Sterling Hayden (1916-1986)
- Richard Carlson, West Point Widow, 1940. Hayden passed and the US-born but Europe-made director Robert Siodmak confessed to the New York Times: "This picture isn't good enough to be known as a Siodmak picture." Or, anyone’s!
- Gary Cooper, For Whom The Bell Tolls,1943. He’d gone! After just two films, The Most Beautiful Man In Movies had fled Hollywood and his wife (Madeleine Carroll), togo towar for real -inthe OSS.
- George Reeves, The Sainted Sisters, 1948. Within four years, Reeves was typecast for life as... Superman. He died in 1959 -his “suicide or murder?” was investigated the 2006 film, Hollywoodland.
- Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
- Gordon Scott, Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, 1955. After five ape man movies and three wives (including Lana Turner) in seven years, Lex Barker wanted out. The loincloth was offered to The Beautiful Blond Viking God (as Paramountdubbed Hayden). He didn’t think twice about refusing. And after six hours of “running, jumping, diving in to the water and helping five girls test for the female lead,” the 11th jungle swinger for the next six films up to 1960 was Las Vegas lifeguard Gordon Werschkull.
- John Wayne, Rio Bravo, 1958.
- James Coburn, The Magnificent Seven, 1960. DirectorJohn Sturges had trouble filling the seventh saddle. Veterans like Hayden and John Ireland passed on the silent one(well, he had 11 lines only) with the knife. Robert Vaughn recommended an old schoolmate... Vaughn and Coburn continued to help one another get roles until Coburn’s death in 2002.
- Eli Wallach, The Poppy Is Also A Flower, 1965. UNO planned six telefilms about its work by Kubrick, Preminger, etc. Only this one was made when Terence Young gave up a third Bond gig to work with 007 creator Ian Fleming on this star-studded (Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Omar Sharif) battle to stop heroin reaching Europe. Fleming died before completing the script. Everyone else died on-screen.
- Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.
As if he didn’t have enough pressures - first film in colour, first in English, a lingo he was far from confident with - French nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut also suffered four years of casting hurdles…. starting with Paul Newman as the fireman hero, Montag. Producer Lewis Allen suggested Hayden, Marlon Brando, Montgomey Clift or Kirk Douglas. Producer Sam Spiegel tried muscling in by promising Robert Redford - and the Burtons! Getting desperate, Truffaut made the mistake of his life by giving the fireman to Werner (originally booked for the fire chief). Any of the others asleep would have been better! The Austrian’s head had been turned by Hollywood since his and Truffaut’s Jules et Jim triumph. Werner argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire) and even cut his hair to ruin continuity. If not for the six years of planning, Truffaut would have walked. Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes - and used a double, John Ketteringham, in most of them!
- Cyril Cusack, Fahrenheit 451, 1966. A one point in the six years spent on the project, réalisateur François Truffaut felt Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English(!) and tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo as the fireman hero, Montag - and Oskar Werner as his boss. Producer Lewis Allen wanted Hayden in either role; or Richard Burton, Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Max Von Sydow. Hayden was in London, available and keen after Dr Strangelove, but British Equity required a Brit following the defection of Terence Stamp as Montag. and Michael Redgrave demurred. Enter: the head of the Cusack movie clan: actors Catherine, wife Maureen, Niamh, Sinéad Sorcha, producer Pádraig and director Paul. And son-in-law Jeremy Irons!
- William Holden, The Wild Bunch, 1968.
- Robert Shaw, Jaws, 1974. Steven Spielberg wanted the maverick director John Milius as Quint the shark hunter. Universal wanted another maverick - Hayden, The blowhard actor-author thought the Jaws book was shit. He had another problem. The taxman… All his acting salaries were subject to an IRS levy. Some suits had the idea of paying him union scale for the role - but buying a story from him for very much more as his (little known) literary income wasn’t levied. A brighter (or legal) suit said the IRS would see through such a ploy. Enter: Shaw, a big hit in the big hit, The Sting…
- Richard Burton, Brief Encounter, TV, 1974. What to do, what to do… The surprising and downright stupid) idea of a brief remake with Sophia Loren for $50,000… or $100,000 for four weeks of shark-fishing with Steven Spielberg. Answer: Neither!
- Peter Finch, Network, 1976. After tenuous thoughts about real TV News anchors (John Chancellor and the venerable Walter Cronkite), the film’s Oscar-winning writer Paddy Chayefsky wrote to Newman. “You and a very small handful of other actors are the only ones I can think of with the range for this part.” The others were Hayden (an inspired and rebllious idea at the time), Cary Grant, old pals Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, Gene Hackman and Robert Montgomery - for the “mad prophet of the airwaves,” Howard Beale. (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”). Finchey won the first posthumous acting Oscar. Ironically, the second was also for an Aussie, Heath Ledger, for The Dark Knight... 33 years later.
- Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978. Hitchcock fan and auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis: Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for the kinda obvious Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… and such off-the-wall surprises as Hayden, John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Loomis, incidentally was named after John Gavin’s character in Pyscho; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows.
- Max Von Sydow, Conan The Barbarian, 1982. First choice for the role of King Osric was ill. “Never thought we’d get Max,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, as if he had ever heard of him.
- Joe Turkell, Blade Runner, 1981. Co-screenwriter Hampton Fincher said he always had Hayden in mind when writing the billionaire Dr Eldon Tyrell. His evil megacorporation replicants or “skin jobs” (replicants) were genetically manipulated humanoid slaves. And the (often thin) film needed Hayden’s menacing mettle. Turkell came from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, So did the end sequence of Ridley Scott’s film.
- Albert Finney, Breakfast of Champions, 1999. Who better for the bizarre sf writer Kilgore Trout?This was Kurt Vonnegut according to director Robert Altman, until Buffalo Bill and the Indians, 1976, flopped and producer Dino De Laurentiisran home to the seven hills.