Michael Phelps Was The Original Choice To Play The New Tarzan, Until Someone Saw Him Act
Michael Phelps is headed to Brazil to jump into the water -- which makes him a much braver man than I. But is he brave enough to be Tarzan? At one point a big-time Hollywood producer thought so -- in fact. Phelps was the first choice to play the Edgar Rice Burroughs hero in the new movie that hit theaters on July 4.
Phelps, according to an article in Vanity Fair, was going to be the next Johnny Weissmuller. That was the dream of producer Jerry Weintraub, who had developed the project and wanted to make a big impact. Business Insider:
At the time, [Vanity Fair writer Rich] Cohen was speaking to Weintraub as he was working on his memoir.
“It’s going to be like Johnny Weissmuller,” Weintraub told Cohen, referring to the swimmer who played Tarzan in films from the 1930s and 1940s. “All the reporters are going to say, ‘Weintraub found the new Johnny Weissmuller!’”
But Weintraub had never seen Phelps act. Around the same time, it so happened that Phelps was set to host "Saturday Night Live."
So Weintraub's asistant recorded Phelps' SNL appearance and showed it to Weintraub.
"As he watched Phelps’s monologue, I watched him, his mood shifting from excited to perturbed, green to red," Cohen wrote. "Two minutes in, Jerry turned to his assistant and shouted, 'This isn’t Tarzan! This isn’t Johnny Weissmuller! He’s a goon! Why didn’t anyone tell me he’s a goon? Turn it off. Goddammit, turn it off.'"
The story was part of Cohen's piece on The Legend of Tarzan co-star Margot Robbie, who also stars in Suicide Squad this summer.
Weismuller won three gold medals for swimming at the 1924 Paris Olympics -- and one bronze medal for water polo. He won two more swimming golds at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. He won fifty-two U.S. National Championships and set more than fifty world records in freestyle and backstroke.
Weintraub passed away in 2015 while The Legend of Tarzan was in post production.
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