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Fast and Furious star almost had major role in this zombie movie

Hollywood is full of casting choices that came close, but no cigar, meaning that many of our favourite movies could have turned out very differently.

Fast and Furious

Hollywood history is littered with tales of what might have been. There are countless tales of casting decisions that almost happened, and then weren’t to be – for numerous different reasons. And that’s true of the finest romance moviezombie moviecomedy movie combo to ever be released, Shaun of the Dead.

In Clark Collis’ book You’ve Got Red On You, Edgar Wright recalled how the studio wanted one of the smaller, supporting roles to be ‘cast up’ which means trying to get a bigger name; “Working Title were like, ‘Barbara [the role that ended up going to Penelope Wilton] is a great chance to cast up’. I remember specifically we went to Brenda Blethyn, who I think liked it but was doing something else.”

Wright continued; “Then we went to Helen Mirren. Helen’s response was brilliant. She read the script and said, ‘I’m passing on the role of Barbara. I would only do the movie if I got to play Ed [Nick Frost’s role]’. Her reason was, ‘Well, Ed’s the funniest part’.”

Helen Mirren was of course a big star in 2004, but it was before she won the Oscar for playing the Queen. Also, she has since leaned more into doing fun and frequently villainous supporting roles in blockbusters such as National Treasure 2, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and Shazam 2. And let’s not forget that she’s now part of the Fast and Furious saga, a role that she lobbied Vin Diesel to get.

So, we missed out on Mirren in an Edgar Wright movie, but I think we’d all agree that Penelope Wilton smashed it out of the park.

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