As I did in my review, Variety‘s Todd McCarthy has remarked how under-utilized Phillip Seymour Hoffman is as the big baddie in Mission: Impossible III. “Hoffman’s involvement hasn’t been fully exploited [as] this picture denies Hoffman a chance to fully express his character’s personality, to show a little nuance, a mentality behind the evil, some humor or self-awareness behind the malevolence, or to toy with Ethan beyond the simple threat…if you have an actor like Hoffman on board, you’d think it would behoove the writers to cook up at least one big scene to let the man loose to really do his thing.” One wonders if Hoffman might have had one or two such scenes in the shooting script, only to see them trimmed in order to favor the star. As I put it on 4.19, “[Hoffman] kicks ass with the lines and scenes he’s been given, but somebody wanted this to be Tom Cruise’s film.” Threatening second leads have been put in their place before. I’m told by a friend who was close to the backstage action on Sydney Pollack‘s Absence of Malice that Sally Field‘s role as a ruthless journalist was modified and/or reconfigured when it became apparent that she was generating more wattage than star Paul Newman. It also allegedly happened to Jennifer Jason Leigh when her performance in Barbet Schroeder‘s Single White Female seemed to be overtaking that of the presumed star, Bridget Fonda.