This is the thirty-fourth in a series of examinations of legends from movies and the people who make them and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: ‘N Sync filmed appearances in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Reader Chris B. wrote to me awhile ago to ask:
I remember back when Star Wars Episode II was coming out I heard a rumor that the members of NSync would be playing Jedi Knights during the climatic final scene. You know, the one where Sam Jackson defiantly exclaims “This Party’s Over!” (hate that part). Anyhoo, if you could work some mojo and grab me an answer, I would be eternally grateful.
I’m going with an answer of “yes,” Chris.
‘N Sync, as you know, was a popular boy band from the late 1990s/early 2000s, which launched Justin Timberlake to stardom (the other members were Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick).
Here is their hit album, No String Attached…
In any event, the rumor was that they filmed appearances in the Star Wars film, Attack of the Clones…
Specifically in the big scene where the Empire reveal themselves by turning on the Jedi, who thought that they were fighting alongside the Republic…
According to Joey Fatone, he, Kirkpatrick and Chasez (as well as Fatone’s brother, Steve) filmed scenes as Jedi Knights (Fatone is a massive Star Wars fan).
Lucasfilm representative confirmed that the three members of the group did, in fact, film scenes (although they denied that it was so Lucas could impress his daughters, who were supposedly fans of the group).
However, they do not appear to be in the actual movie and Fatone says that they were cut from the film.
At least one producer on the film said that it was “bunk” that they were ever in the film, but that does not appear to be the case, although Lucasfilm maintains that if they were cut from the film, it was not because of any adverse publicity from when the news broke of their appearance, but rather just because Lucas happened to cut their scene.
Fatone says it happened, Justin Timberlake says it happened (just that he was not involved) and Lucasfilm confirmed it. I think that’s enough to say that it did, indeed, happen. So I’m going with true.
Thanks to Chris for the question!
MOVIE LEGEND: Chuck Norris turned down the role of John Kreese in the Karate Kid because it reinforced negative stereotypes about karate.
In 1984, Karate Kid became a smash hit…
One of the most notable characters in the film is the “evil” sensei, John Kreese, played by Martin Kove. Kreese infamously tells one of his pupils to use an illegal kick to the knee with the intent of injuring his opponent (Ralph Macchio’s Daniel). It gets the one pupil disqualified, but sets it up so that another one of Kreese’s pupils will win by default. It almost knocks Daniel out of the tournament, but Daniel’s sensei, Mr. Miyagi, uses a pain suppression technique to allow Daniel to keep competing.
In the finals, Kreese has his classic line where he tells his pupil to “sweep the leg” (attack the injured leg).
Daniel, of course, succeeds anyways.
Over the years, a steady rumor has been built up around the film that Chuck Norris, noted martial arts enthusiast of the time, was offered the Kreese role, but turned it down because, well, Kreese is total jerk and Norris felt that it would be bad for his image (especially because of the negative stereotype of karate).
However, Norris has steadfastly denied this over and over since the release of the film, claiming that he was never offered the role.
In addition, in that same year, Norris starred in a hit action film, Missing in Action…
so it’s not like he wasn’t busy and in addition, the Kreese role is relatively minor, while Norris was already the main lead in films.
On top of that, I’ve never seen the producers for Karate Kid actually make the assertion that Norris WAS offered the role (and they’ve done more than a few commentaries for the film over the years), so I’m willing to believe Norris and say that this one is false.
MOVIE LEGEND: Mad Dog and Glory had to change its ending after test audiences couldn’t believe Robert DeNiro not holding his own against Bill Murray in a fight.
An interesting thing that movie stars sometimes do is try to take roles that specifically play against the type of character that audiences are used to seeing that actor play.
Like, say you’re a comedy star, you want to show you can do a drama. If you’re a dramatic actor, you want to show that you can do a comedy. Stuff like that.
That was at play in the 1993 film, Mad Dog and Glory…
In the film, the normally imposing Robert DeNiro plays a meek, mild-mannered police officer (the “Mad Dog” name is an ironic nickname given to him by his friends) who vies with a mobster for the love of Glory, played by Uma Thurman.
The mob boss is played by Bill Murray, who ALSO is playing against type in the film.
Well, at the end of the film (spoilers, I presume), DeNiro’s character finally stands up to Murray’s character and tries to fight for Glory. The two brawl in the streets and ultimately, Murray’s mob boss is so impressed by Mad Dog’s guts that he gives up pursuing Glory and lets Mad Dog be with her.
However, in the original version of the film, DeNiro’s character does not really brawl with Murray’s mob boss do much as he just gets beaten up. Mad Dog DOES take a swing at him, but it does no real damage and then Murray’s character proceeds to just beat him senseless, just realizing during the brawl that Glory is not worth fighting for.
When test audiences saw this, though, they could not believe that DeNiro could not do better against Murray. In effect, the audience wouldn’t accept DeNiro outside of his “type” (well, not THAT far outside his type). So the ending was re-shot.
While it certainly is awesome to be a movie star, it probably is pretty annoying to be so totally stereotyped that audiences can’t buy you as something other than what they “know” you to be.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: 'N Sync, Bill Murray, Chris Kirkpatrick, Chuck Norris, George Lucas, J.C. Chasez, Joey Fatone, John Kreese, Justin Timberlake, Karate Kid, Lance Bass, Mad Dog and Glory, Martin Kove, Missing in Action, Mr. Miyagi, Ralph Macchio, Robert DeNiro, Star Wars, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Steve Fatone, Uma Thurman