- Tim Roth, The Bounty, 1984. “When I saw Malcolm McDowelll in Raging Moon (1969), that was it. It was like a moment of clarity. ‘This is it.’ A lightning bolt!” Yet instead of mutinying with Mel Gibson in the South Seas, Gary still preferred £130 a week in a small Chesterfield production of Entertaining Mr Sloane, written by Oldman’s later screen persona, Joe Orton.
- Eric Roberts, Final Analysis, 1992. Withdrew when his marriage to the higher billed Uma Thurman fell apart.
- Tim Curry,The Three Musketeers, 1993. First choice for Cardinal Richelieu was, according to Colin Firth: “A candidate for the title of Greatest Living Actor.”
- John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Tim Roth, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Colin Friels, A Good Man In Africa, 1994. When Oldman quit, Australian director Bruce Beresford called up a mate from down-under opposite two of the best bald pates in the business,those of Sean Connery and Lou Gossett Jr
- Jeff Daniels, Dumb and Dumber, 1994. The sadsacks Harold and Lloyd (!) were first due to be Oldman and Nicolas Cage.
- Wesley Snipes, To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, 1994. Tested in drag but passed on UK director Beeban Kidron’s offer, having suffered enough with heavy make-up sessions on Coppola's Dracula.
- Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1994. The Kevins (Costner and director Reynolds) tried all the usual baddies: Gary Busey, James Caan, Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L Jackson. Universal offered Oldman $2.5m (a big jump from his $750,000 Dracula cheque) but he was given the same for The Scarlet Letter, the year’s other major flop.. (Actually, Costner wanted to play both hero and villain!).
David Thewlis, The Island Of Dr Moreau, 1995. Like everyone else, Oldman wanted to work with Marlon Brando… Problem was, Oldman was in rehab. So, Thewlis (and not Oldman, James Spader, Bruce Willis or James Woods) replaced Morrow who quit when the director Richard Stanley was sacked after a few days. (Numbers differ). Then, Val Kilmer and Bruce Willis found themselves in divorce battles. Brando’s daughter, Cheynne, committed suicide. And without new helmer John Frankenheimer knowing it, Stanley had joined the extras... No wonder Brando welcomed Thewlis by saying: “Go home, David. This is not a good film to work on. It is cursed.” Thewlis could say much more about the making of the farce - but feared such honesty would kill his career.
Eric Bogosian, Under Siege 2, 1995. One baddy too many...
Anthony Hopkins, Nixon, 1995. Auteur Oliver Stone’s ideas for Tricky Dicky included Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones, John Malkovich, Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams - and Oldman, who had been Stone’s Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, 1990. Hopkins was taking his time. “What,” Stone asked him, “do you think of Gary Oldman?” “Fuck it,” said Hopkins, “I'm gonna do it.”
- Jeff Bridges, White Squall, 1996. Anthony Hopkins passed onbeing sea-sick upon the oceans of eight countries.
- Val Kilmer, The Island of Dr Moreau, 1997. Sometimes rehab comes in useful - to avoid crap like this.
- Jim Carrey, The Truman Show, 1997. Gary agreed to appear in a test to help young Kiwi scenarist Andrew Nicol convince producer Scott Rudin that he should direct - and not other such interested parties as Tim Burton, Rob Reiner, Steven Spielberg.
- David Thornton, Unhook The Stars, France, 1996. Now it's Nick Cassavetes directing... This project announced at Cannes, 1994, was to be the first of eight offerings from the Laura Pels/Peter Bogdanovich Corp. It wasn't. Finally, Gérard Depardieu produced it, instead. For the sheer pleasure of working with the Nick's mother, John's widow: Gena Rowlands.
- Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix, 1998. Everyone passed on Morpheus... Oldman, Yun-Fat Chow, Russell Crowe, Samuel L Jackson. Only Fishburne saw the potential. Far from financial at the time.
- Jim Carrey, The Truman Show, 1998. Writer-director Andrew Niccol’s choice for Truman Burbank, who has no idea that his life is, in fact, a TV show. But Peter Weir finally made the film about a tele-reality series so terrifying that it has not yet been copied in the real world. But… any day now…
- Mark Rylance, Intimacy, 2001. French realisateur Patrice Chereau's first film in English was just too intimate for Oldman - an explicit (three fellatic seconds) Last Tango In London.
- Tim Roth, Planet of the Apes, 2001. Very keen, but “they're too cheap, won't pay correct.” Roth (foolishly) gave up Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to play gorilla General Thade. “They” obviously paid better for the second episode of the new reboot, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 2013, which Oldman headlined as Dreyfus, leader of the remaining humans.
- James Franco, James Dean, TV, 2001. In the Jimmy mix with Johnny Depp, Brendan Fraser, Edward Furlong and Brad Pitt. Other actors played… Pier Angeli, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Julie Harris, Hedda Hopper, Rock Hudson, Louis Jourdan, Elia Kazan, Raymond Massey, Marilyn Monroe, Geraldine Page, Nicholas Ray, George Stevens, Lee Strasberg - and director Mark Rydell was Jack Warner Oh, you hadda be there!
- Jason Isaacs, Peter Pan, 2002. Rupert Everett and Alan Rickman were also potentials for Captain Hook. Sounds like another of the Harry Potter auditions. Except Oldman and Rickman were already aboard and, soon enough, joined by Isaacs.
- Andy Garcia, Modigliani, 2004. US director Phil Joanou planned it with Gary as Amedeo, then Pacino announced he would direct himself in a bio-pic, finally the UK's Mick Davis pulled it off with the Cuban Garcia... in Romania!
- Chris Cooper, Jarhead, 2004. In many respects, US marine officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Kranksi was American Beauty’s US marine officer, Colonel Fitts, before he came home from the war. Sam Mendes agreed and finally chose the same actor. Instead of Oldman, Michael Keaton or Kurt Russell.
- Alan Smithee (Matthew Wood), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, 2003.
- Liam Neeson, Batman Begins, 2004.
- James Cromwell, The Longest Yard, 2005. Negotiations collapsed. So did this re-hash.
- Brian Cox, Zodiac, 2006. Was he in or out? 1: Contrary to reports in both Variety and Hollywood Reporter, Oldman’s management company, The Douglas Management Group, declared in February 2006 that Mr Oldman is not and never was in the film. 2: The book’s author, Robert Graysmith, recalled in a Cinematical interview in March 2007: “We had Gary Oldman at one point, to play Melvin Belli. He went to a lot of trouble, they had appliances… Physically it wasn’t going to work, he just didn't have the girth.”
- Christopher Walken, Go Go Tales, 2006. For what the exiled director called his “first intentional comedy,” Abel Ferrera wanted Gary Oldman and Robert Carlyle as the brothers Ruby - a hairdresser and a tawdry club owner - in a New York made in Cinecitta and overly inspired by John Cassavetes’ Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
- Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shows, 2010. Also in the mix to be Moriarty: Javier Bardem, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt.
- Steve Carell, Foxcatcher, 2012. Almost the inevitable first choice for the true tale of Jon Du Pont, the paranoid schizophrenic who killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz.
- Michael Douglas, Ant-Man, 2014. The micro-superhero had been rolling around Hollywood ever since New World’s 1988 plan was tossed because Disney was into Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Well, now Disney was Marvel and, started prepping in 2006, with the great (and great Ant Man fan) Edgar Wright writer-directing. By 2013, the script was done, effects tests made and Douglas (or his Oscar) was chosen over Oldman, Sean Bean (008 in Goldeneye), Pierce Brosnan (007), Steve Buscemi for Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, mentoring Paul Rudd as his successor. Then, Marvel maven Kevin Feige shook Hollywood by replacing Wright (for being Edgar Wright!) with an obedient Peyton Reed.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor, Doctor Strange , 2015. Marvel thinks big! Simon Baker and Mads Mikkelsen, were also talked of for Baron Karl Mordo - Stephen Strange’s fellow student of The Ancient One. A villain? “A very complex character,” said Ejiofor, “I don’t think [he] can be nailed down either way.” Mikkelsen was compensated with… the real villain! As, finally, the portal opened to the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Bryan Cranston, Trumbo, 2015. Oldman was an early thought for the life and blacklisted times of Hollywood scenarist Dalton Trumbo. However, Bryan Cranston (once Seinfeld’s dentist) was winning all these Emmies (five) for the amazing Breaking Bad. And up for almost every decent, ie adult, rôle going: LBJ in All The Way, Robert Mazur, aka The Infiltrator, Wakefield, Dubious Battle and the Hollywood re-tread of the French comedy smash, Intouchables.
- Kamil Lemieszewski, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, 2015. On Warner shelves almost as long as Justice League, David Dobkins’ Arthur & Lancelot, churned into Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur as the first of a possible sextet (but there are no Hobbits!). A dozen actors were up for the king. Just Oldman for Merlin. (Well, yes, there had been rumours about Idris Elba). And as time dragged on, Oldman caught other fish to fry.