DON’T READ THIS SCRIPT
every actor who reads it… winds up dead
This week we’re headed to Hollywood for an urban legend- The Curse of Atuk! Apparently, any actor that was seriously considering their involvement in this project suffered an untimely death- we’ll dive a little deeper and you can see what you think…
But first! The solution to this week’s riddle:
Peter is put in a cell with a dirt floor and only one window.
The window is too high for him to reach. The only thing he has in the cell is a shovel.
He won’t be able to get any food or water and only has two days to escape or he’ll die.
Peter can’t dig a tunnel because it will take him much longer than two days to do it.
How will he escape from the cell?
Answer: he dug until he had enough dirt to pile up high. Then he stood on the mound of dirt and escaped through the window!
And now off to follow our dreams in La La Land!
The Incomparable Atuk
The story itself seems pretty harmless. Based off of a satirical novel by Canadian author Mordecai Richler, The Incomparable Atuk centers on a Canadian Inuit who finds himself relocated to Toronto whereby the vices of the big city work their way into his heart.
In America, (because we don’t know more than the same 50 words) the title was changed to Stick Your Neck Out, and the Inuit was first going to be played by John Belushi (because when Hollywood thinks “Inuit,” it immediately thinks “ah, yes, a white man.”)
That film adaptation was in the works around the mid-1980s and continued to be in development until the mid-1990s, but the producers kept running into the same problem: their actors associated with the film kept dying.
Rumors of the script being cursed circulated widely and that put an end to the film ever moving out of development. The producers and screenwriter, apparently, officially dismissed the curse in 1999 (yeah, okay guys.)
Conspiracy? Urban Legend?
Let’s take a look at the timeline:
As previously mentioned, Belushi was the first actor considered for the lead role. Sadly, months later, he was found dead in a hotel room after an apparent drug overdose and the too young age of 33.
4 years later in 1986, comedian Sam Kinison was signed as the lead role and they actually started filming for about a week. The project was put on hold due to script rewrites and, during another round of script negotiations in 1992, Kinison was killed in a car accident.
The producers next approached John Candy for the role. The buzz & excitement grew and John even brought his close friend Michael O’Donoghue into the fold, having him read the script and potentially join the cast. Candy died of a heart attack in March of that year.
O’Donoghue died that following November of a cerebral hemorrhage.
And in 1997, the producers gave the script a final push, approaching the one and only Chris Farley to star. Farley brought on Phil Hartman and pre-production was on its way. But once again, the curse (or just truly bizarre coincidences) struck again as Farley was found dead of a drug overdose months later,
Hartman was murdered by his wife only 5 months after that.
What do we say about coincidence?
After the tragedies of Farley & Hartman, Atuk was permanently shelved. So… what gives?
The most popular theories are coincidence, curse, or as good ole Occam would say…nothing. Most of those men were known for living rather unhealthy lifestyles (drug use, poor diet, etc.) and in that particular era of comedy, that was the expected life of a star. The car accident & murder? Horrible tragedies but, again, coincidental.
Or we’ve got a true curse on our hands, either of the book or the script (or both.) There’s even conjecture that it was the casting of a white man and not a native that brought such disaster to the project.
Finally, there were plenty of other actors who were interested in the film but passed for whatever reason that all lived long lives. Will Ferrell, Jack Black, & John Goodman are just a few examples, and they are all, as of January 2022, alive and well.
So, what do we think, Mystery Mob? Coincidence?
Want to read the script?
Here are our deeper dives this week. Enjoy!
-Andy & Mark
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