Ed Harris

  1. Paul Drake, Sudden Impact, 1983.  Change of Mick in the only Dirty Harry Callahan movie directed by Clint Eastwood. He remembered it well. It earned him $30m and a US President (Ronald Reagan) quoted his line: “Go ahead, make my day.”  Based, said scenarist Joseph Stinson on his father’s saying and not, apparently, what Gary Swanson said  to Wings Hauser in Vice Squad,1981: “Go ahead, scumbag, make my day.” When  runing for Mayor of Carmel in 1986, Clint’s bumper stickers declared: “Go Ahead – Make Me Mayor.”

  2. Fred Ward, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, 1984.     And ends instantaneously…  “There wasn’t a second Remo because the first one was a box-office failure,” recalled (007) scenarist Christopher Wood.  “I like Fred Ward but he’s not a leading man. Ed Harris was up for the role. He  might have made the difference.”   Wood’s script was rewritten by (007) director Guy Hamilton. A 1988 TV pilot with Jeffrey Meek didn’t catch fire, either. 

  3. Sam Shepard, Fool for Love, 1985.      Robert Altman’s fourth filmed play in succession opened the ’85 Cannes festival even though playwright Shepard was against the filming – and the film, which he starred in. (Altman wouldn’t make it without him]. “A great mistake on my part,”  said Sam. “Ed Harris was better in the play [directed by Shepard, who called Ed his muse]. He had a more clean attack on the character than I did I was too attached to the material… Bob did a commendable job.   But in retrospect, I don’t think it works.”
  4. Christophe(r) Lambert, HIghlander, 1985.   Once Sean Connery refused the lead (for the splashier role of the 2,000-year-old Ramirez), finding the titular and immortal Connor MacLeod was not easy.  Kurt Russell actually won the role but his lover, Goldie Hawn, insisted he stay home; he dealt with Big Trouble in Little China, instead. So you can imagine the anguish of the six producers when, after also being turned down by Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Hulk Hogan, William Hurt, David Keith, Mickey Rourke, Sam Shepard, Marc Singer (the too busy top choice), Sting (also asked for a song), Patrick Swayze and Peter Weller… when they discovered that Australian director Russell Mulcahy’s choice was  the new  – French! – Tarzan
  5. Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1987.      Martin Scorsese first read the Nikos Kazantzakis novel  – a gift from Barbara Hershey) during their Boxcar Bertha in 1971.  In the following 16 years, his choices for Jesus ranged from Harris, David Carradine (Hershey’s lover) and   Aidan Quinn to Eric Roberts and Christopher Walken. 
  6. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.     Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a cartoon character was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script (for Chinatown, read Toontown). So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself – Jack Nicholson? No, producer Steven Spielberg could see no further than Harrison Ford. Too expensive! OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis considered Charles Grodin, Aussie cmic Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies), Joe Pantoliano – and auditioned voice artist Peter Renaday. And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud- he would have loved being Valiant. Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. “I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  “I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.”
  7. 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 – Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, 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.
  8. Scott Glenn, The Silence of the Lambs, 1989.

  9. James Caan, Misery, 1990.  
    Beatty, Douglas, Dreyfuss… sure, I approached all those people,” said director Rob Reiner. “Every single one of those bastards turned me down… As much as I tried to convince them that I’d try to elevate the genre – which I feel we did – they saw it as a Stephen King, blood and guts kinda  film.” “Leading men hate to be passive; hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars,” said top scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes).  Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob Reiner again after refusing When Harry Met Sally, 1988 (they had earlier made a classic of   King’s novella, The Body, as Stand By Me, 1985).   William Hurt refused – twice. Jack Nicholson didn’t want another King guy so soon after The Shining.  While Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino being up  for the same role was nothing new  – but Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman was  Also fleeing the  32nd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits were Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, close pals Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Robert Klein, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis… who went on to be Sheldon in Goldman’s  2015 Broadway version.

  10. John Lithgow, At Play  in  the Fields of the  Lord, 1991.  MGM snapped up Peter Matthiessen’s novel when still in galley form.  John Huston and Milos Forman wanted to direct; David Lean and Arthur Penn did not. The Washington Post critic Desson Howe called it three hours of artistic zilch. Ed Harris and Randy Quaid were lucky to escape being crackpot missionaries losing their minds.”
  11. Julian Sands, Boxing Helena, 1992.
  12. Harvey Keitel, The Piano, Australia-France-New Zealand, 1992.   New Zealand auteur Jane Campion’s first choice for Maori face-tattooed Baine. And so Keitel was naked again (as often as Bardo) in helping Campion become the first woman to win the Cannes Festival’s best film Palme d’Or in 1993.
  13. Michael Douglas, Falling Down, 1992.  “I lost my job. Well, actually I didn’t lose it, it lost me. I am over-educated, under-skilled. Maybe it’s the other way around, I forget. But I’m obsolete. I’m not economically viable.” The guy known only by his car number-plate, D-FENS, is suffering from society and melting down. Dangerously. Perfect, therefore, for Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Robin Williams – and, indeed, director Joel Schumacher’s choice of his pal, Douglas, in a Spartacus  buzz-cut, glasses and, finally, his very own Cuckoo’s Nest.

  14. Bruce Willis, Striking Distance, 1993.       Set for Ed, re-spun for Robert De Niro and Willis finally apologised to ticket buyers in 2004. “It sucked!” No surprise as it also featured Sarah Jessica Parker.

  15. Bruce Willis, Nobody’s Fool, 1994.    He was tied up so director Robert Benton SOSed one of his Billy Bathgate team to be Paul Newman’s on-off boss.
  16. Jeff Daniels, Speed, 1994.   As Jack’s sidekick, Ed was to be unmasked asthe mad bomber. Impossible with Daniels, said the producers, so a new bomber was created – for Dennis Hooper.
  17. James Woods, Nixon, 1994.   Harris was the JFK director Oliver Stone’s #1 notion for the dreaded HR Haldeman (one half of Nixpon’s Berlin Wall!).  Until a Stone regular took it over. 
  18. Dennis Hopper, Carried Away, 1995.     Hopper’s finest hour!   As a mild-mannered schoolteacher, with a failed farm and a mid-aged lover, who finds a teenage vixen has manouevered herself into his bed in Bruno Barreto’s film with his wife Amy Irving (the ex-Mrs Spielberg). 
  19. James Woods, Killer: A Journal of Murder, 1995.   Ed Haris, William Hurt and John Malkovich were considered for Carl Panzram – “one of the most vicious, degenerate criminals of his time,” reported critic Roger Ebert inhis Chicago  Sun-Times review. So, of course, he was played by Jimmy Woods. In the same year, he was also  the killer of black civil rights worker Medgar Evers in Ghosts of Mississippi. 
  20. Tommy Lee Jones, Volcano, 1996.   “Lava? Right here in L.A?”  The hero of the disaster movie was  first  offered to Harris and Bill Pullman. 

  21. Scott Glenn, Buffalo Soldiers, 2001.      “War is hell… but peace is f*#!%!! boring.” For his Catch 22 in Gemany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Director Gregor Jordan sent Ed the script, marking Sergeant Lee. He preferred Colonel Berman. OK, said Jordan, calling another of The Right Stuff  NASAstronauts for the Sarge.
  22. Tom Hanks, Catch Me If You Can, 2002.      When Gore Verbinski was to direct, he looked at Ed before settling on James Gandolfino as the FBI man chasing Leonardo DiCaprio’s cameleon con man.  Finally. Steven Spielberg made the film – inevitably with Hanks. 
  23. Alfred Molina,Spider-Man 2, 2003.
  24. Fred Willard, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,  2003. The first draft of the San Diego KVWN Channel 4 Newsman’s bio suggested actors for various roles including Ed for Ed Harken, panicking the 70s TV newsman  by suggesting “diversity.”  Namely, a woman co-anchor.

  25. 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!

  26. Edward James Olmos,  Battlestar Galactica, TV, 2004-2009.      Harrison Ford and Sam Shepard were also among the somewhat lofty goals for the 74 hours of Admiral William Adama.   Although fearing something campy like the 1978 series, Olmos was in by the fourth page of the scenario.
  27. Edward Burns, One Missed Call, 2007.   Harris and Gabriell Byrne were cast and then split because…  well, they never said. Probably, (a) they read the  script and/or (b) the suits wanted rheir “adults”  (Byrne’s TV host and Harris’ cop –  to be  younger. This final (?) re-hash of a Japanese horror movie was judged by Rotten Tomatoes as rhe second worst film of the year… behind Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever.
  28. Scott Glenn, W, 2008. “I love to wonder if I can play something. When Agnieszka Holland offered me Beethoven, I said okay, but I don’t know if I can do it.” But he knew he  had nbo  wish to be the US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in Oliver Stone’s  take on President George W Bush.   “The role wasn’t that interesting. Or not, said his French Le monde interviewer Thomas Sotinel, “the kind of experience that keeps him learning, the one thing he is really passionate about.”
  29. David Morse,  World War Z, 2012.   After beating Leonardo DiCaprio to the rights, Brad Pitt found two of his co-stars jumping the zombie ship – the too  busy Cranston and Ed Harris. Obviously, ’cos The Boss had the best role. Pitt chose director Marc Fortster  but they were not talking by the end, Based on a book by Max Brooks.  a Saturday Night Live  writer and son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks .. who also started ouit writing TV comedy.








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  29