Since Oscar season has been and gone, it’s important to remember that not every actor cares about awards or recognition — some of them just want to show their kids something cool. For example, consider that …
10. Richard Harris Continually Refused the Role of Dumbledore Until His Granddaughter Told Him to Take It
Richard Harris, the original Dumbledore, was always one of the first choices to don the beard, and his portrayal was widely applauded and commended by critics and fans alike. As reported here though, Harris initially had no interest in the films and turned down the role a remarkable three times. Due to his advanced age and failing health, he didn’t want to be roped into seven sequels.
As Harris himself would later note, he was made aware of the massive box office potential of the movie several times, and the studio raised his salary every time he turned them down. Even with more money than he could count at stake, Harris remained adamant about his decision because he didn’t want to spend the last decade of his life making a movie.
However, all that changed when Harris happened to mention the role to his 11-year-old granddaughter. According to Harris, it was only when his granddaughter threatened to never speak to him again if he turned down the role that he was finally convinced to take the studio up on their offer.
9. Raúl Juliá Played M. Bison Because His Kids Loved Street Fighter
We’re going to go out on a limb and guess the majority of people reading this recognize Raúl Juliá as either Gomez Addams or M. Bison. We can’t really blame anyone, because Raúl owned both of those roles and is considered by many (us) to be the best part of their respective movies.
Sadly, Raúl was diagnosed with stomach cancer towards the end of filming The Burning Season in 1994, a movie which would eventually net him a posthumous Golden Globe. Despite the diagnosis, Raúl battled on and accepted the role of M. Bison in the live-action Street Fighter movie. A role which, we’d like to point out, involved Raúl going toe-to-toe to Jean-Claude Van Damme in his prime. Ignoring his failing health, Raúl took the role by the shoulders, shook it and positively threw himself into it because his children were such huge fans of the game and he didn’t want to let them down.
To quote the man himself, “when I mentioned the title of the film, their faces just lit up”. In fact, if you click that link you can see Raúl’s children by his side as he was filming the movie. Awww.
He died a short time after the film finished.
8. Viggo Mortensen Only Became Aragorn Because His Son Said It’d Be a Good Idea
It’s fairly well established that Viggo Mortensen leapt into his role as Aragorn with all the gusto of an excited child. He was so keen to stay in character that he carried around his sword with him at all times, and even drove around with it when he wasn’t on set. It’s odd then that, prior to filming the movie, he had almost no idea what the hell Lord Of The Rings was.
In fact, when he was first offered the role, he was hesitant to leave his family for a year to film something he had no interest in. It was Mortensen’s son who eventually changed his dad’s mind on the issue, according to this transcript of an interview Mortensen gave with Empire Magazine in 2002. Mortensen’s son convinced him to take the role with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from a teenager who was a massive fan of the books: by responding with, “Oh, that’s pretty cool. You should do that”.
Realizing that being Aragorn would indeed be “pretty cool,” Mortensen took the role and flew out to New Zealand the next day.
7. Robert Downey Jr. Appeared on Family Guy to Impress His Son
Yes, RDJ was the voice of Patrick Pewterschmidt in the “Fat Guy Strangler” episode of Family Guy, let that soak in. Done? Okay, well you should also let it soak in that this is pretty much RDJ’s only animated role. So why did he branch out from being freaking Iron Man to voice a character who enjoys strangling the overweight? Well, upon learning that his teenage son was a fan of the show, RDJ physically called the people over at Family Guy to request a role. Clearly having Tony Stark for a dad wasn’t cool enough for Junior Robert Downey Jr.
Seth McFarlane and company listened though, and the Pewterschmidt episode was created specifically for RDJ. That is either the coolest thing we’ve heard all day, or all week.
6. Djimon Hounsou Appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy to Show His Son Black People Can Be Superheroes
Djimon Hounsou isn’t exactly known for his roles in films you could sit down and watch with your kids, which is why his decision to accept a role in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie, alongside a pro wrestler and a talking raccoon, was so curiously awesome.
In this article about Hounsou and his place in the movie, he reveals that the role was very personal to him. After his own son expressed a desire to be light-skinned so that he could one day become Spider-Man, Hounsou embarked on a mission to teach him that people of color can be heroes too, by becoming one himself. This ultimately culminated in Hounsou accepting a role as Korath the Pursuer.
5. Paul Walker Starred in Eight Below Because His Mom Wanted Him to Take a Role Children Could Watch
The late Paul Walker’s IMDB page reads like a laundry list of kick-ass 80’s band names: Vehicle 19, Hours, and Pawn Shop Chronicles, not to mention seven Fast & Furious movies. His filmography pretty much doubles as a testosterone injection.
However, there’s one film on there that kind of sticks out: Eight Below, a saccharine Disney movie about a man rescuing a bunch of huskies in the Arctic. According to this interview with Walker, his decision to star in the movie was based solely on his mother’s wishes for him to star in something “the kids can see”. After initially reading the script, Walker wasn’t interested in the film. But after his mother’s words rang in his head for the 8th time, he changed his mind and gave the script a chance.
After reading the script Walker reasoned that his daughter and nieces would probably enjoy seeing Uncle Paul in a movie that didn’t feature him trying to punch The Rock in the face. Walker also liked that the film bore a striking similarity to Old Yeller — one of his favorite childhood movies — so he took the role.
4. Tommy Lee Jones Became Two-Face Because His Son Loved the Character
When Tommy Lee Jones was initially approached to play Harvey Dent in the ill-fated Batman Forever movie, he carefully explained to his agent that he wasn’t interested in the least, because had no flipping idea who the hell Harvey Dent was. Considering Jones’ other roles since then, we’re going to assume he’s not a comic book guy.
However, Jones’ young son is, and Two-Face just so happened to be his favorite Bat-villain and he excitedly told his dad to take the role. When Jones told his son that he didn’t know who Two Face was, his son coached him on the character and his motivations. According to the man himself, Jones’ sole reason for taking the job was his son’s enthusiasm for the character. So the next time you make fun of Batman Forever for being terrible, just remember that Jones’ hammy take on Dent is due in large part to his kid telling him it’d be a good idea.
3. Michael Sheen Took a Role in Twilight to Surprise His Daughter
Since beating dead horses isn’t really our thing, we’re not going to say anything about the Twilight movies other than that they’re not exactly something you’d think actors would fight to get involved in. Michael Sheen however, totally did. Knowing that his 13-year-old daughter was a big fan of the books, Sheen angled for a part in the movie to surprise her with. He eventually managed to land the role of Aro, and if you don’t know who he is, we’re guessing no amount of explanation is going to make you care. So we’ll just say that he’s a vampire.
Hilariously, Sheen’s daughter’s initial reaction to hearing that her father was going to star in the movie version of her favorite book wasn’t excitement, but annoyance that he didn’t match her idea of the character. To quote Sheen, “When I first told her that I was going to be playing Aro, she said, ‘But, Aro’s bald. Completely bald.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I see.’” His daughter eventually lightened up, and Sheen noted that his performance was very closely based on advice from his daughter, which is almost as lovely as the sparkles on Edward’s silky skin.
2. Frank Langella Played Skeletor For His Son and It Became His Favorite Role
Frank Langella is an actor with a cupboard full of awards, and a filmography boasting roles like Richard Nixon and freaking Archer from Small Soldiers. However, despite all of his success, Langlella has always maintained that his favorite role of all time was Skeletor in the live-action Masters of the Universe movie.
According to several critics, Langella’s role was pretty much the only saving grace of that turd of a movie. So why was he so excited about the role? Well, besides Skeletor being a total boss, Langella’s own son was a huge fan of the TV series which is what prompted him to accept the offer to play the skull in the hood. Langella himself has admitted that he would watch the show with his son, and relished the chance to bring Skeletor to the big screen. We’re guessing this gusto is why his portrayal of the character ended up being so well-received.
1. Anthony Mackie Became The Falcon So He Could Be an Inspiration to Kids of Color
The Falcon is one of the first African-American superheroes to grace the pages of a Marvel comic, and his inclusion in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a big step for heroes of color on the silver screen. As detailed in this interview with Anthony Mackie about his thoughts on the film, one of the things he was most looking forward to about the movie was the example it set for children of his race.
To quote Mackie, “The biggest thing for me … is to come out on Halloween and see all the little black kids dressed up like The Falcon. There are so many parts of our society that are not catered to or represented fully, and this will give a new generation of our society someone to look up to and identify with.” He went on to explain this as being his primary focus and reason for throwing himself so fully into the role. Even if you don’t care about Captain America, you have to admit that’s a pretty kick-ass reason to accept a role.