Samuel L Jackson
- Tim Roth, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Randy Brooks, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Delroy Lindo, Malcolm X, 1992. Spike Lee's first choice was celebrating winning the first ever Cannes festival supporting actor award by dealing with a lot of sudden Hollywood interest. "I could understand," said Lee.
- Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Christopher Walken, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Dennis Leary, Judgment Night, 1993. First choices are not always available.... Back in the early days, Jackson befriended many other up-and-coming actors in New York - Morgan Freeman, Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington - but refused to follow them to LA until he was "called for." He would occasionally play small roles in films or TV shows shot on the east coast, and spent a year as Bill Cosby's stand-in on The Cosby Show. Finally, Jackson got his call to come out to LA, for Roger Donaldson's White Sands, 1992.
- Delroy Lindo, Clockers, 1995. For Spike Lee, again - produced, this time, by Martin Scorsese. "He never came to the set."
- Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1994. “I was trying to go to Hawaii so I could play golf,” admitted Sam. Dennis enjoyed the afternoon tees instead (having beaten Jackson, Gary Busey, James Caan, Laurence Fishburne, Gary Oldman to Deacon). Sam The Wham starred in the same director Kevin Reynolds’ next movie, One Eight Seven, 1997.
- Laurence Fishburne, Higher Learning, 1994. All-the-rage new director John Singleton called Sam when Sidney Poitier proved impossible to land. The producers preferred the father figure from Singleton’s 1991 debut, Boyz n the Hood. Fishburne shot his scenes on days off from Bad Company with Ellen Barkin.
- Don Cheadle, Boogie Nights, 1997. To be porno stud Buck Swope. Newsflash: Sam actually turns roles down!
- Denzel Washington, The Hurricane, 1998. “Hate got me in here. But love's gonna bust me out.” New Jersey boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter on being framed for three murders and losing 19 years of his life because of racism, corruption, said critic Roger Ebert, “and - perhaps most wounding- indifference.” Jackson and Wesley Snipes battled for the role, but no one could hope to match the power of Washington - one of his finest achievements. Jackson also lost Training Day, 2001, to Washington and his second Oscar.
- Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix, 1999. Everyone passed on Morpheus... Jackson, Yun-Fat Chow, Russell Crowe, Gary Oldman. Only Fishburne saw the potential. Far from financial at the time. Hoswever, he was moere preoccupied with Mace Windu in a little something called Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
- Denzel Washington, Training Day, 2001. In another life, as planned by David Guggenheim, Sam was set as bad cop Alzono opposite Matt Damon's rookie.
- Bill Duke, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 2005. Irish director Jim Sheridan’s offer was spurnedby Sam because he did not feel that rapper 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) should star in any Sheridan film. The followingyear, Sam co-starred with 50 Cent in Home of the Brave.
- Sam Elliott, The Golden Compass, 2006. Tolkienesque author Philip Pullman wanted Jason Isaacs for Lord Asriel, Nicole Kikdman as Mrs Coulter, Jackson as Lee Scoresby. Pullman was over-ruled by each new director from Ridley Scott to, finally,Chris Weitz, except regarding Kidman. She remained the #1 choice since 1996. Chicago critic Roger Ebert said that as the cowboy-turned-pilot, Elliott’s moustache “was never more formidable.”
- Laz Alonso, Miracle At St Anna, 2007. Had to pass on Spike Lee’s inviteto play the Puerto Rican Corporal Hector Negron - ashe was booked as a copin Lakeview Terrace - which is where Rodney King was beaten upby LAPD cops in 1991.
- Laurence Fishburne, Black Water Transit, 2007. Bruce Willis planned to headline and produce in 2005, with pal Samuel Bayer debuting as director. The project passed to Vin Diesel in May 2006, Willis got it back in November for him and Jackson Once Bayer was replaced by Tony Kaye in February 2007, they split. Neither one was among the final eighteen producers. But Fishburne was.
- Karl Urban, Black Water Transit, 2007. As I was saying… When Bruce Willis tried make the non- thriller in 2006, he called his Die Hard 4 mate to join him. When Willis split, Sam was offered the Willis role of Earl Pike… finally cranked out by Urban. The result was never seen in any cinema since its market screening (ie looking for buyers) at the 2009 Cannes festival. Transit transferred direct to video.
- John Goodman, Red State, 2010. Goodman came to the rescue when auteur Kevin Smith’s first choices - Jackson and Alan Rickman - were too busy to be federal agent Keenan in this askew spin on The Wicker Man. 1973. Smith’s 16th film had the usual mix of sex, religion and politics. Except this was more Waco than whacko. Or as he put it “a nasty-ass $4mil horror flick with few (if any) redeeming characters.” Shot in sequence over 25 days Smith edited by night and was able to screen the first cut at the wrap party. Beat that, Spielberg!
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant, 2015. Five years earlier, Christian Bale had been set for backwoodsman Hugh Glass - seeking vengeance after being left for dead by his companions after a bear attack. He left when director John Hillcoat quit in October 2010. The French Jean-François Richet loomed large for awhile. Then, South Korean Chan-wook Park tried to tackle with it Jackson before Mexico’s mighty Alejandro G Iñárritu took over - and he and DiCaprio won Oscars (Iñárritu’s second in a row, Leo’s first) on February 29, 2016.
- Eddie Murphy, Mr Church, 2016. Ten years in the… kitchen! Jackson had an option for five. When he was available, the right director was not and vice-versa. Not to mention raising a budget. After three more years on the shelf, it reached Murphy who hadn’t found a movie to make in four years. “I can’t imagine anyone else in this role,” said scenarist Susan McMartin. “And he resembles the real Mr. Church.” She was four when a cook named Church started helping her dying mother – a six month stint lasting 15 years. “He was like my father figure.… my best friend… the reason I became a writer… the reason I survived childhood. He was everything to me.”