- Chris O'Donnell, Batman Forever, 1994.
- Dougray Scott, Ever After: A Cinderella Story, 1997, One day Drew Barrymore’s Prince Henry would come. But he would not be Law, nor Jonny Lee Miller…
- Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare In Love, 1998. Kenneth Branagh and Daniel Day-Lewis had previously been requested as Will Shakespeare.
- Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator, 2000. For Commodus -the only Roman Emperor to fight as a gladiator. In truth, he was not slain in the arena but was strangled back stage by an athlete named Narcissus.
- Heath Ledger, The Four Feathers, 2001. Sudden change of flavours of the month as Spielberg plucked Law from the fifth version of AEW Masters' Sudan adventure romp allowing The Patriot's Ledger to follow in the desert tracks ofRichard Arlen (1929), John Clements (’39), Anthony Steel (’56), Beau Bridges (’71).
- Johnny Depp, From Hell, 2001. “I regretted saying no.” Allen and Albert Hughes go fromDead Presidents to dead whores in (yes, yet again!) the Jack The Ripper story. After talking to Law, Sean Connery and Brad Pitt, the siblingsdecided their Scotland Yard cop would be their nearly-Howard Hughes.
- Tom Hardy, Star Trek: Nemesis, 2001. The 10th Trek… An early draft had Patrick Stewart playing both Picard and Praetor Shinzon. Then, Roy Baird (lambasted by cast and crew for his direction - or lack of it) preferred a younger Shinzon, looking like but not cloning Picard. Law, James Marsters and Michael Shanks were in the frame until Hardy found a full script and taped a a section, partly nude. This led to a test – appalling said Hardy - with Stewart in LA. Fortunately, he had made a back-up tape in his hotel. Years later, he revealed how the film’s failure - and the Trekkies’ reaction to it - ruined his relationship, drove him to drink and almost to suicide. Winning Bronson in 2007, saved his life and career.
- Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2002.
- Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003. Ironically, Ridley Scott had earlier chosen him for his Captain Kidd, sadly, un-made Pirates was exactlythe kind of hit the (inexplicable) Law career needed.He still does not have one.
- David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005. “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.” Among some 14 others running to Sharon Stone - or from her and the idea of playing her London shrink: Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Bernicio Del Torro, Robert Downey Jr, Aaron Eckhart, Rupert Everett (!), Bruce Greenwood, Ewan McGrgeor, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Perez, Kurt Russell. An obvious flop before one scene was shot in anger... As in: What can she do for an encore?
Ben Whishaw, Brideshead Revisited, 2007. Before UK director David Yates was called up to Harry Potter duty, his cast had been Law, Paul Bettany and his wife Jennifer Connelly. Helmer Julian Jarrold chose Wishaw, Hayley Atwell and Matthew Goode. No match, even after 27 years, for the classic TVversions of Sebastian and Julia Flye and Charles Ryder - Anthony Andrews, Diana Quick, Jeremy Irons. Of course, they had eleven episodes to seduce us with.
Matthew Goode, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? And in the 20 years it took for Alan Moore’s DComic-book to be filmed, directors came and went - Darren Aronofsky, Michael Bay, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass. So did their choices for Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias: Law, Tom Cruise and Lee Pace.
- Sharlto Copley, Maleficent, 2012. Jude was up for King Stefan before Copley copped the king in what was Sleeping Beauty seen from the viewpoint of the princess' evil nemesis, the titular Angelina Jolie. Not released until 2014.
- Guy Pearce, Iron Man 3, 2012. Good grief! Dr Watson was nearly Aldrich Killian, head of AIM (son of the Nazi Hydra), described by the expert Kim Newman as “a dark doppelganger for the already troubled hero.” Law, of course, was Watson to Iron Man Robert Downey Jr’s other franchise: Sherlock Holmes.
- Ewan McGregor Jane Got a Gun, 2013. Natalie Portman’s fifth outing as a producer ran into all kinds of trouble. Michael Fassbender quit(replaced by Joel Edgerton) after clashes with Scots director Lynne Ramsay. Then, she quit. Then, Law quit Edgerton’s original role -Lynnebeingthe only reason why Law hadagreed to make the Santa Fe Western in in the first place. Bridges was the (way) oldest of Law’s potential successors: a double the age of Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. Bradley Cooper moved in until he, too, had to quit as his previous gig had been delayed by the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013. (Ramsey’s exit allowed her to join Steven Spielberg’s 2013 Cannes festival jury).
- James Franco, Queen of the Desert, 2013. German auteur Werner Herzog’s first choice for Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, the war hero lover of Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell - aka the female Lawrence of Arabia, Law had to quit when shooting was delayed. His first replacement, James Franco, also had to leave. Enter: The Welsh Lewis, a hot Emmy-winner due to TV’s Homeland. (Ridley Scott planned a Bell bio with Angelina Jolie, but both their dance cards were filled).
- Paul Bettany, Transcendence, 2013. Christopher Nolan’s usual cinematographer Wally Pfister was spoilt for choice of stars eager for his directing debut. Max was up between Law, Ewan McGregor, Tobey Maguire - and Tom Hardy from the Chris ’n’ Wally 2011 show, The Dark Knight Rises.