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One of Richard Dreyfuss’ most iconic films is given new life today as the fourth instalment of the Jaws franchise airs on ITV4 at 8pm. Starring Lorraine Gary, and featuring Hollywood royalty Sir Michael Caine, Jaws: The Revenge, rejoins dwellers on the mythical island of Amity, which has not suffered a shark attack in years. But when a child is killed, a mother believes her entire family has become threatened by the sharks that roam the waters around Amity, she flies to the Bahamas to warn her marine biologist son he might be in danger.
All while a big, hungry beast, out for revenge, heads inland.
While the film was panned by critics, earning an infamous zero percent rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the franchise itself remains much loved with film fans.
Among Jaws’ most famous characters was Matt Hooper, played by Dreyfuss, a part that nearly went to a host of Hollywood A listers including Jon Voigt, Timothy Bottoms, Jan-Michael Vincent, Kevin Kline, Joel Grey and Jeff Bridges.
But around 18 years later, Dreyfuss was on the end of his own snub, when director Steven Spielberg opted to go for another actor in his film Jurassic Park.
Richard Dreyfuss snubbed by Steven Spielberg over Jurassic Park role: ‘Too expensive!’
Richard Dreyfuss alongside Steven Spielberg
Dreyfuss and Spielberg had already collaborated on Jaws, as well as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, prior to the director being given a budget work on Jurassic Park.
And the pair nearly collaborated on the dinosaur classic when Dreyfuss reportedly got down to the final two actors for the part of Dr Alan Grant.
Writing in his biography, it was noted: “It’s fair to criticise Spielberg for failing to make the people in Jurassic Park as three-dimensional as the dinosaurs.
“While Australian actor Sam Neill fills the role of the brooding Grant in competent but uninspired fashion, Laura Dern is an annoyance as Dr Sattler, her open-mouthed gaping and general ditziness undercutting her credibility as a paleobotanist.
Jurassic Park was released in 1993
“Spielberg’s anxiety about finishing ahead of schedule may have undermined his customary care with performances, allowing the cast (including Jeff Goldblum’s hipster mathematician Ian Malcolm) to get away with too many affectless, mumbling line readings.”
It added: “Spielberg preferred to spend his budget on special effects rather than on his cast.
“Before hiring Neill, he considered stars such as William Hurt (who turned down the role) and Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss (too expensive).
“But the director’s more intense creative rapport with [Richard] Attenborough and the two children also suggests the characters played by Neill and Dern simply failed to engage with his full emotional involvement.”
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Sam Neill in Jurassic Park
Among other reported actors Spielberg offered Neill’s part to was Star Wars and Indiana Jones actor Harrison Ford.
When the pair were discussing reuniting on the fourth edition of Indiana Jones, Spielberg told Ford: “I gotta correct this. Do you know who I offered ‘Jurassic Park’ to? This guy. Alan Grant, I first offered to this guy.”
Another surprise casting decision saw Jim Carrey nearly take on Goldblum’s role.
Janet Hirshenson, the casting director of Jurassic Park, claimed “was terrific, too, but I think pretty quickly we all loved the idea of Jeff”.
Filming locations in UK
James Bond star Sean Connery also nearly got in on the franchise, when he was considered for the role of John Hammond, which ultimately went to Attenborough.
According to a 2016 Entertainment Weekly report, Neill said “it all happened real quick” when he was offered the part.
He added: “I hadn’t read the book, knew nothing about it, hadn’t heard anything about it, and in a matter of weeks I’m working with Spielberg.”
In total, Jurassic Park won three Academy Awards, and remains one of the highest grossing films in cinema history.
Jaws: The Revenge airs tonight from 8pm on ITV4.