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Oliver Reed (1938-1999)

 

  1. Warren Beatty, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, 1961.    “Why are you looking so nervous?” director Elia Kazan asked Olly during his audition at London’s Dorchester Hotel. “You’re Mr Kazan - that’s why!” He didn’t become Vivien Leigh’s gigolo and Mr Kazan never made the film, passing the Tennessee Williams project to fellow Broadway director José Quintero.
  2. Alfred Lynch, West 11, 1963.  Young director Michael Winner’s producer, Danny Angel, said Reed wasn’t good enough. “I wasn’t too upset... because he also turned down Julie Christie!” (And Sean Connery). Winner promised to use them once he had more control. He never landed Connery or Christie but made five movies with Reed... rescuing him  from the doldrums of London casting.  As I wrote for the French film magazine, Cinemonde, in those days, Reed once asked me: "Whaddyer think? Would I have better luck in Paris?  They like ugly guys is France. Look at Belmondo!"
  3. George Lazenby, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969.
  4. Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, 1970.   After Mick Jagger’s interest (with the other Stones as his droogs) came and went, first Italian maestro Tinto Brass -  then Ken Russell was keen on adapting the Anthony Burgess novel. With Reed as the thuggish Alex. Obviously. Stanley Kubrick delayed his version until finding the right leading thug. Once he saw Lindsey Anderson’ s Ifin 1968, he told his wife: “We’ve found our Alex.”And if McDowell hadn’t been available, “I probably wouldn't have made the film."(Stanley Kubrick’s versionused the same Dutch sulptures and paintings featured by Brass in Dropoutthe year before).
  5. Patrick   McGoohan, Mary, Queen of Scots, 1971.   Mia Farrow was to be queen, with Olly as her brother and regent before   Universal began musical executive-chairs.
  6. Robert Shaw, The Sting, 1973.    Reed played the part in the (empty) sequel   .Olly called himself “a boozy ram.” The doctor examined him on the set of Castaway, 1985, and pronounced he had more alcohol in his blood than blood.
  7. Roy Scheider, Jaws, 1974. 
  8. John Huston, Sherlock Holmes in New York,TV,1976.    Roger Moore agreed to the idea of Reed as the villainous Professor Moriarty. Reed did not. He told Moore: “You once said to me: Stick to playing villains because you can’t do comedy.Well, I’ve just done a comedy and I was brilliant. So I don’t think I want to play your Moriarty.”
  9. Donald Sutherland, Novocento/1900, 1976.     Wasn’t a comedy, either... Nude wrestling for director Ken Russell was one thing.Sodomising a young boy - no way, José.
  10. Jean-Louis Trintignant, Malevil, France, 1980.     Due to have been the pitiless, hardline Fulbert in the1976 plans.

  11. Nicholas Clay, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, 1980.    A year earlier,  Hollywood backers had chosen  him as Mellors opposite Sarah  Miles - until realising DH Lawrence did not write Beauty and the Beast.  Chatting up Olly to be Mellors then became a Cannon ploy to try and get his pal, Ken Russell, to direct. They had famously  tackled another DH Lawrence book, Women In Love, 1968.  Ian McShane’s new lady objected to him sharing sex scenes with his ex-lover, Sylvia Kristel, and so Clay became the world’s most famous gamekeeper,  In 1993, Russell made his own Lady C as a BBC TV mini-series with Joely Richardson and Sean Bean as the lovers.
  12. Richard Harris,  Tarzan, The Ape Man, 1980. 
  13. Anthony Hopkins, The Bounty, 1983.     "Terribly impressed" with Olly's AthosinRichard Lester's pair ofThree Musketeers films, iconic director David Lean chose Reed to be the third Captain Bligh in his two-film plans, before Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis blew them out of the water and went for a cheaper, single version. "It was butchered," said Lean. "I hadn't theheart to see it." Reed's uncle, Sir Carol Reed, had started the previous Brando version in 1962.
  14. David Hemmings, The Rainbow, 1989.     Ken Russell’s sequel to his Women In Love, 1969, boasted two of the original cast (GlendaJackson, Christopher Gable) and nearly collected another when Ken called up Reed after Elton John backed away from playing Uncle Henry.  Except Olly was too busy Athosing away in third Muskeeters film.
  15. George Murcell, Cutthroat Island, 1995.      In his later, bearded, plumpyears he greatly resembled Edward VII, though no one noticed or was motivated by it. And so, there the old sod was, being sacked for bar fighting and mooning the star (Geena Davis) and being replaced as Mordachai Fingers by the veteran UK baddy in his 77th and final screen role.  And Reed died four years later.   
  16. Alan Rickman,Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1990.    As  Rickman kept passing, the Sheriff of Nottingham was offered to Reed, Jon Finch, Michael  Gambon, Richard E Grant, Ian McKellen, Sam Neill, Patrick Stewart. Then, Rickman won the right to play him his way, stealing much more than Robin, which had Kevin Costner allegedly, ordering  the curtailing of the Sheriff’s scenes.
  17. Christopher Plummer, Beginners, 2009.     The aged father who came out of (Geena Davis) and being  replaced as Mordachai Fingers by the  veteran UK baddy in his 77th and final screen role. Reed died four years later.
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