1. - Ringo Starr, The Magic Christian, 1969. An uncredited John Cleese and his Monty Python co-star and co-writer Graham Chapman adapted Terry Southern’s satire... and invented Youngman Grand, a stepson for Peter Sellers’ Sir Guy Grand. With Sellers after the younger public, the role was offered to Lennon (as big a Sellers fan as Cleese and Chapman). Lennon was interested but so were the US authorities in his 1968 marijuana charges. And so, the Beatles’ drummer joined the ex-drummer of Waldini’s Gypsy Band, circa 1940. They talked, said Sellers, about nothing else but “drums and drumming.”
2. - Alain Delon, The Assassination of Trotsky, Italy-France-UK, 1971. Three years before the Joseph Losey flop, bilious realisateur Jean-Luc Godard talked with Lennon at the Abbey Road studio for his version - written by the team who had tried to make Bonnie and Clyde with Godard: Robert Benton and David Newman. The realisateur was also musing about a movie on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones (“prefably The Beatles”). John preferred that idea. Not for long and despite Paul McCartney’s entreaties, Lennon had JLG banned from the recording studio. Godard made One + One with the Stones (and my then wife, Jeannnette Wild). Much good it did any of them.
3. - John Wood, WarGames, 1983. The film’s maker, John Badham, only learned during an Alex Simon interview in 2008 that Walter Parkes had written Dr Falken for Mr Imagine. “Wow that’s a new one on me, but it makes sense. At one point. Walter told me that he wrote it as a model of Stephen Hawking, who’s confined to a wheelchair, and then everybody starting saying “That’s too much like Dr Strangelove!” So we went with an ambulatory character.” Opposite Matthew Broderick. Two years later, Broderick almost co-starred with Mick Jagger (also substituted by John Wood) in Ladyhawke.
4. - Andy Serkis, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-03.