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Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)


  1. Donnie Wahlberg, Ransom, 1996. Hoffman and Jack Black were in the mix. The usually more sensible director Ron Howard preferred Wahlberg as Cubby Barnes, one of the three kidnappers of multi-millionaire Mel Gibson’s daughter, who… well, you the rest! Probably, the idea was not to tale any shine off Gibson.
  2. Samuel L Jackson, Unbreakable, 2000.    For his follow-up to the almighty Sixth Sense, new (15 minute) wunderkind M Night Shyamalan was thinking of Phil for  the guy seeking help (for a mysterious bone disease) from the unbreakable Bruce Willis. The role became more verbose... and Sam is a Willis pal.
  3. Bob Balaban, Lady in the Water, 2005.       And for his seventh fantasy, director M Night Shyamalan finally included some humour such as Balaban’s film critic from Hell - he can't be pleased and insists there is no originality in Hollywood.
  4. Ethan Hawke, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, 2006.       New York director Sydney Lumet sent the script to Phil - - giving him the choice of which of Albert Finney’s sons to play. Hoffman  chose Andy (and his bed action with Marisa Tomei ) over Hank in, alas, Lumet’s final film. 
  5. Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship, 2009.    PSH, Alec Baldwin, Russell Crowe and Tim Robbins were also trying to be President Bill Clinton opposite the third time Michael Sheen had to straighten his naturally curly hair to be the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - following the same scenarist Peter Morgan’s The Deal, 2003, and The Queen, 2006. This one opened with Oscar Wilde wisdom: True friends stab you in the front!
  6. Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer, 2009.     “I was uneasy at having an American play a British writer,” said British writer and scenarist Robert Harris,“but grateful that at least the film would be made.”  What, even  as this incredibly void affair by Roman Polanski?
  7. Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses, 2010.     Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, and the other Hoffman (Dustin) were  also in  the frame for Jason Bateman’s supercilious sadist employer - one of three bosses from hell, targets of a hit man hired by disgruntled workers in this  masculine take on Nine To Five.
  8. Morgan Freeman, Now You See Me, 2012.    And now you don’t… Continual change of Thaddeus Bradley for French realisateur Louis Leterrier  - from PSH, Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen to Colin Firth and Hugh Grant - as the FBI and Interpol try to snare some - here’s a first - illusionist bank robbers!
  9. Vincent Cassel, Child 44, 2013.   Phil was too busy and Cassel took over his despicable Dr Zurabin in the first film of UK writer Tom Rob Smith’s trilogy about Russian cop, Leo Demidov - when, offically, no crimes, much less murders, happened inside Stalin’s USSR.  And then, alas, Phil OD’ed on Febraury 2, 2014.   Producer Shalom Auslander declared: “This planet is no damned place to have a heart, and Phil had the biggest, brokenest heart of anyone I have ever met. He was a beautiful person in a hideous world. Great actor, too.”
  10. Steve Coogan, Happyish, TV, 2014.   Designed for PSH, author Shalom Auslander’s Showtime series  was postponed after the star’s death. Took nine months to replace him with UK comic Coogan as the fortysomething hero. “Steve’s range is astounding. He’s a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands.” Yet  the  show was canned after one season - a first at Showtime.
  11. Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince, Belgium-Germany-Italy-UK, 2017.   After wanting to make his own Oscar Wilde biopic (from leaving Reading Gaol to his death), Everett won over  US producer Scott Rudin in 2017. Then, Rudin said Philip Seymour Hoffman must be Wilde. No way… ! The ten-year wait worked well. He’d always been too young, handsome and thinto play his hero,  “the patron saiunt of homosexuals.” Now in a fat suit and greasy wigs, he was perfect Wilde,  “a toothless vagrant, smelling vaguely of piss and sweat and cigarettes.” Rudin suggested six directors; they took two years to pass. So in for a penny, or a skimpy £llm  budget, Everett decided to writer-direct and called up his pals. Beatrice Dalle, Colin Firth (among the 23 producers; minus Rudin), Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, etc. “Obviously without all of them, it would have been hopeless.”
  12. Mark Rylance, The Trial Of The Chicago 7, 2019.   Steven Spielberg signed the great scenarist Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, etc) to dramatise the 2006 Chicago 10 documentary produced by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter about the infamous trial of seven guys charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, etc., for their anti-war protests during Chicago’s 1968 Democratic Convention.   Paul Greengrass, even Ben  Stiller, were possiibles to take over when the 2007 Writers Guild strike upset Spielberg’s  schedule. Ten years later, impressed by Sorkin’s directing debut, Molly’s Game, Spielberg said he should helm his shelved scenario. Sorkin saw no reason to alter  Spielberg’s choice of Sacha Baron Cohen for Abbie Hoffman, while necessarily having to change oher planned players – such as booking Rylance (Spielberg’s favourite UK actor) as William Kuntsler, the activists’  lawyer, succeeding  PSH, who ODed in 2014.  (Heath Ledger, Spielberg’s choice for Tom Hayden, also ODed   - in 2008).




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