- Chris O'Donnell, Batman Forever, 1994.
- Harold Perrineau, Romeo + Juliet, 1996. Lost after severa lattempts to be the drag queen Mercutio for Baz Luhrman. Harold was so good, he went to jail for 45 episodes of Oz,TV, 1997-2003. And then got The Matrix and Lost. Mr A List!
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic, 1996.
- Matt Damon, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1997. The US re-makeof Plein soleil was passed to UK director Anthony Minghella by US producer-director Sydney Pollack.
- Vince Vaughn, Psycho, 1997. Robert Sean Leonard, Tobey Maguire, Joaquin Phoenix and Henry Thomas were also up for Norman Bates when director Gus Van Sant had the nuttiest idea in movie history - re-making the Hitchcock classic, shot for shot - “So no one else would have to.” (!) With a camerman and actress who’d never seen the original, work that out. Oh and Bernard Herrmann’s score “adapted” by two other guys.
- Ethan Hawke, Training Day, 2000. Scenarist David Ayer was greatly smitten by Bale’s most famous intensity during the Training tests- and gave him his next, autobiographical script, Harsh Times .“If I ever get to direct it, you can play Jim.” And hehe kept his promise. Four years later.
- Paul Walker, The Fast and The Furious, 2000. Eminem and Mark Wahlberg were also considered for Brian O’Connor. Walker went on to the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and won a huge cult following with chapters 4, 5, 6. He was 40 and filming #7 when he was killed in an off-duty car crash on November 30, 2013. (He was not driving). “Father God I pray that you send clarity over this ’cause I just don’t understand,” said co-star Tyrese Gibson. “My heart hurts, it’s broken, no one can convince me that this is real… I can’t believe I’m writing this.”
- Casper Van Dien, The Rules of Attraction, 2002. Rejected Roger Avary’s offer to reprise Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, 2000. In the final cut, Van Dien’s scenes (phoning brother Sean) were cut.
- Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003. No time. The other Mr A List was already booked for everything else... the new Batman franchise,Terrence Malick’s New World, Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn and among the six Bob Dylans in I’m Not There.
- Jake Gyllenhaal, Jarhead, 2004. Having lost Batman Begins to Bale, Jake won this time - the Desert Storm GI who never had to fire his weapon and wrote: “Every war is different, every war is the same.”
- Christian Slater, Alone in the Dark, 2005. One Christian for another...
- Matt Damon, Syriana, 2005. The Oscar-winning Traffic scribe turned director Stephen Gaghan asked for Bale - far away, traversing The New World for director Terrence Malick. With George Clooney already cast, it would have been two Bruce Waynes in one film.
- Josh Brolin, W, 2007. Josh Brolin, W, 2007. The Brit was George W Bush, undergoing various prosthetic make-up tests before deciding one mask was enugh for a career. Impressed by his work in No Country For Old Men and Gangster, director Oliver Stone (with Bush in the Yale class of 1968) selected Brolin… son of James Brolin, the 40th POTUS in The Reagans, 2003.
- Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation, 2008. First script drafts concentrated less on John Connor than his father, Kyle Reese, and, the ex-Death Row con from the past (or the future) Marcus Wright. Bale was asked to be Marcus but was far more keen on having Connor beefed up. He got his way. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to participate, saying a cameo would be cheating the fans. “Thank God,” he said later. “It sucked!” He returned for Terminator: Genisys, 2014. No better. Well, China loved it!
- Russell Crowe, Robin Hood, 2009. Before directors Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer and Jon Turteltaub passed the Sherood project to Sir Ridley Scott, both Bale and Sam Riley were suggested Robins. Until Scott favourite, Crowe became, at 45, the oldest Hood in history. With the funniest accent. Chicago critic Roger Ebert complained "little by little, title by title, innocence and joy is being drained out of the movies."
- Ben Affleck, To The Wonder, 2010. So pleased with the young stars of his fourth film in 31 years - The New World, 2004 - director Terrence Malick wanted them for his next films…Colin Farrell for The Tree of Life, 2010, and Bale for Malick #6 (in 38 years). Malick made both films; the actors did not. Affleck had less than ten lines in Malick’s impressionistic look at love and religion, like a side B to Tree. In truth, both were, er, r backsides.
- Daniel Craig, Dream House, 2010. When Belgian Erik Van Looy was due to direct, Bale and Brad Pitt were on the list to be Rachel Weisz’s husband... helped by Naomi Watts to solve a murder in their house. Craig came aboard with Irish helmer Jim Sheridan and married his co-star Rachel Weisz in the summer of 2011. “The movie didn't turn out great,” he agreed. “But I met my wife. Fair trade.”
- Sharlto Copley, Oldboy, 2012. During the chequered history of re-making Chan-Woo Park’s 2003 South Korean international breakthrough, Oldeuboi - as directors switched from the Fast and Furious ace Justin Lee to Steven Spielberg and, finally, Spike Lee - Bale passed on the smooth villain Adrian Pryce who kidnaps the titular Josh Brolin for 20 years! So did Colin Firth and Clive Owen.
- Russell Crowe, Noah, 2013. Suddenly The Bible is back… with two A-List directors. Darren Aronofsky wanted Bale to be Ark man. He preferred Moses in the Exodus of Sir Ridley Scott (who had made five films with Crowe . Noah, said Aronofsky was a “dark, complicated character who experiences real survivor's guilt.” And a lot of water.
- Jack Gyllenhaal, Prisoners, 2013. Due as a Fighter reunion. With Mark Wahlberg as the father of an abducted daughter, opposite Bale’s New England cop in a Bryan Singer version during the project’s four year on/off Hollywood shelf life. Jake had starred in the French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s previous movie, Enemy.
- Henry Cavill, The Man From UNCLE, 2013. A Batman passes to a Superman… Cavill goes Solo. Napoleon Solo... After securing the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993, producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts, four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!) plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 to Tom Cruise three years later. By way of the early-21st century suspects: Batman, himself (passing it to Superman!), Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Alexander Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss. Poor Davis never got it right!
- Tom Hardy, Child 44, 2013. Took his time before baling on the film of the excellent opening of Tom Rob Smith’s trilogy about Moscow cop Leo Demidov - unearthing the serial killing of 44 children. Difficult when Stalin decreed that crime, and most certainly murder, did not exist… “in paradise”!
- Johnny Depp, Transcendence, 2013. The pitch for the directing debut of Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer Wally Pfister: terminally ill scientist downloads his mind into a computer. So who else could it be but Depp. Unless, of course, he played the computer. Well, of course, he was both in the end.
- Will Arnett, The Lego Movie, 2013. Auteurs Phil Lord and Christopher Miller toyed with the idea of having their lego-Batman voiced by The Real Thing: Bale, George Clooney, Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer. (In his voicing debut, Channing Tatum was Superman).
- Dominic Cooper, Warcraft, 2014. Approached for Duncan Jones’ take on the video game series.
- Jason Clarke, Everest, 2014. He changed his mind about filming the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. He had other mountains to master - such as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenenant, 2015. Five years earlier, Bale had been set for backwoodsman Hugh Glass - seeking vengeance after being left for dead by bis companions after a bear attack. He quit when director John Hillcoat quit in October 2010. The French Jean-François Richet loomed large for awhile. South Korean Chan-wook Park wanted to tackle with it Samuel J Jackson but then 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.
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs, 2015. “We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range and that’s Chris Bale,” said scenarist Aaron Sorkin on Bloomberg TV. “He didn’t have to audition. Well, there was a meeting.” But then Chris baled for The Accountant. Other potential Jobses included Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio... who took over another Bale reject, The Revenant… before“a lengthy break from acting.”
- Ethan Hawke, The Magnificnt Seven, 2016. Toting diversity as well as six-guns, director Antoine Fuqua’s guys guys were no match for the celebrated originals they were desecrating. No wonder Tom Cruise, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Jason Momoa, Wagner Moura also passed on the re-hash. Bale rejected the tormented sniper. Who wouldn’t feel tormented with a Tarantinoesque name like… Goodnight Robicheaux!
- Ben Affleck, The Justice League, 2017. For ten years, Warner exercised extreme cowardice, until Marvel showed them how to make superhero summits with Avengers and Guardian of the Galaxy. In October 2007, Mad Max’s dad, George Miller, found his Bat/Supermans, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aqua Man, Green Lantern, even Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onzz, after auditioning about 40 youngsters in synch for a franchise. Four months later, everything was “tabled.” Dumped! By 2010, Miller had gone and who could blame him. Besides, he wanted to go to the Max again. Other suggested directors were Jason Reitman, the Wachowski siblings, Lana and Lilly, and Ben Affleck. He was going be around anyway as Batters, now that Bale had finished being The Dark Knight – far too dark for interfacing with the League.