Kathy Bates is nominated for an Oscar at tonight’s Academy Awards, so I thought I would take a look back at Misery, the movie she starred in that led her to winning an Oscar for best female in a leading role in 1990.
Did you know that Bette Midler turned down the role of Annie Wilkes? She thought the story was too violent, but later called herself “stupid” for her decision. However, screenwriter William Goldman wrote Misery with then unknown but respected theater actress Kathy Bates in mind.
Her co-star, James Caan, was not the first choice to play Paul Sheldon. Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman and Robert Redford all said no to the role. William Hurt said no twice. Warren Beatty showed a lot of interest and gave the director Rob Reiner and Goldman ideas for the character before having to turn them down, too, because he had to keep working on Dick Tracy.
Caan had to stay in bed for 15 weeks of shooting. He said he thought that Reiner was playing a “sadistic” joke on him, knowing the actor wouldn’t enjoy not moving around for so long. Caan wasn’t used to playing a reactionary character, and found it much tougher to play.
Reiner, Rob. Misery, Columbia Pictures, 1990.