John Belushi (1949-1982)
- Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978. The Hitchcock fan a and auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis: Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for the kinda obvious Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… and such off-the-wall surprises as John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Sterling Hayden, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Loomis, incidentally was named after John Gavin’s character in Psycho; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows.
- Christopher Atkins, The Blue Lagoon, 1979. “Too funny” to bethe shipwrecked Richard - on a desert isle with Brooke Shields. (That would have been kinda ugly).
- Bill Murray, Where The Buffalo Roam, 1980. Predictable Hollywood choice for gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson.
- Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980. He refused, said his widow, to avoid typecasting... as if being an rebooted Bertie Wooster opposite Sir John Gielgud’s Jeeves-like butler, could be considered typecasting. Ah, of course, Arthur was a comic drunk... Moore based his Arthur on his ex-comedy partner. Peter Cook.
- Griffin Dunne, An American Werewolf in London, 1981. The studio wanted a titular Belushi with pal Dan Aykroyd as his pal. No way, said director and general know-all John Landis.
- Dan Aykroyd, Neighbours, 1981. The brothers Blue were cast as expected. Belushi as the macho loudmouth Vic and Aykroyd as the mild mannered Earl. They promptly switched roles to play, this once against type. Killing the movie… rescued from Sylvester Stallone and John Candy
- William Conrad, Police Squad, TV, 1982. Every week,a Special Guest Star was killed in the opening credits: Robert Goulet, Lorne Greene, William Shatner,... and Belushi,trapped underweater inconcrete shoes. As he ODied before the epsiode was screened, he was cut and replaced by William Conrad being stabbed and thrown from a car. John would never have agreed...
- Bill Murray, Ghostbusters, 1983. Who ya gonna call - at 555-2368...? Well, originally it was gonna be Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy... when John literally passed... Aykroyd had written Ghost Smashers for John and himself, in a dark Abbott & Costello mode. He put it on ice for two years after Belushi’s death - when Chevy Chase, Michael Keaton refusd to inherit what becme Columbia’s #1 money-maker. Murray’s real price was Columbia re-making The Razor’s Edge, 1946. It did. And it bombed.
- Dan Akroyd, Nothing Lasts Forever, 1984. Apt title. After John’s OD, the part went to his Blues Brother.
- Larry Rapp, Once Upon A Time in America, 1984 .Signed by Italian maestro Sergio Leone not long before he died.Joe Pesci recommended Rapp, after working togetherin Dear Mr. Wonderful, 1982.
- Chevy Chase, Spies Like Us, 1985. Unkindest cut of all as John never got on with Chevy - the more popular (and handsome) of the Saturday Night Livers.
- Martin Short, !Three Amigos, 1986.
Writer-producer-star Steve Martin's idea in 1980.Except he never thought he could swing both Blues Brothers (Belushi and Dan Aykroyd). And, anyway: “Do I want to work with Belushi for a year?” Short called himself the cheap amigo. A funny movie, said director John Landis. And not only because his trio couldn’t ride horses.
- James Belushi, About Last Night…, 1986. Due for Belushi and Aykroyd untilJim, who had been in the David Mamet play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, told John that, sorry, man, butJim had no wish to be compared to John.
- John Heard, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford,Jack Nicholson, 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.
- Benicio Del Torro, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998. Dan Aykroyd andBelushi were set to be Hunter Thompson and Dr Gonzo. Tragically, Belushi took too much of what Thompson called “andrenichrome” and never matched Gonzo:“Too weird to live, and too rare to die."
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York, 2002. What was he smoking ? Believe it or not, Ripley, directing ikon Martin Scorsese first envisaged the movie in 1978 with Blues Brothers, Belushi and Dan Akyroyd as the fearsome Bill “The Butcher” Cutting and the young Amsterdam Vallon. If poor Day-Lewis couldn’t avoid being unintentionally hilarious, Belushi would have been guffaawd off the screen. All that prevented such absurdity was Belushi’s tragic death, thought to be an OD until proved to be (involuntary) manslaughter by ex-groupie Catherine Evelyn Smith injecting him up to 20 times with a speedball of coke and heroin. She got three years’ jail, released after 15 months.