Anthony Perkins (1932-1992)
- James Dean, East of Eden, 1955. He tested and got... Tea and Sympathy, instead, when Elia Kazan had him replace John Kerr on Broadway... where William Wyler saw him and gave him Friendly Persuasion.
- Cliff Robertson, The Naked and the Dead, 1957. In 1949,Burt Lancaster’s Norma Productions bought the 1948 book by WWII vet Norman Mailer (aged 25). Then, feeling an anti-war film wouldn’t work in 1950, Lancaster let it go. By 1954, producer Paul Gregory planned a $3m version with Charles Laughton directing Mitchum as hard-assed Sergeant Croft - a great idea ruined by the financial flop of their now classic Night of the Hunter. They had also booked Perkins for Lieutenant Hearn and Lloyd Nolan for Genral Cummings. Director Raoul Walsh botched up the pasteurised ’57version while Laughton, alas, never helmed a second film.
- James Dean, The Sea Wall, 1958. Inherited on Dean’s death.
- Robert Evans, The Fiend Who Walked The West, 1958. Intended for Elvis, then McQueen, the script had many more fingerprints on it. For starters, those of Ray Danton, Sal Mineo, Perkins, Eli Wallach.
- Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot, 1958. For his perfect comedy, Billy Wilder had jettisoned Mitzi Gaynor, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Frank Sinatra. He had Curtis but the suits needed A Star. (Sinatra never truend up for his meeting with Wilder). And until Marilyn Monroe filled that bill, Perkins was in the mix as one the two jazzmen on the lam from The Mob... in a girls’ band. Tony ran to Green Mansions with Audrey Hepburn (considered for Marilyn Monrfoe’s chanteuse). “And I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
- Dick York, Inherit The Wind, 1960. The trial was important - based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” of Dayton, Tennessee, circa 1925 - and, above all, the adversaries, Spencer Tracy and Frederic March. Cates was just a teen-interest sideshow. Perkins and Roddy McDowell were sought before this proved York’s final film before moving to TV for, in particular, 170 episodes as Elizabeth Montgomery’s Bewitched husband during 1964-1969.
- Richard Beymer, West Side Story, 1961. A third lost classic. Still, he would always have Psycho.
- Troy Donahue, Parrish, 1961. Stage-screen director Josh Logan tested Warren Beatty, Michael Callan, Tom Laughlin - after dropping Perkins - “too well known.” Hi s fame was fine enough for the film that Logan made instead, Tall Story, where again Beatty was among the other contenders for Parrish McLean. (Beatty’s mother was a MacLean).
- Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
- George Hamilton, Act One, 1963. Other newcomers in the frame for the biopic about Broadway icon Moss Hart were Warren Beatty and Dean Jones. Hart was never a Beatty obsession - that was Howard Hughes. And it took him 40 years to make his (weak) Hughes movie, Rules Don’t Apply, 2015.
- Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, 1967.
Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned and sometimes called back (Jack Nicholson, certainly) almost every guy of the correct age for the titular Benjamin Braddock. From Norman Bates to the kid from Shane (Brandon De Wilde, now 25). Plus: Keir Dullea, Charles Grodin (he won Nichols’ next, Catch 22 instead, like Perkins), George Hamilton, Steve McQueen, Michael Parks, George Peppard, Burt Ward (too busy TV’s Batman) And the prerequisite outsider: ex-MGM pactee turning director, Lee Stanley. “We looked and looked and looked,” recalled Nichols, “and when we saw Dustin Hoffman on film, we said: That’s it. And I had come all the way from seeing the character as a super-goy to being John Marcher in The Beast in the Jungle. He had to be the dark, ungainly artist.” Said Hoffman: “There is no piece of casting in the 20th century that I know of that is more courageous than putting me in that part.”
- James Caan, The Godfather, 1971.
- Alessio Orano, Lisa et il davolo (US: Lisa and the Devil), Italy-West Germany-Spain, 1972. Italian director Mario Bava had to wait years for the backing to make his pet horror movie. Having already lost Bette Davis as The Countess, hde couldn’t persuade Perkins to be Max.
- Michael Sarrazin, Caravans, 1978. Tony was being discussed - as far back as 1964 - for author James Michener’s hero.
- Geoffrey Lewis, Lust in the Dust, 1985. Tab Hunter’s meeting at Perkins’ home off Mulholland Drive - to try and talk Tony into playing his Western send-up’s deranged villain, Hardcase Williams - proved the last time the ex-lovers met. Tony was now married with two sons, and Hunter “didn’t really dwell on how he’d gotten to this new place or if he really wasn’t gay anymore... I was sincerely happy for him. He’d achieved the kind of family life I’d never had and never would.”
- Roddy McDowall, Destroyer, 1988. Took over at short notice, playing the director of WIP (women in prison) schlock. (Yes, they shoot a shower scene.) Perkins and McDowall shared still more schlock in Spain’s Los Gusanos no llevan bufanda/The Naked Target, 1992.
- Lance Henriksen, The Pit and the Pendulum, 1990. After Peter O’Toole quit as Torquemada due to production delays, Tony followed suit.
- Olivier Martinez, Le Hussard sur le toit, France, 1995. After directors René Clement and Luis Buñuel failed in the 50s, others tried to film Jean Giono’s tale with various stars, including the New Wave’s favourite Hollywoodian. Tony’s widow, photographer Berry Berenson (Marisa’s sister and mother of his two sons) was among the 58 victims aboard American Airlines Flight 11, deliberately crashed by terrorists into the World Trade Center's North Tower on 9/11, 2001.