Photo Illustration: Nick Wanserski

Erstwhile R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe’s recent chat with Alec Baldwin on the latter’s Here’s The Thing podcast has yielded an intriguing cinematic what-if: Stipe very nearly played the role of pious serial killer John Doe in David Fincher’s 1995 thriller Se7en. That’s right, the guy who sang “Shiny Happy People” in 1991 could have been forcing people to eat themselves to death onscreen just four years later.

It seems that writer-director David Fincher wanted to think “out of the box,” so to speak, when it came to casting this pivotal, unspeakably dark role. And Stipe was game for it, too, especially since the character had no dialogue to memorize at that point in the project’s development. “All I had to do was run down some hallways and look scary,” Stipe says. Alas, Stipe did not have the upper hand when it came to scheduling, as R.E.M. was set to go out on tour in support of its 1994 album Monster just when Fincher was shooting. Instead, the world got this:

The showy role wound up going to Kevin Spacey, who also made a strong impression in The Usual Suspects that year. In the finished film, Doe is a regular chatterbox, so it seems that Fincher drastically altered the script after the casting change. Stipe disapproves of another script change, however; originally, it was to be Morgan Freeman and not Brad Pitt who gunned down the gloating killer. “It didn’t make sense,” Stipe complains of the finished product.

As of now, Stipe’s acting resume is extremely limited. He did voice work on The Simpsons and Olive, The Other Reindeer, but his greatest acting triumph probably remains his role on The Adventures Of Pete & Pete.

[via Cinema Blend]

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