‘The Wedding Planner’: Matthew McConaughey Was a Last-Minute Replacement for Another Actor

It’s been 20 years since The Wedding Planner debuted, but the romantic comedy remains as iconic as ever. The movie follows Mary (Jennifer Lopez), a wedding planner who has a chance encounter with a handsome pediatrician Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey). However, just when she thinks she’s finally found a spark with someone special, Mary finds herself planning Steve’s wedding.

It turns out that McConaughey almost didn’t star in the movie. He was a last-minute replacement for another famous actor.

Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez in a scene from the film 'The Wedding Planner', 2001.
Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez in a scene from the film ‘The Wedding Planner’, 2001. | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

‘The Wedding Planner’ almost didn’t get made

The Wedding Planner is one of the classic romantic comedies of the early 2000s. However, it almost didn’t get made. Director Adam Shankman was a first-time filmmaker and had been working on the movie’s script since 1995. However, no studio was willing to take a gamble on it

Originally, the script called for the female lead to be Armenian, but after Sony agreed to take on the project, she became Italian. Lopez is actually Puerto Rican. From there, Shakman has gone on to direct A Walk to Remember, Hair Spray, and What Men Want. He is slated to direct Hocus Pocus 2 and Disenchanted for Disney+.

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‘The Wedding Planner’ was Jennifer Lopez’s first romantic comedy

Though Lopez had made a name for herself following her breakout role in the 1997 biopic Selena, she was a massive star by the time The Wedding Planner premiered in 2001. She had starred in Anaconda and Out of Sight and her debut album, On the 6 was a massive success when it premiered in 1999.

By the time The Wedding Planner came around, she was looking to do a romantic comedy. “They’re kinda hard to come by and hard to find, like good ones,” she told E! News in 2001. “And when I read this one, I really liked it, so I was actively letting people know I wanted to do it. It’s hard to really find ones that are interesting and have some substance to them, but are still light and funny and romantic and touching.”

Lopez identified with Mary since she is also a perfectionist.

Matthew McConaughey replaced Brendan Fraser at the last minute for ‘The Wedding Planner’

Despite McConaughey and Lopez’s chemistry in the film, including that iconic line where the Hustlers actor tells the Oscar winner that he smells like grilled cheese and plums, the movie almost looked completely different.

McConaughey was a last-minute replacement for actor Brendan Fraser who dropped out of the movie just four weeks before filming was set to begin. Fraser bolted from the project to star in the remake of the 1967 deal-with-the-devil comedy, Bedazzled.

The Wedding Planner actually ended up doing better at the box office than Bedazzled and McConaughey and Lopez connected well on-screen. In fact, it was Shakeman who convinced the Interstellar actor to star in the movie. “Adam drove to Matthew McConaughey’s house and begged for him to do it, and he did,” screenwriter Michael Ellis told Entertainment Weekly in 2017.