In 1984, director Milos Forman enjoyed enormous success with “Amadeus”, a biopic centered on the “rivalry” between Mozart and Salieri. If Tom Hulce brilliantly played the famous Austrian artist, another actor would have liked to interpret him in his place: Mark Hamill
Amadeus: a batch of rewards
After gaining international recognition with Flight over a cuckoo’s nestMilos Forman suffers two major commercial failures with Hate and Ragtime. It was then that he was invited to go see the play Amadeus, written by Peter Shaffer. Completely conquered by the work, he therefore wants to adapt it to the big screen. Moreover, although the place of the plot takes place in Vienna, he decides to shoot the film in his country of origin, Czechoslovakia (in Prague, more precisely).
Amadeus (1984) therefore follows Antonio Salieri, a well-known musician from the Vienna High Court. This notoriety is however called into question when a genius of the symphony appears. His name: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Thus begins a formidable rivalry between the two men.
Thanks to Amadeus, Milos Forman is reconciled with the box office (51 million dollars in receipts garnered, which ranks it among the most lucrative films of the year 1984), but also with criticism. He has been nominated eight times for the Oscars (including the Oscar for best film), four times for the British Academy Film Awards and four times for the Golden Globes. Even today, Milos Forman’s feature film is considered by some specialized magazines as one of the best films in the history of the 7th Art.
For the casting ofAmadeus, Forman is particularly picky. Thus, the filmmaker insists thatno known actor joins the main cast, so that the public is more captivated by the story of Mozart and Salieri than by the actors who interpret it. Among the actors who would have liked to interpret Mozart, Mark Hamill was one of them. Indeed, although he became a star following his role in the first trilogy Star Wars, the actor is not insensitive to the idea of playing this character. And for good reason: as he relates in an interview for the Irish Times, he had already embodied the Austrian prodigy on the boards. It was therefore more than credible to also embody it in the cinema:
I played Amadeus on Broadway. When Milos Forman wanted to do a film version, he asked me to come and rehearse with the actresses who were auditioning as Mozart’s wife. And I said, “Of course.” Because I’m a big fan of Milos Forman. So I rehearsed in turn with different actresses. But after several hours, I asked, “Milos, do you know that I played Mozart?” He laughs: “No one will believe that Luke Skywalker is Mozart.”
Sometimes all it takes is a role in a successful franchise to close some doors on you. Mark Hamill found out the hard way.
Other failed celebrities
If Tom Hulce finally interpreted Mozart in Amadeus, he especially passed in front of some big stars of show business. So there was Mark Hamill, but also Mel Gibson. The Australian actor who was beginning to make himself known through the saga madmax did not tick the boxes requested by Forman. Same thing for Dustin Hoffman who wanted to play Salieri. The famous actor was therefore stolen the role by F.Murray Abraham. The latter lived up to the role as he won the Oscar for best male actor for his performance in 1985.
To note that the casting was also entitled to a change of actress. Indeed, the character of Constance, who plays Mozart’s wife, was initially attributed to Meg Tilly. Unfortunately, the young woman broke her leg a few days before the start of filming. Therefore, Milos Forman hired actress Elisabeth Berridge in his place.