Helen Hunt Almost Lost Out on ‘As Good As It Gets’ Because of ‘Twister’: The Director ‘Thought I Was Just Wrong for the Part’
Helen Hunt gave an award-winning performance in 1997’s As Good As It Gets. But she almost missed out on starring in the romantic comedy. The movie’s director, James L. Brooks, had trouble picturing her as Carol Connelly, a single mother who falls in love with writer Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson). Why? Because he’d seen the actor chasing tornados in the action film, Twister.
‘Twister’ became a blockbuster in 1996
Hitting theaters on May 10, 1996, Twister made $41 million opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. It went on to claim the no. two spot behind Independence Day earning almost $500 million worldwide. Directed by Jan de Bont, Twister beat out Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible at the box office.
In the action movie, Hunt played college professor Dr. Jo Harding. She and a team of students worked tirelessly to get Dorothy — their prototype for a tornado data-gathering device — ready before a massive storm.
Hunt’s character eventually teamed up with her ex-husband, Bill (Bill Paxton), to beat Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes), who stole the idea for Dorothy.
For nearly the entire length of the film, Paxton and Hunt’s characters chased down tornados to capture data with Dorothy only to narrowly escape with their lives. The movie became known for its special effects, a far cry from As Good As It Gets.
‘As Good As It Gets’ director felt Helen Hunt ‘was just wrong for the part’
Hunt reflected on As Good As It Gets and Twister in a 2020 interview with Vulture. The actor talked about how the action movie almost cost her As Good As It Gets.
She explained the director of As Good As It Gets had only seen her in Twister and Mad About You, a sitcom in the early ‘90s.
“When James L. Brooks was casting As Good As It Gets, I was told that he thought I was just wrong for the part. And it was right after Twister,” Hunt said. “So I guess he had that to go on, and Mad About You.”
Hunt got an audition and proved to the director she was, in fact, the right actor for the role.
“And I understand why he wouldn’t see me as the right person for that job. I don’t know if the studio pushed him to do it, or what happened. But I got in the door and I auditioned,” she said. “So even though what I did in Twister might have made him think I wasn’t right for that part, it might have been the thing that forced him to see me.”
What happened at the audition? Hunt changed Brooks’ mind.
“In the middle of my audition, I remember him running around to get someone to film the audition, and he started to get interested in me,” she said.
Hunt went on to land the role opposite Nicholson. They starred in the film alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Greg Kinnear.
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The actor won multiple awards for ‘As Good As It Gets’
Hunt’s performance in As Good As It Gets didn’t go unnoticed in Hollywood. She won major industry awards and the movie garnered 54 nominations, according to IMDb.
Ultimately, Hunt won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her co-star, Nicholson, also won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The two actors also won Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards for their performances.
See Hunt in As Good As It Gets by streaming the movie on Amazon Prime Video.