The film industry is littered with stories of projects that could have been. Tom Selleck was almost Indiana Jones. Eric Stoltz originally was cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Even recently, we learned that Quentin Tarantino wanted Tom Cruise to play Cliff Booth before he eventually settled on Brad Pitt. Pitt ended up winning an Oscar.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld has his fair share of casting stories from his illustrious career. He worked on Big, which almost starred Robert De Niro. And he shepherded the Men In Black series, which almost added Mark Wahlberg. Sonnenfeld knew that Men In Black 3 would involve time travel. And he knew he wanted Josh Brolin to play the part of Young K, the agent made famous by Tommy Lee Jones. While guesting on the ReelBlend podcast, Sonnenfeld opened up and explained:
In the 2012 sequel Men In Black 3, Agent J (Will Smith) must time travel to 1969 to prevent an evil alien named Boris from executing a young K (Brolin), thereby maintaining the present day timeline that K knows and loves. The franchise was always going to have Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. They made Men In Black memorable (as witnessed by the dismal Men In Black International). But the series almost took on Mark Wahlberg, who in 2012 was coming off of The Fighter and Ted, and had proven he could hold down comedies such as The Other Guys and Date Night.
Barry Sonnenfeld recalls:
Ah yes. Hollywood. Where you very often get a role (or lose a role) because you are the friend of a friend of a friend. Josh Brolin ended up being a terrific young Tommy Lee Jones, fully committing to his interpretation of the Oscar-winning actor. As Sonnenfeld recalls:
And he puts it to good use, in movies like The Fugitive, In the Valley of Elah, JFK and No Country for Old Men. Want to hear all of Barry Sonnenfeld’s stories? Press play on the ReelBlend episode. It’s a fantastic listen:
What do you guys? Would Mark Wahlberg have made a better K? Or was Brolin the right choice to act opposite Will Smith in Men In Black 3? Cast your vote in our poll.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.