- Barry Bostwick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1974. Martin had only made one movie - Another Nice Mess, 1972 - when in the frame for the hero Brad Majors, “A Hero,” one of only three Americans in the screen version of the hit UK musical. (The others were Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf).
- Chevy Chase,Foul Play, 1978. "I didn't say no. They said no. Chevy was totally under-directed." They both progressed.
- Harrison Ford, Raider s of the Lost Ark,1980.
- Tim Curry, Annie, 1981. The comic passed on the flash role of con-artist Rooster Hannigan.“Too painful” for him because Bernadette Peters was set for Lilly St Regis, his partner in crime.And their real life relationshp was in its death throes...
- Chevy Chase, ¡Three Amigos! 1986. Originally, the trio wasMartin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi. After John's death,Martin switched roles.
- John Candy, Planes, Trains& Automobiles, 1987. And again - swopping parts with Candy.
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Billy Joel, Oliver & Company, 1987. Martin and Burt Reynolds were up for voicing the (no longer Artful) Dodger. Singer Billy Joel was not! “Inspired” by Charles Dickens, Disney’s animalia take on Oliver Twist was written by, among others, Walt’s great-nephew, Tim, Disney.
- Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1988. When Bill Murray fell out, Martin moved into his slot and his suave con man passed from John Cleese to Mike Caine.
- Jack Nicholson, Batman, 1988.
Bill Cosby, Ghost Dad, 1989. First due as Elliot Hopper when John Badham was directing. Cosby’s director was actor Sidney Poitier – for the fourth time after Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again and Piece of the Action during 1973-1976. Martin never even re-made it!!!
Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1989. Author Tom Wolfe wanting Chevy Chase as Sherman McCoy made no more sense than than the first director Mike Nichols voting Martin and, finally, Brian De Palma, choosing Hanks. As a Master of the Universe, I mean c’mon guys!
- Rick Moranis, My Blue Heaven, 1990. Swopping Roles III... Steve moved up from his FBI agent once Danny De Vito refused to be in a witness protection programme as a Mafia type - actually based on Henry Hill, who also inspired Goodfellas, 1990.
- Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise,1990.
- Harrison Ford, Regarding Henry, 1991. "I prefer something made for somebody else!"insisted Ford."If someone writes something for you, they make it to size. They write to what they or the audience feels your strengths are - and avoid the weaknesses."
- Robin Williams, Aladdin, 1991. Disney’s voice choices for the blue Genie included Martin, Albert Brooks, John Candy, Matt Frewer, John Goodman, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short… As if anyone could match Williams’ dazzling 16 hours of improv. (So much ad-lib finished on screen, the toon was denied any adapted script Oscar nomination!). In typical whirlwind manic brilliance (at union scale!), Williams used everyone from Ethel Merman to Groucho Marx, William F Buckley to Carol Channing, Schwarzenegger to De Niro! “Good but not great,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “with the exception of the Robin Williams sequences, which have a life and energy all their own.” Indeed.
- Bill Murray, Groundhog Day, 1992. The trouble with Steve, said director and co-writer Harold Ramis, was: “He’s far too nice.”Likewise Chevy Chase, Tom Hanks and John Travolta.
- Brian Benben, Radioland Murders, 1994. All set to complete George Lucas’ radio trilogy after The Emperor short, 1967, andAmerican Graffit, 1972- and then again after Star Wars, 1976,His first actual casting, circa ’78,for the Ten Little Indians in a radio studio was “the perfect team” of Martin and Cindy Williams as Roger and Penny Henderson,... the parents, according to Lucas, of Richard Dreyfuss’ Graffiiti character.
- Jim Carrey, Dumb & Dumber, 1994. Like Martin Short, Steve rejected sadsack Lloyd Christmas.Of course he did, it wasn’t a re-make. Carrey was first hired for $700,000, then Ace Ventura: Pet Detective opened to enormous business and his agent renegotiated for... $7m.
- Robin Williams, The Birdcage, 1995. Having directed them on-stage in Waiting ForGodotin 1988, Mike Nichols' original plan for the Cage aux Folles re-make, was Martin as Armand, the "husband," with Robin as the mincing, drag star "wife "Steve preferred ruining Sgt Bilko.
Peter MacNichol, Bean, 1996. A major fan of Rowan Atkinson’s comic creation, Mr Bean, another wild and crazy guy wanted to get into the movie. (Odd, that. It wasn’t re-make). But no, two comics face to face was one too many.
Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut, 1998. From the outset, Stanley Kubrick told his British scenarist Frederic Raphael that his stars (and he distrusted stars) should be a real couple. First thought: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (divorced, 2002). Second: Martin and Victoria Tennant (divorced, 1994). Third: Cruise and Nicole Kidman (divorced, 2001). His 13th and last feature was his biggest success- even though it wa sway out of touch with the time it was made in. (Exactly like The Shining).And it killed him on March 7, 1999.
- Eddie Murphy, Shrek, 2000. A decade earlier at his Amblin Entertainment, long before giving birth to DreamWorks, Steven Speilberg was planning his animation debut - with Martin voicing the Donkey opposite Bill Murray as the titular green ogre. (Shrek is Yiddish for monster). Martin didn’t stand a chance (well, it wasn’t a re-hash!) when DreamWorks was born because the chief, Jeffrey Katzenberg, had always promised Murphy they would make an animation feature together… sometime. They knew each other since they started in movies - as Murphy made 48 Hrs, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, 1981-1983, when Paramount was co-run by Katzenberg.
- Drew Carrey, Geppetto, TV, 2001. Disney’s (fresh?) take on Pinocchio lost Martin (and Robin Williams) when deciding the cinema movie should go out on the box. Of course, there was also no knowing where Martin or Williams would have taken the title role. Carrey was a safer bet.
- Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003. Steven Spielberg wanted to make it in the 90s. With Martin - or Bill Murray, Robin Williams - as Jack Sparrow. (Mot Tom Hanks?) Spielberg couldn’t have been more wrong or totally old-fashioned. Anyway, this was a Disney ride and was going to stay that way.
- Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2004. Well, of course, Martin was keen. It was a re-make! Would have been his tenth. Except he looked more like Grandpa Joe than Willy Wonka. Director Tim Burton’s 22 other fancies were one ole Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), three Monty Pythons (Eric Idle, Michael Palin) plus Martin, Rowan Atkinson, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams. Depp said his Willy, as it were, was “part Howard Hughes-reclusive, part 1970s glamorous rock star.” No wonder Marilyn Manson wanted the gig.
- Kevin Spacey, Superman Returns, 2005.
- George Clooney, Up In The Air, 2009. He may not even know this… Director Jason Reitman wrote it for Clooney and no oneelse. However if George turned him down, then he’d go to Martin - with a total rewrite. Reitman would have been wasting his time. Martin would have refused to play Ryan Bingham - the movie was not a re-make.
- Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006. During 25 years in Development Hell, the titular casting also included Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most lunatic notions were... Warren Beatty. Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!
- Paul Rudd, Dinner For Schmucks, 2009. Martin and Sacha Baron Cohen (“the new Peter Sellers”) (hah!) were among the 2006 choices for the (as always, highly flawed) re-make of the French Diner de cons, 1998, writer-directed by Francis Veber. If they’d only stopped tampering with his (near) perfection… when Jacques Villeret was the original con.
- Sacha Baron Cohen, Les Miserables, 2011. Martin, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Crystal, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams… For some reason, it was only comics (oh, and Geoffrey Rush) seen for the despicable Thénardier.
- Jesse Eisenberg, The Double, 2012. Seventeen years earlier, Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film the Dostoievski tale of a man faced with his doppleganger and total opposite: confident, charismatic, good with women. (Last made by Bertolucci as Partner, 1968). John Travolta turned his back on $8m (and Paris) in June 1995. Anthony Hopkins had no time (booked for Nixon, Picasso, etc). Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino weren’t keen. Martin was but the project collapsed when Isabelle Adjani quit followed by Polanski. Jesse (just 12 at that time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade. A flop - and re-make addict - for years, Martin was inexplicably given a lifetime (or still living?) Oscar in 2014.
- Johnny Depp, Into The Woods, 2013.