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Rowan Atkinson

  1. Ted Wass, Curse of the Pink Panther, 1982,      “But who the hell is this schmuck, Blake.  Nobody knows him… he’s always gonna be unknown, I tell ya!”  So much for LA suits.  And so,  the future Black Adder and Mr Bean escaped the second woeful mess from director Blake Edwards, desperately trying to keep his his Panther annuity alive after his star, Peter Sellers, died. At least  this time Edwards had a clumsy US cop, Clifton Sleigh,  searching for the “missing” flic - minus the horrendous grave-robbing of the old out-takes glued together, with more spit than polish, which was Trail of the Pink Panther, 1981.
  2. Tim Curry, Clue, 1985.   Anyone for Cluedo? Because that’s what we were watching… “We're trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what!” When UK TV star Leonard Rossiter died during pre-production, the Briish auteur Jonathan Lynn was told that Atkinson or John Cleese the perfect replacements, were not well enough known in the US (and Rossiter was?). Lynn then chose a Brit who was his pal since their teenagedom.
  3. Joe Pesci, Home Alone, 1990.    It was so patently obvious that the kid of the hour - Macauley Culkin - was going to steal everything but the cinema seats that most of The Names avoided the burglar clown called Harry Lime, more of a fourth Stooge than Orson Welles. Those refusing to be second banana to a moppet included Atkinson, Robert De Niro, Danny De Vito, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Jon Lovitz and two musical Brits: Phil Collins and Dudley Moore.
  4. Roberto Benigni, Son of the Pink Panther, 1992. Ten years after the Curse and now more internationally known, Atkinson found himself in the mix for Clouseau Jr  - with Tim Curry, Gérard Depardieu and Kevin Kline.  Blake Edwards preferred the Italian Benigni - far less subtle than Peter Sellers or Atkinson - but a good excuse to resurrect Claudia Cardinale from the first film, The Pink Panther, 1962,as his mother, Maria Grambelli, following her affair with Clouseau. Except,  of course, CC was an Indian princess  in the first film and Maria was Elke Sommer in the second, A Shot in  the Dark, 1963. So much funnier than  this… shot in the the head. 
  5. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.   The guy who accidentally kills Santa (it wasshootinghim, but Disney wasn’t having that) and take over his duties was penned for for Bill Murray. “Not my kind of humour,” he retorted.  Next in line: Allen, Atkinson, Jim Carrey, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams.  Plus eight Batman candidates: Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J Fox, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze and the winning Michael  Keaton.
  6. Paul McGann, Doctor Who (The Movie),TV, 1996.
  7. John Leguizamo, Moulin Rouge! 2001.     Among Australian writer-director Baz Luhrmann’s initial idea for Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa. Due to the discomfort of playing the short painter, Leguizamorequiredphysical therapy for weeks.
  8. Steve Martin,The Pink Panther, 2004.     Yet again he was one of the many being chased (Kevin Spacey always denied he was another) when MGM decided to relaunch the franchise - that had never worked sans Sellers.
  9.  Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.  
    One of Tim Burton’s too scary ideas for chocolatier Willy Wonka - like Nic Cage and Chris Walken! Burton said his Willy, as it were, was part Citizen Kane and part Howard Hughes. Tim’s 29 other fancies: One ole Betelgeuse Michael Keaton, three Monty Pythons - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, also up for the 1970 version - plus Dan Akykroyd, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, and Robin Williams. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy - Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  10. Anthony Edwards, Thunderbirds, 2004.    .In development dustbin since 1996, moving from a Toy Story-like CGI version to live-action at Warners, PolyGram, Universal… Warner plans included all four Baldwin brothers as the Tracy brood and Atkinson as Brains.
  11. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.      One of Tim Burton’s too scary ideas for Willy Wonka - like Nic Cage and Chris Walken! Burton said his Willy, as it were, was part Citizen Kane and part Howard Hughes. Tim’s 20 other fancies: One ole Beetlejuice Michael Keaton, three Monty Pythons - John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin - plus Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams. Burton said his Willy, as it were, was part Citizen Kane and part Howard Hughes.
  12. Andy Serkis, Inkheart, 2008.       An early idea for Capricorn, one of the villains released from novels when they are read aloud by silver-tongued...  Brendan Fraser??!!
  13. Sacha Baron Cohen, Les Miserables, 2011.    Billy Crystal, Ricky Gervais, Steve Martin, Robin Williams…  For some reason, it was only comics (oh, and Geoffrey Rush) seen for the despicable Thénardier.  Atkinson was too Bean and Johnny English to have been  taken seriously. 


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