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Gary Oldman

  1. 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. 
  2. Kurt Russell, Tango and Cash, 1989.  Sylvester Stallone was Raymond Tango – without question. But who would he accept as his equally frame cop pardner, Gabriel Cash? After Patrick Swayze ran (to solo billing in Road House), the list was long… Oldman, Michael Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Robert Patrick, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Gary Sinise, Bruce Willis and James Woods. They lost out on the debatable pleasure of four directors! From the Russian Andrei Konchalovsky to, secretly, Stallone..!
  3. Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, 1990.      Oldman, the greatest influence on young US actors since Brando and Dean, refused Edward. And so Depp was off the Hollywod meat rack and became a real star - due to director Tim Burtn. No wonder, they made seven more films together. Says Depp: “My life is my life because of Tim. Definitely.”
  4. Eric Roberts, Final Analysis, 1992.     Withdrew when his marriage to the higher billed Uma Thurman fell apart.
  5. 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.”
  6. John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1993.    
  7. Tim Roth, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  8. Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  9. Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, 1993
  10. 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 Gusset Jr.

  11. Jeff  Daniels, Dumb and Dumber, 1994.     The sadsacks Harold and Lloyd (!) were first due to be Oldman and Nicolas Cage.
  12. 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.
  13. 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!). 
  14. Eric Bogosian, Under Seige 2: Dark Territory, 1994.  Two Brits, (Oldman, Julian Sands) and two Yanks (Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum) refused villainy opposite a hero in, allegedly, a girdle to control his expansive abdomen. Steven Seagal was so fat that his image on the #2 poster came from the #1 poster, circa 1992. 
  15. 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.
  16. 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.”  Oldman won his Oscar for Darkest Hour, 2017, when he played… Winston Churchill.
  17. Jeff Bridges, White Squall, 1996.     Anthony Hopkins passed onbeing sea-sick upon the oceans of eight countries 
  18. Val Kilmer, The Island of Dr Moreau, 1997.     Sometimes rehab comes in useful - to avoid crap like this.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

  21. 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.
  22. 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…
  23. 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.
  24. Tim Roth, Planet  of the Apes, 2001.    Daniel Day-Lewis, Johnny Depp (well Tim Burton was directing!) and Oldman were in the frame for General Thade - requiring six weeks in "ape school."  Gary was ery 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 - -suffering  trapped nerves and two herniated vertebrae in his back from his ape-suit.  “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.
  25. 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! 
  26. 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.
  27. John Turturo, Fear X(aka Inside Job), Denmark-Canada-UK-Brazil, 2002. Stanley Kubrick meets David Lynch in a slow-burner from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn about a security guard hunting the sniper who randomly killed his wife in a mall. Room for Antonioni, too, as he spends hours studying close-circuit video footage. Turturro’s best work in years, as if sending a message to his rivals for the gig: Oldman, Ray Liotta, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Sizemore. 
  28. 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!
  29. 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.
  30. Alan Smithee (Matthew Wood), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith,  2003.

  31. Liam Neeson, Batman Begins,  2004. 
  32. James Cromwell, The Longest Yard, 2005.     Negotiations collapsed. So did this re-hash.
  33. 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.”  
  34. 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.
  35. Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shows, 2010.     Also in the mix to be Moriarty: Javier Bardem, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt.
  36. Michael Caine, Gnomeo and Juliet, 2010.   Oldman and James Woods (a big hiot voicing Disney toons) were also sugggestedf for  Lord Redbrick (ie Lord Capulet), leader of the red gnomes v Gnoemo’s bluespalin this garden gnomes’ take on Shakespeare  (voiced by Patrick Stewart) with, of course, producer Elton John’s songbook - Benny and the Jets, Crocodile Rock, Rocketman, Your Song, et al.Bard jokes as included  houses numbered 2B and Not 2B and the As U Like It moving company.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. Jesse Eisenberg, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015.
  40. 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.

  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. Michael Gambon, Churchill’s Secret, TV, 2015.    Although far from anyone’s first thought for enacting Winston, Oldman went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his Churchill inDarkest Hour, 2017.   As IMDb pointed ouit, this made him the fifth Harry Potterto portyray the great man after Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Hardy (twice) and Timothy Spall.
  44. Kurt Russell,Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 2016.    Aged between Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow’s 87 and Matthew McConaughey’s 47,  fifteen actors were Marveled about for Ego, father of Chris Pratt’s hero, Peter Quill aka Star Lord.  The others in the  loop were Oldman, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Stephen Lang, Viggo Mortensen, Liam Neeson, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christoph Waltz and Bruce Willis.
  45. Micheal Keaton, Spider-Man: Homecoming, 2016. 
  46. Jonathan Pryce, The Wife, 2017.   “We couldn’t find an American actor who’d be in a movie called The Wife,” reported the titular Glenn Close. “So we came over here (to the UK) where they’re smarter.”  Not all of them. Oldman, for one,  said he was unavailable.



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