When an actor wins an Oscar, it always ups their visibility. Studios want to cast them, directors want to work with them, and audiences want to see them again. But how can they see you, if you're cut out of the finished film?
That has apparently happened to Rachel Weisz, Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress in 2006's "The Constant Gardener." She filmed a role in the upcoming drama "To the Wonder" for the acclaimed but enigmatic director Terrence Malick, who made last year's Oscar-nominated "The Tree of Life". However, in an interview with Italy's "La Stampa," Weisz revealed that her part has been edited out of the finished film.
Weisz said that she took the job for the chance to work with the legendary filmmaker, but that none of the scenes she filmed over several days made it into the final cut. She said, "I had the experience of working with him but I will not have the pleasure of seeing my work."
It's almost unheard of that a major star like Weisz would get edited out of a movie like this. Besides being an acclaimed, award-winning actress, Weisz has appeared in many blockbuster hits, including the current release "The Bourne Legacy." Terrence Malick, though, has a habit of leaving big names on the cutting room floor.
In addition to Weisz, actors Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet, and Jessica Chastain (Oscar-nominated last year for "The Help"), were also apparently dropped from Malick's new film. "To the Wonder" is the story of an Midwestern man (played by Ben Affleck) who marries a European woman (Olga Kurylenko) in Paris. But when they return to the U.S., their marriage starts to crumble and he is drawn back to his old love (Rachel McAdams).
Malick has been able to draw huge names to his movies ever since he returned to filmmaking after a self-imposed 20-year absence. And he's still able to get actors to sign on to his projects, even though there's no guarantee they'll be in the completed film.
In 1998's "The Thin Red Line," stars Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke, Viggo Mortensen, Bill Pullman, and Martin Sheen all were cast in roles that were eventually dropped from the picture. Reportedly, Malick's first cut of the film ran upwards of six hours long, which was later trimmed down by more than half to under three hours. Billy Bob Thornton also recorded narration for the entire film which was also later deleted.
Not all of the actors who worked with Malick were as gracious as Weisz about being cut out. Adrien Brody had one of the biggest parts during the filming of "The Thin Red Line," but the role was severely edited down. He told "The Independent" that he was very disappointed to have his work removed from the film: "I was so focused and professional, I gave everything to it, and then to not receive everything ... in terms of witnessing my own work. It was extremely unpleasant."
Christopher Plummer, who worked with Malick on the Pocahontas tale "The New World," had even harsher words for the director. Plummer told "Newsweek" last year, "I love some of his movies very much... [but] he edits his films in such a way that he cuts everyone out of them." Plummer said that Malick "gets terribly involved in poetic shots, which are gorgeous... He gets lost in that and the stories get diffused." He added, "I'll never work with him again."
Even actors who had a positive experience with Malick (and ended up in the final film) have still expressed confusion with the director's process, which seems to emphasize lush visuals and non-linear editing over classical storytelling. Sean Penn, one of the stars of "The Tree of Life," told France's "La Figaro" (as translated by "The New Yorker") that he felt the movie lacked the emotional heft of the screenplay, which he called, "the most magnificent one that I've ever read." Penn, a director in his own right, said, "A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact."
The finished version of "To the Wonder" will premiere on September 10 at this year's Toronto Film Festival. Terrence Malick has already completed filming on his next untitled film about musicians in Austin, Texas. That film stars Oscar winners Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, along with Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara. That is, unless they get cut out, too.
[Photos: 2012 Toronto Film Festival Line-up]
Watch the trailer for Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life':