LSU’s Les Miles almost met Syfy’s ‘Ghost Shark’

Les Miles was the first choice to play Smallport Mayor Glen in Syfy’s “Ghost Shark.” But Hurricane Isaac changed cinematic history.

Ernie Hudson (“Ghostbusters”) got the role instead when production was delayed, pushing into football season, by the storm. But then just a few days before cameras were to roll, Hudson suffered an injury on another production.

Enter New Orleans actor Lucky Johnson.

Cue the vengeful supernatural shark.

The Les Miles-in-“Ghost Shark” back-story was first revealed as the campy Syfy creature feature aired Thursday (August 22). It came in the form of a provocative tweet from Daniel Lewis, COO of Active Entertainment, the Louisiana-based production company that made the film:

Daniel Lewis @dlewislsu

@LSUCoachMiles was originally cast in #GhostShark as the Mayor. Dead Serious. Hurricane Isaac pushed production and schedule forced him out.

And now for the rest of the story.

“We were based at Celtic Media Centre, and Patrick Mulhern, the director of studio operations there, had a relationship with coach Miles,” Lewis said Friday. “Coach had come out to the set and got to visit with Tom Cruise when he was shooting ‘Oblivion.’ I got to meet coach, and he said, ‘Look, I love challenges. I’ve played myself before (in commercials and other productions), and it would be neat to take on a different character that’s not just me. It would be something really cool to do. Let me know if there’s something that pops up.’”

Lewis, part of the Active team that’s helped make Louisiana a boom state for film and TV production, immediately pitched Miles on a part in “Ghost Shark.”

“He chuckled and said, ‘That sounds like a lot of fun. Tell me more about it,’” Lewis said. “I chatted with him and followed up on the phone two or three times. He was totally into it. He was pumped up.

“He even cracked a couple of jokes, comparing himself to a young Anthony Hopkins. He was completely kidding, but it was just another Les Miles one-liner you just have to laugh at.”

And then Isaac – a water-borne menace, just like the antagonist in the film – interfered, pushing production later into the year.

Miles, Lewis said, “had a football team to coach.”

But the dream didn’t die there. According to Lewis, Miles has said he’d be interested in working in another Active Entertainment production if the timing fit his schedule.

By Dave Walker, | The Times-Picayune
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on August 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM, updated August 23, 2013 at 6:04 PM

A proud LSU alum – see his Twitter handle – Lewis will do everything in his power to make sure it happens.

“I don’t care what it is,” Lewis said. “Coach has played himself in commercials. He’s comfortable in front of the cameras. That doesn’t intimidate him at all.”

Hollywood lore is filled with casting decisions that, if not reversed, would’ve changed movie history. Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones? John Travolta as Forrest Gump? Ben Affleck as Batman?

Add Les Miles as Mayor Glen to the list.

The “Ghost Shark” role “wasn’t too terribly difficult,” Lewis said. “We felt like he could come in and nail it, and maybe we’d be surprised with some upside. He didn’t care what the role was. He said he was going to be super-prepared, and he wanted to take it seriously. He didn’t want it to be some publicity stunt. He said he wanted to come in and take on the challenge. That’s just Les.”