Jon Voight, Catch 22, 1969. “I wanted to do the picture,” recalled Pacino, “but I didn't want to be tied down by a contract.” Pacino and his manager, Martin Bregman, ultimately selected Panic In Needle Park as his first starring role.
Robert Forster, Cover Me Babe, 1970. Director Noel Black recalled his fourth movie as being "a bunch of compromises to please Fox." Such as dropping the unknown Pacino from the lead. But it wasn’t long before critics like Manohla Darhgis were calling Pacino, “a riot of one... like a demented cross between The Mad Hatter and Hercule Poirot, all splutter, rage and churning grey cells... But never out of control.”
- Ben Piazza. Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon, 1970. "I didn't feel the part was right." Nor Martin Bregman who spent much of his time persuading clients (Woody Allen, Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch) to "avoid material that will bury them." Pacino made his worst choices during his rift with Bregman.
- Robert De Niro, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, 1971. They were always auditioning for the same few films made in New York.This time, De Niro replaced Pacino, when Al quit to become Michael Corleone. Co-star Leigh Taylor-Young reported their screen romance led to "a tempestuous love affair. "
- Warren Beatty, $ (Dollars), 1971. Director Richard Brooks would have been happier with either Pacino or Gene Hackman as the Hamburg bank robber - of criminals’ cash. Beatty, he felt, was too handsome, too much A Star. Exactly why Columbia wanted him!
- Elliott Gould, The Touch, 1971. “To my great surprise,” the Swedish genius director Ingmar Bergman contacted Pacino about a film. Hoffman as well - according to Gould, the guy who finally became the first (and last) Hollywood star to work with the Swedish genius.
- Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, 1972.
- Graham Faulkner, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, 1972 .Italian stage-screen director Franco Zeffirelli was searching for his favourite saint, Francis of Assisi."My first choice was inspired, even though it didn't work out."Playwright Tennessee Williams took him to see his Camino Real play in New York and "a brilliant boy who was intelligent yet extrovert in a very attractive way...his Italian looks and sort of winning charm struck me as someone who might play the saint." Pacino flew to London for a test."He had pronounced features, which then seemed more exaggerated and he hadn't yet learned to moderate his more theatrical gestures for the camera.Film acting has to be very internalised, otherwise you're left with melodrama or farce. I told him this but tried to reassure him that his day would come."It did when Zeffirelli turned down The Godfather but suggested Coppola take a look at Al's test.
- Jason Miller, The Exorcist, 1972.
Bruce Dern, The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972. Knowing Nicholson’s new foundglory would cost too much, director Bob Rafelson offered the older Staebler brother to Al, and the younger to Bruce Dern. “You’ve got to let me do this,”Jack pleaded. And Dernsie became the older brother.
- Robert De Niro, Mean Streets, 1973.
Almost... "I'd showed the script to everyone," recalled director Martin Scorsese. "I'd even sent it to Francis Coppola, who passed it on to Al... but I never got an answer."Pacino firedd those agents! (They also warned him off The Godfather). He called the WilliamMorris agency “I’m looking for an agent.” “What’s your name?” asked the telephonist.” “Al Pacino.” “Are you sure?"
- Dustin Hoffman, Lenny, 1974. Director Bob Fosse used to kneel, Jolson style, begging Hoffman to make the film. He finally won him by suggesting Pacino was about to sign. He wasn't - because "I was removed from that at the time they offered it to me.I've since got some idea of comics and what they go through and who Lenny Bruce was. Dustin did a great job, so I was happy about that... but that's one I feel I would have enjoyed doing that I didn't do."
- Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
- Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1975. After Pacino passed, Mike Nichols recommended Dustin Hoffman - and quit when producer Sam Spiegel insisted upon De Niro, then making Taxi Driver. This was Elia Kazan’s final film. He should have stayed retired. As proved by six consecutive flops since The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia - without David Lean, Spiegel was a zero.
- Bruce Dern, Family Plot, 1975. While sharing what became, alas, Alfred Hitchcok’s final film. Dern asked The Master: Why me? “Because Mr Packinow wanted a million dollars, and Hitch doesn’t pay a million dollars.” It was some time before Dern understood that Mr Packinow was Mr Pacino. Now… listen to Hitchcock: “If I ever said that actors are cattle, “then Bruce is the golden calf.” Dern grinned at the memory. “You think he was small. But he was big. Six-foot-one. Weighed 285. No one to fuck with.” Hitch was prepping The Short Night when he died, at age 80, on April 29, 1980.
- Dustin Hoffman, Marathon Man, 1976. British director John Schlesinger's first choice was rejected by the producer Robert Evans. He still called him The Midget and, curiously, booked his shorter shadow. Schlesinger then had "a hard time convincing Hoffman that he was the right age for it." Hoffman and Pacino were accepted by the Actors Studio the same year.
- Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now, 1976.
- Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova), Italy-USA, 1976. As per usual, maestro Federico Fellini played with the idea of superstars - Pacino, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson, even Robert Redford!! - before settling for a more parochial venturewith, maybe, Alberto Sordi, Gian Maria Volonte or the unknown cabaret performer Tom Deal. Ultimately, it was “Donaldino.” He had sharedPaul Mazursky’s 8½, Alex in Wonderland, 1970, with Fellini in Hollywood and they metagain on the set of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 in 1975.
- Harrison Ford, Star Wars, 1976.
- Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977. Science fiction? Fuggeddaboutit! Pacino's shouting would have scared the Mothership away! Steven Spielberg was never enamoured of Al since not recognising him at a Malibu party. Pacino threw a magazine at him - "I mean threw it at me!" - and said: "Read this, maybe you’ll learn something. "
- Robert Powell, Jesus of Narazeth, TV, 1977. Franco Zeffirelli tries again, considering Pacino's "Byzantine face" for the role in what started as a major TV series."My first test, not directed by Zeffirelli, was a disaster!" said Powell."I had only two days to learn difficult pages from The Bible.I was bad and looked awful in a false beard and wig.All you can hope to do is get away with it."
- David Carradine, Bound For Glory, 1977. Right height.And attitude. "If it's meant to be, it will be."
- Paul Newman, Slap Shot, 1977. "I should've made that movie. That was my kind of character, the hockey player."He was seriously pissed off when all director George Roy Hill said was: Can he ice-skate? "That's all he was interested in... Nothing else. Like he was saying: What the hell, it could work with anybody. The way he responded said to me that he was not interested."
- James Caan, Un autre homme, une autre chance (US: Another Man, Another Chance; UK: Another Man, Another Woman), France-US, 1977. Pretentious director Claude Lelouch and producer Alexandre Mnouchkine were at the Beverly Wilshire hotel waiting for their dream star when another Coreleone stuck his head in the door. "Hi, I'm James Caan, I love Lelouch movies and want to do one - if you give me eight days' notice." And he left without another word. Lelouch said only a big star could do that. "We've found our star."For, as things turned out, Les Uns et Les Autres, as well, in 1981 (with his girlfriend among the extras: Sharon Stone).
- 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 district of New Orleans, circa 1917. French director Louis Malle saw 28 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 15 guys for for the real-life, misshapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film. Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second. Before falling for Carradine, Malle saw Pacino, Albert Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Malcolm McDowell (the only Brit short-listed), Christopher Reeve (planning to make us believe a man could fly), John Travolta (more into Grease)… plus such flat out surprises as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone (prepping FIST), and even - nastier than the story - Joe Pesci and Christopher Walken.
- Richard Gere, Days of Heaven, 1978. "I love [director] Terrence Malick and I love the picture," said Pacino, passing like Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta.Al always knew Gere was a movie star, "it's written all over him."
- Tommy Lee Jones, The Betsy, 1978. Author Harold Robbins' 1972 plan (opposite John Wayne) when seeing his book as an auto-industry-Godfather. "I can't give myself to something unless it presents some kind of challenge or stimulation."
- Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978. Jane Fonda’s paraplegic husband was loosely based on Ron Kovic,author of Born on the Fouthof July -which Pacino wasalso considering. He did neither. In fact, he never made any Vietnam piece.
- 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… 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”), Jacking anything), Jack Nicholson, George Segal, Jon Voight. Said Pacino, who passed: “When I saw Roy Scheider do it, I thought: Did they get the right guy or what? He was great!”
- Dustin Hoffman, Kramer v Kramer, 1979. "It was a great book; it wasn't a screenplay yet. I didn't get into the book. I had a feeling it was not for me."He chose another movie with kids, his fourth successive flop: Author, Author.He preferred the kids to thereviews.One British critic said when Hoffman smiled, he projected the requisite warmth, humanity - "when Pacino smiles, you get the distinctimpression he's just taken out a contract on the entire cast."
- Ray Sharkey, Willie and Phil, 1980. Writer-director Paul Mazursky’s take on Jules et Jim, 1962, was always intended for Woody Allen - and Pacino!
- Paul Newman, Absence of Malice, 1980. Would have been an Italian with his father in the Mafia rather than Newman's Gallagher. "I've been as discerning as I can be...it seems to be one ofthe few things I've been consistent at."
- Treat Williams, Prince of the City, 1981. Veteran New York director Sidney Lumet madethe offer.That was the trouble.Pacino felt it too close to their Serpico.Lumet was still his first choice to direct Scarface, 1983.
- John Travolta, Blow Out, 1981. Not interested in copycat director Brian De Palma...until needing him for Scarface.
- James Caan, Thief, 1981. Pacino has made a second film with most of his directors. But for scheduling, this would have been the first for director Michael Mann... long before Heat and The Insider.
- Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981. UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard. From top notchers Pacino, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (keen… but on making it a totally different character, of course), Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson… 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.
- Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo),1982.
- Jack Nicholson, Terms of Endearment, 1983. Jennifer Jones optioned the book for a1979comeback - with Al in mind as her leading man.
- Richard Gere, Breathless, 1983. Perplexed at still being up for the same role as Travolta!
- Mickey Rourke, The Pope of Greenwich Village, 1984. Previous commitment stopped Ted Kotcheff directing Godsons Pacino and Jimmy Caan. Francis Coppola arrived, kept Pacino, dropped Caan for Rourke. Finally, Ron Maxwell made it with Rourke and Eric Roberts.
- Richard Gere, The Cotton Club, 1984. Too close toThe Godfather- and that was even before Francis Coppola came aboard (at first, simply to re-write Mario Puzo's script). Producer Robert Evans joined the Bite Mah Tongue lists:"For what this will do for his career, Gere should pay us the $3m."
- Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, 1984. Danilo Bach's draft was dated 1977 and it also went through James Caan, Pacino, Mickey Rourke... and Sylvester Stallone - who said it'd be a great comedy for Murphy. Hey, ya know sumpthin', he's right...!
- Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984. ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Reeve (!), Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones' James Caan, but terrific… because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!”
- Bill Pullman, The Serpent and the Rainbow, 1987. The studio wanted a name.All the usual leading men spurned thelow-priced offers. "They tried to get Pacino, which was insane," recalled horror-director Wes Craven. "Pacino as an anthropologist, come on!"
- Mickey Rourke, Angel Heart, 1987. Forget Dustin Hoffman, now he had a new shadow.... As Brit director Alan Parker passed the private dick role around like a beggar’s cup, Al was busy directing his own never seen 50-minute film of Heathcote Williams' play, The Local Stigmatic.
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1987. "I think I could’ve done it... Except for those great jumps. They would have had to use my stand in." There were 15 other possible John McClanes. From top Tom Berenger, Michael Madsen and TV heroes Richard Dean Anderson, Don Johnson to A-listers:, Charles Bronson, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone. And Frank Sinatra had to be contractually offered the hero; in his 1980 move debut, The First Deadly Sin, Willis is seen leaving a bar as Sinatra walks in. So it flows.
- Mickey Rourke, Johnny Handsome, 1989.
"That was my favourite role in movies," Pacino revealed to his favourite interviewer, Lawrence Grobell in 2005. But director Harold Beckerand Al could not lick thethird act. "The first half of the movie is great.I loved the whole idea of someone who’s been grotesque-looking and has made a life having to cope with that kind of deformity, to then have it lifted from him andto have to cope with the world now. Like a 500-pound elephant losing 350-pounds… But he's really intelligent. The whole idea of someone having to deal with life, having been a criminal, the brains behind these robberies in Pittsburg. He couldn’t even speak right. I loved the role. Loved it! Mickey Rourke did a great job on it, but that didn't matter; the movie didn't have the finish." Or not like themovies he did make with Becker: Sea of Love, 1989;City Hall, 1996.
Sean Penn, Casualties of War, 1989. Once directorsJack Clayton, Jerry Schatzberg, John Schlesinger, pulled out, Brian De Palma's first notion was Pacino and Jon Voight .Far better than Penn and Michael J Fox.(De Palma basically re-made it, moving Vietnam toIraq for Redacted, 2007... and still didn't get it right).
- Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July, 1989.
- Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Christopher Walken, The Comfort of Strangers, 1990. "He was dreaming," said director Paul Schrader."No way he could squeeze this in before Godfather III."Neither actor matched the role: a disturbed, hairy-chested Venetian killer of simian proportions. Walken said he'd neverplayed anyone so horrible - "in the way that it can be deeply unsettling to be in a room with somebody who's mentally disturbed. As much as you have compassion for them, it scares me."
- Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989. UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta… and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
- James Caan, Misery, 1990. "The idea of playing a victim didn't appeal to a lot of people," said director Rob Reiner explaining such refusniks as Pacino, Warren Beatty, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Ed O’Neill, Robert Redford, John Ritter, Denzel Washington. How come the other Godson agreed? "I think he wanted the work."
- Williams, Cadillac Man, 1990. Robin will pick up anything from anyone... er, anyone on the AList. "I can almost state this is a fact. The worse the script is, the more money you're offered. Show me a bad script, and I will show you a big payday. Conversely, show me a really great script and forget it. You're lucky if you don't have to pay for it."
- Marlon Brando, The Freshman, 1990. Writer-director Andrew Bergman said he wrote the comic Mafia chief Carmine Sabatini for Pacino ("or Joe Mantegna"), never knowing that Brando was a fan of The In-Laws. He leapt at the chance to send up his Don Corleone.... and then,badmouth the finished movie.
- Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Michael Biehn, K2, 1991. UK director Franc Roddam's first choice to climbthe world's second-highest peak. With the excellent Matt Craven.
- Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Richard Moll, Batman, TV, 1992-1995. Over-reaching themselves, the Warner Bros producers actually tried to persuade Pacino to voice Two-Face - by having the scripts establish his alter-ego so that the sudden switch to Two-Face would be more shocking.
- Edward James Olmos, American Me, 1992.
"Stories are legion about good movies that died on the vine because a star had committed to them," said scenarist Floyd Mutrux. He knows - the hard way. He sold his LA Hispanic gang script to Paramount in 1975 for $400,000.Producer Lou Adler nabbed Pacino. Then, Pacino quit, came back with director Hal Ashby, then quit again. American Film magazine listed it among the ten best scripts never made. Olmos, the Miami Vice TV star who won his first speaking role in Mutrux's aloha, bobby and rose, 1975, asked him for the rights in 1982. "Go ahead, I trust you."Olmos rewrote the script, "more about tradition." Refused a Writers Guild credit, he directed himself and played Santana while director Taylor Hackford was preparing another version of the Mutrux script, Blood In... Blood Out. "I've been waiting 18years to make this and suddenly it's topical," said Olmos, who was first out with a broom in South Central streets after the LA riots of 1992.
- Jack Nicholson, Hoffa, 1992. Over its seven year gestation,producer Edward Pressman had also seen De Niro and Pacino as the King Lear of trade union leaders.
- Jack Nicholson, Man Trouble, 1992. A definite Nicholson piece (by the writer of the more definitive Five Easy Pieces, Carole Eastman) was passed to an "unsure" Pacino when Nicholson was into The Two Jakes.WhenNicholson became free, Diane Keaton (Pacino’s girl!) was out and Ellen Barkin (who'd once lived on Pacino's Bronx block) was in.Flop of the year!
- Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Christopher Walken, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Joe Pesci, With Honours, 1994. Havard students tend an emotionally-impaired man.Passed on from Hoffman (again, after all these years) and on again to Pesci.
- Gene Hackman, Crimson Tide, 1994. For the trigger-happy nuclear submarine commander and his mutinous deputy, producer Jerry Bruckheimer wanted Pacino and Warren Beatty. “But each wanted each other’s role - so that didn’t work out… Quentin Tarantino did a rewrite that just knocked it out of the park.” Al preferred Oliver Stone's Noriega. No one else did; it remains un-made.
- Morgan Freman, Se7en, 1994. Preferring the top role in City Hall, all, 1995, Pacino passed on Ridley Scott’s invite to be Somerset, a meticulous veteran cop overseeing Brad Pitt investigating murders connected with the seven deadly sins.
- Chazz Palminteri, The Usual Suspects, 1994. The film Pacino regrets refusing the most… (because he’d just been a cop in Heat). US Customs man Dave Kujan had always been written for Chazz but when he wasn’t free, director Bryan Singer also offered it to Robert De Niro, Clark Gregg, Christopher Walken. Then, surprise, surprise, Chazz was available after all.
- Peter Greene, The Usual Suspects, 1994. When he refused Kujan, Bryan Singer asked him to be Redfoot, the LA fence. When he passed again, the role was offered to Jeff Bridges, Johnny Cash, Tommy Lee Jones, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, Christopher Walken. The New Jersey actor got the part – but no credit.
- Gary Sinise, Snake Eyes, 1998. Director Brian De Palma was back, trying everything to seduce Al-fuckin'-Pacino into taking over Will Smith's leavings - even a second banana role. As to his nickname, Al said: "Well, you know, I never had a middle name. It's about time..."
- Alfred Molina, The Perez Family, 1995. "Al Pacino and I played the courtship dance for over three months," recalled Indian director Mira Nair.
- John Travolta,Get Shorty, 1995. Ironic casting notion as the Elmore Leonard book is alleged based on his dealings with ...guess who? Hoffman!
- Dustin Hoffman, American Buffalo, 1995. Twenty-five years later andHoffman and Pacino are still up for the same projects. Playwright David Mamet’s script was among Pacino's unmade movies with the Go Go Boys (Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus)at Cannon in 1986.
- Harvey Keitel, To Vlemma Tou Odyssea (US: Ulysses' Gaze), Greece, 1995. Athens director Theo Angelopoulos' first choice proved unavailable - as did many others (Daniel Day-Lewis, Alain Delon) on hearing the main location was bomb-ridden, war-torn Belgrade, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia. Enter: The always daring Keitel. "I didn't even know his name," admitted Angelopoulos.
- Jon Voight, Mission: Impossible, 1995. Paramount asked the old IMF chief to to play Jim Phelps once more. Peter Graves fled after reading the script and finding Phelps was treated negatively and knocked off at the end. (Immediately, two other old IMF agents, Martin Landau and Greg Morris, backed out of cameos). Pacino, Michael Douglas and Robert Redford apparently agreed with Graves and refused the father figure leader.
- Robert De Niro, The Fan, 1996. Only choice for the psycho - the Godfathers, said UK helmer Tony Scott. De Niro accepted, first. "Usually, the bigger the star, the bigger the prick... But Bob is an absolute sweetheart... tireless in his pursuit of trying to... make the scenes better."
- Gary Sinise, Snake Eyes, 1998. Director Brian De Palma was back, trying everything to seduce Al-fuckin'-Pacino into taking over Will Smith's leavings - such a second banana role. As to his nickname, Al said: "Well, you know, I neverhad a middle name. It's about time..."
- Brad Pitt, Meet Joe Black,1998. Playing Satan in The Devil’s Advocate, 1997, was OK - but playing Death! Film critic Manohla Dargis on Pacino: "He's a riot of one, a dynamo charging into the scene of a crime like some demented cross between the Mad Hatter and Hercule Poirot, all sputter, rage and churning grey cells."
- Michael Douglas, Traffic, 2000. Everything had started off well for director Steven Soderbergh: Kevin Costner and Catherine Zeta-Jones. She quit (pregnant). He quit (testy). Even dream replacement Harrison Ford quit (wanting an actioner).Catherine returned and played it pregnant as Douglas, her new husband, also came back - seduced by Ford’s scenario changes. Result: Four Oscars,including Best Film and Best Director.
- Ed Harris, Pollock, 2001. Who 's on first...? Pacino was developing a Jackson Pollock biopic while Robert De Niro had family backing for To A Violent Grave with Barbra Streisand - and Ed Harris had the American Saga biography rights. And Ed splashed first… marking his territory!
- Robert Downey Jr, The Singing Detective, 2003. During the struggle to mount a film of Dennis Potter’s 1986 BBC mini-series, the old rivals, Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, had been in the mix to be Don Dark – falling into several fantasies while suffering Pottter’s own chronic skin and joint disease, psoriatic arthritis. Like Hoffman had Robert Altman, Pacino had David Cronenberg ready to helm.. By now, Pacino was saying: “Acting is still a mystery to me. You can rehearse, you can figure out how to deal with the boredom, the waiting around - but the actual acting, I still don’t get it.”
- Colin Farrell, Ask The Dust, 2005.
Took autuer Robert Towne nearly four decades to film John Fante’s novel. Fante gave him the rights in the 70s - “To Bob Towne, in the hope he will take it to far places.” He finished the script in 1993, ten years after Fante’s death. “When I was doing work on The Godfather, 1971, I approached Pacino... we had lunch about it. He would’ve been wonderful.” The suits called it a racist, depressing, period piece. Finally, a kid who liked it came calling in tee-shirt and cowboy boots .“After twelve hours and many beers later, we were crazy about each other. That’s how I met Colin Farrell. He’d the right amount of arrogance and humour and he looked enough like a young John Fante to make it perfect casting... Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise put their own money into it, as did I. Our entire budget was only $15.5m and we shot it in 50 days. It was tough, but we had to make this film. That’s all there is to it.” (Pacino and Farrell had co-starred in The Recruit, 2002).
Guy Pearce, Factory Girl, 2006. Back in the 80s, Linda Fiorentino was set for… well, not exactly this script, but the same tragic life of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick. Also in the 80s, Warren tried to persuade director Bob Fosse to make the bio-pic with Michelle Pfeiffer (or Molly Ringwald) and Al Pacino as Warhol. Bio-wise, Fosse was satisfied with just one, his own, All That Jazz, 1979 - refused by both Beatty and Pacino. Mike Nichols and Natalie Portman also discussed a film about the poor little rich girl, then collaborated on Closer, instead. Vogue’s “youthquake” was dead at 28.
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006. During 25 years in Development Hell,the titular casting included Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most absurdnotions were...Warren Beatty. Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!
- Eric Roberts, The Expendables, 2009. Passed on the Sylvester Stallone gang’s Target #1 - an evil, ex-CIAgent running a South American drug cabal (and almost the country)... from behind his man-mountain bodyguard , wrassler Steve Austin as, the well named Paine.
- Sam Rockwell, Iron Man 2, 2010. Pacino was in before the hero’s nemesisJustin Hammer was redrawn as a younger, contemporary rival to Robert Downey’s hero.
- Richard Gere, Arbitrage, 2011. As he proved in 1989 with Pretty Woman, Gere is more than up to the task of replacing Pacino, meriting an Oscar nod, at least. As the hedge fund magnate with a $400m loss to cover fast, “his rapt, watchful performance is a thing of toxic beauty,” praised Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.
- 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, Beatty and Jack Nicholson. However, Pacino, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman 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.
- Benjamin Bratt, Despicable 2, 2012. Three months before the July 2013 premiere, Pacino stopped voicing the series villain, Eduardo,due to… creative differencea. In a toon!Aw c’mon!No such angst for the voices coming from Russell Brand, Steve Carell, Steve Coogan, Kristen Wiig.
- Jesse Eisenberg, The Double, 2012. Seventeen years earlier,Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film the Dostoievski tale of a man faced with his doppleganger and total opposite: confident, charismatic, good with women.(Last made by Bertolucci as Partner, 1968). John Travolta turned his back on $8m (and Paris) in June 1995. Anthony Hopkins had no time (booked for Nixon, Picasso, etc). Jack Nicholson, AlPacino weren’t keen. Steve Martin was but the project collapsed when Isabelle Adjani quit followed by Polanski.Jesse (just 12 at the time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade.
- John Travolta, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016. While Gotti Juniors, writers, directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson) and years sped by, Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don - as Gotti Sr, was known when the untouchable ruler of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. Much earlier, the party had been rejected by Pacino and Anthony Hopkins and John Gotti Jr tried to win over Pacino and Sylvester Stallone