Harrison Ford

 “Forget Harrison, I’m just Harry Ford from Chicago.”

  1. Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, 1967.    
  2. Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy, 1968.   The only American X-rated production to win a Best Picture, Adapted Script and Director Oscars. Plus nominations for the three stars, Dustin  Hoffman, Jon Voight and Sylvia Miles. . And yet an UA suit once suggested: “If we could clean this up and add a few songs, it could be a great vehicle for Elvis!”  Well, having secretly obtained copies of the script, both Elvis and Warren Beatty were determined to play the street hustler Joe Buck. No way, said UK director John Schlesinger. “You’re too well known to play a dishwasher who lives in New York and fucks a lot of women.”  Elvis made Change of Habit(aka Elvis and The Nun!) instead – and quit movies as he was never allowed to stretch. . The unknown Harrison Ford and Kiel Martin (from TV’s The Virginian) tested for Joe.,  So did  London’s Hoboken  actor  Stuart Copper, future director of 27 movies.   Lee Majors won Joe but was suddenly his Western series, TheBig Valley, was renewed. And so Canadian Michel Sarrazin became Buck – until Universal, where he was contracted, wanted more money for him. Enter: Jon Voight, having  by now worked on his Texan accent enough.   For the French language  release, Voight was dubbed by rising French star Patrick Dewaere. (On  April 18, 1968, Daily Variety actually stated that Van Heflin was being considered for Joe. At the time, Heflln was… 60.  He was probably up for Barbnard Hughes as Joe Buck;s  old gay guy victim).

  3. Gary Lockwood, The Model Shop, 1969.
    “Jacques Demy was the first to believe in me, ” said Ford,  who remained friends with the French realisateur  (and his equally talented film-maker wife, Agnes Varda).    Demy insisted on casting Ford and scouted locations with him, but Columbia did not agree.   But of course!   Harrison told me that in 1966 how one executive had already written off the young contractee getting $115 a week…    “Kid – they always called me Kid…  probably because they didn’t know who the hell I was.   “Kid, siddown…  Lemme tell you a story…. First time Tony Curtis ever appeared in a movie,  he delivered a bag of groceries….       A bag of groceries!   You took one look and you knew that was a star!     You  You  ain’t got, it, kid!”   Despite 2001, Lockwood never had it.  
  4. Mark Frechette, Zabriskie Point, 1970.       As always, casting man Fred Roos was in Harrison’s corner and thought him born for the role, on-the-money perfect for the Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni’s hero – disillusioned with life’s mindless materialism. Ford’s strongest qualities? “His great sense of masculinity… dangerous intensity… combined with this droll sense of humour… and an air of confidence. I was so bitterly disappointed when I couldn’t convince Michelangelo.” So was Ford, but Fred found him a walk-on scene to earn some much needed money.  And never gave up on him.
  5. Rob Reiner, All In The Family, TV, 1971-1979.       Harrison refused to  play Mike Stivic because of his  bigot father-in-law, Archie Bunker.  The original son-in-law in  the BBC series (Till Death Do Us Part, 1965-1975) was Anthony Booth, future father-in-law of 1997-2007 British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  6. Frederic Forrest, The Conversation, 1974.    Fred Roos was still pushing, but director Francis Coppola preferred one of his new  rep company (the first of films Cioppola films for Forrest) and gave Ford  the small role of… Young Man.  Having seen a garish green suit on sale for $900, Ford immediately turned him into Young Gay Man and his passion for this idea soon had Coppola agreeing to buy the suit for the film. And a name for the guy: Martin Stett.
  7. Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man, TV, 1977.      Bored with Steve Austin, even changing  identity with a moustache, Majors was playing hard to get in  the spring of ’77 and the producers looked at possible replacements.  Ford, they said, was not suitable for an action hero…!
  8. Tom Skeritt, Alien, 1978.  Finally a star, Ford was busy enough with in the Star Wars franchise (he was still Han Solo-ing in 2015). He passed on the Nostromo skipper, Dallas, in Ridley Scott’s perfect film. And who directed Harrison three yeasr later in Blade  Runner  but Ridley Scott!
  9. Tom Berenger, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, 1978.  With Paul Newman and Robert Redford (wisely) vowing never to make a prequel or sequel to their classic fun Western –  never to be Butch and Sundance again, in fact  – Fox decided on a prequel anyway.  And expected Han Solo to saddle up.  Ford refused, as a brand new A Star, due to Star Wars,  he had no wish to be compared with Newmasn.  Directorer Dick Lester found two, more or less lookalikes, for the  lead: Tom Berenger and William Katt.

  10. Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1979.
    Judging by Taxi Driver and Mork & Mindy. Robert De Niro was not psychotic enough for Stanley Kubrick while  Robin Williams was too psychotic! Although Kubrick’s only choice was Nicholson, Warner Bros also suggested Ford, Christopher Reeve. Plus Martin Sheen (who’d already made it… as Apocalypse Now!).  (He’d also 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. The opening drive of  Nicholson’s Volkswagen  to the Overlook Hotel became the studio-insisted happy ending of  Ford’s Blade Runner (which also featured Joe Turkell, Kubrick’s bar-tender Lloyd).
  11. Tommy Lee Jones, Coal Miner’s Daughter. 1979.  C&W singer Loretta Lynn chose Sissy Spacek  for her biopic. Her husband, Doolittle Lynn, was plain jealous about the actors being seen to play him…He didn’t like Ford, much less Joe Don Baker and was totally anti-TLJ . Then, Jones found the solution.  He got pissed on moonshine, drove a car wildely through the location township of  Butcher Holler, got stopped by the cops, beat ‘em up and spent the  night in jail.  After all that, said Loretta, “Doo ended up falling in love with Tommy Lee.” 

  12. Richard Gere, American Gigolo, 1979.   Ford, Mel Gibson, even Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone – not forgetting Chevy Chase!!! – were the most unlikely choices for the titular Julian Kaye, He was given to Gere, taken over by John Travolta, who then walked and Gere jumped back in. For a character he didn’t know very well. he never owned a suit, spoke languages or sold his body to rich women. Plus… “There’s a kind a gay thing that’s flirting through it and I didn’t know the gay community at all. I wanted to immerse myself in all of that. . So I just dove in.”

  13. Michael Ontkean, Making Love, 1981.    From gigolo to… well, several stars were worried about the subject matter: a young husband’s bisexuality being aroused by Harry Hamlin.  Also fleeing: Ford,  Tom Berenger, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, William Hurt,  Peter Strauss. Pauline Kael called it: ineffable. Poor Hamlin lost various films after the gay love story. “It was 10 years too early, I guess, and it completely ended my career. That was the last studio picture I ever did. The door shut with a resounding smash.” And this after Warner Bros had offered him “the Clint” – a three-picture contractl named after Clint Eastwood’s deal.  The first two films were to be First Blood, the first Rambo movie, and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Three years later, Hurt was gay in The Kiss of the Spider Woman. It did not, er, hurt his career; indeed, he won the first Best Actor Oscar, for such a role.
  14. Kurt Russell, The Thing, 1981.    “The ultimate in alien terror.” Bah! Not even close. Which explains why Ford, Jeff Bridges, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Kline, Nick Nolte passed on John Carpenter’s unwanted re-hash of the (so-so) 1950 original produced (some say, directed) by Howard Hawks.  Fred Ward fought for the lead.  Russell won it –  third of his five Carpenter movies. Could have been worse,  Universal had wanted Tobe Hooper to direct.
  15. Alan Arkin, The Last Unicorn, 1982.       Also considered as the voice of magician, Schmendrick,  was his Star Wars cohort Mark Hamill, who later made a career of voicing numerous TV and video-game characters. Also seen – or heard – Dustin Hoffman.
  16. Jack Nicholson, Terms of Endearment, 1983.       And Jack collected his second Oscar.
  17. Ted Wass, Sheena, 1983.   Only took 46 years to make a movie of the female Tarzan, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle – launched in Jumbo Comics  #1 in 1937.    Ford passed the guy’s role  because of the seven month shoot, mainly in Kenya.  Wass was a real wuss.
  18. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.  When Clint Eastwood passed on what was first called Dirty Harry IV: Code of Silence, the next rewrite  of George LaFountaine’s 1976 French book, Le Pétard recalcitrant, was  offered to Jeff Bridges Charles Bronson, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell and Jon Voight. Coming so soon after Burt Reynolds’ Dirty Harryish Sharkey’s Machine, 1981, this one was put down as Dirty Chuckie
  19. Al Pacino, Revolution, 1986.       “I want to be surprised when I open a script.”  Producer Irwin Winkler said it had great potential: “I’d like to do it again.” Masochist!

  20. 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.
  21. Kevin Costner, The Untouchables, 1986.       Casting is never copycat director Brian De  Palma’s strongest suit.  He was playing safe, talking to Ford or Mel Gibson,  when pals George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were telling him:  Costner, Costner, Costner!
  22. 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 superstardom (between 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. Even the French Christophe(r) Lambert  or…  Robin Williams?!
  23. Kevin Kline, Cry Freedom, 1987.       Turned down – quite rightly! – the white journalist who Brit director Richard Attenborough made the hero of the black Steve Biko story!
  24. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  25. Tom Hanks, Big,1987.  Ford is not Tom Hanks. And vice-versa… Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne, wrote the script. about a teenager wishing himself in an adult’s body.  Josh possibiles included the unlikely Robert De Niro and Ford, plus Albert Brooks, Steve Guttenberg (shooting 3 Men and a Baby), Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, Denis Quaid, Judge Reinhold and Robin Williams  (who did his own take on the notion in Francis Coppola‘s Jack, 1996, first aimed at to Hanks !). And Fox simply  rejected Gary Busey and… John (Box Office Poison) Travolta. First choice Hanks had to finish Dragnet andPunchlinebefore he could head up Anne’s third and final filmed script, ninth and last producing gig. She’d also acted – in Escape To Nowherein 1961, when her brother directed. At 13.  
  26. Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1987.    
    There were 17 possible John McClanes… From Michael Madsen, Tom Berenger, and top TV heroes Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson to A-listers Charles Bronson, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone… and Frank Sinatra?  Yes, well, Roderick Thorpe’s book, Nothing Lasts Forever, sequelised  The Detective  – and  that 1967 film  starred Sinatra (as Joe Leland,  changed here to  McClane) and so Sinatra  had first dibs on any sequels. At age 73, old Rheumy Blue Eyes wisely passed. Otherwise it could have  been “Dooby-dooby-do”  in place of  “Yippee-ki-yay.”  In his 1980 move debut, The First Deadly Sin, Willis is seen leaving a bar as Sinatra walks in.  So it flows… He was soon  taking roles from most of those on the McClane list.

  27. Mark Harmon, The Presidio, 1987.  The usual old cop-young cop routine but set to a dull military beat in San Francisco’s Presidio Army Base.  Due for Lee Marvin-Jeff Bridges, but Lee fell ill and died.  Gene Hackman-Bridges were not as hot as Sean Connery-Don Johnson – except Don was hog-tied to Miami Vice.  OK, Sean-Kevin Costner – he quit so no Untouchables reunion as the pair finally became Sean-Mark Harmon.  Also up  for the young upstart were 15 others:  Alec Baldwin Michael Biehn, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michael Keaton, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis, even Europeans Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme None could have saved what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called “a clone, of a film assembled out of spare parts from… the cinematic junkyard.”  

  28. 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 – aka Jack Nicholson? 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 also considered Charles Grodin, Aussie comic Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies), Joe Pantliano – 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.”

  29. 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: Ford, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, 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.”
  30. Robert De Niro, Midnight Run, 1987.   There were 23 possibilites for the  lean, mean  skip-tracer (tracing felons who skipped bail) – on the run from the  FBI and the Mob after capturing Vegas embezzler Charles Grodin. Who knew De Niro could be more subtle at comedy than… Ford, Jeff Bridges, Charles Bronson, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal (!), Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rourke, Kurt Russell, John Travolta, Jon Voight and even the musclebound Arnie and Sly – Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Director Martin Brest, that’s who.

  31. 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 and II (Berenger and Sheen). 

  32. Mel Gibson, Tequila Sunrise, 1988.     Chinatown scenarist Robert Towne was working on the Frantic script with the star – when Ford chanced upon the writer’s nearly completed scenario about two LA buddies on either side of the law. Ford wanted in. He later backed off due to “personal conflicts with the role.” Not interested in playing a dealer – repenti, or not. Not that he was anti-marijuana. Towne and producer Thom Mount simply flew down-under and got Gibson aboard.
  33. Tim Robbins, ErikThe Viking, 1988.       There was a flurry of names run up various flagpoles for Erik,  from Nicolas Cage and Tom Hulce to… wait for it… Michael Palin and Harrison Ford!!!

  34. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
  35. Jack Nicholson, Batman1988.

  36. Dwight Schulz, The Shadow Makers (aka Fat Man and Lttle Boy), 1988.      Terrible title(s)… Paul Newman was Major General Leslie Groves, head of the construcion of then first (titular) Atom bombs at Los Alamos. UK director Roland Joffe wanted Schultz as the project’s scientific chief, Robert Oppenheimer – while the suits  craved another big shot like Ford or Redford.  “Joffe went to the wall for me,“ said Shultz. “The studio wanted anyone but me.“ “Harrison told me the reason he didn’t do it,” says Bonnie Bedelia, “was because after reading the script three times, he realised I had the best role.  I was a scientist but you wouldn’t know it –  95% of what I played was cut out.”
  37. Jack Nicholson, The Two Jakes, 1989.

  38. Don Johnson, The Hot Spot, 1989.    
    Robert Mitchum was the matrix for drifter Harry Madox – and first choice in 1962. Nearly 30 years later, it was to be Mickey Rourke and Debra Winger. Or Ford, Kevin Costner, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Tom Selleck, Sam Shepard, Patrick Swayze opposite Anne Archer, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Theresa Russell,  Uma Thurman and ultimately, Virginia Madsen.  Not necessarily for this movie…   Replacing UK director Mike Figgis,   Dennis Hopper totally changed  the entire gig!     In a 2014 AV Club interview, Johnson explained how three days before shooting began Dennis “called a meeting. ‘OK, we’re not making that script. We’re making this one.’And he passed a script around the table that had been written for Robert Mitchum in the ’60s… based on a book called Hell Hath No Fury… Wow! The Figgis script was really slick and cool, and it was a heist movie. But this was real noir. The guy was an amoral drifter, and it was all about how women were going to take him down… And that was the movie that we ended up making.” Hopper’s Last Tango In Texas was hailed by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as “a superior work in an old tradition.” He wuz right!

  39. Alec Baldwin, The Hunt For The Red October, 1989.     Passed on the first film of the Thomas Clancy books about CIA’s Jack Ryan“Always my first choice  from    the moment I read the book,” said producer Mace Neufeld.  “But he wanted to play the Russian submarine commander.”  “It was,”  said Ford, “the better part.” By 1992, it was a case of Jack’s Back and Ford’s got him as he headlined the next two Ryan thrillers.
  40. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.      ’Tis the season for cops… wioth three offers…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 – Ford, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, 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.

  41. Kurt Russell, Tango & Cash, 1989. Next… ? 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 Houseith him ), the list was long… Ford, Michael Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Gary Sinise… plus future Sly cop-stars Bruce Willis and James Woods. It took Stallone 24 years to get  him, but Ford finally worked wn  on Expendables 3, 2013.
  42. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Finally… country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!
  43. Richard Dreyfuss, Always, 1990.      Steven Spielberg invariably thinks of Ford first. Harrison’s  reasons for rejecting offers are: “I didn’t know how to do it, or it was too close to something I’d already  done or I didn’t like the idea.” In this case, Spencer Tracy had already done it in 1943. And anyway, Spielberg, flubbed it.
  44. Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, 1990.    Sonny Bono with the missus, Cher, as Tess, were set for a  70s’ musical version that never flew.  Next came Ryan O’Neal in the earlty 80s.  Then, Ford, Bruce Campbell, Robert De Niro, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford and even such total opposites as George C Scott and Tom Selleck were seen in ’89.   James Caan settled for a cameo as Splandoni.  Beatty agreed to direct if he could play Tracy, his boyhood idol. Disney suits spoiled the whole caper by making him slash his 135 minute cut by a half-hour!
  45. Harvey Keitel, The Two Jakes, 1990.      “I’d rather find the thing that’s written with somebody else in  mind and be able to add layers to that.”

  46. 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.

  47. Patrick Swayze, Ghost, 1990.      Me a ghost?   Shut the door as you get outa here.
  48. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke (“the affordable William Shatner”) and Dave Thomas.
  49. Nick Nolte, Cape Fear, 1991.      Might have been interested if Steven Spielberg  had stayed aboard.  Neither the final director Martin Scorsese – nor phone calls from  Robert De Niro – could persuade him. Harrison always understands who has the better role.
  50. Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.

  51. Val Kilmer, Thunderheart, 1991.  UK director Michael Apted’s first  thriller was inspired by 57 unsolved murders on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s as The Traditionals fought Tribal government goons…  making Pine Ridge (pop: 1100) the Murder Capitol of the Nation. The only cliche in sight is the usual pairing of old cop-young cop (or FBI agents here), the rest was the usual Apted brilliance.  He shuffled a  13 choices for the younger agent, Ray Levoi: Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel, Gibson, Tommy Lee Jons, Michael Keaton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvster Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis Levoi was 1/4th Sioux. Kilmer ( the most unsung leading man of his generation,” for Chicago critic  Roger Ebert) is 1/8th Cherokee.
  52. Nick Nolte, Cape Fear, 1991.      After Spielberg passed  the Amblin project to him, Martin Scorsese tried to win over Ford  (then, Robert Redford) to play the (this time, unsantised) lawyer Sam Bowden.   Scorsese even asked Robert De Niro to call Ford to talk him into co-starring. You talkin’ to me!
  53. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman, 1991. First Jack Nicholson, then Pacino, Ford, Dustin Hoffman, even Joe Pesci (sheer desperation time!) rejected the blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. Pacino’s agent talked him back into it. Result: his much delayed Oscar.
  54. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  55. Sam Neill, Jurassic Park,1992.
  56. 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 buzz-cut, glasses and, finally, his own  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. 
  57. Tom Berenger, Sliver, 1993       “If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. No sense regretting it.”   There would have  been much regret about this turkey!
  58. Sam Shepard, The Pelican Brief, 1993.       “Julia Roberts asked me to play her boyfriend – but the timing was not right.”
  59. Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  Sidney Poitier missed the point.  He refused because playing a convict was not setting a good example. Did he not notice redemption in the title? (And what about Les Miserables?).  Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and Robert Redford had already been jailed  in Escape From Alcatraz, Cool Hand Luke and The Last Castle.… So the A-Listers (Harrison Ford included) passed and thus it became Freeman‘s favourite movie –  the 43rd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits. As if in a memo to Poitier,   Chicago critic Roger Ebert noted: 1.“Some have said life is a prison, we are Red, Andy is our redeemer. All good art is about something deeper than it admits.”
  60. 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 Mr Die Hard, himself, 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!
  61. Liam Neeson, Schlindler’s List, 1993. Steven Spielberg spent ten years growing up before makingthe Holocaust film and not just because he couldn’t find his Oskar Schindler, the Nazi businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews. “I was looking for the actual guy, as close to the actual man as I could find.”  Ford was worried by his movie star baggage. Other possibilities: Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Swiss Bruno Ganz, Mel Gibson, Swedish Stellan Skarsgård, AustralianJack Thompson… and his2011 Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis. Ford had the more joyful job ofpresenting Spielberg with his first Best Film and Director Oscars (after four previous nominations) on March 21, 1994.
  62. Harvey Keitel, Imaginary Crimes, 1994.      Over eleven years, Ford, Robert Duvall, and Dustin Hoffman had beenup for the hustler-father of two young girls – based on Sheila Ballantyne’s autobiography.
  63. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.   Written for Bill Murray (“not for me”), Scott Calvin aka Santa was sent to Chevy Chase (too busy). Next? Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, even the mighty Ford, Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks before TV comic Tim Allen won his film debut. Allen had a record (28 months for attempted dealing) but Disney reluctantly broke its no-ex-cons policy. He’d been punished – and now more so. Stifling in his fat suit and facial prosthetics during the Summer shoot, he needed cooling-off breaks. They didn’t prevent a neck rash from the Santa suit. Come the Toy Story seres, he could voice Buzz Lightyear in his pjs.
  64. Dennis Quaid, Dragonheart, 1995.     A hard day’s knight – opposite a computerised dragon voiced by Indy’s dad, Sean Connery! Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson Patrick Swayze, Robin Williams were also on the short-list for Bowen.
  65. Dustin Hoffman, Outbreak, 1995.      Thirteen year before, Harrison’s Blade Runner had been aimed at Hoffman. Ford won – twice!
  66. 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. Williams lapped it up after Ford, Dan Aykroyd, Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger had all fled the incoherent script. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.
  67. Jeff  Bridges, The Mirror Has Two Faces, 1996.      With La Barb getting $20m and a cut of the action, Ford would have doubled the budget by co-starring with Barbra Streisand.
  68. Steven Seagal, Fire Down Below, 1996.      Jeb Stuart’s script was snapped up by Batman‘s dynamicduo (producers Peter Guber, Jon Peters) for Harrison or Mel Gibson…  Jinxed title. Despite Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon, a 1957 film with the same name also deep-sixed.
  69. Paul McGann, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.
  70. Nick Nolte, Nightwatch, 1997.       Re-treading his own 1994 Danish thriller in America, the original’s director, Ole Bernedal, wanted Harrison for Inspector Thomas Albert Cray.

  71. Tom Sizemore, The Relic, 1997.       Another cop, another pass.  So, no Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta for director Peter Hyams. 
  72. Treat Williams, Deep Rising, 1998. Soon as Ford passed as the skipper of a cruise liner staffed by reprobates, the budget was slashed. As if money could float this lame-brained pot-pourri of recent grisleys… Alien Resurrection, Anaconda, Hard Rain, Phantom, Toy Story. No, I’m joking about Toy Story.   I think.
  73. Nick Nolte, The Thin Red Line, 1998.  Numerous stars – Clooney, Depp, Oldman, Pacino, Pitt, Rourke, Martin Sheen, etc – were collidin g over themselves to offer their services (even for free) for wizard auteur Terrence Malick’s first movie since Days of Heaven…  21 years before!   Others wondered if he still had “it”.  He did.  (And lost it with one too many iconoclastic/pretentious pieces.)  Some guys actually received scripts from him and/ or joined a group reading.  Ford simply passed Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Tall to Nolte and got on with business.
  74. James Caan, Poodle Springs, TV, 1998.      The final, unfinished Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe book came Ford’s way after being first aimed  at Robert Redford.  It ended as a below-par HBO movie.
  75. Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan, 1998.      For once, Spielberg needed a name to support/encourage all the necessarily young actors. He thought Ford (naturally) plus Mel Gibson, before joining together for the first time with his friend, Hanks – in a grim WWII drama that led to more of the same in their co-produced HBO masterpiece, Band of Brothers, TV, 2001.  
  76. Tom Cruise Eyes Wide Shut, 1998. A better idea for Bill Hartford. Not that Ford could have saved the old-fashioned mess that proved to be Stanley Kubrick’s final film. And he thought, his greatest. Didn’t he ever see the 15 others? (Truth is, it sucked due to Cruise and the missus, not an ounce of erotica between them). Also up for Hartford: Johnny Depp and Steve Martin.
  77. Lance Henriksen, Tarzan, 1998.    Ford was short-listed for the Disney toon. But Henriksen was chosen by the suits because only his voice – “deep and gruff” – would better suit “the immense size of Kerchak.” Cheaper, too.
  78. Richard Gere, Runaway Bride, 1999.      Over ten years, most A listers, male and  female, had been announced for it.  Re-uniting Gere and Julia Roberts was a pretty good idea. Except on-screen.
  79. Mel Gibson, The Patriot, 1999.  Gibson only got to re-make his Braveheart in the  American War of Independence because Ford bristled at script turning the Revolutionary War  into “a one-man’s revenge” melodrama. Spike Lee was similarly  disgusted by  the “ complete whitewashing of history… (it) dodged around, skirted about, or completely ignored slavery.”  Gibson agreed, (no, really) “Seems kind of a cop-out.”  Well, American history told by an  Aussie,  directed by a German.
  80. George Clooney, The Perfect Storm, 2000.  Inevitably, Harrison was first choice of his Air Force Onemaker, German director Wolfgang Petersen. Clooney and Mel Gibson were also on the manifest for the perfect skipper – Captain Billy Tyne – in the reconstruction of the fishing ship, Andrea Gail,  caught in  “the middle of the monster” when three great storm systems collided in the Atlantic in 1991.

  81. Mark Wahlberg, Planet of the Apes, 2000.   Fox chased A-Listers Ford, Kevin Costner and Patrick Swayze for the hero Captain Leo Davidson in Tim Burton’s “re-imagining” of the Pierre Boulle book – or, at least, the 1967 Fox film version when Charlton Heston’s hero was called George Taylor.   A surprise choice at the helm, Burton said he’d rather jump out a window than make any sequel.
  82. Michael Douglas, Traffic,  2000.      Steven  Soderbergh had  “great interactions” with Harrison. “He had really good ideas, all of which we incorporated and  all of which worked.  He decided it wasn’t what he wanted to do right then, but the time he  put into it was invaluable to me.” Loving Ford’s  changes, Douglas returned to the Soderbergh deal… bringing  his pregnant wife with him, Catherine  Zeta-Jones. Adds Soderbergh: “These things work out of the way they should.”
  83. Russell Crowe, Proof of Life, 2000.      When Ford – one of his wife Helen Mirren’s previous co-stars – dropped out, Taylor Hackford took the advice of fellow directors  Michael Mann and Ridley Scott and went for Crowe. “All I needed was to see him in action in Gladiator and Inside Man. In one movie, he’s this hulking Roman soldier and, in the other, a brilliantly intelligent boffin. Perfect. But not easy.”
  84. Mel Gibson, The Patriot, 2000.      Too violent, too damned simple: “The Revolutionary War boiled down to one man seeking revenge.”
  85. Kurt Russell, Vanilla Sky, 2001.     Scenarist-director Cameron Crowe also asked Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton. But, hey, who wants to be second banana to Tom Cruise!
  86. Al Pacino, Insomnia, 2001.      Ford missed that rarity: a re-make improving upon  the (Norwegian) original.  And so, Pacino became burnt out  cop, looking (said Chicago critic Roger Ebert)  “like a man who has lost all hope.”
  87. Ben Affleck, The Sum of All Fears, 2002.   Jack Ryan Junior!   “They produced a script and… I didn’t care for it .  So they went to somebody else.” Affleck was  28.   “[Author  and exec-producer] Tom Clancy was always complaining about how old I was, so I think at least he’ll be gratified.” Not with the box-office take that brought a sudden end to the Ryan franchise.
  88. Ray Liotta, Narc, 2002.       Quite keen on this cop, Henry Oaks  – for awhile. Liotta gained 25 lbs and so impressed Tom Cruise, he 
 became exec producer to help win a better release for the result.
  89. Kevin Costner, Dragonfly, 2002.       Another  grieving doctor-widower? No thanks, he was taking a full year off movies to enjoy his new lady, Calista Flockhart, and her adopted son, Liam.
  90. Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica, TV, 2004-2009.       Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard were the somewhat lofty goals for  the 74 hours of   Admiral William Adama. Somewhat early to seduce Ford into a series!  Olmos (five years younger) was in by the fourth page of the scenario.

  91. 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, Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  104