It’s true – a powerful trip on hallucinogens is what would have put Maguire out of the running for “Empire Records”. While that phrase certainly sounds outrageous, it was actually the product of a cold, laid-back environment and open communication between the cast and director Allan Moyle on location in Wilmington.
“While the set was being prepared, the cast — which was to include Tobey Maguire, who had been promised a role of some sort — began rehearsing and settling into their characters,” according to Buzzfeed’s oral history. “Each actor was set up in a duplex on the beach; no one was more than a five-minute walk from anyone else. Moyle hosted huge dinner parties at his house every night, where his two standard poodles He instituted a morning Pilates session (years before Pilates was even close to cool), during which several cast members would puff their cigarettes between poses.
As a result, most of the cast members developed a friendly relationship – an element that was later reflected in their “Empire Record” performances. However, it escalated a few puffs during morning mushroom Pilates with a side of General Mills. Or, at least, that would have been the death knell for Maguire’s involvement:
“They all took mushrooms together, the weed was all over the place. Maguire showed up, felt aimless, may or may not have taken a mind-altering drug, and somehow ended up another in the basement of Moyle’s beach house eating a giant bowl of cereal. Moyle found him there. , they talked for several hours, Maguire asked to go back to Hollywood to figure it out his life and write a screenplay. Moyle agreed to buy it; Maguire returned to Hollywood and, as far as Moyle knows, never wrote the screenplay. But two years later he was the star of The Ice Storm; eight years later he was Spider-Man.”
Clearly, Maguire’s career hasn’t suffered from not being involved in potential teenage success. Still, one can’t help but imagine what an “Empire Records” might have been like had the actor stuck around, especially if the psychedelic trips kept happening. And who knows, maybe he will end this scenario one day after all!
It’s also worth noting that Maguire is far from the first celebrity to almost land a role in the cult classic: Billie Joe Armstrong nearly took on the role of Berko from Coyote Shivers, and Angelina Jolie almost got cast as Deb, except for the fact that she would have eaten all the other booming actors alive (but thank goodness she saved that energy for “Girl, Interrupted”). Regardless of who ended up or didn’t end up gracing the screen in “Empire Records,” one thing remains true: it’s a perfectly imperfect gem of a movie as it is.