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Bill Murray


  1. JE Freeman, Alien: Resurrection, 1976.   Change of Dr Mason Wren in another unnecessaryAlien chapter.  Directed by an unhappy Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He has never trodden on another LA soundstage.

  2. Peter Riegert, National Lampoon's Animal House, 1978.  Harold Ramis wrote Boone for Chevy Chase’s replacement on Saturday Night Live but“Murricaine Bill”  refused it.  “I’m basically a lazy person, I’ve got to get motivated to get out of bed.” He accepted several other Ramis movies - the best being Groundhog Day, 1993. Except they never spoke to each other for 21 years after it. “At times, Bill was just irrationally mean and unavailable,” said Ramis. “He was constantly late on set. What I’d want to say to him is just what we tell our children: You don’t have to throw tantrums to get what you want. Just say what you want.” They made up shortly before Ramis died in 2014.

  3. Robert Hays, Airplane!, 1979.   To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell… “To lose one Animal House may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both it and Animal House in a Plane, looks like carelessness.” Such was the fate of both Murray and Chevy Chase. Also  in the Ted Stryker manifest  were , David Letterman (no, really), Barry Manilow (honestly, I don’t make these things up), Robert Wuhl.. and Fred Willard, whop confessed: “I didn’t understand it!”
  4. Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980. The suits wanted a US star. Brand new auteur Steve Gordon wanted Dud. Gordon won, made a big hit, but never a second film - he died at 44 in 1982.   John Belushi had passed, scared of being typed as a drunk (surely the least of his troubles!). Orion Pictures’ other choices for the titular rich man-child were: Murray, Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad - and one reserve.
  5. Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark,  1980.
  6. Christopher Walken, The Dead Zone, 1983.      The Murraycane was the surprise choice of author Stephen King for his Johnny Smith gaining extra-sensory gifts after a five year coma. He can foresee the future. And change it. “But he had a commitment, or he was on vacation,... something like that.” Story of the Murray career. After musing upon fellow Canuck Nicholas Campbell, director David Cronenberg fell for Walken. Or, rather, for his face. “That’s the subject of the movie. That’s what the movie was about. All the things that are in his face.”   

  7. Tom Hanks, Splash, 1983. 
    Hanks always claimed he was director Ron Howard’s 11th choice for Allen Bauer in his breakthrough movie. Sorry, Tom - 15th! And here they be: Murray (PJ Soles was to be his mermaid), Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg (Howard chose him for Cocoon a year later), John Heard, Michael Keaton (he also refused Alan’s brother, Freddie), Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Dudley Moore, David Morse, Burt Reynolds, John Travolta (his agent turned him off it!), Robin Williams. Murray was cock    o’ the walk due to Ghostbusters. “I knew then I was gonna be rich and famous… and be able to wear red clothes and not give a damn,” Murray proclaimed. “All you people in red, you know what I’m speakingabout.

  8. Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984.        ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Murray, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman,   Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Reeve (!), Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan, but terrific. Because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!”
  9. Dave Coulier, The Real Ghostbusters, TV, 1986-1991.   Two years after the movie, the blissfully laconic Music took over Murray’s big screen role of Peter Venkman when Murray refused the toon series.  Murray hated his TVoice - “I sound lilke Garfield.” He insisted the producers start over with Coulier. Ironically, Murray later took over voicing a certain  fat, lazy, lasagna-lovingcat for the 2003 movie,  following the tragic 2001 death of Music - the TV Garfield, 1983-1991. Murray reprised the role in Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, 2005, and was Venkman on the video-games
  10. Debra Winger, Legal Eagles, 1985.      One giant flop for Hollywood super-agent and film arranger  Michael Ovitz.   He and Mr GhostbustersIvan Reitman wanted Dustin  Hoffman and his Tootsie  flat-mate, Bill Murray, as the titular lawyers.  They wound up with Redford and... Debra  Winger.  “Bob disliked Ivan becaue Ivan was too commercial,” reported Ovitz. “Ivan disliked Debra because she was a prima donna… and she disliked Ivan right back. Bob and Debra had zero chemistry, and the script was all concept and no highs.”

  11. Rob Lowe, About Last Night, 1986.       John Byrum felt Bill was more thanjust a Saturday night TV clown. For their version of David Mamet’s Sexual Peversity In Chicago, they flew Nick Nolte to meet Murray in New York. “Not,” said the then director, Rob Cohen, “a match made in heaven.” Bill proved more passionate about Byrum's idea of filming W Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.“I am Larry Darrell. And you have a meeting tomorrow with [Columbia's] Frank Price to tell him why.”
  12. Michael Keaton, Gung Ho, 1986.       A name was required and director Ron Howard tried to land Murray or Eddie Murphy - although he always wanted “my secret weapon.” Er, Keaton..?

  13. Chevy Chase, !Three Amigos, 1986.
    Five years earlier, Steven Spielberg contemplated making the Western comedy.  Obviously he would retained the same Lucky Day - writer-producer Steve Martin.  Plus Murray as Dusty Bottoms (oh, ho!) and Robin  Williams set to steal it  all as Ned Nederlander.  The John Landis’ version comprised Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short.   Oh yes,and the film Spielberg made instead was a small, personal project.  ET

  14. Robin Williams, Club Paradise, 1986.      The, er, comedy died once Murray and John Cleese were switched to Williams and Peter O’Toole. As Chicago critic Roger Ebert put it: “The credits aren't long, but they are long enough for the Williams character to drop every shred of credibility as a Chicago fireman.”
  15. Jack Nicholson, The Witches of Eastwick, 1986.       “There’s riskier material and riskier ways of working.” On hearing this from his lady, Anjelica Huston, who had been testing with Murray, Nicholson expressed his interest in being Darryl Van Horne and she called director George Miller: This is your lucky day! Jack was signed - within hours. Huston was not. She was both annoyed/pleased that Nicholson did not fight for her inclusion. Murray had re-spun Jack’s 1960 masochistic dental patient in the 1986 musical version of Little Shop of Horrors.
  16. Sidney Poitier, Little Nikita, 1987.      Columbi's new  production chief, David Puttnam, offered him the “benevolent FBI agent. I didn’t think these two terms worked together and a lot of people-the public - didn't think so either.” Puttnam later, allegedly, complained Murray was not putting any of his Ghostbusters fortune back into the industry, which helped lead to Puttnam’s getting the bum’s rushfrom heading Columbia in LA.
  17. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  18. Tom Hanks, Big, 1987.    Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne, wrote the script. about a teenager wishing himself in an adult’s body.   Josh possibiles included the unlikely Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford, plus Albert Brooks, Steve Guttenberg (shooting 3 Men and a Baby), Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, Denis Quaid,Judge Reinhold and Robin Williams  (who did his own take on the notion in Francis Coppola‘s Jack, 1996, first aimed at to Hanks !). And Fox simply  rejected Gary Busey and… John (Box Office Poison) Travolta.  First choice Hanks had to finish Dragnetand Punchlinebefore he could head up Anne’s third and final filmed script, ninth and last producing gig. She’d also acted - in Escape To Nowherein 1961, when her brother directed. At 13.
  19. Charles Grodin, Midnight Run, 1987.  In the frame for Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas were Albert Brooks, Chevy Chase, Cher (oh yes!), Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams. Plus  Bruce Willis - also up for Robert De Niro’s skip-tracer, or modern-day bounty-hunter, dragging Grodin’s hysterical embezzler ($15m!) back to Vegas… with the FBI andthe Mob chasing them.
  20. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.
    Chevy Chase was too nervy, Harrison Ford too pricey, Eddie Murphy regretted passing… and no one could contact the notorious hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, he screamed out loud - he would have loved making that film.  Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. “I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  “I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.” Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a carton character was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script (for Chinatown, read Toontown). So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself - Jack Nicholson? No, OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis considered Charles Grodin, Don Lane. And auditioned Peter Renaday.

  21. Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,1988.     Marlon Brando-David Niven’s Bedtime Story con men caper was tailored for Mick Jagger-David Bowie, passed to Eddie Murphy, reconstructed for Murray-Steve Martin. Finally,Martin took on Murray’s lout and Michael Caine became the sophisticate.
  22. Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man, 1988.      With Hoffman as his smart alec brother. Said Bill:“People say: You could do anything you want. Well, what do I want to do?” The answer, apparently was... Scrooged.  That he was!
  23. Christopher Reeve, Switching Channels, 1988.     Just not his year for decisions. He was anti-CAA packaging. So was the box-office.
  24. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
  25. - Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, 1988.    “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” Disney offered Dustin Hoffman  this one to direct -  “and star in, if you like” He did like. Except Rain Manfinally got moving. And Disney couldn’t wait.  Next? Murray, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Robin’s pal Christopher Reeve  and Mickey Rourke backed off. Williams dithered for ages and finally agreed. His co-star, Ethan Hawke, called the film: One Flew Over the Robin's Nest… with Wlliams as Jack Nicholson, Norman Lloyd as Nurse Ratched and Robert Sean Leonard as Brad Dourif.
  26. Robert De Niro, Awakenings, 1989.     Director Penny Marshall backed away for her first choice - fearing that Murray’s  name on the marquee would have the public anticipating expecting a comedy.
  27. Jeff Bridges, The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989.   First idea was to turn Chevy Chase and Murray into the musical brothers vying for a superb singer Michelle Pfeiffer Making Whoopee on their piano.  Texas auteur Steve Kloves then thought of real brothers. Dennis and Randy Quaid passed and the Bridges boys jumped at the rare chance of working together.
  28. Tom Hanks, Turner & Hooch, 1989.  Bill, Chevy Chase, John Larroquette, Dudley Moore and Jack Nicholson (!) all fled from police detective Scott Turner and his French mastiff dog in this Odd Coupleriff.  With the dog, Beasley, as Walter Matthau and, of course, Hanks is, was and always will be a second Jack Lemmon (in all his career choices). Henry Winkler, Happy Days’Fonzie, was sacked after two weeks as director by Disney suit Jeffrey Katzenberg - who doubled his errors by using the wrong ending, where the dog dies. (A TVersion with Thomas F Wilson never survived the putrid pilot.
  29. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered - including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke ("the affordable William Shatner") and Dave Thomas.
  30. Mel Gibson, Air America, 1990.    “He loved it,” said the helmer of the hour, Richard Rush. “But he wasn’t ready to do a movie.” Not even with, at that time, Sean Connery.

  31. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kindergarten Cop, 1990.   It was around  this point that Bill withdrew from movies, sacked his agent, and  ran  his own life and career - extremely well.   Future co-star Tilda Swinton says he has the look of “a tired child who has laughed so much he aches – but finds it too complicated to fully explain the joke… It’s like talking to a crumpled bag of sweets.”
  32. James Belushi, Curly Sue, 1990.    Murray, John Travolta and Bruce Willis were in the loop for Bill Dancer in John Hughes’ final film - a kind of Paper Moon II.  Murray was already into What About Bob?  And so he missed working with Kelly Lynch. She said every time Road Housewas on TV, Murray would phone to tease her husband, Mitch Glazer, about her sex scene with Patrick Swayze. What else are friends for. 
  33. John Goodman, King Ralph, 1991.    Hollywoodisation of the Emlyn Williams novel, Headlong, about an English actor becoming the UK monarch. Producer Jack Brodsky brought it to director Sydney Pollack in 1986for that most British actor - Bill Murray! Goodman’s TV fame, image, freedom - and likeability - had grown apace while Bill's was stricken almost mortally.
  34. Robert De Niro, Cape Fear , 1991.    When Steven Spielberg was contemplating a re-make of  the dark 1962 thriller, he wanted (another surprise) Murray for the the heavy - unattracted to the violent script! Next idea: the flamboyant David Johansen, from the 70s glam rock band, New York Dolls. Once the Amblin project was passed over to Martin Scorsese, it was obvious who was going to be eating the scenery...
  35. Dan Aykroyd, My Girl, 1991.    Murray, Tim Allen, Chevy Chase and  Steve Martin were in the mix for young Anna Chlumsky’s undertaker father in this little gem.  Allen and Chase were siphoned off for not  being known for drama. Murray was busy asking What About Bob?  And Martin was the Father of the Bride.  Aykroyd has just tried drama in for Driving Miss Daisy-  and won an Oscar nod!
  36. Tim Allen,  Toy Story, 1992.       First,  Murray, then  Chevy Chase missed the #1 film of 2005 in the US by refusing to  voice Buzz Lightyear - named after NASAtronaut Buzz Aldrin and facially based on the director John Lasseter’s eyebrows, cheekbones and dimpled chin
  37. Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks (UK:Champions),  1992.  From January 22 to April  11 to be precise.  With  Estevez beating  bro’ Charlie Sheen, plus Tom Cruise, Michael J Fox, Tom Hanks and even the scenarist Steve Brill, himself, to  the seen-it-all-before sports movie about, this time, a kids’ team in  the Pee Wee ice hockey leagues. Also in the puck mix was Bill Murray, way too old – except it was first  written that way, much darker and less comedic. Until Disney got hold of it.
  38. Denzel Washington, Philadelphia, 1993.      At first, director Jonathan Demme felt that the lawyer should be a comic, to infiltrate some lightness in the heavy drama.  Not a comment to convince Bill to hang around. His client, another lawyer fighting hisunfair dismissal because he had AIDS,would have  beern Daniel Day-Lewis.
  39. Michael Keaton, The Paper, 1994.     For any film, any time, director Ron Howard always, stubbornly  preferred Keaton.  Well, they are about as vapid  as each other.
  40. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.  The guy who accidentally kills Santa (it was shooting him, but Disney wasn’t having that) and take over his duties was penned for for Bill Murray. “Not my kind of humour,” he retorted.  Next in line:Allen, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carrey, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams. Plus eight  Batman candidates: Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J Fox, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze and the winning Michael  Keaton.

  41. Anthony Hopkins, The Road To Wellville,  1994.    UK director Alan Parker’s version  of life on the health farm set up by cereal king, Dr  John Harvey Kellog
  42. Tom Hanks, Forest Gump, 1995.       An early, as they say,  consideration.   Not a good one.  An early one.

  43. John Goodman, The Flintstones, 1994.   
    Yabba-dabba-don’t!   Thin Bill as the Stone Age hero? Yeah, in a fat suit, why not? An idea as dumb as putting Bill in a cat-suit for a Garfield venture.  Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, John Candy, Chevy Chase  came and went.   The live action take on the cartoon series (The Simpsons of its days, 1960-1966), would never have happened if Goodman had been unable to squeeze it in during his Roseanne series hiatus. Because, according to co-creator Joseph Barbera: “When John Goodman was born, he was stamped Fred Flintstone right there on his bottom.”  The producer agreed. End of debate.  ’Cos the  producer was Steven Spielberg!   

  44. Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.
  45. Woody Harrelson, The People vs Larry Fynt, 1996.     Another biography from Ed Wood scenarists Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Director Milos Forman preferred his Flynt to Columbia's. Anyway, Murray never returned phone calls.   If you could find his number. What else is new?
  46. JE Freeman, Alien: Resurrection, 1996.  So… no reunion of the Ghostbusters Murray and, in her fourth and final Alien chapter, Sigourney Weaver. Pity.
  47. Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights, 1997.   Murray, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray and director Sydney Pollack were offered the porno film-maker Jack Horner in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit  . Plus Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, who had been supporters of hardcore star Harry Reems during his 70s’ legal hassles. Pollack regretted refusing the role and  Reynolds regretted accepting it. He rowed with PTA, won the best reviews of his career, a Golden Globe and his one and only Oscar nomination. Yet he still still fled PTA’s Magnolia, 1999.
  48. Matt Dillon, There’s Something About Mary, 1998.    Fox wanted Bill Murray as sleazuy private dick Pat Healy, latest in a long line smitten with the gorgeous Cameron Diaz. The Farrellly brothers rightly said he was too old and suggested Azaria, Cuba Gooding Jr or Vince Vaughn. Easiest role for Dillon - he was Cameron’s lover at the time.
  49. Christopher Lloyd,  My Favourite Martian, 1998.  A Martian makes a visit – and friends with Jeff Daniels’s reporter. There goes the neighbourhood (title of another Daniels’ movie,  circa 1992).  The five possibilities for  “Uncle Martin”      were Murray (a tad obvious), Michael Douglas, Charlton Heston(!), Martin Sheen - and Star Trek’s latest skipper, Patrick Stewart.
  50. Jason Lee, Dogma, 1999.     Said Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers: Thou shalt not stop laughing... New Jersey auteur Kevijn Smith reached high (Murray, John Travolta) and low (Adam Sandler) for his demon Azrael in his askew take on religion. "It's hard to conceive of a flick without Jason," he said when his mate was not free for the fallen angel, Loki. "Luckily, his schedule freed up and he was able to segue into Azrael. You couldn't ask for a better villain. Jason became the guy people in rehearsals measured themselves against - such was the passion and intensity of his performance."

  51. Adam Sandler, Big Daddy, 1999.     Chris Farley sadly ODed months before he was due to be Sonny the toolbooth attendant adopting  a five-year-old boy (played by twins) to impress his girlfriend. And so Sandler collected a hefty cut of the $235m box-office. I still can’t see why. We’ve seen it all before: Chaplin’s The Kid, Shirley Temple’s Little Miss Marker, Jim Belushi’s Curly Sue, evenTakeshi Kitano’s Japanese Kikujiro the previous year and, Hugh Grant’s About a Boyto come in 2001 Yawn!  No wonder Murray and Jack Nicholson fled.
  52. Mike Myers, Shrek, 2000.    A decade earlier athis Amblin Entertainment, long before giving birth to DreamWorks, Steven Speilbergwas planning his animation debut - and selected Murray for the titular gree ogre (Shrek is Yiddish for monster) oppositeSteve Martin’s Donkey.Murphy and the DreamWorks Animation chief, Jeffrey Kaztzenberg, friendsfor years, had always promised themselves a toon movie. This one turned into three features and two shorts. 
  53. Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa, 2003.   Jack Nicholson withdrew for  Something’s Gotta Givewith “Special K” (Diane Keaton), Murray left for  Lost In Translation, Larry David was wed to  his TV series,Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dennis Leary came and went.  Billy Bob won  - and got drunk  for one scene as the titular Willie.
  54. John Goodman, Monsters, Inc,  2000.      Bill tested  and won the Monstropolis gig of voicing  the blue James P “Sulley” Sullivan. Except the Pixar  execs couldn’t reach him by phone, fax, post, mail, pigeon, pony express  or agent to confirm dates. “We took that to mean No,” said director Peter Docter. Goodman was a good move: he suggested getting Steve Buscemi  for  Randall Boggs.

  55. Bernie Mac, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, 2003.    He had not enjoyed the first film - or not Lucy Liu, in particular - and passed onthe sequel. Besides, he was perfecting his new, non-acting acting. Yawn!
  56. Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa,  2003.     Jack Nicholson withdrew for  Something’s Gotta Give with Special K(Diane Keaton)  - Murraydue yo  Lost In Translation and Larry David because of his TV series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Billy Bob won  - and got drunk  for one scene as the titular Willie.

  57. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003.    
    Steven Spielberg wanted set sail with Murray - or Steve Martin - or  Robin Williams! - as Jack Sparrow.  (Why not 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.

  58. Eddie Murphy, The Haunted Mansion, 2003.    Phantoms were in and Disney was ready! with this this spectre special… as long as one of the 1983 Ghostbusters agreed to be Jim Evers. None did. Not Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Rock Moranis or Harold Ramis. Twenty years later, Murphy headed the tale named rather than based on the Disneyland attraction.
  59. Martin Freeman, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.
  60. Mos Def, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.

  61. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004. 
    Surely, Murray would have scared the kiddywinks, like some other Tim Burton ideas: Nic Cage and Chris Walken. Tim’s 30 fancies for chocolatier Willy Wonka were his ole Betelgeuse, Michael Keaton. Plus Murray, , Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chaze, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams. And the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy - Dustin Hoffman  If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a a stoned George W Bush!

  62. Jeff Daniels, The Squid and The Whale, 2005.   Fled from head of a weirdo family.  Excuse: He needed a break after Broken Flowers. And thereby embarrassed Daniels…  He had a sex scene with Anna Paquin, who had been his daughter teaching geese to fly in  Fly Away Home nine years earlier. “We tried not to think about... you know, geese.”
  63. Billy Bob Thornton, School For Scoundrels, 2005.     Murray ran, possibly understanding the script was a disastrous re-hash of the 1959 UK original... not that funny, it’s true, but at least it had class via Alistair Sim, Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, etc.The choice of BBT as the now foul-mouthed Dr P (for Potter, the author Stephen Potter) was, said UK critic Philip French, “rather like casting Burt Reynolds as Bertrand Russell.”
  64. Jason Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 2006.   For some reason, all the A List - Murray, Tim Allen, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Ben Stiller, John Travolta - edged back from being Dave Seville - the chipmunks’ adoptive father, songwriter and supplier of that iconic yell: Allvviinn!! Main reason Lee accepted the role was because it had been offered to his idol, Murray. “I was so excited I did backflips!”  He flipped better than he voiced...
  65. Bruce Willis, Over The Hedge, 2006.    The DreamWorkers wanted Bill and Harold Ramis  to voice the RJ, the racoon, and Verne,the Turtle.But this was no Shrek. And two Garfield movies were toon enough for him.
  66. Steve Carrel, Little Miss Sunshine, 2006.   First choice for the suicidal Frank. Next? Robin Williams. Next? Carrel, then unknown. And thereby,cheaper.
  67. Steve Carrel, Dinner For Schmucks, 2009.   Among the 2006 choices for the pathetic loser (due opposite Steve Martin) in  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
  68. Jim Broadbent, Arthur Christmas, 2010.  Murray was up for Santa - and not for the first time. He also said that The Santa Clause, 1994, and Bad Santa, 2002,  were "not for me.” While Broadbent agreed to both his Santa offers. He first Claus-ed in Get Santa,2013. 
  69. Jack Nicholson, How Do You Know, 2010.     When Murray passed on playing Paul Rudd’s father,  Nicholson jumped aboard. Anything for a pal…  particularly when he is auteur James L Brooks, for whom Jack made three films (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets) resulting two of his three Oscars. Not. This. Time. 
  70. Christoph Waltz, The Zero Theorem, 2013.     Too busy completing his seventh Wes Anderson movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, to join Terry Gilliam’s film.“Terry’s a fun guy to hang out with,” said Murray. “His stuff doesn’t always work for me, but its not for lack of trying. He really throws it out there.Now if I had a pint of Terry’s blood, I would get some shit done.”



















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