Christopher Reeve


  1. Patrick Duffy, The Man From Atlantis, TV, 1977-1978.       But then Duffy tested, not in a swimsuit, but in his Fruit of the Loom briefs…
  2. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1977.    The plot sickens…   A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. French director Louis Malle saw 29 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for pretty  little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 19 guys for for the real life, misshapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film. Oskar Werner talked himself out of it. “Has to be an American actor,” he told Malle. That’s how Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second..  Then before falling for  KeithCarradine, Malle saw Jeff Bridges, Albert Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood (he didn’t take up photography until The Bridges of Madison County, 1994),  the new in town Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve (about to make us believe a man could fly), future director Rob Reiner, John Travolta (more into Grease)… Plus one sole  Brit, Malcolm McDowell .and such  flat out surprises as Joe Pesci(!!), Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone  (prepping FIST), and even Christopher Walken.
  3. Christopher Atkins, The Blue Lagoon, 1979.      Or no briefs at all… Too busy with Superman to be theteenager (!) shipwrecked on a desert isle with Brooke Shields.And Grease director Randal Kleiser wanted them both naked. (They were not).

  4. Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1979.      
    Judging them solely  on Taxi Driver and Mork & Mindy, Stanley Kubrick said Robert De Niro was not psychotic enough while Robin Williams was too much so!   Although Kubrick’s only choice was Nicholson, Warner Bros also suggested Reeve, Harrison Ford or Martin  Sheen. . Plus Martin Sheen (who’d already made it… as Apocalypse Now!). (He later made Stephen King’s Dead Zone in 1983).  Or even the funny Chevy Chase and Leslie Nielsen (what were they smoking?)  Author King said “normal looking” Michael Moriarty or Jon Voight going mad would work better than Jack. Didn’t matter who was Jack Torrance as Kubrick, usually so blissfully right about everything,
    had clearly lost it. He insisted on up to 70 takes for some scenes (three days and 60 doors for “Here’s Johnny!”), reducing Shelley Duvall and grown men, like Scatman Crothers at 69, to tears. “Just what is it that you want, Mr Kubrick?” He didn’t know. He was, quite suddenly, a director without direction. Result: a major disappointment. Not only for Stephen King but the rest of us. Harry Dean Stanton escaped being Lloyd, the bartender. By making a real horror film. Alien.

  5. Richard Gere, American Gigolo, 1980.       “The biggest star in the world at the time” split for all kinds of true/false  reasons  – apparently John Travolta  wanted no nudity and final cut (!) or  simply a break as his girlfriend  had just died.  “We had a weekend to go get another actor,” co-producer Jerry Bruckheimer told Deadline Hollywood’s Mike Fleming Jr in December 2013. “The studio wanted Christopher Reeve because he was Superman …the perfect star. But he didn’t really fit the part. [“I found the story of a man servicing older women for money quite distasteful”]. We focused on convincing Richard Gere, but we didn’t tell Paramount.  And so Monday morning,  we go into the office and said that Reeve had passed but we got  Gere. He’d just come off Looking For Mr. Goodbar, so he was a hot commodity. They said fine, but you have to cut the budget. We did, and got the movie made.” Reeve felt most of his offers were “just weird.” Within a few years, he was sinking in Somewhere In Time,  Deathtrap,  Monsignor. “I’ve  not  made intelligent choices.”  Also rejecting Julian Kay were Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, even Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Not forgetting… Chevy Chase!!!
  6. John Travolta, Urban Cowboy, 1979       Chris was flavour of the week after Superman.”Throw out the garbage,” hetold his agent as the offers piled up. “Feel free to make a bonfire.”Supie walked and Travolta danced in from...
  7. Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1981.    The way too busy Jeff Bridges (in three films that year) was director Taylor Hackford’s first Zack Mayo. Dennis Quaid and Christopher Reeve were seen. John Denver, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Ken Wahl simply refused.Hackford said that Bill Treusch, manager of Eric Roberts, got in the way of any possible director-actor teamanship. “Gere turned this down eight or nine times,” recalled director Taylor Hackford.  Until producer Don Simpson “just madehim do it.”So it was Gere who literally swept Debra Winger off her feet. Denver never looked strong enough to sweep her carpet.
  8. William Hurt, Body Heat, 1981.       “I didn’t think I’d be convincing as a seedy lawyer.” The role went to one of his Juilliard classmates.Their teacher, John Houseman, had told him: “Mr. Reeve, it’s very important that you become a serious actor.  Unless, of course, they offer you a load of money to do something else.”That is exactly what happened to Houseman in 1973, when The Paper Chase led to an Oscarand a whole new acting career… 46 roles in 15 years!
  9. Robin Williams, The World According To Garp, 1981.       Reeve lost out to his old Julliard room-mate for novelist John Irving’s creation of TS Garp.   The two actors were friends for life, with Robin helping to cover Chris’ medical expenses and dedicating his Cecil B DeMille award to Reeve.
  10. Sean Penn, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981.      The US high school movie…! Researched and written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling… The rôle: stoned surfer Jeff Spicoli who orders a pizza delivered to his history class! In the mix: Reeve, Penn (also seen for Brad), Stoltz, Dean Cameron. Jeff’s credo : “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”

  11. Tom Hanks, Splash, 1983.   
    Producer Brian Grazer always said he got the idea when driving along  the Pacific Coast Highway and musing on mermaids. Or on AIP’s 1964 Beach Blanket Bingo which had Jody McCrea falling  (off his surfboard) for mermaid Jody Kristen…  Tom Hanks always claimed he was director Ron Howard’s 11th choice for Allen Bauer in his breakthrough (mermaid) movie.  Sorry, Tom – 15th!  And here they be: Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg, John Heard, Michael Keaton (he also refused Alan’s brother, Freddie), stand-up Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Dudley Moore, David Morse, Bill Murray (PJ Soles was to be his mermaid), Christopher Reeve, Burt Reynolds, John Travolta (his agent turned him off it!), and Robin Williams. “Ronnie made me a movie  star,” said Hanks.” That’s what he did.” He also booked Guttenberg for his next gig, Cocoon. (Channjng Tatum was due for a 2016 re-make – but as the mer-person opposite Jillian Bell as his human lady).

  12. Michael Douglas, Romancing The Stone, 1983.   Another one Douglas teases Jack Nicholson  about… With Jack,  Reeve, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman  refusing, the producer decided to play the hero, Indiana… er, Jack Colton,… himself.  Huge hit. The sequel, not so much.  
  13. Mel Gibson, The Bounty, 1983.      Directing legend David Lean was always high on Reeve’s must list. Katharine Hepburn lobbied for him to be Fletcher Christian but Lean’s twin-film idea never happened. And Reeve wasn’t keen on Roger Donaldson’s salvaged version, refused $1m and made the Merchant-Ivory Bostonians for peqnustr and much great pleasure.  His co-star, Vanessa Redgrave later asked hm to join her  West ERnd adaptation of her dying father, Sir Michael Redgrave’s 1959 version  of The Aspern Papers, also by Henry James. Reeve got the best reviews of his career… yet  Hollywood refused to film it.
  14. Richard Chamberlain, The Thorn Birds, TV, 1983.    Hollywood jumped on Colleen McCullough’s  Australian Gone with the Wind when it  started selling 33 million copies in 1977. Tara was now Drogheda, outback sheep farm, Scarlet was the poor Meggie and Rhett – well, Rhett was the sexiest priest around until Andrew Scott’s turned on Fleabag in 2019. Herbert Ross was set to direct Christopher Reeve in an epic movie, then Aussie film-maker Peter Weir with Robert Redford.  Ryan O’Neal was next in line. Finally, Chamberlain was Father Ralph de Bricassart In the most successful mini-series since Roots – even though it was all made in California (why not simply re-set it in Georgia?).  Meibourne’s Tristan Rogers (Scorpio in  the  General Hospital soapsince 1981) was briefly considered for the randy cleric but Bryan Brown was the only Aussie star involved.  His character married the leading lady Rachel Ward. On and off-screen
  15. William Hurt, Children of a Lesser God, 1984.      Despite great reviews in The Bostonians, he was stilltoo Supie. When he tried Tolstoi and Jacqueline Bisset’s Anna Karenina, one critic called him Clark Kentovich.
  16. Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984.      ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Reeve (!), Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan, but terrific… because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!”
  17. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.         In all, 39 possibilities for the  off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!)  Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens),Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired: Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role in The Fly),  William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another  cop duo in The Hidden),  Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don  Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops:  Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  18. Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights, 1986.
  19. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Running Man, 1987.      Don Johnson, Dolph Lundgren, Christopher Reeve and Patrick Swayze were swept aside by the  mighty Schwarzi for Ben Richards  in the 23rd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits. . Four other helmers were dropped and Arnie did not rate director Paul Michael Glaser. ”He shot it like a TV show, losing all of the script’s deeper themes.”  PMG was David Starsky in TV’s Starsky and Hutch,  so…  surprise, surprise! 
  20. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall, 1989.      After 42 drafts, no third act and one bankruptcy, Total Recall was total madness… Italian cinemogul Dino De Laurentiis’ never-ending Martian thriller was nearly made by Dreyfuss in Italy, Patrick Swayze in Australia… and William Hurt for Canadian director David Cronenberg… Next up for the heroics were Jeff Bridges, Christopher Reeve, Tom Selleck before almost becoming a B-movie with little Matthew Broderick (!) or Mark Harmon (cheapest on the list). Then, Dino went belly-up enabling Arnold to take over (Dino had refused to audition him!) and move Mars to Mexico where everyone got the touristas except him – he had his food, water, B12 shots flown in from home after a rotten Mexperience during Predator, 1986.

  21. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  22. Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, 1988.    “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” Disney offered Dustin Hoffman  this one to direct –  “and star in, if you like” He did like. Except Rain Manfinally got moving. And Disney couldn’t wait. Next? Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson, Bill Murray, Liam Neeson, Robin’s pal Christopher Reeve and Mickey Rourke backed off. Williams dithered dfor ages and finally agreed. His co-star, Ethan Hawke, called the film: One Flew Over the Robin’s Nest… with Wlliams as Jack Nicholson, Norman Lloyd as Nurse Ratched and Robert Sean Leonard as Brad Dourif.
  23. Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  24. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.        UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars – Reeve, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta… and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver – all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
  25. Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990.    “I made an impassioned plea… and they said: you’d be absolutely perfect! But no way!”What they meant, said Reeve was: You’ve not had a hit intwo years. Hah! Apart from the show-off opening steadycam sequence, Brian De Palma never did anything right with this film – starting with absurd casting.
  26. Tom Skerritt, Picket Fences, TV, 1992-1995.       He refused the ageing Sheriff Brocktrying to keep the peace in the small town of bizarre and violent crimes. David E Kelley’s series ran until the very year when Reeve was paralysed in a horse riding accident.
  27. Harrison Ford, The Fugitive, 1993.  Paging Dr Kimble…   There was a queue answering the call for the film of David Janssen’s 1963-1967 series. Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner (directing as well), Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia,  Richard Gere, Mel Gibson (also up for the relentless cop, Gerard), Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte (director Walter Hill’s choice, but Andrew Davis made the movie – the fourth in his home town, Chicago), Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve,Arnold Schwarzengger. “The minute Harrison Ford shows up, they drop everything and sign up Harrison Ford,” Baldwiin complained. (It’s called being a star, Alec). Mel Gibson was up for either Kimble or his Javert-like hunter, Lieutenant Gerard – an Oscared gig for Tommy Lee Jones.
  28. Jeremy Irons, Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1994.    “The way to cast me is as someone you would not suspect, who seemsto be onthe right side but is up to no good. I wouldn’t want to do anything bland.”
  29. Nick Nolte, Jefferson In Paris, 1995.   “I’m just beginning to get the hang of it,” he ruminated after his first  Merchant-Ivory film – The Remains of the Day,1992  – when he lost a second… because the suits wanted a more bankable star as the third POTUS, Thomas Jefferson. (But Jack Nicholson said No). Reeve happily  returned to the  M-I fold for The Remains of the Day in 1992.
  30. Sam Waterston, The Proprietor, 1995.       Paralysed for  life after a horse-riding accident, Chris was replaced by an actor who was far closer to critic Stanley Kauffman’slabel for Reeve as an “old cement block.” (Reeve re-made Rear Window in 1998- in his wheelchair).

  31. Armand Assante, Kidnapped,  TV, 1995.    Reeve had been booked as the cinema’s eleventh Alan Breck Stewart until his horse-riding accidenty. Producer Francis Coppola sent for Reeves’ co-star from Above Suspicion –an Irish-Italian as the Scottish hero Alan Breck Stewart.
  32. Richard Chamberlain, The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years, TV, 1996.   The “midquel;” lost Rachel Ward from the original 1983 mini-series, so the producers felt they might as well change her Catholic priest lover, as well.  They voted for Reeve. But he’d been there, done that, and had the chasuble to prove it – from 1981’s Monsignor.  (He accepted another cleric in Mortal Sins, 1991).  Chamberlain reprised  his old role  –   an archbishop now – opposite  Amanda Donohoe as the new Meggie in the 1996 “midquel,” The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years.
  33. Gary Oldman, Hannibal, 2001.        Refused the (bedridden) evil millionaire Mason Verger, horribly disfigured (no eyelids, no lips, no face) after his first encounter with Hannibal Lecter. Oldman declined billing in what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called a carnival geek show.

  34. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire, 2004.  
    Tony Scott backed out of directing the first version in 1986, but helped  Denzel Washington retrieve his lost taste for acting in this re-make.  Sergio Leone chose  Robert De Niro  and Marlon Brando nearly played A J Quinnell’s ex-CIA hero turned mercenary (certainly helped re-write  him) but Scott Glenn won the  role. Tony Scott  had wanted Robert Duvall. The new scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland,  recalled going  into the LA Video Archives store  in the 80s and asking the clerk: “What’s good?” The clerk said:  Man on Fire. The clerk was Quentin Tarantino.  In both films Creasy  is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, almost a daughter to him, that  he’s bodyguarding.  Yeah, rather like a matrix for Liam Neeson’s Takens. So no surprise to find Liam among some 25 actors up for Creasy. Alec Baldwin, Sean Bean (a nearly 007),  Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Viggo Mortensen,  Gary Oldman, Dennis Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Kurt Russell,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… even our dear old  Bob Hoskins.  Creasy was later  Bollywooded by the inimitable  Amitabh Bachchan (at age  63!). There were three songs, of course.




 Birth year: 1952Death year: 2004Other name: Casting Calls:  34