Dialogue, Accents, Screen Time, And More: These Actors Rewrote Their Characters

When it comes to filming in Hollywood, the process is very collaborative. It takes an army of camera people, crew, actors, directors, editors, and more to make the final product viewers see on the big and small screens. In some cases, actors get so into their characters that they have ideas on how to tweak dialogue, accents, or even mannerisms.

Michelle Rodriguez, for example, changed her character Letty’s entire arc in the Fast & Furious franchise for the better while Tom Cruise probably should have left the script to The Mummy alone. For better or worse, the actors on this list decided to rewrite their characters.

Michelle Rodriguez Knew Letty Wouldn’t Cheat On Dom

Michelle Rodriguez New Letty Wouldn't Cheat On Dom
Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Fans of the Fast & Furious franchise might be shocked to learn Michelle Rodriguez almost quit the first film. In the original script, Letty was going to cheat on her boyfriend Dom, with Brian. As Letty is an alpha-female, Rodriguez put her foot down, wanting to change the direction of her character’s arc, as it would be for the rest of the franchise.

During a Daily Beast interview, Rodriguez said, “Is it realistic for a Latin girl who’s with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down.” With the help of Vin Diesel, they rewrote the script.

Tom Cruise Rewrote The Mummy For More Screen Time

Tom Cruise Rewrote The Mummy For More Screen Time
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Actor Tom Cruise is known to take creative control of some of his projects. In the case of The Mummy, it came in the form of rewriting the script so he would have more screen time. And what was supposed to be a horror film to reboot a franchise, turned into an action flick that bombed at the box office.

According to a Variety article, “The actor personally commissioned two other writers along with [Christopher] McQuarrie to crank out a new script. His writers beefed up his part.” The supervising art director, Frank Walsh, had even said, “This is very much a film of two halves: before Tom and after Tom.”

RDJ Knew Iron Man’s Personality By The Third Film

RDJ Knew Iron Man's Personality By The Third Film
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment

After playing the same character in two films, it’s not entirely surprising that Robert Downey Jr. wanted some creative control when it came to the development of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in Iron Man 3. Who would know best than the man bringing the hero to life, after all?

Director Shane Black had said RDJ was never shy about asking for character rewrites, yelling “Time,” when something needed changing. Black said, “we’d go back to the trailer, and we’d all write because he wanted new lines. We’ve had a great deal of fun incorporating input from talented people who haven’t been looking at the same pages for two years.”

Edward Norton Wanted A Better The Incredible Hulk Script

Edward Norton Wanted A Better The Incredible Hulk Script
Universal Studios, Marvel Entertainment
Universal Studios, Marvel Entertainment

If you remember a time where Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, was played by someone other than Mark Ruffalo, then you might remember Edward Norton. Unfortunately for the talented actor, the original script for The Incredible Hulk was not up to his standards.

Before accepting the role, Norton said some major changes needed to be made to the script, especially with the dialogue. While Norton doesn’t like to discuss the time he spent in the MCU, he has come to explain his rewrites that the directors cut from the film in five simple words, “I wanted a better script.”

Mike Myers Couldn’t Find The Correct Accent For Shrek

Mike Myers Couldn't Find The Correct Accent For Shrek
Dreamworks Pictures
Dreamworks Pictures

For actor Mike Myers, finding the right way to bring the character Shrek to life began and ended with the correct accent. He didn’t change the script, per se, but he definitely had the studio redo a majority of his voiceovers a year after everything was already recorded!

During an interview, Myers said, “It took a few times for me to get the voice right. I first tried it in a sort of Canadian accent, but it just didn’t connect, and, because fairytales are a European thing and ogres are more earthy, the Scottish accent just felt right.”

Denzel Washington Didn’t Want To Offend His Fan Base

Denzel Washington Didn't Want To Offend His Fan Base
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Would you believe that Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts were supposed to have a few love scenes in the 1993 film The Pelican Brief? Alas, the world will never know what those scenes could have been because Washington was adamant about writing them out of the script.

For Washington, the change was more so that he didn’t offend his target audience with an interracial relationship and less about the original script. During an interview with Newsweek, the actor explained his change. “Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film. They have always been my core audience.”

Dacre Montgomery Wanted To Humanize Billy

Dacre Montgomery Wanted To Humanize Billy
Netflix
Netflix

When Billy was first introduced to the Stranger Things cast back in season 2, fans couldn’t help but dislike the character. He was pretty much an evil cliche, which is exactly what Dacre Montgomery wanted to avoid when he asked the Duffer brothers about tweaking the script to humanize Billy.

During an interview with Bustle, Dacre said, “I’m really not trying to play an archetypal bad guy. There’s no such thing as good or bad. We’re all human beings. That was my effort with the Duffers to show that side that no one is just bad.” In the end, fans were almost rooting for the bad boy of Hawkins.

Nic Cage Helped Added Some Of Con Air‘s Memorable Lines

Nic Cage Helped Added Some Of Con Air's Memorable Lines
Touchstone Pictures
Touchstone Pictures

Is anyone really surprised that Nic Cage tweaked the Con Air script? The movie found a weird amount of success, something no one saw coming, not even a long-haired Cage. Interestingly, the quotable film is in part due to Cage’s suggestions.

The Southern drawl his character has? Yup, that was Cage’s idea. And the memorable line, “put the bunny back in the box?” That was Cage’s suggestion, too, according to Den of Geek. So, thank you, Nic Cage, for making people want to hold on tight to stuffed rabbits.

The Rock Rewrote Rampage To Save The Gorilla

The Rock Rewrote Rampage To Save The Gorilla
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

For Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the original script for Rampage just wasn’t going to do. In the original, the gorilla, George, was supposed to meet his end. So, everyone has The Rock to thank for not being teary-eyed at the end of the movie. He made sure the writers knew that either George lived, or he walked.

During an interview with Rolling Stones, the actor said, “I don’t like a sad ending. When the credits roll, I want to feel great.” So, after sitting through a meeting of people trying to justify the death, the writers finally gave in to The Rock’s rewrite.

Alan Rickman Disliked His Sheriff Of Nottingham Lines

Alan Rickman Disliked His Sheriff Of Nottingham Lines
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Alan Rickman was a true talent and professional. So, when it came time for him to read the script for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the actor knew his character’s dialogue had to change. And what better place to do rewrites than a Pizza Hut?

During an interview, Rickman said, “[I] asked one of my friends to “have a look at this script, because it’s terrible, and I need some good lines.” You know, with [some] kind of pizza and bacon and egg going all over the script.” In the end, he wrote in some lines that were approved by the director, Kevin Reynolds.

Crispin Glover Cut Out All Of His Character’s Lines

Crispin Glover Cut Out All Of His Characters Lines
Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

When it comes to the Charlie’s Angels films, Crispin Glover did something a bit out of the ordinary when it comes to script. He decided his character had to be rewritten. And when he meant rewritten, he meant the evil Thin Man’s dialogue had to be taken out altogether.

During an interview with Hadley Freeman from The Guardian, the actor said, “the dialogue was just expositional.” According to the article, it was Glover’s idea to have the character mute, taking him to a whole new level of creepy. To his surprise, director McG agreed, and the creepy Thin Man who likes sniffing hair was born!

Harrison Ford Fought For Han Solo’s Death

Harrison Ford Fought For Han Solo's Death
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Ironically, Harrison Ford had been fighting for the death of Han Solo since the Return of the Jedi. Finally, years later, writers listened to the actor who thought the character had been played out and deserved a heroic ending of some kind. And while it was sad to see the iconic smuggler die, Ford’s rewrite of the character made sense.

During an interview with EW, Ford said, “I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die 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.”

Scarlett Johansson Made Sure Black Widow Was Done Right

Scarlett Johannson Made Sure Black Widow Was Done Right
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment

By now, Scarlett Johansson and the character of Black Widow are pretty much the same. She’s been playing the role for years, so it’s not too surprising that she knows what the sarcastic ex-KGB spy would say to other characters, tweaking the script here and there to have Natasha’s dialogue make more sense in various situations.

Screenwriter Stephen McFeely said during an interview with Metro, the “actors very often know their voices better than I do, so I have no problem with them adding a couple of lines to a scene or telling a different joke.” Since the MCU is so popular, obviously, Scar-Jo had some good rewrites!

Liam Neeson Wrote In An Irish Accent For His Character

Liam Neeson Wrote In An Irish Accent For His Character
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Actor Liam Neeson didn’t rewrite A Million Ways to Die in the West, per se. But he did make director Seth MacFarlane an offer he couldn’t refuse. In one of the director’s Family Guy episodes, they do a gag in which they make fun of Neeson doing a Western film with “that funny accent of his.” (Neeson’s Irish).

So, when MacFarlane asked if Neeson wanted the role of Clinch, the actor agreed under one condition; he does it in a thick accent. In an interview with Today, Nesson said, “[I told MacFarlane], ‘I’ll do it on condition that I do it in a very broad Irish accent.’ So he agreed.”

Chris Evans Knows How Captain American Would Act

Chris Evans Knows How Captain American Would Act
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Entertainment

For actor Chris Evans, he knows the character of Steve Rodgers/Captain America so well that he got away with improvising his lines and reworking some of the scenes Stephen McFeely constructed. But the thing is, according to McFeely, sometimes the actors know best!

During an interview with Metro, McFeely said, “The script was in pretty good shape when we started, but Chris had a lot of input on the scene where he’s meeting Sam Wilson for the first time, and what it would take to make Captain America – who probably gets stopped in the street all the time – turn around for that extra conversation.”

Justin Theroux Made His Leftovers Character More Vulnerable

Justin Theroux Made His Leftovers Character More Vulnerable
HBO
HBO

At first, The Leftovers character of Kevin was supposed to be an angry man. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s one of the last people on Earth! But after screenwriter and producer Damon Lindelof saw Justin Theroux portraying the character in a more vulnerable way, he switched up the script.

During an interview with Backstage, Lindelof said, “I really do believe that a lot of the best ideas that we’ve had for the show were inspired by choices that the actors themselves were making. [When] Justin started playing him in a much more vulnerable way, we started writing to that idea.”

Michael Douglas Wanted More History For His Character

Michael Douglas Wanted More History For His Character
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

When actor Michael Douglas first heard about The Ghost and the Darkness, he was very interested in the character of Remington. But before he accepted the role, there were some rewrites he wanted to do to William Goldman’s portrayal of the character, mainly going into more of a backstory of the ex-Confederate soldier.

During an interview with Fiction Machine, Douglas explained that he would only take the part if Goldman made some changed to beef up the character’s history. At first, he was reluctant to make the changes but eventually reworked the script to incorporate Douglas’ ideas for the character of Remington.

Jack Nicholson Helped Shape His Departed Character

Jack Nicholson Helped Shape His Departed Character
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Would you believe Jack Nicholson almost declined the role of Frank Costello in The Departed? Honestly, we don’t blame him either. At first, there wasn’t much to the character; he pretty much didn’t exist in the script. It took the leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg, to talk him into collaborating with them on which shape the character.

During a 2007 interview with Variety, Nicholson said, “We built this character layer by layer until we had something that fit inside a great genre film, but also pushed the envelope until the movie becomes almost operatic would take.”

Marlon Brando’s Improv Became The Script

Marlon Brando's Improv Became The Script
United Artists
United Artists

Ironically, when Francis Ford Coppola cast Marlon Brando to play the lead character of Colonel Kurtz in Apocolypse Now, he had no idea that the script was about to be altered. Coming on set, Brando was “vastly unprepared” and had a difficult time memorizing his lines.

So, Coppola allowed the actor to improvise his lines for a few days, writing some of the better ones back into the script. According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the director then had to give Brando an earpiece, because the actor had a difficult time memorizing his own lines!

Carrie Fisher Reworked Some Of Princess Leia’s Dialogue

Carrie Fisher Reworked Some Of Princess Leia's Dialogue
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

During the early days of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher began rewriting her character lines for a very specific reason. Apparently, a certain Mr. Harrison Ford kept tweaking his lines, making it so Fisher had to rework hers since they’re in so many scenes together.

During an interview with the Daily Dot, Fisher said, “Harrison Ford was rewriting his stuff in all the Star Wars movies, and it became annoying because it impacted my stuff. It is easier as an actor to go into rewriting because you know what would fit into your mouth dialogue-wise.” Considering the fanfare behind the films, we’d say the character rewrites worked out.