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John Lithgow Says He Turned Down David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’ Because It Was “Icky” And “Grotesque”

John Lithgow Says He Turned Down David Cronenberg's 'The Fly' Because It Was "Icky" And "Grotesque"

Considering he’s done everything from playing the alien dad in “Third Rock From The Sun,” to being a delightfully deranged serial killer in “Dexter,” to guiding Bigfoot through “Harry And The Hendersons” (and tons of other roles, obviously), the idea of the multi-talented, always busy John Lithgow playing the lead in David Cronenberg‘s “The Fly” isn’t so farfetched. And it seems that part was his back in the day, but he turned it down. Why? It was too gross.

Chatting with In Magazine (via Global News), the actor revealed that even though he was encouraged to take the part, he ultimately declined. “My agent wanted me to do ‘The Fly’ and I didn’t want to do it. I just finished another project and I was exhausted, and I found it such an icky story,” Lithgow said. “I told my agent I just didn’t want to play something so grotesque.”

What was that other project? Our guess is 1984’s “2010” or perhaps “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.” Either way, Lithgow has never worked with Cronenberg, probably due to the aforementioned “icky” factor.

But, it ended well for everyone anyway. Lithgow is hugely respected and a great talent, and Jeff Goldblum slayed as Seth Brundle and continues to be everything that is Jeff Goldblum, and Cronenberg delivered a career defining film. Can’t ask for better than that.

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John Lithgow is a very fine actor, and he definitely shouldn't have done "The Fly" if he didn't believe in the project – it wouldn't have worked if that was the case. Thankfully, Jeff Goldblum is FANTASTIC and delivers probably the performance of his career. I recently saw "The Fly" again (I hadn't seen if for years) and not only does it hold up, I consider it a masterpiece. So everything worked out the best for everyone. Cronenberg got his true Seth Brundle and we got a timeless classic of horror, science fiction, and human tragedy, with a dose of morbid wit.


That's like turning down a part in a Spielberg movie because it dwells on father-son relationships too much. It's a feature, not a bug.

Emperor Zerg Rush

This seems surreal, knowing that he didn't have an issue turning down Ricochet – which, amongst other things, featured a filmed date rape sequence and heavily implied child violation. It makes The Fly look like Citizen Kane by comparison.

Leigh Richert

Love Lithgow (must see is "Twilight Zone: The Movie"), but "The Fly" is one of the finest films ever and this is very much due to Jeff "I want to be the first insect politician" Goldblum.

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