The Surprising Character Nicolas Cage Almost Played In Wedding Crashers

Back in 2005, "Wedding Crashers" reignited the R-rated comedy. In fact, it was one of the most successful comedies of the 2000s and a firm favorite of single guys everywhere. It also paved the way for a raunchy resurgence, with the likes of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" following in its footsteps.

"Wedding Crashers" tells the story of John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) — two divorce mediators who crash weddings with the purpose of meeting and seducing women. It obviously all goes awry when they begin to fall in love ... but while Wilson and Vaughn make a formidable comedy duo, there's one standout role that's simply unforgettable: Chazz. An aging wedding crasher, Chazz was Jeremy's mentor — introducing him to the wedding crashing lifestyle. Played by Will Ferrell, it was little more than a cameo, but his appearance had a lasting effect on Owen Wilson's character, John.

Dragged along to a funeral — now Chazz's hunting grounds instead of weddings — John faces the grim reality of his way of life. And with a winking Will Ferrell screeching at the graveside of a man he never met, it's a frankly iconic appearance. But it looks as though Nicolas Cage almost took the role instead.

'Hey, Ma! Can we get some meatloaf?'

When John finds out Jeremy plans to marry Gloria (Isla Fisher), he's obviously upset. After all, who will crash weddings with him if his ultimate wingman is now a faithful husband? In a fit of desperation, John tracks down Jeremy's former mentor ... and it gives him a grim reality-check when he realizes the kind of loser Chazz really is. But not before they head out and try to score at a funeral.

It's a great scene, but director David Dobkin told SpitballingPod that Will Ferrell was almost replaced by none other than Nicolas Cage:

"We were trying to get Will [Ferrell]. We didn't get Will until midnight the night before he was shooting. It was one day. We were having a very hard time confirming him and we had Nic Cage as a backup. I never told anyone that."

Can you imagine? Nicolas Cage in a lounge robe chewing the scenery as she shouts to his ma about meatloaf? It's certainly one hell of a mental image, but ultimately Ferrell signed on for the cameo and the rest is history. Dobkin even admits that having Cage as a backup was "Oh my God. Crazy ... Weird."

"By the way, now Nic is a whole other thing — totally off the reservation," he added. Although that wild energy could have made an impressive Chazz, it looks as though it just wasn't meant to be.

'It's like fishing with dynamite!'

Nicolas Cage in the role of Chazz would have been a very different direction for the role, and I can't help thinking he would have brought a much more frenzied and chaotic energy. Thankfully, Ferrell made the right choice and joined "Wedding Crashers" at the last minute. However, the now-legendary role wasn't even in the script. "That character didn't even show up in the original script," revealed Dobkin. "It was something that I could not figure out — an 'all is lost' moment for Owen [Wilson] between the second and third act."

The idea for Chazz came from an early pitch by Wilson to give the wedding crashers other events to crash. "Owen, very early on, had pitched to me. He goes, 'Maybe we could crash some funerals, too?' And I'm like, 'I don't think that'll work tonally' But he pitched that idea." Although it was obviously far too dark for John and Jeremy to crash funerals together, the whole thing came full circle when John needed to hit rock bottom.

"I needed a bottom-out moment," said Dobkin. "And I was like, you know we talk about Chazz? What if you went to go see Chazz and he was crashing funerals? And it was just so grim that it sends you back to your friend? Owen wrote most of that scene and it was really funny."

'I'm just living the dream'

Ultimately, Will Ferrell was absolutely perfect as Chazz — a character oblivious to the fact that he was a complete loser while bringing just the right amount of abject craziness. "He was the perfect person to play that character," said Dobkin. "Will was crazy that day, he was so good — crying at the funeral. It was so uncomfortable!"

However, it still took a bit of work to get it all to come together. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dobkin explained how he guided Ferrell to go all in:

"He was very laid back in the first take, and I remember looking at him and I just said, 'I think he's a little crazier. Which is bad direction by the way. He was like, 'Oh, I know what you mean,' and he did it again, and I was like, 'Maybe more?' I mean, I really believe that I directed him by just saying 'more' until he had that fifth take and that is the whole take that is in the movie. It was one of those things that you shoot and you're like, 'Is this really going to work?' It's a pretty weird sequence."

The result is a comedy tour de force with Ferrell hamming it up as we get a glimpse into the aging loser's life. It just wouldn't be the same with anyone else underneath that robe. Not even Nic Cage.