Payday Loans
Jack Nicholson

  1.  Michael Landon,  I Was A Teenage Werewolf, 1957.    "Jack was the wrong type," said producer Herman Cohen.  Like: neither   teen or werewolf?   He waited 37 years and then did his own lycanthropian thing, Wolf (with director Mike Nichols), based on Jim Harison’s novel, in 1993.
  2. Gene Hackman, Bonnie and Clyde, 1966.
  3. Bruce Dern, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, 1966.   Director Roger Corman considered Jack and Dernsie for the gangster, Johnny May. Nicholson asked instead  for the smallest part - with the longest run in the film. As the killers’ driver, he worked three weeks. “I earned more money in a Corman movie than ever before [triple the actors' weekly scale of $375].  Only had only one line -  only laugh in the picture, I might  add.  Someone says, ‘What  the hell  are you  doing?’  to one of the killers, wh’'s rubbing garlic on his bullets.  And I say, using a gravelly voice:  ‘It's garlic.  The bullets don't kill ya, ya die of the blood poisoning'.”
  4. Bruce Dern, The Trip, 1967.     Jack wrote Peter Fonda’s  guide for himself, then lost a second role when  Roger Corman had more faith in Jack as a writer. (His 1959 acting income came to: $1,900). His original script, said Dern, “was just sensational.” No hard feelings. When Nicholson called him for King of Marvin Gardens, Jack said: “Our kingdom has come, Dernsie.” Jack's certainly had.  Dernsie's got lost in ensuing shuffles.

  5. Dustin Hoffman,  The Graduate, 1967.    
    Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned almost every  guy of the correct age for the titular Benjamin Braddock.  From Norman Bates to Robin – and the kid from Shane (Brandon De Wilde, now 25).  Jack won a callback. Unlike… Keir Dullea, Charles Grodin (he won Nichols’ next, Catch 22 instead), George Hamilton, Steve McQueen, Michael Parks, George Peppard, Anthony Perkins, Burt Ward (too busy in  TV’s Batman)  And the prerequisite outsider:     MGM pactee turning director, Lee Stanley. Hoffman got it right: “There is no piece of casting in the 20th century that I        know of that is more courageous than putting me in that part.”  Jack would never have asked “Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me - aren’t you?”   He’d have  known!

  6. John Cassavetes, Rosemary's Baby, 1968.     Laurence Harvey ached for it.  But director Roman Polanski wanted an actor who looked an actor - and even TV-commercialish all-American. Hearing that description, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford backed off.  Among those auditioning was "a complete unknown who'd played in some eminently forgettable horror films.  For all his exceptional talents, his faintly rakish and sinister appearance disqualified him for the role of an upstanding, clean-cut, conventionally handsome young actor." Polanski was discussing... not John, but Jack! 
  7. Franco Nero, Un tranquillo posto di campagna (UK: A Quiet Place in the Country), Italy-France, 1968.    Maestro Elio Petri wanted Jack - didn’t  everyone! - and settled for Nero as the burnt out  painter (very Jack!) in what Petri called an   “experimental” psychological horror movie. Nero suggested co-starring with his lover, “la Signorina Redgrave.” (The second of  four films with Vanessa). Nicholson was already pally with  Bertolucci at this point  and was working, six years later,  with Antonioni. , Petri had met Jack and his  early work (Ride The Whirlwind, The Shooting) on the ‘60s Euro festival circuit. Jack, however,  was too busy - giving Head to The Monkees, and replacing Rip Torn in somethng called Easy Rider.
  8. Michael Burns, That Cold Day in the Park, 1969.       Maverick director Robert Altman is talking… “I’ll tell you who I turend down for that part - Jack Nicholson!   Jack wanted it - he came to my office and we talked about it. And I said: Jack, I think you’re too old for it.”   Jack was 31, Burns just 21. No matter, the Easy Rider bikes were parked around the next corner.
  9. Dennis Hopper, The Last Movie, 1971.   "We had some conversations about it, but Dennis wanted to play the part himself."
  10. Dustin Hoffman, Straw Dogs, 1971.   No fan of movie violence, Hoffman confessed he accepted the milque-toast husband  (also refused by Beau Bridges, Stacy Keach, Sidney Poitier) - just for the money.

  11. Robert Fields, The Sporting Club, 1971.   Director Larry Peerce tried hard to interest Jack in this close-up on power, corruption and hypocrisy in   a rich man's paradise. The novel was by Thomas McGuane, who wrote Jack’s Missouri Breaks, 1976, and Peerce had directed Goodbye, Columbus, 1969, making a star of Ali McGraw, future wife of Jack Pack-er, producer Robert Evans.
  12. Jon Voight, Deliverance, 1971.   LA Times columnist Joyce Haber had the scoop.  But not the proviso. Jack inisted on his neighbour and idol, Marlon Brando, in the other role. “He said he despised acting,” said director John Boorman. “Acting was nothing more than mimicry - a bunch of tricks.”  Even so, Brando  agreed: “I’ll take whatever you pay Jack.”  Great! Except Jack’s agent Sandy Bresler wanted what Warner was paying Redford for Jeremiah Johnson - $500,000.  That meant Brando and Nicholson would soak up half the budget!   (And they guaranteed  nothing. They were  rubbish in The Missouri Breaks, 1975).  Hi…  is that Jon Voight? .
  13. Bruce Dern, King of Marvin Gardens, 1972.    Director Bob Rafelson switched his Staebler siblings - making  Nicholson the introvert dee-jay and turning Dernsie into a riff on Jack as the expansive, older bro.
  14. Al Pacino, The Godfather, 1971.
  15. Jason Miller,  The Exorcist, 1972.
  16. Edward Fox, Day of the Jackal, 1973.  Discussed  it with gentleman  director Fred Zinnemann in London. However,  Fred preferred a more anonymous actor, got his way and that,  as he would freely confess,  seriously undermined  the film’s box-office.
  17. Robert Redford, The Sting, 1973.   "I passed up Michael in The Godfather and I passed up The Sting. Even though I am a non-mercenary artist, I had a pretty good idea of the commercial worth of those properties. But, creatively, they were not worth my time." But  Billy "Bad Ass" Buddusky  was - in  The Last Detail, sitting upon a Columbia shelf until society caught  up  his and Robert Towne’s "bad language." Result: Best Actor at Cannes and the UK Oscar. "But not getting the Academy Award hurt real bad.  That was my best role.  How often does one like that come along,  one that fits you?"  Oh, at least twice more...
  18. Ryan O'Neal, Paper Moon, 1973.   Director Peter Bogdanovich always cast what he saw as versions of himself - except he was never Jack-cool. Paramount production chief Robert Evans suggested Jack (or Warren Beatty) when trying to nix O'Neal... who had been sleeping with Mrs Evans, Ali MacGraw.

  19. Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby, 1973.
    The only really good role I’ve rejected - and I could kill myself - was Jay Gatsby... Since I was 18, people     said     I should do Gatsby. I didn’t really go after the part for well, personal reasons I don’t want printed.”

  20. Paul Newman, The Towering Inferno, 1974.     Suggested by Steve McQueen as someone strong enough to hold his own against him.
  21. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.  
  22. Bruce Dern, Family Plot, 1975.     Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and even Jack passed on what became, alas, Alfred Hitchcock’s final film.  De Niro and Pacino’s agents apparently asked for too much money. “Hitch doesn't pay a million dollars,” said Hitch. Nicholson had the better reason. He was shooting One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. So, George Lumley, went to Dernsie. Hitch was prepping The Short Night when he died, at age 80, on April 29, 1980.
  23. Michael Lonsdale, India Song, France, 1975.    French cinematographer Bruno Nuytten said Jack was approached by novelist Marguerite Duras to take the lead in this version of her book, The Vice-Consul..  
  24. Paul Newman, Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976.     Revered director Robert Altman saw Bill Cody as the first movie star - "the first totally manufactured American hero and that's why we need a movie star."

  25. Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1976.
    Each director saw the titular Monroe Stahr differently:  Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Al Pacino.  Jack’s willingness to play Stahr persuaded Paramount to agree a budget for director Mike Nichols. But when Elia Kazan made the film, Jack simply wanted to experience  Sam Spiegel (producer of his career’s major  influence, Lawrence of Arabia) and spurned the lead  for a  “short part” - an East Coast labour leader out to unionise 30s’ Hollywood. Jack asked for   $150,000 and some action.  Instead of paying him his cut, producer Sam Spiegel offered  something from his  art collection. Jack’s manager, Sandy Bressler said he didn’t want any painting, “but… a complete accounting of the gross for the movie… not a guestimate…”  Jack won’t sue me,” said Sam Spiegel.    But he did! 

  26.  David Carradine, Bound For Glory, 1976.    Hal Ashby’s first  cholce - singer Tim Buckley ODed. So Ashby sent  for his star of his abrasive Last Detail  but Jack didn’t see himself as Woody Guthrie and suggested his true idol - Bob Dylan. Nicholson was more keen on  another  film that Ashby was being pushed to make - a book that Nicholson had tried to option at age 26 in 1963. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
  27. Donald Sutherland,  Casanova, 1976.    In one year he'd passed on Buffalo Bill, Monroe Stahr, Woody Guthrie and now Giacomo... As per usual, maestro Federico Fellini played with the idea of superstars - Nicholson, Brando, Caine, Pacino, even Redford!! -  before settling for a more parochial venture with, maybe, Alberto Sordi, Gian Maria Volonte or the unknown cabaret performer Tom Deal. Ultimately, it was “Donaldino.” He had shared Paul Mazursky’s , Alex in Wonderland, 1970, with Fellini in Hollywood and they met  again on the set of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 in 1975.
  28. Keith Carradine, Lumière, France, 1976.    Jeanne Moreau wanted Jack for her directing debut, until "dreaming over an early Gary Cooper," she saw a Carradine film and he cancelled a recording session to make the film. He fit the bill of "a very tall, lovely young man," the opposite  of the French industry's usual "small, tiny, dark  creatures." Jeanne’s friend  ("never my  lover"), realisateur Louis Malle, then chose Carradine for Pretty Baby.
  29. Bruce Dern, Family Plot, 1976.    Because of a little something called One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, he had  to miss what proved Alfred Hitchcock’s last hurrah.  Hitch had first (and oddly) paired Nicholson with... Liza Minnelli. Jack suggested his pal, Dernsie.

  30. Dennis Hopper, Tracks, 1976.   
    Director Henry Jaglom wrote it for Jack and the spaced-out Vietnam vet escorting a coffin  home was still called Jack when Dennis played it - in  his Hollywood comeback after eight years away imbibing every illegal substance known to man, man.  Said Nicholson: “As  an actor, Dennis stands out because of his edge, his sincerity, the honesty he conveys.”  Jaglom insisted he wrote Nicholson’s famous Five Easy Pieces diner explosion - “and hold it between your knees!” -  for this film! (Based on a similar incident when Jack couldn’t order wheat toast  at the LA patisserie, Pupi’s). Carole Eastman,  who wrote Five Easy Pieces, says the opposite, of course. And, anyway, Pieces director Bob Rafelson thinks he wrote it.  “Rashomon,” said Jaglom..

  31. Robert De Niro, Novocento/1900, Italy, 1976.    In need of an US star, Italian maestro Bernardo Bertolucci’s first thought for the artistocratic Alfredo Berlinghieri was his pal Jack - until seeing De Niro working with Francis Coppola on The Godfather: Part II.
  32. Martin Sheen,  Apocalypse Now, 1976.
  33. Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976. For once, Spielberg felt he needed an A star: Hackman, Hoffman or McQueen.   Jack's agent, Sandy Bresler, told co-producer Julia Phillips: "He didn't want to fight the effects  but  he'd sure take points anytime. He's saying: It's a hit!" Not so worried about the Mothership, Dreyfuss agreed to $500,000 and five gross points.     
  34.  Richard Burton, Equus, 1977.  Burton buried his rivals by going back on Broadway in the role, to prove he could still cut it. Still didn't net him an Oscar. Nothing ever did - from seven nominations.
  35. Roy Scheider, Sorcerer, 1977.    For his awful mess of re-treading theFrench classic, Wages of Fear, 1953, US director William Friedkin regretted not trying to agree to Steve McQueen’s stipulations. Next choices, Clint Eastwood and Nicholson had no interest in working abroad. Or, indeed with Friedkin, who  kindly stated that Scheider was his worst casting decision. "He’s a second or third banana, not a star." Rather like Friedkin...
  36. Richard Burton, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, 1976.
  37. Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl, 1977.    "The man is undirectable," said stage-screen director Mike Nichols after his notorious run-in with Robert De Niro  (far too fresh in from Taxi Driver) on the Neil Simon comedy that started out as Bogart Slept Here - eventually being respun from  Marsha Mason's angle. The Dreyfuss angle won  the  Oscar.

  38. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1977.  
    The subject was horrendous - a prostitute allowing her 12-year-old daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of New Orleans, circa 1917. French director Louis Malle saw Nicholson for the real-life photographer EJ Bellocq - and Jack’s lover, Anjelica Huston, for the mother.   If selected, they could have ruined the movie. In March that year, Huston had innocently returned home to Nicholson’s house where (unknown to her) Jack’s friend, director Roman Poalanski, had been having illegalsex with a 13-year-old girl. The three stars hit all headlines, not the kind of of publicity Paramount would have craved.  Jill-of-all-trades Polly Platt has never been able to see the film and still bristles at any mention of French realisateur Louis Malle. He was furious with her for "taking over the film" by contacting Nicholson - "a very bad choice"! - and so, she argued, Malle wrecked her script, by using Carradine as the photographer Bellocq.  "I felt like the little girl.  Bought, sold, screwed!"

  39. Anthony Hopkins, Magic, 1978.    Producer Joe Levine wanted A Star. Jack said fine, but you'll have to wait for a few months. He was Goin' South (wasn't he though!)  -  and directing again.
  40. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1978.   Jill-of-all-trades Polly Platt has never been able to see the film and still bristles at any mention of French realisateur Louis Malle. He was furious with her for "taking over the film" by contacting Nicholson - "a very bad choice"! - and so, she argued, Malle wrecked her script, by using Carradine as the photographer Bellocq. "I felt like the little girl. Bought, sold, screwed!"

  41. Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978.    His Last Detail director Hal Ashby called in October 1976.  Leading lady Jane Fonda called. Nicholson  quit when true Brit director John Schlesinger left to make Yanks  in Britain, passing  the impotent Vietnam war veteran - and an Oscar - to Voight.
  42. Malcolm McDowell, Caligula, 1978.
  43. Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome, 1979.    Producer Michael Douglas' original game plan: Nicholson, Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss.  "But the Kubrick thing was in the works. [The Shining].  He could still have done it but he was floating around.  I love to tease him about it now, boy!"
  44. Roy Scheider, All That Jazz, 1979.      When director Bob Fosse was convinced (by his health) not to try and play his screen self, Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon, was chased and/or avoided by… Nicholson (who could play anything!), Alan Alda, Alan Bates (“too British,” said Fosse), Warren Beatty (keen, but Gideon must not die at the end!), Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss (“afraid of the dancing”), Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (“too old”), Paul Newman (“Dumb of me… a terrible oversight”), Al Pacino, George Segal, Jon Voight. Scheider just grabbed it. “Outrageous, assaulting, melodramatic, very funny, stupid, silly, simplistic, vulgar - a wonderful movie!” Exactly.
  45. Paul Le Mat, Melvin and Howard, 1980.     Jack passed  the scenario to his Goin' South find, Mary Steenburgen. "Here's an example of a great film script."  Indeed. She won an Oscar for it -  in her third film.
  46. Bill Murray, Where The Buffalo Roam, 1980.    Entire concept of the film failed without the obvious star as gonzo journalist Dr Hunter S Thompson - who then talked to Jack about  doing Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
  47. Robert Redford, Brubaker, 1980.    Bob Rafelson was directing so obviously the prison (governer) drama was set for Jack. The fact the director couldn’t deliver  The Star was  among the reasons poor Rafelson  was deep-sixed by  Fox chief Alan Ladd Jr.  Journeyman helmer Stuart Rosenberg finished the ho-hum movie. Jack stuck by Bob for The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1981.
  48. 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: Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, Nicholson, James Caan, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad - and one reserve.
  49. Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark,  1980.
  50. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981.    UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard. From top notchers Nicholson, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (keen… but on making it a totally different character, of course), Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Al Pacino… to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic Forrest, Scott Glenn, Cliff Gorman, Tommy Lee Jones, Raoul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken. Then, in sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch. Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator. And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list, the fading star of Burt Reynolds.

  51. Klaus Kinski, Fitzcarraldo, Germany, 1981.  
    Director Werner Herzog dropped his usual star for “a figure of genuine charm, warmth and humour,” adding “that paranoid schizophrenic [Kinski] never showed a spark of humour in 170 films.” As usual, Kinski called Herzog crazy. “I am Fitzcarraldo. Do what you like - in the end, I’m still him.” And he was. After five weeks’ shooting in Peru, Jason Robards fell ill. “Ill..? I nearly died!” he told me in Cannes.  Herzog tried to entice Nicholson (fully booked) into rescuing Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald and then SOSed “the baddest dude among actors.” Kinski replied: “Fuck you!” Two days later, he opened a bottle of champagne and signed on. As Mick Jagger had no time to re-shoot, his role was cut from the film.

  52. James Cagney, Ragtime, 1981.   When Nicholsn had to retire from being NYPD Commissioner  Rhinelander Waldo,  his Cuckoo’s Nest director, Milos Forman, was left without star. His lightbulb then flickered and he contacted Cagney, who he had got to know in Connecticut, and offered him any part including that of  Evelyn Nesbitt, ha-ha!  Cagney was 81 and in a wheelchair, the real Waldo was 32!! Cagney’s doctors thought a movie would do him good and his  old pal and co-star Pat O’Brien  also came out of retirement. It was their swansong. 

  53. Steve Martin, Pennies From Heaven, 1981.    Among the many rejections in 1981 as he considered a more “biographical approach” to future projects - like his pet subjects: Napoleon and directing something to “put across the ideas of Wilhelm Reich.”

  54. Albert Finney, Annie, 1981.     Very keen on being Daddy Warbucks.  So was Sean Connery.    When the original producer David Begelman quit  due to the scandal of him forging Cliff Robertson’s signature on a cheque, Jack kept the faith and left with him.  Although disliking the Broadway musical, new producer  Ray Stark said: ”This is the film I want on my tombstone.” Hence, Time critic Richard Corliss’ comment: ”Funeral services are being held at a theater near you.”

  55. Louis Gossett Jr,  An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982.    Jack was too expensive and Mandy Pantinkin “too ethnic” for Gunnery Sergeant Foley, “a Southern white guy.” In a flash of (well researched) inspiration, director Taylor Hackford  made the   tough sunuvabitch black - and Lou won an Oscar.

  56. Jacques Perrin, Les quarantièmes rugissants (UK: The Roaring Forties), France, 1982.    Actor-producer Perrin tried Nicholson and Jon Voight. Finally,  to keep his costs down, Perrin  played the UK yachtsman cheating on a round-the-world solo race and killing himself.

  57. Michael Nouri, Flashdance, 1982.    Potential Nick Hurleys were: Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner (runner-up to Nouri), Live Aid creator Bob Geldof, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Burt Reynolds, rocker Gene Simmons, John Travolta… plus such surprises as Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci!   At 36, Nouri was double the age of the flashdancing Jennifer Beals.

  58. Scott Glenn, Personal Best, 1982.   Despite  their  bitter rows during the aborted Two Jakes the year before, writer-director Robert Towne created the UCLAthlethics coach for  Jack - who politely declined.  He had no wish to rate second to Lesbian lovers. And probably didn’t go for his ex-pal Towne’s dialogue: “Who says friendship lasts forever? It wears out like everything else.  Like tyres.”

  59. Dennis Hopper, Rumble Fish, 1983.     Iconic director Francis Coppola called him to be father of Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke.  "I felt  maybe it would be symbolically nice to play the father of this generation of actors - as wild as they are. But... I didn't like the script."  And them other Easy Rider needed to continue his Hollywood comeback...

  60. Darren McGavin, A Christmas Story, 1983.     Now better known as A Christmas Classic… Nicholson loved the script and offered to be The Old Man Parker. MGM kept this news from director Bob Clark as Nicholson’s fee would have doubled the budget! (Jack would never lower his fee for anyone, not even, as he once declared, for his mom). Clark - and, apparently, Nicholson, too - said McGavin was born for the old curmudgeon. 

  61. James  Fox, Anna Pavlova, England-Russia, 1983.    British directing legend Michael Powell had his name cut bythe Kremlin from his final film - about the great Russian ballerina. It took  25 years for  Powell’s Greek-born producer Frixos Constantine, to find enough money to restore  the film  to its original glory, time (five hours) and  credits as The White Swan in 2008. Powell fan Martin Scorsese first met him  at Constantine’s  Shaftesbury Avenue office in London  and offered to appear in the film and persuaded De Niro and Nicholson to participate as Anna’s agent and  husband.  Moscow banned both for their  anti-Commuinist films (The Deer Hunter) or statements.

  62. Michael Douglas, Romancing The Stone, 1985.    Another one Douglas teases him about. With both Nicholson and Clint Eastwood refusing, the producer decided to play it, himself.  Again.

  63. Jeff Goldblum, Into The Night, 1985.     "I like it and I like you," he told the (loud) director John Landis. "But this guy doesn't really do anything. The audience likes the leading man to take action."  As usual, he was right, although  - apparently - none of the 15 directors guesting in the cast were honest enough to say the same to Landis.

  64. Walter Matthau, Pirates, 1985.  
    The 1975 project kept bubbling in the early 80s: Nicholson as Cap'n Red, opposite Dustin Hoffman for director pal Roman Polanski.  "Jack wanted $4m My producer couldn’t live with that. [Actually, Nicholson wanted  $1.25m in 1976]  against 10% of the gross].  And I'm glad he said no. I thought it unfair to the other people, me included.  I worked on the script so long. I invented the story and the character that Jack would play.  People like Jack get to that stage where they're not interested in what they do, just what they'll get."  Sean Penn would hardly agree... William Goldman suggested that casting Matthau was like "doing The Chuck Norris Story  with John Candy." The movie s(t)unk like a stone.

  65. Harrison Ford, Witness, 1985.   Loved the script but there was no director attached  - or not when  Jack was available. So he passed on  the city cop hunting a murder witness in Amish country in what Chicago critic  Robert Ebert called “an electrifying and poignant love story hidden in a murder thriller.” It  had once been an idea for an episode of US TV’s longest-running series, Gunsmoke, 1955-1975.

  66. Kurt Russell, Big Trouble In Little China, 1985.     Once again, the studio preferred Clint or Jack. Director John Carpenter stuck to his choice, despite Russell’s recent string of flops. Result: Carpenter’s biggest turkey.

  67. Michael Caine, Hannah And Her Sisters, 1985.    It was Caine who revealed that Jack supposed to be  Mia Farrow’s husband, falling for her sister. (Understandable, she was played by Barbara Hershey).  “He would have won the Oscar for it,” said Caine. He should know. He did!

  68. Richard Dreyfuss, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 1986.    Director Paul Mazursky met with “a stoned Nicholson” at his Mulholland Drive home.  “Merely sniffing the stuff got me a little high...”  Dreyfuss, even higher in  his day, accepted $600,000 for his comeback.

  69. Mickey Rourke, Angel Heart, 1986.    On reading the script, Rourke described his private dick role as "a tired Nicholson."  Jack preferred Terms of Endearment.  And a  second Oscar.

  70. Robert De Niro Angel Heart, 1986.    He  was already due to be the devil the following year in The Witches of Eastwick.

  71. Gene Hackman, Hoosiers, 1986.     Jack loved the notion of being basketball coach Norman Dale but would not be free for a year. Hackman signed on and Dennis Hopper won an Oscar nomination. He was really back! 

  72. Sean Connery, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-West Germany, 1986.   Nicholson as a monk! Réalisateur Jean-Jacques Annaud was not keen on 007 as Umberto Eco’s medieval monk turned detective.  Columbia Pictures even refused financing if Connery was involved as his post-Bond star was imploding. Naturally, Brando topped Annaud’s further 14 ideas. Six Americans: Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Frederic Forrest, Paul Newman, Roy Scheider; four Brits: Michael Caine, Albert Finney, Ian McKellen, Terence Stamp; plus Canadian Donald Sutherland, French Yves Montand, Irish Richard Harris, Italian Vittorio Gassman and Swedish Max von Sydow. Connery’s reading was the best and his career exploded anew. Two years later, he won his support Oscar for The Untouchables.

  73. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.

  74. Harrison Ford, Mosquito Coast, 1987.    Australian director Peter Weir and his (obvious) first choice were beached when money went out with the tide in 1984.  Of his version, Ford said: "I'm not sure if we cracked it."  They hadn't.

  75. Michael Douglas, Wall Street, 1987.    Can't you just hear him as Gordon Gekko - Alistair Campbell's personal trainer: "Lunch is for wimps."  And: "Greed is right, greed works."  Not forgetting: "When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I'm gonna tear his eyeballs out and I'm gonna suck his fucking skull." 

  76. Kevin Costner, The Untouchables, 1987.     Did not want to be as straight as  Elliott Ness. One LAgent said: “If Jack wanted Canada, some studio boss would buy it, paint it red and park it in his driveway.”

  77. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.
    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 - aka Jack Nicholson? So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant. Well, why not Gittes, himself - Jack Nicholson? No, producer Steven Spielberg could see no further than Harrison Ford. Too expensive! OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis considered Charles Grodin, Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies) and auditioned Peter Renaday. And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud- he would have loved being Valiant. 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. 

  78. Sidney Poitier, Little Nikita, 1988.     Conceived, developed at pre-Puttnam Columbia for Jack, the FBI agent became Poitier's first role for a decade. Didn't help Poitier. Nor David Puttnam. Nor Columbia.

  79. Jeff Bridges, Tucker: A Man And His Dream, 1988.    When director Francis Coppola first tried to make it in 1977.  The  two titans have still never worked together.

  80. Tom Cruise, Rain Man, 1988.    One Cuckoo was enough. Director Barry Levinson called with the wrong role  - Dustin Hoffman’s smart alec brother and minder.

  81. Adam Baldwin, Next of Kin, 1989.  Nicholson, Alec Baldwin (no kin to Adam), Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, John Malkovich, Sean Penn, Ron Perlman, Tim Robbins were seen for mobster Joey Rossellini in the hillbillies v the Mafia re-run of the same UK director John Irvin’s tons better Raw Deal, 1985.

  82. Anthony Quinn, Revenge, 1990.     Friends since being introduced by the Missouri Breaks writer Thomas McGuane, novella-ist Jim Harrison first adapted his 1979 Esquire tale for Jack - as the brutal zillionaire shoving his unfaithful wife into a bordello. “If you want to be a whore, you can be one for the rest of your life.” A dream, heavy, said Jack, and sure, he’d direct as well if that helped get it made… when John Huston withdrew. Jonathan Demme and Sydney Pollack were also keen on the script which Clint Eastwood snapped up - and then swopped for Bird. Co-star Kevin Costner (with whom the young wife had been sparking) wanted to direct, as well. Tony Scott did that job.

  83. Robert Redford, Havana, 1990.   Director Sydney Pollack's first (perfect) choice to partner Jane Fonda in 1978.  Judith Rascoe's script was brewing so long, she thought of it as "the corpse that walked - my zombie project."  Looked that way on-screen.

  84. Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, 1990.    Nicholson had fun (and $60m) from Batman, so why bother with another comic cut? Once Bob Fosse (among others) turned down  directing,  Jack’s buddy  took over both jobs.. “He’s the right height for a movie star,” maintained Nicholson. “I’m too short.”

  85. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.

  86. James Caan, Misery, 1990.     All the A List  shied away - from being beaten up by Kathy Bates.

  87. Bruce Willis,  The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990.    Instead of Jack, director Brian De Palma paid an action star with no following outside of action films, $5m -  that is $4m, more than his main star, Tom Hanks.  To play a British journalist!

  88. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kindergarten Cop, 1990.    Go figure.

  89. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.     An astonishing 37 stars (Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford,  Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.

  90. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.

  91. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.

  92. Bruce Willis, The Last Boy Scout, 1991.   Jack and Mel Gibson proved rather pricey when Shane Black's dicey scenario  had already cost $1.75m.

  93. Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.

  94. James Woods, The Hard Way, 1991.    Director John Badham needed help. He had a script  that would  work  only with indelibly A-List stars.  He  failed to win  any.

  95. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.

  96. Sean Connery, Medicine Man, 1992.     For what was  called  Road Show in 1984.   Jack had been Hollywood director Martin Ritt’s choice for the renegade biochemist living deep in the Amazon rain forests, finding - and then losing - a cancer cure.  A somewhat  Kurtzian  figure, being checked up on by the Marlowesque Cher or Mary Steenburgen or Debra Winger - eventually Lorraine Bracco opposite a pig-tailed Connery. Not their finest hour, Critics were  either 100% for or against the (terrible) John McTiernan movie.

  97. John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire, 1993.    No budget could afford Clint and Jack - but what a great idea from  German film-maker Wolfgang Petersen. One of Clint’s finest films.

  98. Paul Newman, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993. 
     The Coen brothers' first choice - and first refusal. “Sometimes I get flooded with scripts and think: Jesus!  If I do all this, I’ll be working until I’m 65.   And at that age I’m pretty sure people won’t be that interested in me. I don’t  know if I’d be interested.”

  99. Dennis Hopper, Speed, 1993.  Wanted: a villain (Nicholson or Robert De Niro or… ?)  putting a bomb on Bus 2525…  and telling Keanu Reeves to keep driving at  50mph or… boom!  Sorry lads, just has  to be Dennis! ForDie Hard On A Bus

  100. Ben Kingsley, Death and the Maiden, 1994.    Forgetting  his 1985 verbal attack on his pal, director Roman Polanski was now eager to re-match Jack and his ex-lady Anjelica Huston - a coup pulled off tlater that year  by director Sean Penn, masterfully, for The Crossing Guard.

  101. Brad Pitt, Legends of the Fall, 1994.    Jack Pack stalwart, author and scripter Jim Harrison, had a glass eye and enough girth to be mistaken for Nicholson’s bodyguard. Jack  subsidised  Harrison’s writing  but never shot  any of his work until Wolf  in 1994 - ineffectual yet better than the mid-aged Jack trying to be the young Tristan Ludlow in what both Jim ’n’ Jack felt should have  been a much grittier Western saga.  Anthony Hopkins, who played Pitt’s father, was Jack’s age at the time: 56.

  102. Anthony Hopkins, The Road To Wellville, 1994.    First reserve if Hopkins changed his mind about being the eccentric inventor of the corn flake, peanut butter and medical instruments to scrub the body inside and out - Dr John Harvey Kellogg.

  103. John Malkovich, Mary Reilly, 1995.     Four years before, Jack was director-pal Roman Polanski's sole choice as Mary's employer, Dr Henry Jekyll.  Impossible just after Wolf...  Besides he was moving into to interior roles for actor-director Sean Penn.

  104. Nick Nolte, Jefferson In Paris, 1995.    Hey,  a year off means a year off!  

  105. Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1995.  As director Kevin Reynolds rushed through the ripest villains, Jack was ruled out.  Too expensive - for what proved the most expensive film (then) in history, totaling (with prints and advertising) $200m.  Dennis filled in and stole the movie from a waterlogged Kevin Costner. Easily!

  106.  Harvey Keitel, Clockers, 1995.    Martin Scorsese, the director,  wanted who else but Robert De Niro as the cop.  Then,  Scorsese, the producer,  wanted Jack. while  Spike Lee, the new director, wanted John Turturro.

  107. Anthony Hopkins, Nixon, 1995.   
    Director Oliver Stone had two thoughts only for Tricky Dicky: Nicholson or Warren Beatty!    But for  Jack, Jimmy Hoffa was more than enough in the biopic biz... Later  candidates included Gene Hackman, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones,  John Malkovich, Gary Oldman and Robin Williams - and poor John Malkovich, stilling chewing over the script when the Welsh outsider was selected. Hopkins was the right age at 58. "He worked on the accent and the gestures," said writer-director Oliver Stone, "and he became Nixon."  Almost.  (Dan Heyda (Stone’s Trini Cordoza) was Nixon in Dick, 1998).

  108. Bruce Dern, Mulholland Falls, 1996.    "This isn't America.  This is LA..." MGM was alive and well again and asked Jack for a cameo as The Chief.  Jack passed - “give it to Dernsie” - while making some dreadful choices: Man Trouble, Blood and Wine,  Evening Star, Mars Attacks, etc.

  109. Nick Nolte, Mulholland Falls, 1996.    "This isn't America.  This is LA..." MGM was alive and well again and asked Jack for a cameo as The Chief.  Jack passed - “give it to Dernsie” - while making some dreadful choices: Man Trouble, Blood and Wine, Evening Star, Mars Attacks, etc.

  110. Chazz Palminteri, Diabolique, 1996.     When Jack preferred another Bob Rafelson trip, the indifferent  Blood and Wine,  the Warner choices dissipated, like the rotten re-make itself, right down the line to Gabriel Byrne,  Jeremy Irons and  Big Chazz.

  111. John Travolta, Michael, 1996.     Probably the first time anyone who had played the Devil was asked to play an angel - even one who drinks, screws and smells too much! 

  112. Robert De Niro, The Fan, 1996.     An obsessive nutter stalking his baseball hero?   Obviously more Bob than Jack. Instead, he kept the faith with his pals. Like Bob Evans  (as producer, not actor) for The  Two Jakes, and  now a fourth Bob Rafelson outing: Blood and Wine. Neither one a good vintage.

  113. Matthew McConnaughey, Contact, 1997.     The (so-so) film of Carl Sagan’s (better) book did not move him. Everybody and  his wife also had “Jack scripts.”  He even  had a nightmare of his mother coming out of her grave:  “Psst! Come here, son, I want you to have a look at  this script.”

  114. Woody Allen, Deconstructing Harry, 1997.    Woody insisted that  De Niro, Gould, Hoffman and Nicholson  were among the many stars telling him: ‘I’m dying to work with you - I’d do anything.’ Except when he offered them Harrry  “they’re  they’re not available or they can’t work for the pay I’m offering.”   Harry - “always thinking of fucking every woman  I meet” - was a slimeball. Not when  Woody played him.

  115. James Woods, Hercules, 1997.   Many were called - Nicholson, David Bowie, Willem Dafoe. Then, John Lithgow got the Disney gig and recorded it all. Next thing he knew, Jimmy Woods had ad-libbed the voice of Hades to glory with Robin Williams/Aladdin bravura. And made it a growth industry with various video games.

  116. Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, 1998.   One bravura 70s notion had been Nicholson as Hunter S Thompson and Marlon Brando as Dr Gonzo.
 "I tell you what," said Depp, "I'd have watched that movie. I'd still be watching it. Nonstop. God, that would have been amazing!" He was forgetting their lamentable Missouri Breaks, 1976. About as rotten as this Hunter S Tnompson take.
  117. Geoffrey Rush,  Les Miserables, 1998.      Director Roman Polanski was making up to Jacko yet again -  offering him Javert, this time.  But Danish film-maker Bille August made the literally miserable film.

  118. John Travolta, Primary Colors, 1998.    Jack as his golfing buddy, Bill Clinton? Or the thinly disguised version in Time magazine columnist Joe Klein’s novel, depicting a sex scandal of its own. As Jack said about the Monica Lewinksy episode: “What would be the alternative leadership... somebody who doesn’t want  to have sex?”

  119. William Hurt, The  Big Brass Ring,  1998.  
    Orson Welles was trying the impossible in 1976 - to mount a Hollywood movie.  Pal Henry Jaglom was helping. In his 1971 debut, A Safe Place, Jaglom had  directed Jack - and now  asked him to play the gay Texas senator and Presidential hopeful.  Potential investors said Welles needed to get Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds… They all passed. (So did the investors). Jack had no qualms about   playing a closet gay, he simply  refused to lower his $2m salary (it equaled the proposed budget).  “I’d charge my mother my fee!” Some 13 years  after Orson’s death,  Missouri auteur George Hickenlooper adapted the 1982-1987 Welles-Oja Kodar scenarios, with Hurt running for governor of Missouri (hah!) and  colliding  into his past… the aged political mentor that Welles reserved for himself.  Criticised for adapting Welles, Hickenlooper said: “Welles in many respects was the Shakespeare of the American cinema. So, if Welles adapted Shakespeare, why not adapt Welles?”

  120. Hoffman, Jeanne d'Arc  (US: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Ark), France, 1999.  "I’m glad it wasn’t him," said St. Joan, herself, Milla Jovovich. "He’s an incredible actor but it’s Hoffman I want to work with."

  121. George Clooney, Three Kings, 1999.       Bullying director David O Russell never wanted Clooney as Archie Gates. And only agreed (and then got into a fist fight with him) when Nicolas Cage, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman never wanted his script!  Jeff Bridges’ previous film, The Big Lebowski, had flopped and Nick Nolte said he was too old. Idem, apparently, for Nicholson. Although respecting his work, Clooney said he’d never work with Russell again. Their fight had been over Russell’s treatment of an extra, throwing him to the ground. He then foolishly taunted Clooney. “Hit me!” So, he did!

  122. Charlie Sheen, Rated X, TV, 1999.     Before the Estevez brothers made their Showtime version, Sean Penn was due to direct an adaptation of David McCumber’s book about the porn-film-making Mitchell Brothers - starring Nicholson and Robert De Niro as  Artie and Jim.   Sheen agreed to play Artie as long as his brother, Emilio Estevez, directed and played Jim. 

  123. Jim Carrey, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000.     Only time Jack was up for the same role as Eddie Murphy.

  124. James Garner, Space Cowboys, 2000.     
     Imagine the pitch.   Eastwood, Connery and Nicholson.  Story? Who cares!  Jack had told Clint that The Crossing Guard would be his finale in 1995. “Well, he went  on to act in about ten more movies and I went on  to act in or    direct six more. They keep saying Yes to you...” Jack, however, said No to, more or less reprising, Garrett Breedlove.        (Tim Burton couldn’t get them, together, either, for The Hakline Monster).

  125. Tony Goldwyn, The 6th Day, 2000.    Too expensive as the villain, given that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the headliner. "With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and seventy."

  126. Ed Harris, Pollock, 2000.   Harris stuck to his guns and his rights, while throughout  the 80s everyone saw only Jack as Jackson.  From Gerald Ayres, producer of The Last Detail, to Andy Warhol - who cast Jack and Angelica as the alcoholic, manic-depressive painter and his lady Ruth Kligman... without even asking them!

  127. David Ogden Stiers,  The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, 2001.   Too pricey  for even  a  cameo as Zoltan the hypnotist - who can mention  the  magic word  that  turns  Woody Allen’s insurance investigator CW Briggs into a burglar.

  128. Ian Holm, The Emperor's New Clothes, 2001.     Jack announced - appropriately in Paris;  March 7, 1984 -  that he had bought the rights to novelist Simon Leys' novel, The Death of Napoleon, and would direct the film. That was the last heard of it until The Full Monty producer Uberto Pasolini started  his version in Italy on September 11, 2000.  Nicholson  agreed with the Nitzsche and Shaw's view of Napoleon: "He's the strongest, most unique man Western culture ever produced. And he really knew how to make a comeback!"

  129. Robin Williams, One Hour Photo, 2002.       Passed on Sy The Photo Guy,  the ideal employee of every month, secretly obsessed with a young family whose pix he  develops and prints in the titular store.   Enter: Williams - originally booked for the SavMart manager. Sy is among Williams’ top five roles, worthy of more than horror awards. 

  130. Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty, 2002.     Working together for the third time, Jim Carrey and director Tom Shadyac had the same goal - Nicholson to play… God. He passed, Freeman stepped in. Four years later, they co-starred in The Bucket List..

  131. Albert Finney, Big Fish,  2003.  When Spielberg fooled around with the script, he wanted Jack... 

  132. Ewan McGregor, Big Fish,  2003.  So did Tim Burton when he inherited it  - and for both the young and older Edward Bloom, with computer aid.  Tim adored McGregor, who played the young Finney: “He reminds me of Johnny Depp.”  Praise, indeed.

  133. Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa, 2003.    Keen. Yet committed  to something better.  Something’s Gotta Give was  written by auteur Nancy Myers for him and the lady he dubbed “Special K” - Diane Keaton. (And her  first full frontal nude scene  (at age 57) Also passing on the titular Willie were Larry David and Bill Murray.  Jack won his 11th Oscar nomination, surpassing Olivier. His 12th nod for About Schmidt, 2001, placed him one behind Meryl Streep.

  134. Kevin Spacey, Superman Returns, 2005.

  135. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006.   Probably the most obvious choice during some 25 years in Development Hell. Other titular casting also included Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Steve Martin, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most lunatic notions were... Warren Beatty. Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!

  136. Mark Strong, Kick Ass, 2009.   As well as Aaron Johnson as Kick Aas, there was Chole Grace Moretz as a Daddy-Nic-Cage-trained Hit Girl - taking down a crime bosss. The comic-book writer Mark Miller todd The Guardian about sitting in a pub with his writer-diector Matthew Vaughnsat discussing who should be her target. “The first three names were: Pacino, De Niro and Jack Nicholson. Then we realised how physical the part was going to be and decided to go a generation younger.”

  137. Andy Serkis, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, 2009. 
    When he first started developing the film in 1984 - as a live-action movie -  Steven Spielberg had one idea only for Captain Haddock.  And  Nicholson pal Danny De Vito was later booked for Senor Oliveira de Figueira - cut from the finished animation movie shot  in 32 days by Spielberg   March 2009. After which, co-director Peter Jackson supervised the CGI.

  138. Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, 2011.   Oh, Hollywood… Since the musical’s 1985 London opening, suggestions for Jean Valjean went from  the logical - Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline - to the preposterous: Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken.  Plus close pals, rarely rivals, Nicholson and Warren Beatty. However, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman  and Al Pacino were  far too short for the hefty hero who, in a signature scene, has to carry Cosette’s lover, away from the battle of the barricades.  Put it another way, Hollywood’s last Valjean had been Liam Neeson  - 6ft. 4in.  (Jack had been up for Valjean's  nemesis, Inspector Javert, in that 1998  version).

  139. Jesse Eisenberg, The Double,  2012.    Seventeen years earlier,   Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film Dostoievski’s 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 rejected $8m (and Paris) in June 1995. Polanksi  offered  Nicholson the same package as before: a  Paris shoot opposite Isabelle Adjani. Anthony Hopkins had no time, Al  Pacino wasn’t keen, Steve Martin was - but the project collapsed when Adjani stalked followed by Polanski.  Jesse (just 12 during this time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade.

  140. Robert Duvall, The Judge, 2013.    Jack and Tommy Lee Jones were also sought for the titular father of lawyer Robert  Downey Jr - accused of murder just when his son goes home for his mother’s funeral.

  141. Bill Murray,  St Vincent, 2013.   Producer-director Theodore Melfi’s first feature owed a bundle to Takeshi Kitanio’s 1989 Cannes festival entry, Kikujirô no natsu (which I always felt Clint Eastwoopd should have re-tooled).  Inevitably, Jack was Theodore-ex-Ted’s initial thought for the tough curmudgeon looking after a neigbour’s lonely son. Surprise, surprise, the grumpy old bastard has a heart of gold. Probably too much so for Jack’s liking. As for (the perfect) Murray, his one-time co-star Tilda Swinton  said he had “a certain rare animal - snow leopard - quality.  Kinda dangerous as well as exotic.”

  142. Mel Gibson, The Expendables 3, 2013.     Having shown his villainy chops in Batman and The Departed, Nicholson was first offered Conrad Stonebanks. He passed. Easily. As did Gibson, at first, nearly letting Tom Sizemore into the frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Michael Landon,  I Was A Teenage Werewolf, 1956.    "Jack was the wrong type," said producer Herman Cohen.  Like: neither   teen or werewolf?   He waited 37 years and then did his own lycanthropian thing, Wolf  (with director Mike Nichols), based on Jim Harison’s novel, in 1993.
  2. Gene Hackman, Bonnie and Clyde, 1965.
  3. Bruce Dern, The Trip, 1967.   Jack wrote Peter Fonda’s guide for himself, then lost a second role when Roger Corman had more faith in Jack as a writer. (His 1959 acting income came to: $1,900). His original script, said Dern, “was just sensational.”  No hard feelings. When Nicholson called him for King of Marvin Gardens,  Jack said: “Our kingdom has come, Dernsie.” Jack's certainly had.Dernsie's got lost in ensuing shuffles.
  4. Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, 1967.     Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned and sometimes called back (Nicholson certainly) almost every guy of the correct age for the titular Benjamin Braddock.  From Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and  the kid from Shane (De Wilde, now 25 and dead in a Denver road accident at 30) to Robin (Burt Ward, too busy in TV’s Batman)… Plus Keir Dullea, Harrison Ford, Charles Grodin (he won Nichols’ next, Catch 22 instead), George Hamilton, Steve McQueen, Michael Parks, George Peppard. And the prerequisite outsider: MGM pactee turning director, Lee Stanley.
  5. John Cassavetes,Rosemary's Baby, 1968.    Laurence Harvey ached for it. But director Roman Polanski wanted an actor who looked an actor - and even TV-commercialish all-American. Hearing that description, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford backed off. Among those auditioning was "a complete unknown who'd played in some eminently forgettable horror films. For all his exceptional talents, his faintly rakish and sinister appearance disqualified him for the role of an upstanding, clean-cut, conventionally handsome young actor." Polanski was discussing... not John, but Jack!
  6. Franco Nero, Un tranquillo posto di campagna (UK: A Quiet Place in the Country), Italy-France, 1968.    Maestro Elio Petri wanted Jack - didn’t everyone! - and settled for Nero as the burnt out  painter in what Pdtri called an “experimental” psychological horror movie. Nero suggested co-starring with his lover, “la Signorina Redgrave.” He made four films with Vanessa.  Nicholson was already pally with  Bertolucci at this point  and was working, six years later,  with Antonioni. Petri had met Jack and hisearly work (Ride The Whirlwind, The Shooting) on the ‘60s Euro festival circuit. Jack, however,was too busy - giving Head to The Monkees, and replacing Rip Torn in somethng called Easy Rider.
  7. Michael Burns, That Cold Day in the Park, 1969.    Too old, said directorRobertAltman!Poor Jacko. Too old - and notyet a star - at 32!No matter, theEasy Rider bikes were parked around the next corner.
  8. Dennis Hopper, The Last Movie, 1971.   "We had some conversations about it, but Dennis wanted to play the part himself."
  9. Dustin Hoffman, Straw Dogs, 1971.      No fan of movie violence, Hoffman confessed he accepted the milque-toast husband(also refused by Beau Bridges, Stacy Keach, Sidney Poitier) - just for the money.
  10. Robert Fields, The Sporting Club, 1971.     Director Larry Peerce tried hard to interest Jack in this close-up on power, corruption and hypocrisy ina rich man's paradise. The novel was by Thomas McGuane, who wrote Jack’s Missouri Breaks, 1976, and Peerce had directed Goodbye, Columbus, 1969, making a star of Ali McGraw, future wife of Jack Pack-er, producer Robert Evans.

  11. Jon Voight, Deliverance, 1972.     Jack agreed - as long as his neighbour and idol, Brando, played the other role. “He said he despised acting,” said director John Boorman. “Acting was nothing more than mimicry - a bunch of tricks.”Even so, Brandoagreed: “I’ll take whatever you pay Jack.”Great. Except Jack’s agent Sandy Bresler wanted what Warners was paying Redford for Jeremiah Johnson - $500,000.Andthat ruined the budget.
  12. Bruce Dern, King of Marvin Gardens, 1972.      Director Bob Rafelson switched his Staebler siblings - makingNicholson the introvert dee-jay and turning Dernsie into a riff on Jack as the expansive, older bro.
  13. Al Pacino, The Godfather, 1971.
  14. Edward Fox, Day of the Jackal, 1973.      Discussedit with gentlemandirector Fred Zinnemann in London. However,Fred preferred a more anonymous actor, got his way and that,as he would freely confess,seriously underminedthe film’s box-office.
  15. Jason Miller, The Exorcist, 1973.
  16. Robert Redford, The Sting, 1973.     "I like it... the period setting, the whole project, and I know it will be commercial.But I need to put my energies into a movie that really needs them. I need to take a risk."And that was Billy "Bad Ass" Buddusky inThe Last Detail, sitting upon a Columbia shelf until society caughtuphis and Robert Towne’s "bad language." Result: Best Actor at Cannes and the UK Oscar. "But not getting the Academy Award hurt real bad.That was my best role.How often does one like that come along,one that fits you?"Oh, at least twice more...
  17. Ryan O'Neal, Paper Moon, 1973.      Director Peter Bogdanovich always cast what he saw as versions of himself - except he was never Jack-cool. Paramount production chief Robert Evans suggested Jack (or Warren Beatty) when trying to nix O'Neal... who had been sleeping with Mrs Evans, Ali MacGraw.

  18. Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby.
    “The only really good role I’ve rejected - and I could kill myself - was Jay Gatsby... Since I was 18,            people said I should do Gatsby. I didn’t really go after the part for well, personal reasons I don’t want printed.” 
     
    19 >> Sam Waterston, The Great Gatsby, 1973.     Jack’s screenwriter pal, Robert Towne,recalled being on his tennis court when Paramount chief Robert Evans tried totalkNicholson into playing Nick Carraway.Jack said:“Sure, I’d be happy to - as long as you re-title the movie Nick & Jay.Paul Newman, The Towering Inferno, 1974.Suggested by Steve McQueen as someone strong enough to hold his own against him.
  19. Michael Lonsdale, India Song, France, 1975.   French cinematographer Bruno Nuytten said Jack was approached by novelist Marguerite Duras to take the lead in this version of her book, The Vice-Consul..
  20. Paul Newman, Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull'sHistory Lesson, 1976.Revered director Robert Altman saw Bill Cody as the first movie star - "the first totally manufactured American hero and that's why we need a movie star."
     
  21. Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1976.     
    Each director saw the titular Monroe Stahr differently:  Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Al Pacino.  Jack simply cameoed union leader Brimmer. Instead of paying him his cut of the action, producer Sam Spiegel offered  something from his  art collection. As Jack’s manager, Sandy Bressler said   he didn’t want any painting, “but… a complete accounting of the gross for the movie… not a guestimate...” “Jack won’t sue me,” said Sam.   But he did! 

  22. David Carradine, Bound For Glory, 1976.     Hal Ashby’s firstcholce - singer Tim Buckley ODed. So Ashby sentfor his star of his abrasive Last Detailbut Jack didn’t see himself as Woody Guthrie and suggested his true idol - Bob Dylan. Nicholson was more keen onanotherfilm that Ashby was being pushed to make - a book that Nicholson had tried to option at age 26 in 1963. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
  23. Donald Sutherland,Casanova, 1976.    In one year he'd passed on Buffalo Bill, Monroe Stahr, Woody Guthrie and now Giacomo... As per usual, maestro Federico Fellini played with the idea of superstars - Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, Al Pacino, even Robert Redford!! -before settling for a more parochial venture with, maybe, Alberto Sordi, Gian Maria Volonte or the unknown cabaret performer Tom Deal. Ultimately, it was “Donaldino.” He had sharedPaul Mazursky’s , Alex in Wonderland, 1970, with Fellini in Hollywood and they metagain on the set of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 in 1975.
  24. Keith Carradine, Lumière, France, 1976.     Jeanne Moreau wanted Jack for her directing debut, until "dreaming over an early Gary Cooper," she saw a Carradine film and he cancelled a recording session to make the film. He fit the bill of "a very tall, lovely young man," the oppositeof the French industry's usual "small, tiny, darkcreatures." Jeanne’s friend("never mylover"), realisateur Louis Malle, then chose Carradine for Pretty Baby.
  25. Bruce Dern, Family Plot, 1976.    Because of a little something called One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, he hadto miss what proved Alfred Hitchcock’s last hurrah.Hitch had first (and oddly) paired Nicholson with... Liza Minnelli. Jack suggested his pal, Dernsie.
  26. Dennis Hopper, Tracks, 1976. Director Henry Jaglom wrote it for Jack and the spaced-out Vietnam vet escorting a coffin  home was still called Jack when Dennis played it - in  his Hollywood comeback after eight years away imbibing every illegal substance known to man, man. Jaglom insisted he wrote Nicholson’s  famous Five Easy Pieces diner explosion - “and hold it between your knees” – for this film! ” (Based on a similar incident when Jack couldn’t order wheat toast  at the LA patisserie, Pupi’s). Carole Eastman,  who wrote Five Easy Pieces, says the opposite, of course. And, anyway, Pieces director Bob Rafelson thinks he wrote it.  “Rashomon,” said Jaglom.
  27. Robert De Niro, Novocento/1900, Italy,1976. In need of an US star, Italian maestro Bernardo Bertolucci’s first thought for the artistocratic Alfredo was his pal Jack - until seeing De Niro working with Francis Coppola on The Godfather: Part II.
  28. Martin Sheen,Apocalypse Now, 1976.

  29. Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976.  For once, Spielberg felt he needed an A star: Hackman, Hoffman or McQueen. Jack's agent, Sandy Bresler, told co-producer Julia Phillips: "He didn't want to fight the effectsbuthe'd sure take points anytime. He's saying: It's a hit!" Not so worried about the Mothership, Dreyfuss agreed to $500,000 and five gross points.
  30. Richard Burton, Equus, 1977.    Burton buried his rivals by going back on Broadway in the role, to prove he could still cut it. Still didn't net him an Oscar. Nothing ever did - from seven nominations.
  31. Roy Scheider, Sorcerer, 1977.    For his awful mess of re-treading theFrench classic, Wages of Fear, 1953, US director William Friedkin regretted not trying to agree to Steve McQueen’s stipulations. Next choices, Clint Eastwood and Nicholson had no interest in working abroad. Or, indeed with Friedkin, whokindly stated that Scheider was his worst casting decision. "He’s a second or third banana, not a star." Rather like Friedkin...
  32. Richard Burton, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, 1976.
  33. Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl, 1977.    "The man is undirectable," said stage-screen director Mike Nichols after his notorious run-in with Robert De Niro(far too fresh in from Taxi Driver) on the Neil Simon comedy that started out as Bogart Slept Here - eventually being respun fromMarsha Mason's angle. The Dreyfuss angle wontheOscar
  34. Anthony Hopkins, Magic, 1978.    Producer Joe Levine wanted A Star. Jack said fine, but you'll have to wait for a few months. He was Goin' South (wasn't he though!)-and directing again.
  35. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1978.Jill-of-all-trades Polly Platt has never been able to see the film and still bristles at any mention of French realisateur Louis Malle. He was furious with her for "taking over the film" by contacting Nicholson - "a very bad choice"! - and so, she argued, Malle wrecked her script, by using Carradine as the photographer Bellocq."I felt like the little girl.Bought, sold, screwed!"
  36. Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978.      His Last Detail director Hal Ashby called in October 1976.Leading lady Jane Fonda called. Nicholsonquit when true Brit director John Schlesinger left to make Yanksin Britain, passingthe impotent Vietnam war veteran - and an Oscar - to Voight.
  37. Malcolm McDowell, Caligula, 1978.
  38. Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome, 1979.   Producer Michael Douglas' original game plan: Nicholson, Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss."But the Kubrick thing was in the works. [The Shining].He could still have done it but he was floating around.I love to tease him about it now, boy!"

  39. Paul Le Mat, Melvin and Howard, 1980.Jack passedthe scenario to his Goin' South find, Mary Steenburgen. "Here's an example of a great film script."Indeed. She won an Oscar for it -in her third film.
  40. Bill Murray, Where The Buffalo Roam, 1980.Entire concept of the film failed without the obvious star as gonzo journalist Dr Hunter S Thompson - who then talked to Jack aboutdoing Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
  41. Robert Redford, Brubaker, 1980.     Bob Rafelsonwas directing so obviously the prison (governer) drama was set for Jack. The fact the director couldn’t deliverThe Star wasamong the reasons poor Rafelsonwas deep-sixed byFox chief Alan Ladd Jr.Journeyman helmer Stuart Rosenberg finished the ho-hum movie. Jack stuck by Bob for The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1981.
  42. Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark,1980.
  43. Steve Martin, Pennies From Heaven, 1981.     Among the many rejections in 1981 as he considered a more “biographical approach” to future projects - like his pet subjects: Napoleon and directing something to “put across the ideas of Wilhelm Reich.”
  44. Albert Finney, Annie, 1981.When the original producer David Begelman quitdue to the scandal of him forging Cliff Robertson’s signature on a cheque, Jack kept the faith and left with him.Although disliking the Broadway musical, new producerRay Stark said: ”This is the film I want on my tombstone.” Hence, Time critic Richard Corliss’ comment: ”Funeral services are being held at a theater near you.”
  45. Louis Gossett Jr,An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982.     Jack was too expensive and Mandy Pantinkin “too ethnic” for Gunnery Sergeant Foley, “a Southern white guy.” In a flash of (well researched) inspiration, director Taylor Hackfordmade the tough sunuvabitch black - and Lou won an Oscar.
  46. Jacques Perrin, Les quarantièmes rugissants (UK: The Roaring Forties), France, 1982. Actor-producer Perrin tried Nicholson and Jon Voight. Finally,to keep his costs down, Perrinplayed the UK yachtsman cheating on a round-the-world solo race and killing himself.
  47. Albert Finney, Annie, 1982.       Very keen on being Daddy Warbucks.So was Sean Connery.
  48. Scott Glenn, Personal Best, 1982.Despitetheirbitter rows during the aborted Two Jakes the year before, writer-director Robert Towne created the UCLAthlethics coach forJack - who politely declined.He had no wish to rate second to Lesbian lovers. And probably didn’t go for his ex-pal Towne’s dialogue: “Who says friendship lasts forever? It wears out like everything else.Like tyres.”

  49. Dennis Hopper, Rumble Fish, 1983.  Iconic director Francis Coppola called him to be father of Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke."I feltmaybe it would be symbolically nice to play the father of this generation of actors - as wild as they are. But... I didn't like the script."And them other Easy Rider needed to continue his Hollywood comeback...
  50. Darren McGavin, A Christmas Story, 1983.Difficult to imagine Jack in the film thatbegat TV’sWonder Years...
  51. James Fox, Anna Pavlova, England-Russia, 1983.  British directing legend Michael Powell had his name cut bythe Kremlin from his final film - about the great Russian ballerina. It took25 years forPowell’s Greek-born producer Frixos Constantine, to find enough money to restorethe filmto its original glory, time (five hours) andcredits as The White Swan in 2008. Powell fan Martin Scorsese first met himat Constantine’sShaftesbury Avenue office in Londonand offered to appear in the film and persuaded De Niro and Nicholson to participate as Anna’s agent andhusband.Moscow banned both for theiranti-Commuinist films (The Deer Hunter) or statements.
  52. Michael Douglas, Romancing The Stone, 1985.     Another one Douglas teases him about. With both Nicholson and Clint Eastwood refusing, the producer decided to play it, himself.Again.
  53. Jeff Goldblum, Into The Night, 1985."I like it and I like you," he told the (loud) director John Landis. "But this guy doesn't really do anything. The audience likes the leading man to take action."As usual, he was right, although- apparently - none of the 15 directors guesting in the cast were honest enough to say the same to Landis.

  54. Walter Matthau, Pirates, 1985.
    The 1975 project kept bubbling in the early 80s: Nicholson as Cap'n Red, co-starring his director Roman Polanski(instead of Dustin Hoffman)."Jack wanted $4m My producer couldn't live with that. [Actually $1.25m in 1976,  against  10% of the gross] . And I'm glad he said no. I thought it unfair to the other people, me included. I worked on the script so   long. I invented the story and the character that Jack would play. People like Jack get to that stage where they're not interested in what they do, just what they'll get." Sean Penn would hardly agree... William Goldman suggested that casting Matthau was like "doing The Chuck Norris Story with John Candy." The movie s(t)unk like a stone.

  55. Harrison Ford, Witness, 1985.    Loved the script but there was no director attached- or not whenJack was available. So he passed onthe city cop hunting a murder witness in Amish country in what Chicago criticRobert Ebert called “an electrifying and poignant love story hidden in a murder thriller.” It had once been an idea for an episode of US TV’s longest-running series, Gunsmoke, 1955-75.
  56. Michael Caine, Hannah And Her Sisters, 1985.It was Caine who revealed that Jack supposed to beMia Farrow’s husband, falling for her sister. (Understandable, she was played by Barbara Hershey).“He would have won the Oscar for it,” said Caine. He should know. He did!
  57. Richard Dreyfuss, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 1986.      Director Paul Mazursky met with “a stoned Nicholson” at his Mulholland Drive home.“Merely sniffing the stuff got me a little high...”Dreyfuss, even higher inhis day, accepted $600,000 for his comeback.
  58. Mickey Rourke, Angel Heart, 1986.On reading the script, Rourke described his private dick role as "a tired Nicholson."Jack preferred Terms of Endearment(and asecond Oscar) and he was the devil (De Niro’s role) the following year in The Witchesof Eastwick.

  59. Robert De Niro Angel Heart, 1986.And he was already due to be the devil the following year in The Witchesof Eastwick
  60. Gene Hackman, Hoosiers, 1986.Jack loved the notion of being basketball coach Norman Dale but would not be free for a year. Hackman signed on and Dennis Hopper won an Oscar nomination. He was really back!
  61. Kurt Russell, Big Trouble In Little China, 1986. Once again, the studio (and John Carpenter, if truth be told) preferred Clint or Jack.
  62. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  63. Harrison Ford, Mosquito Coast, 1987.    Australian director Peter Weir and his (obvious) first choice were beached when money went out with the tide in 1984.Of his version, Ford said: "I'm not sure if we cracked it."They hadn't.
  64. Michael Douglas, Wall Street, 1987.     Can't you just hear him as Gordon Gekko - Alistair Campbell's personal trainer: "Lunch is for wimps."And: "Greed is right, greed works."Not forgetting: "When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I'm gonna tear his eyeballs out and I'm gonna suck his fucking skull."
  65. Kevin Costner, The Untouchables, 1987.Did not want to be as straight asElliott Ness. One LAgent said: “If Jack wanted Canada, some studio boss would buy it, paint it red and park it in his driveway.”
  66. Sidney Poitier, Little Nikita, 1988.Conceived, developed at pre-Puttnam Columbia for Jack, the FBI agent became Poitier's first role for a decade. Didn't help Poitier. Nor David Puttnam. Nor Columbia.
  67. Jeff Bridges, Tucker: A Man And His Dream, 1988.     When director Francis Coppola first tried to make it in 1977.Thetwo titans have still never worked ensemble.
  68. Tom Cruise, Rain Man, 1988.     One Cuckoo was enough. Director Barry Levinson called with the wrong role- Dustin Hoffman’s smart alec brother and minder.

  69. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988.     Jack was considered for private eye Eddie Valiant. Or, rather for Jake Gittes -writers Jeffrey Price and Peter S Seaman were inspired by Chinatown, 1974.
  70. Robert Redford, Havana, 1990.Director Sydney Pollack's first (perfect) choice to partner Jane Fonda in 1978.Judith Rascoe's script was brewing so long, she thought of it as "the corpse that walked - my zombie project."Looked that way on-screen.
  71. Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, 1990.     Nicholson had fun (and $60m) from Batman, so why bother with another comic cut? Once Bob Fosse (among others) turned downdirecting,Jack’s buddytook over both jobs.
  72. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  73. Kevin Costner, Revenge, 1990.     Friends since being introduced by the Missouri Breaks writer Thomas McGuane, novella-ist Jim Harrison first adapted his 1979 Esquire tale for Jack - with JohnHuston, then Jack, himself, directing. Jonathan Demme and Sydney Pollack were also keen on the script which Clint Eastwood snapped up - and then swopped for Bird.
  74. James Caan, Misery, 1990.All the A Listshied away - from being beaten up by Kathy Bates.
  75. Bruce Willis,The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990.   Instead of Jack, director Brian De Palma paid an action star with no following outside of action films, $5m -that is $4m, more than his main star, Tom Hanks.To play a British journalist!
  76. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kindergarten Cop, 1990.     Go figure.
  77. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.      An astonishing 37 stars (Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford,Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
  78. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.
  79. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  80. Bruce Willis, The Last Boy Scout, 1991.Jack and Mel Gibson proved rather pricey when Shane Black's dicey scenariohad already cost $1.75m.
  81. Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
  82. James Woods, The Hard Way, 1991.     Director John Badham needed help. He had a scriptthat wouldworkonly with indelibly A-List stars.Hefailed to winany.
  83. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  84. Sean Connery, Medicine Man, 1992.     For what wascalledRoad Show in 1984.Jack had been Hollywood director Martin Ritt’s choice for the renegade biochemist living deep in the Amazon rain forests, finding - and then losing - a cancer cure.A somewhatKurtzianfigure, being checked up on by the Marlowesque Cher or Mary Steenburgen or Debra Winger - eventually Lorraine Bracco opposite a pig-tailed Connery. Not their finest hour, Critics wereeither 100% for or against the (terrible) John McTiernan movie.

  85. Paul Newman, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993.
    The Coen brothers' first choice - and their  first refusal. “Sometimes I get flooded with scripts and think: Jesus!
    If I do all this, I’ll be working until I’m 65. And at that age I’m pretty sure people won’t be that interested in me. I don’t know if I’d be interested.”

  86. John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire, 1993.   No budget could afford Clint and Jack - but what a great idea fromGerman film-maker Wolfgang Petersen.  One of Clint’s finest films.
  87. Ben Kingsley, Death and the Maiden, 1994.     Forgetting  his 1985 verbal attack on his pal, director Roman Polanski was now eager to re-match Jack and his ex-lady Anjelica Huston - a coup pulled off tlater that year  by director Sean Penn, masterfully, for The Crossing Guard.
  88. Brad Pitt, Legends of the Fall, 1994.Jack Pack stalwart, author and scripter Jim Harrison, had a glass eye and enough girth to be mistaken for Nicholson’s bodyguard. JacksubsidisedHarrison’s writingbut never shotany of his work until Wolfin 1994 - ineffectual yet better than the mid-aged Jack trying to be the young Tristan Ludlow in what both Jim ’n’ Jack felt should havebeen a much grittier Western saga.Anthony Hopkins, who played Pitt’s father, was Jack’s age at the time: 56.
  89. Anthony Hopkins, The Road To Wellville, 1994.    First reserve if Hopkins changed his mind about being the eccentric inventor of the corn flake, peanut butter and medical instruments to scrub the body inside and out - Dr John Harvey Kellogg.
  90. John Malkovich, Mary Reilly, 1995.Four years before, Jack was director-pal Roman Polanski's sole choice as Mary's employer, Dr Henry Jekyll.Impossible just after Wolf...Besides he was moving into to interior roles for actor-director Sean Penn.
  91. Nick Nolte, Jefferson In Paris, 1995.Hey,a year off means a year off!
  92. Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1995.     As director Kevin Reynolds rushed through the ripest villains, Jack was ruled out.Too expensive - for what proved the most expensive film (then) in history, totaling (with prints and advertising) $200m.Dennis filled in and stole the movie from a waterlogged Kevin Costner. Easily!
  93. Harvey Keitel, Clockers, 1995.    Martin Scorsese, the director,wanted who else but Robert De Niro as the cop.Then,Scorsese, the producer,wanted Jack. whileSpike Lee, the new director, wanted John Turturro.
  94. Anthony Hopkins, Nixon, 1995.   Director Oliver Stone had two thoughts only for Tricky Dicky: Warren Beatty or Jack Nicholson!    But for  Jack, Jimmy Hoffa was more than enough in the biopic biz... Later  candidates included Tom Hanks, Robin Williams - and poor John Malkovich, stilling chewing over the script when the Welsh outsider was selected. Hopkins was the right age at 58. "He worked on the accent and the gestures," said writer-director Oliver Stone, "and he became Nixon."Almost.
  95. Bruce Dern, Mulholland Falls, 1996.    "This isn't America.This is LA..." MGM was alive and well again and asked Jack for a cameo as The Chief.Jack passed - “give it to Dernsie.”
  96. Nick Nolte, Mulholland Falls, 1996.    Her passed... while making some dreadful choices: Man Trouble, Blood and Wine, Evening Star, Mars Attacks, etc.
  97. Chazz Palminteri, Diabolique, 1996. When Jack preferred another Bob Rafelson trip, the indifferentBlood and Wine,the Warner choices dissipated, like the rotten re-make itself, right down the line to Gabriel Byrne,Jeremy Irons andBig Chazz.
  98. John Travolta, Michael, 1996.     Probably the first time anyone who had played the Devil was asked to play an angel - even one who drinks, screws and smells too much!

  99. Robert De Niro, The Fan, 1996.     An obsessive nutter stalking his baseball hero?Obviously more Bob than Jack. Instead, he kept the faith with his pals. Like Bob Evans(as producer, not actor) for TheTwo Jakes, andnow a fourth Bob Rafelson outing: Blood and Wine. Neither one a good vintage.
  100. Matthew McConnaughey, Contact, 1997.    The (so-so) film of Carl Sagan’s (better) book did not move him. Everybody andhis wife also had “Jack scripts.”He evenhad a nightmare of his mother coming out of her grave:“Psst! Come here, son, I want you to have a look atthis script.”
  101. Woody Allen, Deconstructing Harry, 1997.    Woody insisted thatDe Niro, Gould, Hoffman and Nicholsonwere among the many stars telling him: ‘I’m dying to work with you - I’d do anything.’ Except when he offered them Harrry“they’rethey’re not available or they can’t work for the pay I’m offering.”Harry - “always thinking of fucking every womanI meet” - was a slimeball. Not whenWoody played him.
  102. James Woods, Hercules, 1997.    John Lithgow and Nicholson came, but Woods conqueredall, basically ad-libbing the rapid-fire voice of Hades. And made it a growth industry with various video games.
  103. Geoffrey Rush,Les Miserables, 1998.Director Roman Polanski was making up to Jacko yet again -offering him Javert, this time.But Danish film-maker Bille August made the literally miserable film.
  104. John Travolta, Primary Colors, 1998. Jack as his golfing buddy, Bill Clinton? Or the thinly disguised version in Time magazine columnist Joe Klein’s novel, depicting a sex scandal of its own. As Jack said about the Monica Lewinksy episode: “What would be the alternative leadership... somebody who doesn’t want to have sex?”
  105. Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, 1998. One bravura 70s notion had been Nicholson asHunter S Thompson and Marlon Brando as Dr Gonzo.
 "I tell you what," said Depp, "I'd have watched that movie. I'd still be watching it. Nonstop. God, that would have been amazing!" He was forgetting their lamentableMissouri Breaks, 1976.

  106. William Hurt, The Big Brass Ring, 1999.

    Orson Welles was trying the impossible in 1976 - to mount a Hollywood movie.  Pal Henry Jaglom was helping. In his 1971 debut, A Safe Place, Jaglom had  directed Jack - and now  asked him to play the gay Texas senator and Presidential hopeful.  Potential investors said Welles needed to get Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds… They all passed. (So did the investors). Jack had no qualms about   playing a closet gay, he simply  refused to lower his $2m salary (it equaled the proposed budget). “I’d charge my mother my fee!” Some 13 years  after Orson’s death,  Missouri auteurGeorge Hickenlooper adapted the 1982-1987 Welles-Oja Kodar scenarios, with Hurt running for governor of Missouri (hah!) and  colliding  into his past… the aged political mentor that Welles reserved for himself.  Criticised for adapting Welles, Hickenlooper said: Welles in many respects was the Shakespeare of the American cinema. So, if Welles adapted Shakespeare, why not adapt Welles?

  107. Dustin Hoffman, Jeanne d'Arc(US: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Ark), France, 1999.    "I’m glad it wasn’t him," said St. Joan, herself, Milla Jovovich. "He’s an incredible actor but it’s Hoffman I want to work with."
  108. George Clooney, Three Kings, 1999.    Helmer David O Russell needed anger management therapy even morethan Nicholson. . And with Jacko aboard,Russell would have landed on his ass more than once - judging by theway he treated Clooney & Co.
  109. Charlie Sheen, Rated X, TV, 1999.   Before the Estevez brothers made their Showtime version, Sean Penn was due to direct an adaptation of David McCumber’s book about the porn-film-making Mitchell Brothers - starring Nicholson and Robert De Niro asArtie and Jim.Sheen agreed to play Artie as long as his brother, Emilio Estevez, directed and played Jim.
  110. Jim Carrey, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000.    Only time Jack was up for the same role as Eddie Murphy.
  111. James Garner, Space Cowboys, 2000.    Not even Clint could make Clint and Jack happen!Imagine the concept: Eastwood, Connery, Nicholson.Story? Who cares! Jack had told Clint that The Crossing Guard would be his finale in 1995. “Well, he wenton to act in about ten more movies and I went onto act in or direct six more. They keep saying Yes to you...” Jack, however, said No to, more or less reprising, Garrett Breedlove.
  112. Tony Goldwyn, The 6th Day, 2000.Too expensive as the villain, given that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the headliner. "With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and seventy."
  113. Ed Harris, Pollock, 2000.    Harris stuck to his guns and his rights, while throughoutthe 80s everyone saw only Jack as Jackson.From Gerald Ayres, producer of The Last Detail, to Andy Warhol - who cast Jack and Angelica as the alcoholic, manic-depressive painter and his lady Ruth Kligman... without even asking them!
  114. David Ogden Stiers, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, 2001.    Too priceyfor evenacameo as Zoltan the hypnotist - who can mentionthemagic wordthatturnsWoody Allen’s insurance investigator CW Briggs into a burglar.
  115. Ian Holm, The Emperor's New Clothes, 2001.    Jack announced - appropriately in Paris, March 7, 1984 - that he had bought the rights to novelist Simon Leys' novel, The Death of Napoleon, and would direct the film. That was the last heard of it until The Full Monty producer Uberto Pasolini started his version in Italy on September 11, 2000.Nicholsonagreed with the Nitzsche and Shaw's view of Napoleon: "He's the strongest, most unique man Western culture ever produced. And he really knew how to make a comeback!"
  116. Robin Williams, One Hour Photo, 2002.     Passed on Sy The Photo Guy,  the ideal employee of every month, secretly obsessed with a young family whose pix he  develops and prints in the tutular store.   Enter: Williams - originally booked for the SavMart manager. Sy is among Williams’ top five roles, worthy of more than horror awards. 
  117. Albert Finney, Big Fish, 2003.     In the mix way back when Steven Spielberg was planning to film the Daniel Wallace novel.
  118. Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa, 2003.    Keen. Yet committed  to something better.  Something’s Gotta Give was  written by auteur Nancy Myers for him and the lady he dubbed Special K- Diane Keaton. (And her first full frontal nude scene  (at age 57) Also passing on the titular Willie were Larry David and Bill Murray. Jack won his 11th Oscar nomination, surpassing Olivier. His 12th nod for About Schmidt, 2001, placed him one behind Meryl Streep.

  119. Kevin Spacey, Superman Returns, 2005.
  120. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006.   Probably the most obvious choice during some25 yearsin Development Hell.Other titular casting also included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas,Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most lunaticnotions were...Warren Beatty. Harrison Ford andRobert Redford!

  121. Andy Serkis, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, 2009.
    When he first started developing the film in 1984 Spielberg had one idea only for Captain Haddock. And  Nicholson pal Danny De Vito was later booked for Senor Oliveira de Figueira - cut from the finished animation movie shot  in 32 days by Spielberg   March 2009. After which, co-director Peter Jackson supervised the CGI.

  122. Bruce Dern, Nebraska, 2012.Excepting Clooney and Nicholson, Nebraskan director Alexander Payne had a phobia with(some say, an hostility toward) casting stars. Not this time… While flirting with Bryan Cranston, the two Roberts (Duvall and Forster) plus, naturally, Nicholson, Payne was really wooing Hackman back into movies - the perfect crotchety alcoholic who thinks he’s won a sweepstake.But no, retired is what it said! Dernsie said itwas a relief not to be playing “some piece of piece of shit who wants to blow up the Superbowl.” Result: He was voted the 2013 Cannes festival Best Actorby Steven Spielberg’s jury.
  123. Jesse Eisenberg, The Double, 2012. Seventeen years earlier,Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film Dostoievski’s taleof aman faced with his doppleganger and total opposite: confident, charismatic, good with women. (Last made by Bertolucci as Partner, 1968). John Travolta rejected $8m (and Paris) in June 1995. Polanksi offered Nicholson the same package as before: aParis shoot opposite Isabelle Adjani. Anthony Hopkins had no time, AlPacino wasn’t keen, Steve Martin was - but the project collapsed when Adjani stalked followed by Polanski.Jesse (just 12 during this time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade.

    124  >> Bill Murray,  St Vincent, 2013.   Producer-director Theodore Melfi’s first feature owed a bundle to Takeshi Kitanio’s 1989 Cannes festival entry, Kikujirô no natsu (which I always felt Clint Eastwoopd should have re-tooled).  Inevitably, Jack was Theodore-ex-Ted’s initial thought for the tough curmudgeon looking after a neigbour’s lonely son. Surprise, surprise, the grumpy old bastard has a heart of gold. Probably too much so for Jack’s liking. As for (the perfect) Murray, his one-time co-star Tilda Swinton  said he had “a certain rare animal - snow leopard - quality.  Kinda dangerous as well as exotic.”

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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