Movies | July 18, 2022 2:12 pm

Juliette Binoche, Steven Spielberg and the Greatest Movie Performances We’ll Never See

Cinematic history abounds with them

Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon
Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon arrive on the red carpet for 'Avec amour et acharnement (Both Sides of the Blade)' during the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival.
P. Lehman/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Juliette Binoche has worked with some of the most acclaimed directors currently making films, including Claire Denis, David Cronenberg and Olivier Assayas. But there’s one director whom she hasn’t yet worked with, though it wasn’t for lack of trying on the director’s part. In a recent interview with Variety, Binoche mentioned that Steven Spielberg had hoped to work with her on no less than three different films: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park.

None of the three worked out for logistical reasons, and Binoche expressed interest in working with both Spielberg and another director with whom she’s never worked, Martin Scorsese. But Binoche’s comments bring to mind a larger question: What are some of the combinations of actors and roles that audiences might have seen, but for some unforeseen factor?

Some instances of this are well-known: Eric Stoltz was originally cast as the lead in Back to the Future, while Harvey Keitel originally played Willard in Apocalypse Now. (Keitel was also originally cast in the role Sydney Pollack wound up playing in Eyes Wide Shut.)

There are also cases where a reasonably high-profile cast member shows up in a blockbuster film with a scant amount of screen time, suggesting that a much larger role ended up on the cutting-room floor. (Given the rise of digital editing, this is meant more figuratively than literally.) Blink and you might miss Jodie Comer in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; the same is true for Julie Delpy in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The apex of unseen performances might well come from the filmography of Terence Malick. Christian Bale, Mickey Rourke and Rachel Weisz are among the actors who have worked on a Malick-directed film without any of their scenes making it to the final cut. The sprawling ensemble cast of The Thin Red Line was even larger originally, but it’s far from the only film of Malick’s where the work of iconic actors didn’t end up on screen.

There are plenty of great performances to ponder in films of all genres. Dig deeply enough into cinematic history, though, and you’re bound to wonder about what might have been if an edit had gone differently, if a filming schedule had been changed or if an actor and director had gotten along better. Alternate histories aren’t just for science fiction, after all.