It is quite a common practice in Hollywood for individuals to join and leave projects left and right, be it because they found a better project or because the first one just didn’t sit right. Some of the biggest names in the industry can easily say that they missed out on massive projects because of timing. While this is nothing new in the film industry, it is quite interesting to find out that Tim Burton nearly directed the 1991 film, The Addams Family, one of the most culturally significant and iconic films of all time.
Oddly enough, however, a series of events following this led to the director having to let go of Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning film.
Tim Burton Rejected The Addams Family
During an interview with Variety, Barry Sonnenfeld talked about one of his most successful projects The Addams Family, more specifically the process of making the original and the sequel. The director was initially asked about a rumor that Kim Basinger and Anthony Hopkins were supposed to be in the film. He quickly shut this down, stating that he had been a part of this project since the very beginning before it was green-lit and this was not the case. He did, however, mention two other names that almost directed the film.
“Not to my knowledge, and I was on before there was a greenlight. I will tell you that there were two other directors approached — Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam — and they’re both really good choices. But they both turned it down, so that’s how I ended up getting it. [Producer] Scott Rudin thought he wanted a visual stylist, not just a comedy director. He thought if I can’t get Tim or I can’t get Terry, I’ll get someone with a strong visual sense.”
Sonnenfeld revealed that Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam for the two directors who were approached before he was brought onto the project. While both these directors could have been amazing choices, with them having unique and distinct styles to their films, it was only until the two declined that Sonnenfeld was approached by Scott Rudin, the producer of the project. He then added that Rudin wanted to bring on a visual stylist rather than a comedy director which was the reason why he approached the Men in Black director in the first place.
Barry Sonnenfeld Was Forced To Let Go Of Tom Hank’s Oscar-Winning Film
Barry Sonnenfeld then went on to tell Variety, talking about the sequel to The Addams Family, Addams Family Values. The sequel was not finalized until quite a long time after the original came out. Unfortunately for the director he had already signed down to another project at the time, Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump. Due to the fact that Sonnenfeld had worked very hard on both projects which were now being made simultaneously, he was quite conflicted as to which one he should pick to work on because he could only do one.
“Hanks loved it. He signed on, I was signed on to direct it. And then, a year and a half later, Paramount decides to make “Addams Family Values,” so I had a choice between staying with “Forrest Gump” or going back to the very first thing I’d ever directed. I was working on [“For Love or Money”] with Michael J. Fox, and I said, “What should I do?” Michael said, “You set the table with ‘Addams Family,’ now you need to go have dinner.” I loved directing “Addams Family Values.” Christina Ricci and Christine Baranski and Peter MacNicol and Joan Cusack are particularly funny in that film.”
Taking the advice of Back to the Future actor, Michael J. Fox, Sonnenfeld Decided to stick to the project that he had been committed to for a longer time choosing The Addams Family over Hanks’ film. Unfortunately for the director, however, Forrest Gump went on to win Hanks an Academy Award. While he did regret this decision at first, he made peace with it over time.