Michael Phelps was the original choice to play the new Tarzan

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In the August Vanity Fair cover story that profiles "The Legend of Tarzan" star Margot Robbie, the film's producer Jerry Weintraub talks about his first choice to play the latest Tarzan.

Weintraub, who died last July when the film was in postproduction, had been developing the project for years. When he finally got to the point where he could think about casting, he told Vanity Fair writer Rich Cohen that his first choice for Tarzan was Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

At the time, Cohen was speaking to Weintraub as he was working on his memoir.

SEE MORE: Michael Phelps' adorable infant son Boomer hits the pool

"It's going to be like Johnny Weissmuller," Weintraub told Cohen, referring to the swimmer who played Tarzan in films from the 1930s and 1940s. "All the reporters are going to say, 'Weintraub found the new Johnny Weissmuller!'"

But Weintraub had never seen Phelps act. Around the same time, it so happened that Phelps was set to host "Saturday Night Live."

MICHAEL PHELPS TRAINING FOR RIO:

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NTP: Michael Phelps preps for Rio Olympics
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NTP: Michael Phelps preps for Rio Olympics
Michael Phelps adjusts his goggles during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps prepares to enter the water during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps swims during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps swims during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps looks over his shoulder during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps smiles as he takes a break during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps, left, rests on a lane divider as other swimmers go past during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps smiles as he takes a break with other swimmers during a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps pulls on a shirt after a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps gestures as he speaks with media members after practicing for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Michael Phelps, right, shares a laugh with his long-time coach Bob Bowman as they address media members after a practice session for the U.S. Winter Nationals swimming event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Federal Way, Wash. Phelps will put a cap on his 2015 season at the event this week. It's his final opportunity to show just where his comeback is at before the Olympic year arrives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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As Cohen tells it, Weintraub's assistant recorded the episode, since the show airs past the producer's bedtime. The next morning, Cohen sat beside Weintraub at breakfast and they started to watch Phelps' monologue.

"As he watched Phelps's monologue, I watched him, his mood shifting from excited to perturbed, green to red," Cohen wrote. "Two minutes in, Jerry turned to his assistant and shouted, 'This isn't Tarzan! This isn't Johnny Weissmuller! He's a goon! Why didn't anyone tell me he's a goon? Turn it off. Goddammit, turn it off.'"

The role inevitably went to "True Blood" actor Alexander Skarsgård, but it would have been quite memorable to see Phelps swing from tree branches.

"The Legend of Tarzan" opened in theaters over the Fourth of July weekend and has earned over$71 million to date.

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