James Franco ( -?)
- Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2001. Franco tested for the role of Spidey’s alter-ego, Peter Parker - and his pal won it. No matter, director Sam Raimi kept Franco on board as the son of the psychopathic villain, Green Goblin.
- Orlando Bloom, Elizabethtown, 2004. Also among the potential Drews: James Franco, Colin Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Christopher Masterson, Seann William Scott.... while auteur Cameron Crowe thought he would have to start without his top choice.
- Stephen Dorff, Black Water Transit, 2008. Franco was Nicky when Vin Diesel was set to star in the previous summer in the on/off Bruce Willis project - with eighteen producers. When Diesel quit, so did Franco, Kevin Bacon and Sophia Okonedo. The next version was never seen in any cinema since its market screening (ie looking for buyers) at the 2009 Cannes festival and so, Transit transferred direct to video.
- Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express, 2008. Rogen wrote Saul Silver for himself - back in 2001. By the time he was famous enough to attract a budget, he felt co-star Franco (cast as Dale) would be funnier and swopped roles with him
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Inception, 2009. Or Gordon-Levitation... after he succeeded the too busy Franco as Arthur in UK director Christopher Nolan’s thriller within... the architecture of the mind.
- Josh Brolin, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, 2009. Among six possible replacements for the over-fatigued Spanish star. Director Oliver Stone decided upon his W from his 2008 study of George W Bush. The sub-title stems from a Michael Douglas-as-Gordon-Gekko line in the first, 1987 film.
- Chris Pine, This Means War, 2010. Director McG first selected Franco and Bradley Cooper as the two pals falling for the same bird. Even if she was Reese Witherspoon.
- Toby Kebbell, Wrath of the Titans, 2011. Far too busy to join the Clash of the Titans sequel as Agenor what with being the 2011 Oscars host with an Oscar nomination, five films in pre-production, recording an album, writing short stories, opening his own art exhibition, studying a PhD in English at Yale and digital art at the Rhode Island School of Design... and preparing his directing debut.
- Jesse Eisenberg, While We’re Young, 2011. Impossible to help Ben Stiller loosen up - because he was shooting Oz: The Great and Powerful. His intended co-star Cate Blanchett also quit due to scheduling and was replaced by Nicole Kidman’s usual sub, Naomi Watts.
- Aaron Johnson, Savages, 2011. Like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Garrett Hedlund, Franco was far too busy to take up Oliver Stone’s drama about two pals growing such great pot that Mexican drug lords threaten to kill their girl unless they work for their cartel.
- Logan Marshall-Green, Prometheus, 2011. Among the season’s usual testees chasing Ridley Scott’s (is it?it isn’t/oh yes, it is) Alien prequel - Franco was seen for Charles Holloway…. described by Marshall-Green as “an ESPN X-Games scientist” who leaps before he looks.
- Joaquin Phoenix, The Master, 2011. For his first outing since the 2007 Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood, director Paul Thomas Anderson rushed to Franco to play Freddie when first choice Jeremy Renner had to split for The Avengers. Then it became known that Phoenix was on the comeback trail.
- Chris Evans, The Iceman, 2011. Plan A, Franco and Benicio Del Toro, became Plan B: putting Evans and Ray Liotta on the sidelines of the true story of the Polish-American serial killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). When caught in 1986, he had slain more than 100 people.
- Garrett Hedlund, On The Road, 2011. During the long gestation period - 54 years since the Jack Kerouac book came out! - Franco was suggested for Dean Moriarty opposite Billy Crudup’s Sal Paradise - aka Beat Generation icons, Neal Cassady and Kerouac. Hedlund first committed in 2007.
- Chris Pine, This Means War, 2011. Two CIA Buddies fall for the same girl. (Reese Witherspoon ?!!). Mayhem ensues. Not! Franco wisely backed off from what made Chicago critic Roger Ebert exclaim: “If there’s anything I hate more than a stupid action comedy, it’s an incompetent stupid action comedy.”
- Peter Sarsgaard, Lovelace, 2012. The biopic with two directors - Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman - selected Franco for Chuck Traynor, the Deep Throat star’s abusive mentor. And then made him the less abusive Hugh Hefner.
- Matthew Goode, Stoker, 2012. Busy. Prison Break TV star Wentworth Miller wrote the script - naming it for Dracula author Bram Stoker. Plus an added homage... Franco, Goode, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassebender and Colin Firth were seen for the most mysterious Uncle Charlie since Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt some 60 years earlier.
- Reeve Carney, Mystery White Boy, 2012. Busier. Franco was early in the frame for the singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley . However, Franco, the multimedia artist, was into five films, with six other in post-production, blogging, tweeting, Instagramming, publishing his short stories and poetry, dressing as Janet Leigh for a Psycho art work, directing more than 20 films that few have seen and still, found time for favourite "performance art" - his recurring role in the ABC daytime soap, General Hospital.
- James Marsden, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, 2012. Busiest. Franco’s schedule didn’t mesh when Matthew McConnaughey had to pass on playing JFK in the film based the White House butler for eight presidents over 30 years. (Marsden looked a teenager). Franco was co-helming an arty gay porno, Interior. Leather Bar – inspred by the LA legend of 40 minutes of hardcore cut by director William Friedkin from Cruising in 1979.
- Damian Lewis, Queen of the Desert, 2013. A hot Emmy-winner due to TV’s Homeland, the Welshman took over from Franco, who had substituted Jude Law as Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, the war hero lover of Nicole Kidman – aka the female Lawrence of Arabia.
- Adam Driver, While We’re Young, 2014. Impossible to help Ben Stiller loosen up - because Franco was shooting Oz: The Great and Powerful. His intended co-star Cate Blanchett also quit due to scheduling and was replaced by Nicole Kidman’s usual sub, Naomi Watts.
- Spencer Rocco LoFranco, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr downright refused The Son... Also in discussion for Gotti Jr - in what was then Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father - were Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Jeremy Renner, Tatum, even the British Dominic Cooper. As Juniors, writers, directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson) and the years sped by, John Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don as Gotti Sr was known when the untouchable head of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. Canada’s LoFranco was perfect for Travolta… not known for stealing movies.