Tobey Maguire, who worked with Ang Lee on 1997's 'The Ice Storm,' was cut from the Lee's 'Pi' because his star power outshone the role.(Photo: Valerie Macon, Getty Images)
One of the big challenges for an ambitious film like Life of Pi
is that it seeks a wide audience without box-office star power - the
film relies on first-time Indian actor Suraj Sharma and an intricately
computer-generated Bengal tiger.
Director Ang Lee even made the decision to remove Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire from the film entirely because he was too famous for his small part.
Maguire, who worked with Lee on 1997's The Ice Storm, had filmed the role of a writer interviewing the older Pi (played by actor Irrfan Khan), which sets the story in motion.
filming was complete, Lee found that Maguire's star power was dwarfing
the performance. He called for the scenes to be shot again with British
actor Rafe Spall stepping in as the writer.
"I misjudged the situation," says Lee. "I underestimated the power of stars."
love Tobey. But it's a small part," he adds. "So when it's a movie star
sitting there, it captures attention. It didn't really work out."
Khan admits he was taken aback to find he would be shooting the scenes again with a different actor.
was finished with the film. I had deleted everything from my system,"
says Khan. "And to do it again, it needs a huge emotional investment."
Khan turned it into a positive by reworking aspects of his performance.
"It gave me an opportunity to work on it again," says Khan. "I learned that from Ang, to use it constructively."
"We knew exactly what we needed," says Lee. "So the shooting went by very smoothly."
Lee says Maguire understood the decision to change actors.
"He said, 'Whatever works for your movie,' " Lee recalls.