- Tom Skerrit, M*A*S*H, 1969.
Gould told director Robert Altman: “I’m here to work and I can do that part… but I also know I’ll have my head up my ass the whole time trying to be a southerner. But this Trapper John… I’ve got the juice. I’ve got the energy for it. If you could see me in that, that’s what I’d really like to do.” And that was that. He cast me in the part I wanted to play.”
Not peacefully During one break, Gould threw his lunch tray in the air and screamed at director Robert Altman: “From hereon, you tell me what the fuck it is you want me to do... because I'm a craftsman. I make precision lace. Don't tell me to be like someone else - because it's me I want to be like.” “Halfway through shooting,” reported Altman, “Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland went to the studio and tried to get me fired, saying I was paying more attention to the extras than I was to them. And they were right! I never knew about that until years later. Had I known, it would have broken my heart. Gould is the one who told me about it.”
Donald Sutherland, Alex in Wonderland, 1970. Robert Altman wanted him for McCabe and Mrs Miller, Paul Mazursky called about Alex and “the system was pushing me to do I Love My Wife. I didn’t have the wisdom to just stop for a while and assess what I’d done, where I was, and how I could best evolve, as a presence on film.”
- Warren Beatty, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971.
“The Old Mansent me the novel, which Fox had bought for George C Scott, but Bob wanted to do it with me and Pat Quinn. One of my problems was I thought we should choose the leading lady together. I also had a problem with his original script.” He passed. Robert Altman told him: ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.’ That’s whenGouldgot an offer forIngmar Bergman’sfirst English-language film, The Touch, 1971. Julie Christie's lover read her script and flew back to LA to meet writer Brian McKay.“Your words brought me 7,000 miles.” “He was great,"said Altman. “He just isn’t much fun to work with. He’s a control freak, he can’t let go because he’s a director, a producer and the last movie star of an era. Best thing he did was bring Julie Christie in... This girl was better thanhe was!" Beatty insisted on so many takes, Altman used to leave him to it after the first 20. In 1974, Gould walked-on with Christie in Nashville, and eventually made his comeback as Phillip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye - bothhelmed by Altman.
- Richard Benjamin, Portnoy's Complaint, 1972. Obviously, the obvious choice was too busy being obvious choices for other obvious roles.
Woody Allen, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask, 1971. “Too hard to film,” said Gould and production partner Jack Brodsky, when selling their rights to the best-selling sex manual (150m copies sold in 52 countries) to UA… "Hey, what’s Woody’s number?" Author, Dr David Reuben hated the film, but thenWoody’s parody - using such chapters as What Is Sodomy? and What Happens During Ejaculation? (no room for the Onan stanza) was his revenge on Reuben for stealing one of his Take The Money And Run jokes on TV. Johnny Carson: “Is sex dirty?” Reuben: “It is if you’re doing it right.”
- Barbra Stresiand, What's Up Doc? 1972.
The movie had begun life as A Glimpse of Tigerin 1971.The over-worked Gould arrived from Sweden, marinated in Swedish genius Ingmar Bergman afterThe Touch.Headlines soon had him drug-freaked, threatening to thrash co-star Kim Darby, fighting director Anthony Harvey.Warners cancelled the shoot. “A frame-up!" insisted Gould. Peter Bogdanovich revamped the rolefor the ex-Mrs Gould.. "Makes good sense to me," said Gould."Atleast she made some money out of it." Gould did not work again for two years when Robert Altman called him up for The Long Goodbye. "I'm the original rubber man and I'm bouncing right back.I may be starting at the bottom again, but I'm feeling good."
- Robert De Niro, Bang The Drum Slowly, 1973. Delayed by his breakdown.
- Burt Reynolds, At Long Last Love, 1975. Director Peter Bogdanovich was about to sing 'n' dance it, himself, opposite his then-lover, Cybill Shepherd, in the Cole Porter musical. When Gould quit, said Burt, "Peter had the guts to cast me."After the premiere, veteran Broadway star Ethel Merman was (easily) overheard saying: “Thank God, Cole isn’t alive to see this.”
- Yves Montand, Le sauvage, France, 1975. Impressed by M*A*S*H and The Long Goodbye, auteur Jean-Paul Rappenau first wanted Gould as the titular, rugged American. But producer Raymond Danon said such an important French production must have French stars. Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo did not seem to agree… and Montand loved the title.
- Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
Lee Marvin, The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday, 1976. When due from the Payday director Darryl Duke.
- Roy Scheider, All That Jazz, 1979. When director Bob Fosse was convinced (by his health) not to try and play his screen self, Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon was chased and or avoided by… Gould, Alan Alda, Alan Bates (“too British,” said Fosse), Warren Beatty (keen, but Gideon must not die at the end!), Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss (“afraid of the dancing”), Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (“too old’), Paul Newman (“Dumb of me… a terrible oversight”), Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, George Segal, Jon Voight. Scheider just grabbed the “outrageous, assaulting, melodramatic, very funny, stupid, silly, simplistic, vulgar… wonderful movie!” Exactly.
- Richard Jordan, Raise The Titanic, 1980. And sink Lord Lew Grade... The UK producer saw author Clive Cussler’s hero, Dirk Pitt, as a 007-style franchise. Steve McQueen rejected $3m because the script (by some 17 scenarists!) was too flat. Gould was cheaper, except he passed, as well. Jordan was a B in an A. Hence, “Low” Grade’s biggest flop. "It would've been cheaper to lower the Atlantic." Cussler cussed a lot and refused to sell movie rights to his Dirk Pitt books. Until Sahara, 2005 Again, Pitt was the pits.
- John Belushi, Continental Divide, 1981. Steven Spielberg adored the Tracy/Hepburn unlikely romcoms. Now he’dfound his own. Except he chickened out whenhe couldn’t unearth a new Spence/Kate. He remained producer and thought the no-nonsense journo hero (based on Chicago Sun Times columnist Mike Royko) was perfectfor… Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss (aka Spielberg’s Tracy!), Peter Falk, Dustin Hoffman. PlusGeorge Segal, who showed it to his California Split co-star, Elliott Gould, who showed it to his wife and La Streisand immediately wanted to switch roles and be the journo opposite Robert Redford’s bald eagle researcher! Which is about when Belushi, the ruination of Spielberg’s 1941, decided he could go straight. Spielberg believed him.And stuck him onpoor UK director Michael Apted. Major error!
- Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, 1982.
- Mikhail Baryshnikov, Company Business, 1991. Or, Dinosaurs when Gould started it with Richard Dreyfuss before shooting stopped in 1989 -re-started years later by a different team.
- Woody Allen, Deconstructing Harry, 1997. An obvious choice, perhaps, as this was Woody channelling Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, 1957. Gould had worked withthe Swedish regissor in The Touch, 1971. Woody tried to get Gould (or De Niro, or Hoffman, or Hopper). “There are plenty of actors and actresses... saying ‘I’m dying to work with you so I’d do anything’ - that are not available or they can’t work for the pay I’m offering.” Harry was a slimeball\Not whenWoody played him.
- David Soul, Death On The Nile, TV, 2004. Asked first to play Andrew Pinnington in a chapter of the Poirot series - using the same cruiser featured in the 1978 movie.