Bill Paxton

  1. Steve Guttenberg, Cocoon, 1985.      Well, he knew, no matter what director Ron Howard said, that the wrinklies would steal it.
  2. Lance Kinsey Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, 1985. Paxton passed on Sergeant Proctor in the first sequel as the contract handcuffed him to all future chapters. There were five more of these Carry On Cops – each one was worse than the one before. Paxton’s agent found him something better.  Alien.
  3. Kevin Costner, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller – labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert – the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson caught Costner on the cusp of susperstardom (betweern The Untouchables and Field of Dreams) after seeing if the hero’s US Navy uniform would suit… Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Michael Nouri, Bill Paxton,  Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis. Or even the French Christophe(r) Lambert  or Robin Williams?!
  4. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, apparently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Paxton, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang).  And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post, “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”
  5. Kevin Costner, Bull Durham, 1987. Ron Shelton had one helluva job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball? Get outa here. Ball movies don’t sell.”  But his producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad and recognised what Roger Ebert would call a sports movie that knows what it is talking about – because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” Orion stumped up $9m, eight weeks, creative freedom – the cast cut their costs because of the script. For the minor-league veteran, Crash Davis, Shelton  looked at: Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones (he was baseball icon Ty Cobb in Shelton’s Cobb, 1994), Michael Keaton, Stephen Lang, Nick Nolte (more into football), Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell (who worked on the script with Shelton), Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis – and even three foreigners to the game: Aussie Mel Gibson, French Christophe(r) Lambert and Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Result: more sports from Shelton (basketball, golf, boxing) and more baseball movies from Hollywood: A League of Their Own, Eight Men Out (with Sheen), Field of Dreams (Costner), Major League I and II (Berenger and Sheen).
  6. Tom Hulce, Parenthood, 1989.      Another day, another Ron   Howard rejection.
  7. Kurt Russell, Tango & Cash, 1989.      Sylvester Stallone was Raymond Tango – without question. But who would he accept as his equally frame cop pardner, Gabriel Cash? After Patrick Swayze ran (to solo billing in Road House), the list was long… Paxton, Michael Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Gary Sinise. Plus three future Sly co-stars: Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis and James Woods. They all lost out on the debatable pleasure of four directors! From the Russian Andrei Konchalovsky to, secretly, Stallone..!
  8. Liam Neeson, Darkman, 1990.   When young director Sam Raimi saw his dream project – The Shadow, based on Orson Welles’ radio character – go to Robert Zemeckis (finally, badly, to Russel Mulcahy), Sam created his own superhero from a mix of others and called him Darkman. Gary Oldman Bill Paxton were seen but  as casting director Nancy Nayor said: “Liam was so perfect, such a powerful presence with such emotionaremains 22l range and haunted eyes.” It appealed to the little boy in him, he said, “something I would’ve loved… on a Saturday matinee growing up in Ireland.”  Someone said he was excited to be  working on a Universal  horror movie. Liam stared him down. ”This is not a horror movie.”
  9. Dylan McDermott, Hardware, 1990.      Impossible to imagine… Bill adored Moses (space marine Moses Baxter, that is). Yet he was rejected by both the US Miramax and the UK’s   Palace Pictures because (after 68 screen roles), they did not know who he was!    Ron   Howard could have told them.
  10. Bill Campbell, The Rocketeer, 1990.      Johnny Depp, Vincent D’Onofrio, Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell were also in  the Disney frame for Cliff Secord flying around 30s’ LA in Alan Arkin’s rocket backpack. When interviewing Campbell – in Paris for the opening –  he told me he’d  spent the previous night climbing the North face of…  Notre Dame cathedral!  For fun. Not a camera in sight. 

  11. Val Kilmer, The Doors, 1991.     “I read my ass off.”   But director Oliver Stone could not see beyond his   Navy SEALS look – moustache and short hair.
  12. Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park, 1992.
  13. Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  14. Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump, 1993.  “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”  Author Winston Graham (who did not write that line, it was a Hanks adlib) saw John Goodman as his creation. Director Robert Zemeckis did not.    His first choice was Harry Anderson  – stuck in Dave’s World, 1993-1997. Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Bill Paxton and John Travolta simply refused.  Big misake confessed Travolta.  Well, they all, agreed on that when Hanks earned his second consecutive Oscar plus an estimated $40m from his profits-deal. Life was really like a box of chocolates or a movie deal.  “Ya never know what you’re gonna get.” And that’s all I have to say about that…
  15. Michael Keaton, The Paper, 1994.      For another of his tepid movies, director Ron Howard mused over Paxton, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Robin Williams for Henry Hackett, the New York Sun‘s metro editor…   who tells his editor-in-chief (a superb Robert Duvall) (is there any other kind?): “Every day I’m behind from the minute I get up.” Ron Howard finally found the right role for Bill – as astronaut Fred Haise.  In  his next movie, Apollo 13, 1995. 
  16. Robin Williams, Jumanji, 1995.     Two kids find a jungle board game with magic powers unleashing grotesque animalia and some poor sap trapped inside the game since playing it as a tot. Paxton, Dan Aykroyd, Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger had all fled the incoherent script. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.
  17. Will Smith, Men in Black, 1996.       First choice when Chris O’Donnell preferred sidekicking Batman IV. Then, Will moved in…
  18. Sean Penn, U Turn, 1997.    Bill had to   quit about   a week before shooting with director Oliver Stone when – coincidence or what? – the first choice proved   available after all.
  19. Matthew Broderick, Godzilla, 1997.  Tim Burton, James Cameron, Joe Johnston and Paul Verhoeven passed what was planned as the first of three movies about Japan’s cherished monster.  Enter: Jan De Bont. His ideal cast was headed by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. Biut his script was adjudged too high. He made Twister, instead.  With Bill and Helen..  A far better movie. 
  20. Willem Dafore, Spider-Man, 2001.

  21. Chris Penn, American Pie 2, 2001.     Bill did the right thing by   pulling out of   being Stifler’s dad. Test reactions were so bad that the character was axed.
  22. William Sadler, The Battle of Shaker Heights, 2002.     Behind the scenes of the second Project Greenlight film made by Miramax and HBOwas more suspenseful than the movie. Christopher McDonald passed on the father of the young hero’s girlfriend. Idem for Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton. Gary Cole willingly auditioned but he had no window available.On, desperately, to an unsuitable Christopher Lloyd and he settled for another gig (how often is there a Haunted Lighthouse movie, after all?). Finally Sadler was seen, signed… and given a mere hour to bond with Shia LaBeouf before their most emotional scene.
  23. Tom Hanks, The Da Vinci Code, 2005.        And when Billactually,finally,got a Ron Howard lead, he was tied up elsewhere. Although (the title was the star, Howard also chased George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Jackman…
  24. Daniel Craig, Cowboys and Aliens, 2011.      The great title (better than the movie) had been stuck in Development Hell since 1997 which explains why such “superstars” as Brendan Fraser, Chuck Norris and Mr T (!) were invited to saddle up as the outlaw hero Jake Lonergan. So were Paxton, Jackie Chan, Robert Downey Jr, Kurt Russell and Bruce Willis.



 Birth year: 1955Death year: 2017Other name: Casting Calls:  24