- John Laughlin, Crimes of Passion, 1984. So, OK, he made the appalling Marrying Man, 1991, but at least he passed on this manic slice of Ken Russellmania.
- Harrison Ford, Working Girl, 1988. Suggesting it to Ford for the sixth time in two years, his manager, Patricia McQueeney, finally got an OK on the romantic comedy the night before producer Larry Mark was to offer it to the #1 Baldwin bro. He was compensated with the smaller role of Melanie Griffith's fella.
- Kurt Russell, Tequila Sunrise, 1988. Producer Thom Mount recalled that Baldwin had been first choice for LA cop Nick Frescia. He was so keen, he auditioned a second time. Fine, but Mount and Chinatown scenarist Robert Towne changed directions and got Russell to base Frescia on another contender for the role - Pat Riley, coach of the LA Lakers basketball team. “Riley’s look was right… arrogantly confident but not offensive,” said Russell. So he used it again as Fast and Furious 7 and 8’s Mr Nobody in 2014 and 2016.
- Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
- Adam Coleman Howard, Slaves of New York, 1989. Attended a crowded reading session with director James Ivory.
- Brad Johnson, Always, 1989. Steven Spielberg's next choice after failing to Cruise with Tom in the pointless re-make of an old Spencer Tracy movie, A Guy Named Joe, 1943
- Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, 1989. The actor that director Oliver Stone calls “the working-class Cary Grant” was favourite for the first helmer Jeff Kanew.
- Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989. UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars, Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta - and three outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
- Patrick Cassidy, Longtime Companion, 1990. With colleagues running scared, due to the low money and high risk “mistaken for sick” image, Baldwin was first to sign for the AIDS drama - until asked to substitute Harrison Ford in The Hunt For Red October. He made up for it by repeating his stage role in the same writer's Prelude To A Kiss
- Fred Ward, Henry and June, 1990. Film was delayed five weeks for him. “I like to be naked in movies. I've a reputation to uphold.” He still pulled out - rehearsal problems plus exhaustion from hunting Red October. Took a break, apart from a ghost in Woody Allen's Alice, as writer-director Philip Kaufman went back to his originally tied-up choice
- Tim Robbins, Jacob's Ladder, 1990. Good decision. The movie never really worked. Nor did the other bad choices he did make - “to get some short-end money… I did The Marrying Man, that bombed. I did Prelude To A Kiss, that bombed. I did Malice, that might have made a couple of nickels. I made The Shadow, that bombed. I did Heaven’s Prisoners, that bombed...”
- Patrick Swayze, Ghost, 1990. Me, a ghost? Get outa here.
- Brad Pitt, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Andy Garcia, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.
- Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
- Gary Oldman, JFK, 1991.
- Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992. Baldwin joined the Drac auditions, mainly at Francis Coppola’s Nappa Valley estate. Losing his favourites - Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis - Francey looked at everyone else.. Baldwin, Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Nick Cassavetes, Nicolas Cage, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Costas Mandylor, Viggo Mortensen, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Nouri (a long way from Flashdance), Adrian Pasdar, Jason Patric, Aiden Quinn, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting.
- Harrison Ford, Patriot Games, 1992.
Starring in Broadway’s Streetcar NamedDesire cost him the rest of the Jack Ryan franchise - created by Baldwin hunting the Red October. Having rejected the first film, Ford wanted a return to action. He was paid $9m to be Ryan, while Baldwin had been on $4m - for the two films. At least that was the ’92 story... It was another 19 years before Baldwin told the full story on the Huffinghton Post website, March 12, 2011. “The truth is the studio cut my throat… Or, more specifically, an executive at the studio named David Kirkpatrick who was, as studio executives are on their way both up and down the ladder, eager to prove he had that special quality that studio executives are eager to display... an utter lack of sentimentality while transacting deals around a business built on sentimentality.
“The run of events in 1991 went like this. John McTiernan, who directed The Hunt For Red October told me,he had been negotiating to do a film with a very famous movie star who had dropped out of his film days so that he could go star in the sequels to Red October. John further told me that Paramount owed the actor a large sum of money for a greenlit film that fell apart... and pushing me aside would help to alleviate that debt and put someone with much greater strength at the box office in the role. I sat there mildly stunned because not only was I in an active negotiation with Paramount, but for them to negotiate simultaneously with another actor was against the law."
His next call came from the film’s producer , Mace Neufeld. “The call resembled that final scene in Sorry, Wrong Number (great film), where Burt Lancaster exhorts Barbara Stanwyck to get out of bed and scream for help lest she be killed by emissaries of Lancaster, himself. Neufeld told me to sign whatever deal they were offering and ‘the rest would take care of itself.” Baldwin was then asked to call Kirkpatrick who told him he had to decide
“if I would agree to an open-ended clause relating to dates and thus completely give up the chance to do one of the greatest dramas in the American theatre, or he would rescind my offer. They had the other guy… They were looking for a way to gut me. I thought he wasn’t serious at first. Then, when I realized he was, I chose A Streetcar Named Desire. And I do not regret it. The movie and television business are filled with some of the most wonderful and talented people you could ever know. It is also the rock under which you find the biggest, lyingest, thievingest scumbags on Earth. (They tend to be the ones that are not in any craft or union related to actually making a movie).”
- Harrison Ford, The Fugitive, 1993. “The minute Harrison Ford shows up, they drop everything and sign up Harrison Ford.” said Baldwin... about Working Girl. He was not so printable the third time it happened. Also losing Dr Richard Kimble were Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and Nick Nolte Working Girl.
- Jason Patric, Geronimo: An American Legend, 1993. Patrick Swayze was also in the running.
- John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction, 1993
- Sean Penn, Carlito's Way, 1994. When Marlon Brando was still attached. Penn's salary helped finance his second film as a director, The Crossing Guard, 1995.
- Val Kilmer, Batman Forever, 1994.
- Al Pacino, City Hall, 1995 When director Paul Schrader was supposed to make Nick Pileggi's script. “It was a miracle I got that many trips to the plate,” continued Baldwin’s tale of woe. “In 95, I did The Juror, that bombed. I did Ghosts of Mississippi and The Edge, and both of them were very tepid. I had a hit movie [The Hunt For Red October] and… had eight bombs in a row.”
- David Caruso, Kiss of Death, 1995. Variety inevitably said that Baldwin kissed off Kiss,... letting the NYPD Blue redhead cop into cinema. (Thankfully, not for long).
- Mel Gibson, Ransom, 1996. Director Ron Howard’s initial choice for the airline owner whose son is kidnapped… didn’t approve of the character - nor of “endangering” a child. Hi Mel, you free next month, man?
- Gary Sinise, Ransom, 1996. Baldwin then offered to play the NYPD cop when Sinise preferred Tom Clancy's Without Remorse and then Baldwin politely stood aside when the Clancy project fizzled.
- Nicolas Cage, Face/Off, 1997. “Since the story is too crazy to be real,” said ex-Hong Kong director John Woo, “we needed two great actors. My first choice was John Travolta. - and the studio suggested Alec Baldwin for the bad guy - because he had a good body and face match for John. But Alec was busy and John suggested Nic.”
- Jason Patric, Incognito, 1997. Inherited by director John Badham when Peter Weller quit his helming debut after complaining that the producers' “idea of a budget is going to a hot dog stand.”
- Colin Firth, Nostromo, TV, 1997. When iconic director David Lean was preparing it, long before it became a TV mini.
- Ed Harris, The Third Miracle, 1998. Vatican priest investigating three Brooklyn miracles.
- Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut, 1999. From the outset, Stanley Kubrick told his scenarist Frederic Raphael that his stars (and he distrusted stars) should be a real couple. First thought: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.
- Charlie Sheen, Rated X, TV, 1999. Sean Penn’s version of the life of the porno-making Mitchell brothers collapsed - starring Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson. So, the Baldwin boys, Alec and Wiulliam, tried to get it rolling anew.
- Guy Pearce, Memento, 1999. Christopher Nolan’s first choice for poor Leonard suffering Anterograde Amnesia. (The inability to form new memories after hippocampus damage, OK?) Having a less familiar face, Pearce was a perfect choice. Baldwin would have just shouted and hit someone.
- Patrick Swayze, Forever Lulu, 1999. Baldwin was seen about being Melanie Griffith’s old love, learning they’d had a child together. (Antonio Banderas also lost out, despite being wed to Griffith!). Swayze tried hard to fit the bill. Too hard. Ironically, Baldwin made his movie debut in a 1986 New York film called… Forever, Lulu. (The difference is the comma).
- Matthew McConnaughey, Sex and the City (Episode 43: Escape from New York), TV, 2000. The actor-producer inviting Carrie to LA to discuss filming her column was penned for Baldwin. When he refused, Himself turned into Beatty, then George Clooney and finally, McConaughey.
- Kurt Russell, Vanilla Sky, 2001. Maybe he didn’t like the Cameron Crowe script. While Kurt accepted without reading it.
- Ray Liotta, Narc, 2002. Considered by helmer Joe Carnahan for the cop Henry Oaks. Then, Joe walked.
- Philip Winchester, Thunderbirds, 2004. One of numerous notions for live-actioning the UK sf puppet series, 1965-66, was four Baldwins bros (Alec, William, Daniel, Stephen) as the Tracy brothers. Alec, obviously, as the the eldest, the Thunderbird 1 pilot, Scott (born 2039, named after NASAstronaut Scott Carpenter). Funny, but suddenly the the script never mentioned the fifth Tracy bro, Alan...
- Luke Wilson, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004. Will Ferell and Adam McKay wrote Baldwin’s name alongside the Garth character in their first draft.
- Maurice LaMarche, Team America: World Police, 2004. Keen to voice his own (unflattering) puppet, he was (like all other celebs) voiced by impersonators. Baldwin could have done ‘em all. As proved on Saturday Night Live, he is a clever impressionist - he does a wicked De Niro.
- Bob Balaban, Lady in the Water, 2005. For his seventh fantasy, director M Night Shyamalan finally had some humour such as Balaban’s film critic from hell.
- George Clooney, Leatherheads, 2008. Seventeen years in the making. Baldwin entered the mix as the 1920s ball player John “Blood” McNally when Mel Gibson voted for The Man Without A Face. Next stop: Michael Keaton. Clooney directed his version - a shock flop.
- Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship, 2009. Russell Crowe, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tim Robbins were also trying to be President Bill Clinton opposite Michael Sheen’s third outing as UK Premier Tony Blair in a Peter Morgan scenario.
- Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire, TV, 2010-2014. On the list for Atlantic City hood Nicky Thompson when HBO realised it couldn’t expect James Gandolfini to go back to the gangster well one more time. Baldwin must have realised that Martin Scorsese’s involvement as a exec producer would dissipate after directing the HBO pilot. Baldwin more closely resembled the real Atlantic City politico-gangster Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson but The Sopranos writer Terence Winter didn’t want a Tony Soprano lookalike. (Just a one of his victims!) The series lost its balls when Michael Pitt’s character was killed off… for effortlessly stealing the show from Buscemi?
- Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black III, 2011. All set to be X, head of the MiB agency in the time-travel flashbacked 60s - when production delays ruled him out. Anyway, he preferred being an ex-rocker running a club in Rock of Ages.