- Bruce McGill, Animal House, 1978. Belushi was sprung but Aykroyd was still tied to Saturday Night Live and had to pass D-Day to McGill who "nailed the performance beautifully and the frat film made a fortune."
- Bill Murray, WhereThe Buffalo Roam, 1980. The role - the gonzo-journalist author of The Banshee Screams Fo rBuffalo Meat, Dr Hunter S Thompson - went to another member of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. And he wasn't.
- David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London, 1981. The studio wanted the new Martin & Lewis: Aykroyd & Belushi. John Landis did not.
- John Belushi, Neighbours, 1981. The brothers Blue were cast as expected. Belushi as the macho loudmouth Vic and Aykroyd as the mild mannered Earl. They promptly switched roles to play, this once against type. Killing the movie… rescued from Sylvester Stallone and John Candy.
- Chevy Chase, !Three Amigos, 1986. Writer-producer-star Steve Martin's original choice of pardners - the brothers blue, Aykroyd and John Belushi - ended up as Chase and Martin Short. A funny movie, said director John Landis. And not only because his trio couldn’t ride horses..
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Jeff Goldblum, Vibes, 1988. The short-lived 80s’ Columbia chief David Puttnam denies "forcing" Aykroyd to make the Cyndi Lauper film. "He actually tried to exert pressure on me to do a movie I knew was bad," Aykroyd declared. Putnam wrote Aykroyd a long, frank letter about his situation. "I've been brought into alter the company's thinking... everyone would like you to be in Vibes... we’ve decided to cast Cyndi and are left hoping you’ll climb in the bath with us and take your best shot based on our tortuously considered judgement.” Aykroyd never replied.
- Burt Reynolds, Switching Channels, 1988. First idea for a fourth version (a TV News age version) of The Front Page was ghostbusters Aykroyd and Bill Murray, opposite Debra Winger. None of them agreed.
Dennis Hopper, Flashback, 1989.
Of course, he was perfect for the old hippy, wanted by the Feds since the 60s - when he uncoupled Spiro T Agnew’s train for a laugh. Now he’s been grassed up. Kiefer Sutherland’s arrow straight FBI man is sent to collect him. Hopper slips him some acid, cuts own hair and beard, changes duds and when their train pulls in, he’s the agent and the zonked Sutherland is the old (well, not quite old enough) radical. And that’s just the start. Get this if you can find it. Well worth it. As Hopper’s daughter, Marin, always knew. She discovered it and said it was made for Dennis. He contacted his agent and thought he’d lucked out on hearing that Aykroyd and Chevy Chase were in the hunt. However, like so many others, Italian director Franco Amurri, genuflected before St Dennis. As did Chicago critic Roger Ebert: “It’s hard to play a character with charisma, since the charisma has to seem to come from the character and not from the actor, but Hopper does it here. He’s convincing, and his dialogue actually sounds like the sorts of things an unrepentant hippie might say - not like the cliches someone might write for him.”
- John Heard, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- John Goodman, The Flintstones, 1994. Yabba-dabba-don’t! After ludicrous thoughts of thin guys in fat-suits (Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Bill Murray) burned up on re-entry to planet Earth, chubby John Candy was set to succeed James Belushi as the Stone Age hero. Not for long. The live action take on the cartoon series (The Simpsons of its days, 1960-1966), would never have happened if Goodman had been unable to squeeze it in during his Roseanne series hiatus. Because, according to co-creator Joseph Barbera: “When John Goodman was born, he was stamped Fred Flintstone right there on his bottom.” The producer agreed. End of debate. ’Cos the producer was Steven Spielberg.
- Robin Williams, Jumanji, 1995. Two kids find a jungle board game with magic powers unleashing grotesque animalia and some poor sap trapped inside the game since playing it as a tot. Williams lapped it up after Aykroyd, Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger fled the incoherent script. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.
- Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996. Hollywood goes Who. Why? For the pilot of a USeries to exhume the BBC science-fiction cult, buried since it ran out of puff after 26 seasons in 1989. As if to prove this was big deal LA in action (!), some 63 actors were listed for Doc8 and a further 71 (well, some were on both lists) for his foe, The Master. Such as… James Bond, Caligula, Dracula, Gandhi, Freddy Krueger, Magnum, Jean-Luc Picard, Han Solo, Spock and - hey, they’re doctors! - Emmett Brown and Frank-N-Furter. Aka… Timothy Dalton, Malcolm McDowell, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Robert Englund, Tom Selleck, Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Lloyd. Tim Curry. And a certain Blues brother…
- Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998. As Nicholson and Brando aged, The Blues Brothers were an obvious bet for Hunter Thompson and Dr Gonzo. Then, Belushi ODed on andrenichrome. Rather like this ugly film.
- Leonardo Di Caprio, Gangs of New York, 2002. What was he smoking ? Believe it or not, Ripley, directing ikon Martin Scorsese first envisaged the movie in 1978 with the Blues Btrs ,as young Amsterdam Vallon and the fearsome Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. Not that it was any better without them.
- Chris Parnell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2003. The first draft of the screenplay suggested actors for various roles including Dan for the extra-sensitive stage producer Garth Holiday. Parnell had first been up for Steve Carell’s dumb weatherman Brick Tamland.
- Eddie Murphy, The Haunted Mansion, 2003. Phantoms were in and Disney was ready to jlin in with this spectre special… as long as one of the 1983 Ghostbusters agreed to be Jim Evers… None did. Not Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Rock Moranis or Harold Ramis. Twenty years later, Murphy headed the tale named for rather than based on the Disneyland attraction.
- Mos Def, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.
- Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV, 2006-2014. The Showtime cable network shortlisted 14 stars, from the impossible (Dan Aykroyd, Macauley Culkin, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller) to the plausible (John Cusack, Jake Gyllenhaal James Spader) for the Miami Metro PD bloodstain analyst moonlighting as a serial killer... of serial killers.
- Tom Wilkinson, Burke and Hare, 2009. The titular 1828 grave-robbers (Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis) were more diabolically funny than their main customers for corpses (the fresher the better) - the bitchy doctors Knox and Monro, aka Wilkinson and Tim Curry instead of Aykroyd and John Cleese.