- Cillian Murphy, 28 Days Later, 2002. When he couldn’t persuade Ewan MacGregor back into the the fold (having dropped him for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach, 1999), director Danny Boyle found Gosling keen but over-scheduled.
- Mark Wahlberg, The Lovely Bones, 2007. A month before shooting, producer Fran Walsh realised she had miscast the grieving father of a raped and murdered girl. Gosling gained 20lbs and started a beard to grow into the role - and still felt too young. “No, no, no,” said Fran and director hubby Peter Jackson. “We can age you up... thin your hair. It wasn't until we were in pre-production and had the cast there that it became increasingly clear. He was so uncomfortable and we began to feel he was not right. It was our blindness, the desire to make it work no matter what.” Gosling felt the ten-year older Wahlberg would be better. “He has seven or eight siblings,” said Walsh, “and understands the chaos of family. He really anchored the story.”
- Zac Efron, The Lucky One, 2007. The US Marine believing a certain Beth saved his life in far off Iraq was created for Gosling. Efron was not quite the same quality.
- Armando Riesco, Che - Part One and Che - Part Two, US-France-Spain, 2007. Chosen by Steven Soderbergh to be Che, Benicio Del Torro suggested Gosling for “Benigno” aka Dariel Alarcón Ramirez The actor met the real Ramirez, started language studies (the films were shot in Spanish) but shooting delays mean Gosling had to leave for another assignment.
- Garrett Hedlund, TRON Legacy, 2009. Jeff Bridges is back - and this time he’e brought his son.
- Ryan Reynolds, Green Hornet, 2009. Although far more keen on, er, modest movies than übercalifragilisticexpialidocious men-in-tights trips, Goslinbg was interested in the heroic Hal Jordan - just not green keen enough sign a multiple-sequel contract. (What town was he he working in?). Also in the mix - well, mess due to the exceedingly zeroic Reynolds - were George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal, Vince Vaughan, Mark Wahlberg. And Corey Reynolds or Eddie Murphy for the black Hornet: John Stewart.
- Henry Cavill, Man of Steel, 2011.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Dark Knight Rises, 2011.
- Shia LaBeouf, Lawless, 2011. Gosling was part of the original line-up (with Scarlett Johansson, Michael Shannon) when the film was shuttered, only to be born again with different actors. And one of them, LaBouef got so aggressive after getting too authentic by drinking real moonshine that Mia Wasikowska almost quit the production.
- 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… Also ruled out were George Clooney (too old - hey! Ford was 50) and Channing Tatum (too busy).
- Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger, 2011. Refused the title role in Gore Verbinski’s update. Well, no wonder when Johnny Deep had top billing as Tonto.
- Jason Clarke, Lawless, 2012. Gosling had to leave when the production was momentarily shuttered. Clarke took over as the oldest of three moonshining Bondurant brothers in Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition. Just not as important as in the first script.
- Matthew McConaughey, The Dallas Buyer’s Club, 2012. After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, electrician Ron Woodroof was told to “go home and die. ”Instead, he set out to live and help thousands do the same. Brad Pitt tried to film the story with director Marc Foster, then Gosling with director Craig Gillespie. Finally, McConaughey arranged funding... and, therefore,the lead. And the Oscar!
- Will Smith, Focus, 2013. Gosling as a veteran grifter teaching his art to (and falling for) Emma Stone - became Smith (coaching Margot Robbie) after Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt passed. Plus a lot of ladies: Jessica Biel, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, Rosamund Pike, Kirsten Stewart and Michelle Williams.
- Henry Cavill, The Man From UNCLE, 2013. After securing the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993, producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts, four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!), plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 to Tom Cruise three years later. By way of the early-21st century suspects: Gosdling, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 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. Poor Davis never got it right!
- Armie Hammer, The Man From UNCLE, 2013. Superman Cavill goes solo. Napoleon Solo… And needed a partner: the Russian Ilya Kuryakin. Gosling fell into the mix with Joel Edgerton and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Director Steven Soderbergh quit in November 2011 when understanding Warner wanted a new franchise (like his Ocean’s 11 trilogy) … but didn’t want to pay for it!
- Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2013.
Mark Wahlberg tried to buy the porno novel. Social networks were full of weird suggestions for the porn novel’s BDSM lover, Christian Grey. From Robert Pattinson, Matt Smith to Henry Cavill (well, S/M also stands for Superman) and Captain America Chris Evans (as if Marvel would allow that). None led to talks, auditions or tests. The suits had eyes only for Gosling. No way, said he. Most wise... Next target was Charlie Hunnam. He agreed and then suddenly quit because of his Sons of Anarchy, series (among other issues), and a second batch of front-runners were seen: Luke Bracey (the inevitable Aussie), Canadians Patrick J Adams and François Arnaud (well versed in jiggery-pokery as Cesare in The Borgias series), plus Scott Eastwood, Theo James, Billy Magnussen - and Alexander Skarsgård, playing Tarzan by then with an Anastasia Steele hopeful, Margot Robbie. (Hunnam had also been in the ape-man mix). The first group had been Stephen Amell (he preferred Oliver Queen, aka DC’s Arrow, TV 2012-2016), ex-UK model David Gandy (who simply refused), two other Brits, Christian Cooke (from Love, Rosie with London model Suki Waterhouse up for Anastasia), Dominic Cooper (perfect, surely!), plus Aussie Daniel McPherson - and Santa Monica’s Ryan Paevey actually auditioned. As for the Belgian hunk, Matthias Schoenaerts - he fell asleep reading the scenario. Oh, and author EL James vetoed any idea of of Dornan’s pal, Eddie Redmayne! They were all lucky to escape the turgid, totally un-erotic enterprise. Only 14 minutes and 17 seconds of sex, no orgasms - and pubes added digitally to actors’ genital patches!! And poor Dornan was a zero without his beard.Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher, 2014. The Faustian wrestling drama took so long to hit the mat that Gosling and Heath Ledger (dead in 2008) had been first up for the Olympic gold medallist brothers involved with a twisted zillionaire played by Steve Carrel - in make-up and prosthetics that were more disconcerting than convincing.
- Jared Leto, Suicide Squad, 2015. Before reviving its Justice League heroes project, Warner decided to go The Dirty Dozen route with DC Comics’ bad-ass alliance. The studio badly wanted Gosling as The Joker. Once again, he vetoed any sequels. The 2014 support Oscar-winner Leto took over, joining Tom Hardy-Rick Flagg’s group: Will Smith as Deadshot, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Margot Robbie as The Joker’s on-off squeeze, Harley Quinn, and ex-model Delevingne as the Enchantress.
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015. Although up for the Marvel hero - and DC Comics Suicide Squad - Gosling remained averse to roles glued to multiple sequels. Always Marvel’s #1 target, Cumberbatch bowed out due to his stage plans. Next? TV doctor Patrick Dempsey, Colin Farrell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Joaquin Phoenix (too strange !), Vincent Price (in 1986!), even zeroes Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached - how wise!) and Justin Theroux. Finally, the production waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stage triumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison… and should head the MCU when Robert Downey pawns his ironmongery.