items and What They Were Originally Supposed To Be


The final movie you see on screen represents the hard work and dedication of countless people. What started off as an idea has snowballed into a piece of art with the influence and fingerprints of often hundreds of people left on it. Like any piece of art, movies go through many changes from inception to completion. Sometimes what started off as one idea, has transformed into something completely different by the time you see it on screen. Here are 7 items that you have come to recognize in films, and what they were originally supposed to be. The changes of the items are born from many reasons, through various stages of production. Much like the recasting of a character, it is often hard to imagine what a film would be like if that item was different. Along with a couple of honorable mentions, I've included videos for each of the items as well, which explain why the change was made, or the final scene(s). Enjoy!


Back To The Future (1985)

"Are you telling me, you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?" Yes Marty McFly, a DeLorean. The out of breath teenager played by Michael J. Fox would have been even more dumfounded if director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg went with what they originally had in mind for Doc Brown's time traveling device. The car that needs to hit 88 mph was originally supposed to be...


...a refrigerator! In the first draft of the script, the time machine was a laser device attached to a refrigerator taken to an atomic bomb test. Afraid that kids would get trapped in their fridges in an attempt to copy the film, Zemeckis and Spielberg scrapped the idea. After several other variations,  they settled on using a car. The Delorean DMC-12 was specifically chosen for its gullwing door design, which makes it believable for people from the 1950's to mistake it as an alien spacecraft. Spielberg would later rehash the refrigerator idea as the escape device for Indiana Jones in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


Pulp Fiction (1994)

The music; the dialogue, the nonlinear story line; the simultaneous comeback of John Travolta and the Bat-toosi; Samuel L. Jackson with a jerry curl -- what's not to love about Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction??? Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the movie, to this day, is the contents of the briefcase. Keeping the contents a mystery allows the audience to use their imagination as to what is "so beautiful" inside the case. But according to Roger Avary, who co-wrote the screenplay with Tarantino, the briefcase was originally supposed to be...


...filled with diamonds. Takes all the excitement out of it, doesn't it? Not original. Not interesting. Avary and Tarantino felt the same way and went with the "less is more" approach of not showing us what is inside the briefcase. The lightbulb inside the case, which shimmered yellow light onto the actors faces when they opened it, was also a last minute decision.

This video is a compilation of all the briefcase scenes in Pulp Fiction. It also offers up quite an interesting theory about the briefcase containing a human soul.


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The moment that probably gets the most laughs in Raiders of the Lost Ark has gotta be the scene in which an overly flamboyant swordsman challenges Indiana Jones, who in turn simply pulls out his gun and shoots the swordsman. This scene is just about as character defining a moment for Indiana Jones, as the line "I know" was to Han Solo, who said it in response to Leia declaring to him, "I love you." The line from Empire Strikes Back and shooting the swordsman in Raiders were both last minute changes requested by Harrison Ford. Instead of using his gun to end the conflict, Indy was originally supposed to...

...use his whip to pull the sword out of the marauding swordsman's hand. After he and much of the rest of the crew had suffered from food poisoning on that day's shoot, Ford felt too sick to perform the stunts for what was intended to be a much longer scene. Harrison Ford has commented that the swordsman, disappointed with having his scene cut short, refused to die a quick movie death, and kept trying to drag out his death scene for the camera. This required several takes of Spielberg repeatedly asking the actor for a shorter death.


Return of the Jedi (1983)

The green, blue, and red lightsabers now clearly distinguish the Jedi from the Sith in the Star Wars universe -- Good guy, green and blue. Bad guy, red. Good guy, green and blue. Bad guy, red. Good guy, green and blue. Black guy, purple... I mean Mace Windu, purple. Whew! That was close. But Luke's signature green lightsaber, that he uses as he emerges in Return of The Jedi as (kinda just a self-proclaimed) Jedi knight, was originally supposed to be...


...shocker, blue! After a scene showing Luke assembling and activating a new lightsaber was cut from the film, George Lucas felt that audiences would be confused as to how he retrieved his father's lightsaber that Obi Wan had given him - since he had lost it, along with his hand, in the battle between him and Darth Vader in Cloud City at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. So at the last minute, Lucas had the effects team change the color of Luke's lightsaber to green, making it clear to the audience that it was a different lightsaber.

The video below, is an early trailer for Return of the Jedi, that features Luke still wielding a blue lightsaber. In the Expanded Star Wars Universe, Anakin's lightsaber and Luke's hand are recovered from Cloud City. The hand is used to make a Luke clone, who wields the blue lightsaber. After the clone's death, Luke presents his father's saber to his future wife, Mara Jade.


Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day made Will Smith "Mr. July 4th Weekend" and started director Roland Emmerich's obsession with destroying the Earth. Surprisingly though, one of the most touching moments of the film comes from comedic actor Randy Quaid, who plays a former military pilot turned crop duster.

In the final battle, there aren't enough military pilots to man all the available aircrafts, so President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and Russell Casse (Quaid) volunteer, both having prior military experience. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum's characters successfully disable the alien's shields, but after an exhausting battle with the superior alien crafts, Casse carries the last available missile. When the alien mothercraft opens up to fire on the base, the firing mechanism on the fighter jet Casse is piloting malfunctions. Casse decides to fly his aircraft into the alien weapon as a kamikaze attack, which causes a chain reaction and annihilates the ship. This weak spot is used by the rest of the human resistance to take down the aliens around the world.

In the original cut of the film, Quaid's character is denied the chance to fly a military aircraft, and instead he was originally supposed to be...


...flying his crop duster, with a missile attached to it. Test audiences felt this was too silly, so they went back and reshot the ending with Quaid's character using a military fighter jet.

The video below, is the theatrical cut of the scene where Casse, having been abducted by aliens in the past, finally get his revenge.


E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

If there's anything that E.T. taught us, it's that aliens love candy. Reese's Pieces became quite popular after the success of Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, making it one of the first and most successful uses of product placement in movie history. The Hershey's candy was featured quite predominantly in key scenes for the film. But the script had originally called for  a different candy. The Reese's Pieces Elliot uses to lure E.T. were originally supposed to be...


...m&m's. The Mars company denied Spielberg's request to use their flagship candy, worried about it being in anyway associated with aliens. Hershey's jumped at the chance to get their candy coated peanut butter flavored confection in the film. The Hershey Company would in turn feature approximately $1 million dollars worth of advertising for the movie, by printing E.T. on the Reese's Pieces packages.

Here is a video compilation of all of the scenes from the film featuring Reese's Pieces.


Top Gun (1986)

Headed by the the shirtless volleyball scene, Kelly McGillis as the suspiciously named Charlie, rocking a baseball hat hiding nearly all of her feminine locks, only fuels the theory that Top Gun is an allegory for homosexuality. But Quentin Tarantino's Top Gun speech featured in Sleep With Me (1994), originally written by Tarantino and Roger Avary for a different film, misquotes Top Gun's real script, and the elevator scene between Charlie and Maverick was originally...


...not in the film at all. Along with the love scene between Maverick and Charlie, the elevator scene was filmed after test audiences felt the love story between the characters felt weak. Both scenes were filmed 6 months after production, and had to use different methods of covering up the fact that the actors' hair had both changed. The love scene was tinted blue to hide that McGillis' hair had been dyed a darker shade for a different film she was in the middle of filming. In the elevator scene, they use a baseball cap to hide the darker hair, and made Tom Cruise's hair wet to hide that his hair had also grown several inches.

Here's the love scene from Top Gun, you'll notice how the scene randomly changes to blue. An additional note: the kiss in the beginning of the clip is an ad-lib by Tom Cruise. After the car chase, when Charlie tells Maverick that she didn't want anyone to know that she was falling for him, there was something scripted for Maverick to say, Cruise forgot his line, and ad-libbed the kiss. The late Tony Scott liked it so much that he used that take for the final cut of the film.

Here's Quentin Tarantino's Top Gun speech from Sleep With Me intercut with scenes from the film.

 Honorable Mentions:


Iron Man (2008)

At the end of Iron Man, Tony Stark is able to defeat Ironmonger, with the help of Pepper Potts. The movie originally included a much different ending leading up to this. During the freeway battle against Ironmonger, Tony Stark was originally supposed to...

Iron-Man-r8.jpg saved by his Audi R8. The script originally called for the R8 to rescue Iron Man as he is being crushed under Ironmonger's foot. But the vehicle's superior design made it impossible to flip, despite the help of ramps and cables. After wrecking two $70,000 dollar cars, the scene was scrapped. In this video we're shown their failed attempts at making the Audi R8 flip over, and pre-vis shots of the scene. It also features commentary by director Jon Favreau and Marvel's Kevin Feige.


The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Peter Jackson loves doing cameos in his films. He has cameo appearances in all three Lord of the Rings films, with two in Return of The King. His cameo in The Fellowship of the Ring is by far the most random, featuring Jackson in the rain on a muddy road chomping down on a giant carrot. Jackson was originally supposed to be...


...smoking a pipe. After a few puffs, Jackson felt sick, and decided to go with a carrot instead - someone needs to learn how to handle their (pipe) weed!  According to Simon Pegg, at the premiere of Hot Fuzz, which features a cameo appearance by Jackson as a crazy Santa Claus who stabs Pegg's character in the hand, upon realizing that his scene was cut short, Jackson spent the remainder of the film pacing back and forth in the lobby.

Here's a video compilation of all of Jackson's cameo's up to Hot Fuzz, his cameo in The Lovely Bones is below that.

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