George Clooney

  1. Rex Smith, Street Hawk, TV 1985.   The guys queued up to audition… Clooney, Don Johnson, etc.  Co-creator Robert Woltertstorff voted for Clooney. The ABC network did not. He guested in the second episode anyway and there were only 12 more before the axe fell  on the secret crime-fighter and his snazzy mo’bike. 

  2. Brad Pitt, Thelma & Louise, 1990. 

  3. Steven Weber, Wings, TV, 1990-1997.   Hank Azaria, Fisher Stevens and future hot TV stars George Clooney (ER, 1994-2009),  David Duchovny (The X-Files, 1993-2018) and  Gregg Germann (Ally McBeal, 1997-2002), auditioned for Brian Michael  Hackett, one of two brothers running a private airline out of Nantucket, surrounded by much wackiness –  so-called.(The series creator, David Angell, and his wife were killed  on 9/11 when their American Airlines flight #11 was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center).
  4. John Getz, Curly Sue, 1990.    After Kevin Spacey dropped out for a stage date, William Atherton, George Clooney, Griffin Dunne, George Segal all passed on being Kelly Lynch’s snotty boyfriend. Atherton was fed up playing schmucks,  Clooney was unknown (four years away from ER),   Dunne was making My Girl and Segal found Walter was too much like his Albert in Look Who’s Talking.   That’s how John Getz parts… 129 in 54 years.
  5. Tim Roth, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
  6. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.  There were 30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even the well known Welsh actor, Mr Die Hard, himself, aka Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans Bruce Campbell and Chuck Norris. All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  7. Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible, 1995.  No, said, Clooney, he’d done with series after ER. He was now back in movies and preferred sharing  One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer than launching a (possible) new cinema franchise.  Also seen: Nicolas Cage, Mel Gibson, John Travolta, Bruce Wills. And, inexplicably, Ralph Fiennnes… who would make a right dog’s breakfast out of another TV cult hero, John Steed, in The Avengers three years later.  Enter: Cruise and JJ Abrams.  Still at it, 20 years later.
  8. Val Kilmer, The Saint, 1996.  Kilmer, already Batman, said No. Clooney, said Yes. Fortunately, Steven Spielberg had other plans for him… and “overnight,” George was the ER TV sensation! And replaced Kilmer as Batman after director Joel Schumacher kept drawing the Bat-hood over the ads of George in From Dusk Til Dawn. Also up for sainthood were, Kevin Costner, Daniel Day-Lewis, Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, Hugh Grant, even Arnold Schwarzenegger.   Plus a certain James Healey, the Irish-born Aussie who actually rejected Mad Max for its sparse dialogue (!) in 1978, leaving the superstar route clear for Gibson.
  9. Michael Keaton Jack Frost,  1998.  A jazz musician dies and comes back  – as Frosty The Snowman – to help out his sad  son.  George wisely preferred, Out of Sight and director Steven Soderbergh… the start of a beautiful friendship. Tim Allen, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell and Billy Bob Thornton (the 2002 Bad Santa)   had simpler excuses. They’d seen the Jim Henson/ILM designs for the snow-er-creature. “The most repulsive single creature in the history of special effects,” said Chicago  critic Roger Ebert, “and I am not forgetting the Chucky doll or the desert intestine from Star Wars.”
  10. Will Smith, Wild Wild West, 1999.    “He left the film in the happiest, most gracious and warmest manner,” said director Barry Sonnenfeld. “George really wanted to play James West, but I’d chosen Will.” Wait the story is not finished…

  11.  Kevin Kline, Wild Wild West, 1999.    “George stayed at my place for a weekend and I suggested he be Artemeus Gordon. He didn’t like the way he was written – he craved more action. We re-wrote it but Artemus remained Artemus. Kevin was the perfect Artemus, even if I did cut some of his scenes.” Kline’s other rivals had been Johnny Depp and Matthew McConaughey.
  12. Matthew McConnaughey, Sex and the City (Episode 43: Escape from New York), TV, 2000. The actor-producer inviting Carrie to LA to discuss filming her column was penned for Baldwin. When he refused, Clooney was keen to play Himself  – but had so spare time.
  13. David Duchovny, Return To Me, 2000. From one TV star to another… Clooney was invited to play Bob,  a guy falling in love with the woman whose life was saved after a heart transplant from hiss fatally injured wife.
  14. Richard Gere, Unfaithful, 2001.   For Adrian Lyne’s passionate US update of Madame Bovary, Clooney, Johnny Depp, Robert Redford, John Travolta, Bruce Willis were also up for Diane Lane’s husband – unaware she’s playing away. Chicago critic Roger Ebert reported her French lover Olivier Martinez could suspend a woman indefinitely in any position” during sex. French guys adored this commercial for Ze French lurverrrrs!
  15. Hugh Grant, About A Boy,  2002.     “Nobody would believe I’d need to join a single parents’ group [to get women]. You need someone more average looking.” 
  16. Richard Gere, Unfaithful, 2002.     Very keen on Adrian Lyne’s make-over of French New Wave realisateur  Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidèle, 1969. “There were films I’d love to have been a part of, but when you see the actors that did them, you think, oh that makes total sense,” he said. “You find that you end up getting the films that you were supposed to. You can’t really panic over the other ones.”
  17. Kevin Spacey, The Life  of David Gale,  2002.     “I usually get offered movies after someone has walked away from them,” commented Spacey.  “John Travolta was doing The Shipping News, Will Smith was doing K-Pax. You can go right down the list  And George Clooney was making this movie… But he hadn’t fully committed and ultimately decided it wasn’t something he wanted to pursue – so, I’m enormously grateful to George.”
  18. Brendan Fraser, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2002.  “A pretty grim experience all around… longest year and a half of my life.”  Director Joe Dante refusing to say anymore about how his planned tribute to his late friend, toon ikon Chuck Jones, ended up a mess. Then again, when the suits approve Fraser over Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Ferrell, Michael J Fox and Sylvester Stallone for DJ Drake, you know you’re in trouble.
  19. Liam Neeson, Kinsey, 2003.     A joke, right?   Hollywood’s #1 bachelor as a sexologist ..!!!  Laughing or not, he  was far too busy conducting his own sexual survey to  play sexologist  Dr Alfred  Kinsey for director Bill Condon.
  20. Johnny Depp, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, 2003.     Always intended for Clooney, says director Robert Rodriguez – who gave Clooney’s movie career a huge boost with From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996. Enjoying the film so much when he finished playing George’s role of Sands (later  offered to Nic Cage, Sean Penn, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis), Depp asked for another part and had even more fun channelling Marlon Brando as a priest in  a scene with Banderas.

  21. Thomas Haden Church, Sideways, 2003.     Clooney and director Alexander Payne first met when they both agreed he was not right  for the  TV actor  on a road trip through California’s wine country. They met again during the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and Payne had a script for him, The Descendants –  in and about Hawaii. Result: Another Oscar nomination.
  22. Cole Hauser, Paparazzi, 2004.     Difficult for George to play the movie star seeking revenge on four paparazzi. As he was already named in the script.
  23. David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck,  2004.   “We wrote it for me to play Ed Murrow,” Clooney told Deadline Hollywood’s co-editor-in-chief Mike Fleming Jr in 2019. ”And, as an actor, I wanted to play the part. But as a director it’s like people don’t feel sadness when they think of me. We needed somebody who had some of that, and David Strathairn fit that. You put the right people in the right roles and let them go.” As he proved with Sam Rockwell in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2002, and Christopher Abbott and Daniel Davis Stewart in his Catch 22 mini-series, 2018. 
  24. Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, 2005.
  25. Tom Hanks, The Da Vinci Code, 2005.    So many of the A List were busy.  As if this film need a name. The title was the star.
  26. Jack Black, King Kong, 2005.     New Zealand director Peter Jackson wanted Clooney or Robert De Niro as the wild film-maker Carl Denham.
  27. Kevin Kline, A Prairie Home Companion, 2006. Revered veteran director Robert Altman called him for what proved his final  film. Clooney – to his immense disappointment – was busy.
  28. Ioan Gruffudd, Fantastic Four, 2005.  Fox actually thought Mr Fantastic might go for the comicbook’s Mr Fantastic. As if Clooney was interested in wearing spandex again  after his 1996 Batman & Robin disaster.  Also in the frame: Brendan Fraser, Jeff Goldblum, Hugh Jackman, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson.
  29. Nicolas Cage, World Trade Center, 2006.     Clooney – and Mel Gibson – turned down  Oliver  Stone’s movie about Gibson New York Port Authority police sergeant  John McLoughlin.  No problem, Stone’s agent had already sent the script to Cage…
  30. Kevin Kline, A Prairie Home Companion, 2006.     Revered veteran director Robert Altman called him for what proved his final  film. Clooney – to his immense disappointment – was busy.

  31. Will Smith, Hancock, 2007.     Collecting dust on Hollywood shelves for a rapidly decade as Tonight, He Comes, Vincent Ngo’s script  (much darker, with Hancock unable to to have sex without killing his lovers)  had the finger smudges of Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio.  Plus close pals Ben Affleck and  Matt Damon.
  32. Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine, 2009.
  33. Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer, 2009.      “I was uneasy at having an American play a British writer,” said British writer and scenarist Robert Harris,  “but grateful that at least the film would be made.” Even as incredibly void affair by Roman Polanski. 
  34. Johnny Depp, The Tourist,  2009.      Using the basic Hitchcock  matrix, the hero was supposed to be an ordinary joe caught up in extraordinary circumstances (ie Angelina Jolie!).   George can do ordinary. Johnny – impossible.
  35. Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet, 2010.   Considering  it a step up for Clooneykind from Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes and a lip-synching transvestite in The Harvest,  Clooney agreed to be green until something better arrived in 1996: The Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman. Next? Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eddie Murphy, Corey Reynolds, Vince Vaughan, Mark Wahlberg… before Seth heroically trimmed his  avoirdupois to be a slim hero and found it wasn’t much of a step-up for Rogenkind, either.
  36. Daniel Craig, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 2011.
  37. Chris Pine,Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 2012.    Tom Clancy’s CIAnalyst hero, Jack Ryan, has been around since The Hunt For Red October,  1989 – played, in turn,  by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben  Affleck. Time, then, for a third reboot… Clancy said Clooney was too old – at 49.  Clancy never objected to Harrison Ford playing Ryan at age 50 in Patriot Games, 1992, and at 52 in Clear and Present Danger, 1994. Pine was 32… pushing aside  James Franco, Ryan Gosling  and Channing Tatum (too busy). 
  38. Ben Affleck, Argo, 2011.      Scenarist Chris Terrio wrote the hero, Tony Mendez,  for George.  Instead, he produced and  invited Affleck to join  him as  star, co-producer and  and director –  and they won three of the Best Film’s five Oscars on February 24, 2013.  
  39. Henry Cavill, The Man From UNCLE,  2013.   Warner Brothers loved Clooney and director  Steven Soderbergh – and the money made by their Ocean’s 11 trilogy.  And wanted a repeat. But the ex-partners quit. George had injured his back during Syriana and Soderbergh was frustrated by Warner wanting a new franchise – but not to pay for it. As the project dragged on, 18 otyher  Napoleons were  in the mix: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Alexander Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss.
  40. Will Arnett, The Lego Movie, 2013.    Auteurs Phil Lord and Christopher Miller toyed with the idea of having their lego-Batman voiced by The Real Thing: Clooney, Christian Bale, Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer. (In his voicing debut, Channing Tatum was Superman). 

  41. Sandra Bullock, Our Brand Is Crisis, 2015.  Clooney and business partner Grant Heslov were  producing the  acted version of the great documentary about Bill Clinton’s campaign  consultant James Carville. Therefore, Clooney had the top role, if only becuse he charges less for such personal projects.  They sent a script to Clooney’s Gravity co-star. She had the choice of female roles, but fancied the lead.  “I guess I possess those masculine qualities,” she laughed. “I stepped into a role that maybe George could have played, or maybe I could have played it better.”  She also co-produced. 
  42. Billy Bob Thornton, Our Brand Is Crisis, 2015.  With Sandra Bullock taking over Clooney’s potential lead, his co-producer Grant Heslov suggested he should tackle her on her nemesis. No, said George, get Billy Bob.  He did not really want either role so soon after the similar Ides Of March. With many a home truth about the entire political campaign process, the needle-sharp political satire joined the great family of  The Candidate  and Wag The Dog.
  43. Kyle Chandler, Catch-22, TV, 2018.  Clooney and his business partner (and co-producer-director), Grant  Heslov decided, rIghtly, that the ambitious Colonel Cathcart was way too big a rôle to tackle – while also co-directing-producing the new version of Joseph Heller’s classic WWII satire. ”And then the first person we thought of was Kyle Chandler. Part of it was because he is sort of the Gipper, you know? As honorable a guy as he is in real life, we just wanted to take him and make him a blowhard. He did something with the part that I wouldn’t have thought of – he made him a buffoon, in a way. He made him big, but still he somehow connected.”  Chandler  looked so much like Clooney there were times where one thought it was him. But no, George became our hero Yossarian’s training commander, Scheisskopf.
  44. Matt Damon, No Sudden Move, 2020.    Another bunch of thieves from director Steven Soderberg.  Not any Ocean’s 14, although George Clooney was originally on board… until the Covid-19 pandemic messed up schedules. “A bummer because it’s a great part.” It really looked like fun.” Soderberg also lost Josh Brolin, Nicolas Cage, Cedric The Entertainer, John Cena, Sebastian Stan for the same reason.  He still had two of Danny Ocean’s gang: Don Cheadle and Matt Damon.











 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  44