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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.  An Italian as the gormless gendarme-son of the far funnier gendarme-father.  Ah, but his mother was Italian, you see.  But no longer Elke Sommer,who was Maria Gambrelli in Clouseau 2: A Shot in the Dark, 1963, but Claudia Cardinale, the  Princess Dala in the first Panther 30 years previously. She was the owner of the titluar pink diamond,  not even mentioned in this greedy sequel which was as stupid as that… Also in the Junior mix: Rowan Atkinson, Tim Curry, Kevin Kline (Inspector Dreyfus in the 2005  Panther reboot with an execrable Steve Martin)  Bronson Pinchot (rapidly un-listed after his Blame it on the Bellboy  flop) and a genuine Frenchman,  Gérard Depardieu.  Atkinson was marked “UK known only” when suggested for Detective Clifton Sleigh in Curse of the Pink Panther, 1983, another mess made after the 1980 death of the one true Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers.   But hey wasn’t Benigni Italy-known only at the time?!
  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 Goodman, The Borrowers, 1996.    The delicious villain, Ocious P Potter,  was not in the 1952 Marty Norton  book that Peter Sellers tried to film in 1964.  So he would have been Pod, the four-inch-high patriarch  of the tiny Clock family living  beneath the floorboards of a house owned by ”human beans”.  Three versions had already been hits when this Anglo--American version was launched. The battle for Ocious was, therefore, UK v US…   Martin Clunes, Bob Hoskins, Griff Rhys Jones, Alan Rickman v Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin, Bill Murray,  Ed O’Neill, Robin Williams.  The fact that Pesci was also suggested signaled a ton of Home Alone physical attacks on poor Goodman, which put off both Steven Spielberg and his apprentice, Robert Zemeckis, from directing.  They weren’t required!  Nor were Rowan Atkinson and comic-turned-director Mel Smith - off busily making their own Bean movie for the same UK/US companies.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10.  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!

  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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??!!
  14. 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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