TIME movies

Chris Pratt Almost Wasn’t the Lead in Guardians of the Galaxy

Glenn Howerton at the 2014 Emmy Awards
This was almost the face of Starlord. Kevork Djansezian/NBC—NBC via Getty Images

The role was nearly awarded to another member of one of TV's most-acclaimed comedies

There were lots of interesting bits from Drew Magary’s profile of Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt in the December issue of GQ, but perhaps the most revelatory was one that didn’t quite make the cut. According to outtakes from the piece, posted on The Concourse, Pratt’s character Star-Lord was nearly played by Glenn Howerton, best known as Dennis on It’s Always Sunny on Philadelphia.

According to Magary, here’s what director James Gunn had to say: “Glenn came along a little bit later, but there was a good chance that, if I didn’t cast Chris, that I would’ve cast Glenn Howerton in the role.” (That sound you hear is the breaking hearts of die-hard Always Sunny fans.)

As crazy as that is, maybe even crazier is the fact that Howerton himself had no idea how close he came to landing the life-changing role:

Gunn confirmed the report earlier this afternoon:

There’s little question that Pratt proved a runaway success in the role (you don’t have an entire summer named after you without having a pretty good one), but that won’t stop fans from imagining what might have been if Howerton had inhabited the role.

On their respective critically-acclaimed TV comedies—Parks and Recreation for Pratt, Always Sunny for Howerton—their roles are drastically different, with Pratt playing a kind-hearted simpleton and Howerton a narcissistic sociopath. Starlord clearly resides in the vast space between the two, but it’s imaginable that Howerton might have had an even more biting take on the role, even if he didn’t go full Dennis.

Even if coming so close might sting for Howerton, he’s got the fact that he’s a golden god to fall back on. Oh, and Always Sunny returns for its 10th season in January.

[via The Concourse]

TIME movies

The New Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Features Even More Ultron and Turmoil

If you were hoping for less doom and gloom, you're going to be a little disappointed

If you didn’t get enough of an Avengers fix when the first trailer for Age of Ultron leaked last month, you’re in luck. A new trailer for Marvel’s blockbuster sequel dropped Wednesday and has even more Ultron voiceover, as well as familiar scenes of our favorite superheroes in mortal peril. We don’t learn a whole lot knew about Ultron (other than that he brings friends when he crashes the Avengers cocktail party in Tony Stark’s apartment), but the mystery is half the fun.

The new installment arrives in theaters on May 1, 2015.

Read next: Watch The Avengers Try to Lift Thor’s Hammer

TIME viral

Bad Idea of the Day: Bill Cosby Creates a Bill Cosby Meme Generator

This can't end well

Update: It didn’t end well. Cosby pulled the generator from his website last night.

If you’re a celebrity who is in the process of narrowly tip-toeing around allegations of sexual assault and are looking for a way to simply crash headlong into them, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more effective method than creating a meme generator for your likeness. Perhaps that’s exactly what 77-year-old actor and comedian Bill Cosby was hoping for when he unveiled #CosbyMeme Generator on his website Monday.

The generator enables users to scroll through a series of Cosby photos and add their own text. The user-created memes do need to be submitted for approval (and for the sake of maximum enjoyment, let’s pretend that Cosby himself is the one rendering the judgement), which Cosby’s team likely hoped would prevent the generator from being used for anything other than wholesome, old-fashioned fun. Unfortunately, savvy Internet patrons know how to take screenshots of their submitted memes.

Folks have already begun to question the wisdom of the generator, but it remains to be seen whether Cosby and his team will be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this particularly ill-advised occasion. Odds are it will only direct a larger audience to this Hannibal Buress bit from last month, which reignited some Cosby-related outrage:

If he doesn’t already, Cosby’s own meme generator is likely to make the Emmy-winner yearn for the days when most of the jokes at his expense were about his sweaters.

Read next: Bill Cosby Asked the Internet to Meme Him But Then This Happened

TIME movies

All Your Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Questions Answered

A very necessary guide to the unfamiliar voices, new faces, old tensions and that enormous Iron Man suit

As you’re likely aware at this point (and if not, surprise!), the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked late last night, so Marvel—after blaming those no-good troublemakers at Hydra—decided to release the official version nearly a week ahead of schedule.

If you’ve watched the trailer, it’s a good bet that you have at least a few questions. We’ll do our best to answer them below:


Who’s that guy talking to us in the voiceover?

That would be the titular Ultron (James Spader, recently of The Blacklist), one of Marvel’s chief supervillains and a prime nemesis of the Avengers in the comics.

Wait, so it’s not the Mandarin?

No. Even though Spader is using the same creepy/menacing inflection that Ben Kingsley employed for the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, these are two entirely separate and distinct characters.

Okay, so back to Ultron. What’s his deal?

It’s not entirely clear from the trailer what Ultron’s goals are, though if he believes that “everyone screaming for mercy” is “beautiful,” it’s a safe bet that he probably wants what all supervillains want: the superheroes dead, lots of innocent people dead and, of course, world domination (of sorts). He also appears to not be a big fan of strings.


And I gather he’s that sort of Iron Man-looking figure who confronts the Avengers about 30 seconds into the trailer?

You got it. The trailer doesn’t explain how Ultron came to be, but according to Entertainment Weekly, he’s “the ultimate drone”—a creation of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), designed to essentially police the world as an omnipotent force — that’s a different take from the books, where he’s created by Hank Pym, a character that hasn’t made it to the Marvel Movie Universe yet. Ultron isn’t so much a physical being as a consciousness that can transfer itself from one automated form to another. To make matters worse, when Stark created Ultron, he infused the A.I. with elements (the worst ones) of his own personality. Needless to say, things don’t quite go as planned.


Why do all the Avengers look so unhappy at the start of the trailer?

Honestly, that’s probably footage from later in the movie after things have already gone south. No one said trailers have to go in order.

What’s up with Bruce Banner?

Of all the characters, Banner—better known to most as The Hulk—appears to be in the worst way. That’s not too surprising given that he’s the one who ends up turning into a giant green monster if his heart starts beating too quickly, but things appeared to be mostly under control by the end of the first Avengers film. Now Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is stumbling through snow-covered woods and touching hands with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). For most people, the latter would be a good thing, but Banner has an obvious problem with getting too excited, even in a romantic way.


Who are the two kids with Ultron?

That’s brother-and-sister duo Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver and Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch. (You may recognize them from the end credits scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)

So they’re bad too, huh?

Certainly looks that way at the moment. Whether that remains the case has yet to be seen.


What can they do?

Without giving too much away, the trailer makes it look like Quicksilver has some sort of super-speed and Scarlet Witch can do something not entirely dissimilar from Gambit’s manipulation of kinetic energy. Quicksilver also appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but the two characters have some differences. (Marvel Studios doesn’t own the rights to the X-Men or Spider-Man franchises, leading to all sorts of weird discrepancies like this.)

What does Tony Stark mean when he says, “It’s the end. The end of the path I started us on?”

As mentioned above, Stark was the one responsible for creating Ultron. We saw in Iron Man 3 what a couple dozen automated Iron Man suits could do. Imagine that, but multiplied by an unknown and coupled with Ultron’s aim to wipe out humankind. Sure must look like the end.


And how about that enormous Iron Man-looking thing that the Hulk fights?

That’s the appropriately titled “Hulkbuster armor,” designed to enable the wearer to hold his own against the Hulk. We can’t know for sure, but it’s as good a bet as not that Tony Stark isn’t the one inside that armor. Or it is Stark, and he had to get his pal Bruce under control for some reason — one major Marvel comic book plot sees Stark deciding the Hulk is too dangerous to stay on Earth, so Stark banishes the green beast to his own unpopulated planet. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.


Why is Thor hoisting Tony Stark in the air by his neck at the 1:40 mark?

Could be one of any number of reasons. Thor and Stark have never gotten along particularly well, plus Stark is directly responsible for the rise of Ultron. Or it could be something else entirely. There have been rumors swirling that the next Captain America film will feature something like the Marvel comics’ Civil War series, which pitted superhero against superhero in a struggle over civil rights (more on that here). Clearly, the cracks are starting to show.


You mean like the broken Captain America shield?

You got it. Odds are that Cap won’t die in this film (Chris Evans is signed on for at least two more pictures), but Joss Whedon has proven himself willing to kill main characters if the circumstance require it.

So this is going to be a darker Avengers than the first one?

Well the first one wasn’t exactly cheery (what with an alien invasion of earth and the partial destruction of midtown Manhattan), but if you’re basing it on internal strife amongst the Avengers and a force that makes the group question its very nature, then yeah, this one looks like it’ll be pretty heavy.

When do we get to stop speculating and actually see this thing?

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1, 2015.

TIME viral

Watch Sir Ian McKellen Tell Students What Happens If They Don’t Study

The acclaimed actor told assembled schoolchildren, "If you don't do your revision properly, do you know what will happen?... You. Shall. Not. Pass!"

Updated Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m. ET

Sir Ian McKellen — who has earned a reputation of late for showing up in random places and doing awesome things (typically with his pal and sometimes co-star Patrick Stewart) — stopped by the Chew Valley School in England today and addressed the assembled masses. Instead of rambling on as school speakers tend to do, McKellen simply stood by a window and asked, “If you don’t do your revision properly, do you know what will happen?” After waiting a beat, the Lord of the Rings star summoned his best Gandalf impersonation and bellowed, “You. Shall. Not. Pass!” (Sidenote: Is it still an impersonation if you’re impersonating a character that you yourself originated?)

Anyhow, it’s entirely unclear why exactly McKellen was at the school, but any excuse for him to belt out iconic declarations from Lord of the Rings in front of a bunch of giddy British schoolchildren is a good one.

Update: According to the Chew Valley School website, “The visit was a celebration of the tremendous work the Equalities Team have been doing for more than a year now in promoting human rights, opposing bullying and in particular challenging homophobic language and behaviour in school.” McKellen confirmed the purpose of his visit on Twitter.

TIME Television

Watch Game of Thrones Star Jason Momoa’s Intense Audition Tape

The clip has been on YouTube since 2012, but it's worth watching if you want to see how the little-known actor scored his breakout role

Despite lasting just one season on Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo remains one of the show’s most memorable characters — thanks in large part to Jason Momoa’s indelible portrayal of the Dothraki lord. In this YouTube clip from 2012, we see that the actor landed his breakout role performing the haka, a traditional dance associated with New Zealand’s Maori people, during his audition.

Though the haka has a legacy entirely unrelated to Game of Thrones (obviously), its intensity — and Momoa’s fervent, wild-haired rendition of it — helps reveal why the actor was so well-suited for the part of Khal Drogo. And it was that short-lived role that has launched the 35-year-old actor to greater stardom. Momoa has recently been cast as Aquaman and is slated to appear in a number of DC Comics’ upcoming films.

Plus, with the recent announcement that there will be flashbacks in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, there’s always a slight chance we could see Khal Drogo once again. Let’s just hope he’s slightly less terrifying than he is in that audition tape, because seriously — you do not want to turn the volume up too loud for that one.

Read next: HBO Will Finally Start Selling Web-Only Subscriptions Next Year

TIME movies

The 7 Greatest Trick Plays in Sports Movie History

'Little Giants' in 1994 Warner Brothers

The runner-up from Little Giants celebrates its 20th anniversary today. See what beat it out for the top spot

If far-fetched premises and sentimentality are the meat and vegetables of sports movies, trick plays would be the dessert. There’s no rule saying that every sports film has to have a trick play, and for some (Million Dollar Baby, The Natural), they would be wildly out of place. Given the right context, however, a trick play can ultimately be what audiences remember the most, perhaps for years and decades after the movie’s release.

There’s no great science to determining the greatest trick plays in sports movie history (though quite often those plays involve some level of science—physics, psychology, biology—themselves). If you start breaking them down too much, it inevitably ruins their magic and makes them depressingly implausible rather than charmingly implausible. That said, there are certain components of the plays that are worthy of examination when putting together a list like this. How much fun is the trick play? Does it work? Could it conceivably work in the real world? How intricate is the play? How much fun does it look like the team performing it is having? How crucial is the play in the team’s ultimate and—however unlikely—inevitable triumph?

The Little Giants unveiled “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” 20 years ago today, on Oct. 14, 1994, but Danny O’Shea’s greatest claim to fame couldn’t quite reach the top of our list. See where it and six other worthy contenders fell in the rankings:

7. Remember The Titans: Fake 23 Blast with a Backside George Reverse

The play that won the T.C. Williams Titans the 1971 Virginia state championship lives right on the border of what one might consider a “trick” play. It doesn’t have a traditionally “fun” name, nor does it brush right up against what many would deem illegal—two prevalent hallmarks of this list. But what it lacks in outlandishness, it makes up for in implausibility. Here’s the situation: Down in the waning seconds of the game, the Titans need a score to win the championship. Coach Ned Yoast (Will Patton) tells head coach Herman Boone that the Titans will, “Have to throw something at” the opposing team that they’re not ready for.

So what does Denzel do? He puts in his former starting quarterback (“Rev”) who’s missed nearly the entire season due to injury (and hasn’t played in months), and then runs a reverse from the team’s own 25-yard-line with the actual starting quarterback (“Sunshine”) as the lead blocker. Because this is a (supremely entertaining) movie where rampant racism can be solved by a few renditions of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and an early-morning jog to Gettysburg, Rev runs 75 yards untouched into the end zone. Titans win; racism loses. Actually, that is quite the trick, but the play still doesn’t have quite the “wow” factor to launch it into the top six.

6. Space Jam: Michael Jordan Dunk

Leaving aside the idea that virtually every moment of basketball played in Space Jam could be considered a trick play of some sort, one indelible moment reigns supreme: Michael Jordan’s (spoiler alert) game-winning dunk to vanquish the Monstars. The design of the play itself is rather straight-forward: MJ gets the ball near mid-court, and has to score with six seconds remaining.

The way he does this is to jump directly on top of the backside of an enormous Monstar and leap toward the net, quite literally running through the air. The airtime alone is remarkable, but what truly makes Jordan the greatest of all time is that he doesn’t allow the two Monstars who subsequently tackle him in midair to prevent him from reaching the basket. Instead, His Airness simply Stretch Armstrongs his way toward the rim and drops the ball right in there, giving the Looney Tunes a much-needed victory. (Never mind that Bill Murray was clearly wide open the entire time, and that Bill Murray was actually in Space Jam.)

5. D2: The Mighty Ducks: Imposter Goalie

You’re Gordon Bombay. Your team has fallen behind a dominant Iceland team 4-1 through the first two periods of the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games championship game. You’ve gotten the brother of your aging mentor to bring in new Ducks uniforms (of questionable legality) for a lackluster USA squad and crowd-sourced an inspirational “halftime” speech. Your team comes back out on the ice, and things are looking pretty good for the time being. You get a quick goal from Connie Moreau, but Iceland answers right back, so you turn things over to Coach-in-Training Charlie Conway who draws up his alley-oop play for Adam Banks. Somehow, that works and then Luis Mendoza successfully stops for the first time in his speedy career and your squad is down just one goal. Obviously, you’ll want to be turning things over to your best shooter, Russ Tyler, Man with the Knucklepuck. Problem is, the opposing coach, Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson knows he’s the shooter so he’s having his team swarm every time Russ touches the puck.

An average coach would try to exploit that tendency, but you’re Gordon Bombay and you are anything but average. Instead, you call a timeout. You have the team come over to the bench. Somehow you get Russ and your goalie, Greg Goldberg, to strip down and exchange uniforms right there in front of the referees, opposing team and an arena full of fans. No one sees a goddamn thing, because you’re the Minnesota Miracle Man, and performing miracles is what you do. You send the team back out on the ice with Russ Tyler as goalie. No way Iceland gets the puck back and shoots it on net. The Ducks control the puck in their own zone, just winding down the clock as you do when you’re losing a game in the waning seconds. Then you scream, “Now, Guy!” And then it begins. Your squad makes it about halfway to center ice, before dumping the puck off to “Goldberg,” who quickly reveals himself to not be Goldberg at all. Instead, it’s Russ Tyler, the shooter. You knew he was the shooter, but you really know it when Stansson screams, “The shooter!”

Anyway, Averman gives Tyler his stick because it would be way too far-fetched to think that Tyler could shoot with a goalie’s stick, and Tyler winds up and fires away well beyond center ice. The puck flies true—well, true for a knucklepuck, meaning it’s wobbling all over the place—and the Iceland goalie simply waves at the puck as it buries itself in the back of the net. Tie game. Penalty shots. Another miracle for the Minnesota Miracle Man. Damn, you’re good.

4. Happy Gilmore: 18th Hole Obstacle Shot

Happy Gilmore’s greatest weakness was always his short game (well that and his fondness for cut-off button-down shirts), so you had to know that his ultimate triumph over Shooter McGavin would come down to putting. (You’d also know that because putting is how a hole ends in golf, but that’s beside the point.) On his outing to a miniature golf course with Chubbs, Happy goes to his “happy place” and finds a way to sink an impossible putt. When an entire TV tower collapses in front of his ball on the 18th hole of the Tour Championship with Happy needing one putt to win the Gold Jacket, he has no choice but to do it again.

Well, he could just putt around the TV tower and go into sudden death overtime but that’s not the sort of thing that a guy with a golden hockey stick for a putter would do. Instead, Happy winds up and whacks the ball off the front of an old-school VW bug and into a Rube Goldberg-esque labyrinth of flags, grates and tubes on the TV tower. And wouldn’t you know it? The last of those tubes leads right into the hole. As far as trick shots go, that’s a pretty impressive one.

3. The Mighty Ducks: “The Flying V”

It’s no stretch to assert that “The Flying V” is the most iconic trick play in sports movie history. Gordon Bombay’s favorite pet play has always had a few things going for it. First, it’s tied to the team’s name and slogan (“Ducks fly together”). Second, it’s immediately recognizable visually, so much so that when the cast assembled for the 20th reunion of D2 last month, they all lined up for it. Third, it’s got a remarkably descriptive name. And finally, it worked so well in the first movie that it made it into the second—even though it’s easily stopped (thanks for ruining the dream, Iceland). It’s even legal, since Jesse Hall, who leads the V, always has possession of the puck as they cross the blue line. If you ever played hockey as a kid, there’s little chance that you or someone on your team didn’t try to convince everyone else that you could win all your games by just doing The Flying V over and over again.

2. Little Giants: “The Annexation of Puerto Rico”

The main thing working against “The Annexation of Puerto Rico”—which celebrates its 20th anniversary Tuesday— is that it’s not an entirely original trick play. In fact, the “fumblerooski,” as it is better known, was invented by John Heisman himself. The basic idea behind the play is that the center hikes the ball, the quarterback covertly places it on the ground as he (or the running back(s)) runs to the left or right direction, and a nearby offensive lineman grabs the ball and runs the other way to (what theoretically would be) wide-open ground. There have been countless iterations of the play, mostly at the college level, and it was ultimately banned in 1992 as a forward fumble. Rules for Pee-Wee football, however, are different than those for college football, so when Danny O’Shea’s Little Giants found themselves tied with the villainous Cowboys on the game’s final play, Danny realized he had only one option from his own goal line.

Nubie had been touting “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” ever since John Madden came to town, and the Giants finally got to put it to good use. Using Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea as a decoy, Zolteck snaps the ball to Junior who immediately puts it on the ground, then fakes a reverse while Zolteck scoops up the ball, freezes and then starts running forward. The student of football that he is, Kevin O’Shea sniffs it out almost immediately and starts screaming, “Fumblerooski!” at the top of his lungs. Spike, being more dog than tween, pays little attention and goes after the Icebox. By the time someone catches Zolteck (and brings him down with an obvious horse collar tackle), the center has already flipped the ball back to Junior, who carries it another couple dozen yards before flipping it back to Tad, who more or less waltzes into the end zone.

It’s pretty epic, it’s a game-winner and it’s got an awesome, memorable name. People like it so much that they’ve tried to convince people that the Carolina Panthers pulled it off a couple years ago (that play was really more of a trick handoff than the illegal fumblerooski). If a certain baseball movie hadn’t been released three months prior, it would be the owner of the top spot.

1. Little Big League: Hidden Ball Trick (Remix)

In large part thanks to The Sandlot and the glut of other baseball movies in the late ’80s and early ’90s (Rookie of the Year, Major League, Angels in the Outfield among them), Little Big League has never gotten the recognition it very much deserves. It’s a rich film with actual characters—not simply parodies—who have genuine emotions and motives. Just as importantly, in the end, the good guys (the Minnesota Twins) don’t win. That they don’t win is no fault of Billy Heywood (Luke Edwards), possibly the finest manager in baseball movie history. He understands the foolishness of bunting, he can properly motivate his players (Mike McGreevey, Larry Hilbert) and he knew the perfect time to break out an absolutely epic trick play.

The hidden ball trick is nearly as old as baseball itself. The basic principle is that at the end of a play, an infielder holds onto the ball while the pitcher stays off the mound and pretends to have the ball. Then as soon as the unaware baserunner steps off the bag, the fielder tags him out. What the Twins pull off is basically the opposite of that.

It begins with Ken Griffey Jr., the closest thing the film has to a villain. Griffey is pretty spectacular in the Twins’ final showdown with the Mariners: intimidating, cool, arrogant. So when he reaches first base after a walk, Billy decides that now’s the time to unleash the Twins’ secret weapon. Everyone on the field is in on it, from the pitcher to the infielders, to the guys in the bullpen all the way on down to the security guard. After Bowers, the pitcher, attempts one pickoff at first base, Junior declares that he plans to steal “second, then third” and he “might even steal home.”

So when Bowers appears to throw over a second time, Collins appears to dive and miss the ball and the Twins’ bullpen in right field frantically points to the phantom ball, Junior strolls on over to second base. Only Bowers never threw the ball to first base at all, so all he’s gotta do is toss it to the short stop, who tags Junior out and gives him a wink.

The Twins don’t win the game, but the play itself is the culmination of everything the previous 90 minutes in the movie had strove to convey: teamwork, ingenuity and above all else, a desire to have fun. None of those things win a baseball game (clearly), but they do make for a once-in-a-lifetime trick play.

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