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10 Terrible Cases of Mistaken Identity


10
'Casino Royale' Craps Out
Peter Sellers was NOT pleased with what happened when he was mistaken for Woody Allen.  CBS Photo Archive/Harold Clements/Express/Getty Images
Peter Sellers was NOT pleased with what happened when he was mistaken for Woody Allen. CBS Photo Archive/Harold Clements/Express/Getty Images

We begin with a lighthearted example of how mistaken identity can have unexpectedly expensive consequences, especially when it brings together a big-mouthed executive and a short-tempered performer.

Comedic acting legend Peter Sellers had a reputation for being difficult to work with. He was also a talented mimic and a bit of a smart aleck. So when Leo Jaffe, chair of Columbia Pictures, mistook him for his "Casino Royale" costar Woody Allen, he decided to roll with it. Unfortunately, Jaffe wanted to complain to "Allen" about Sellers, saying he wished they'd never signed him to the movie. Sellers became so incensed that he left the set — and the country. Perhaps he was especially upset because this wasn't the first time such a mistake had occurred. It had happened often on the set of "What's New Pussycat," which had especially irked Sellers, who at the time was at the height of his career while Allen was a relative neophyte [source: Lewis].

The film never recovered. In the end, Columbia finished it using stand-ins while editors struggled to cobble together something intelligible from existing footage [source: Lewis]. Today, the 1967 spy comedy is known in film circles as a legendary fiasco, but most agree there's plenty of blame to go around for the debacle, Sellers' tirade notwithstanding [source: Sikov].


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