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Keanu Reeves

1. - Charlie Sheen, Platoon, 1986.   He passed. He was young. And foolish. And as unknown as his prenom. Becausd he was often billed as KC Reeves.Kyle MacLachlan and  Jim Morrison were  also on parade for Chris in the only Vietnam war movie made by a Vietnam war veteran.  Auteur Oliver Stone grunted through eight months  of ’Nam combat (twice wounded) during 1967-1968 This then, was as  viscerallyclose to the real thing as possible, feasible or desirable - ie, not John Wayne’s spurious propaganda, Green Berets, 1967. As Chicago critic  Roger Ebert noted: “It does not make war look like fun.”

2. - Andrew McCarthy, Less Than Zero, 1987.      Originally cast as Clay Easton in Brad Pitt’s (uncredited) second movie - he waspaid $38. 

3. - Alex Winter, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1987.       Young unknowns were tested in pairs for the wannabe Wyld Stallyns rock stars. Reeves tried for Bill S Preston, Esq, opposite Winter as Ted Logan. Director Stephen Hertek   loved them -  as vice-versa. Washington Post critic Hal Hinson called them frisky and companionable. “Like unkempt ponies.” The bodacious dudes made a hit (after two years on a bankrupt shelf) and a seqeel - Bill & Ted's Bogus Adventure, 1990. They remain good pals, Reeves making cameos for several films directed by Winter, such as Freaked, 1993. 

4. - William Baldwin, Backdraft, 1990.        Tested for firefighter Brian McCaffrey. So did Robert Downey Jr, Dermot Mulroney and Brad Pitt. But director Ron Howard felt Baldwin looked more like Kurt Russell’s brother.Reeves’ test was among 54 such tapes banned fromauction in Beverly Hills by the actors’ union in April 2013. “Auditions are not public performances,” said the SAG-AFTRA. “Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.” And yet not a word when Paramount's Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes…in 1995!

5. - Woody Harrelson, White Men Can’t Jump, 1992.    “I was on Cheers for   eight years and I couldn’t get another job,” recalled  Harrelson. “I thought I’m going to be Woody Boyd forever, which is not bad, but I really thought I was capable of more." And he might have remained but for the fact that Keanu didn’t give good basketball. Woody’s “mindset was very positive and confident -  “I’ve gottta get this part. And then, of course, it did change my life.” 

6. - Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992.       Director Francis Coppola decided to make the old legend "younger, very erotic, very romantic and very horrific." Losing his favourites - Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis - Francey looked at everyone else, mainly during auditions at his Napa Valley estate… Reeves, Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Nick Cassavetes, Nicolas Cage, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Viggo Mortensen, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Nouri (a long way from Flashdance), Adrian Pasdar, Jason Patric, Aiden Quinn, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting. Reeves was considered better suited - hot!  - for Lucy’s guy, Jonathan Harker.

7. Dermot Mulroney, Point Of No Return, 1993.        Having gained Bridget Fonda, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel for his Nikita make-over, producer Art Linson still wanted "extra insurance" as the girl-assassin's boyfriend - and pushed for Point Break's Reeves or John Cusack.

8. - Jean Reno, Léon (US: Leon: The Professiona), France, 1994.       The word spread about auteur Luc Besson’s new projects. Keanu (and Mel Gibson)made it known they expected to be the hit-man. Besson, however, kept the faith with his pal Reno - in five of the previous six Besson movies.

9. - Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995.      Geena Davis found it tough to land a co-pirate - who wouldn't steal her limelight. Director-husband Renny Harlin made many walk the plank.

10 - Val Kilmer, Heat, 1995.      To cash in on Speed or not to... Rather than re-working Michael Mann's excellent 1989 TV pilot, LA Takedown, Reeves bypassed Mann, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and $7m for a previous promise to tackle Shakespeare in Winnipeg for $2,000 a week. He proved one of three best Hamlets seen by London Sunday Times critic Roger Lewis, "for the simple reason: he is Hamet," embodying the innocence,splendid fury, animal grace and emotional violence of the Danish prince.”Surely, if he had beenthat good, the production would have transferred to Broadway.


11 - Jared Harris, I Shot Andy Warhol, 1996.      "They'd offered it out to various stars,"says Harris (son of Richard). about the titular victim."At one point, they were talking about Keanu Reeves until they thought that might upset the balance of it. They decided to have auditions and I went in..."

12 - Jason Patric, Speed II, 1996.      "I didn't want to work in that genre at the time." Jan De Bont, Dutch directorof both Speeds, felt Keanu's "fear of stardom" made him refuse. His best decision.



  (Clic to enlarge)  

* Twogether  again!  Keanu and Sandra in Speed 2 screamed the posters  Not so...  Only Sandra Bullock stayed on the bus - er, cruise liner in the Caribbean - for the totally unnecessary sequel. Jason  Patric was the new hero.  Who? Exactly!



13 - Harrison Ford, Air Force One, 1996. A US President aged 28…!   The action-man POTUS was written for Kevin Costner, too busymailing The Postman. He suggested Ford and if he passed, a new list included Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones (Bill Clinton’s Havard room-mate), John Malkovich (a wannabe presidential assassin during In The Line of Fire, 1992), Dennis Quaid (brother Randy had played LBJ), Keanu Reeves (at 28?), and ex-California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger. The current Prez, Bill Clinton, loved the movie; future POTUS Donald Trump was inspired by it - “Harrison Ford on the plane... He stood for America!” Quizzed on TV about this, Ford turned to the camera and wearily said: “Donald, it was just a movie. Things like this don't happen in real life.”

14 - Will Smith, Men In Black, 1997.      His worst...Not that director Barry Sonenfield ever wanted the studio's choice. Reevessaid he had better things to do. Like going on tour with his Dogstar band. Some called it:Dogsomethingelse.

15 - Paul Rudd, Object Of My Affection, 1998.      Passed on director Nicholas Hynter's tale of Jennifer Anistonfalling for a gay.

16 - Eddie Murphy, Bowfinger, 1999.       The role of Hollywood's toppermost star Kit Ramseywas written for him by Steve Martin, who had made Parenthood with Reeves ten years before.

17 - Hugh Jackman, X-Men trilogy, 1999-2005.

18 - John C Reilly, Chicago, 2001.

19 - Johnny Knoxville, Men in Black II, 2001.    Reeves and Robert Downey Jr (not yet Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes), auditioned for Scrad, a two-headed, shapeshifting Kylothian alien often morphing into human form as Charlie. “Although that isnot as amusing as you might hope,” commented Chicago critic Roger Ebert.  Would have been with Downey!

20 -  Chris Klein, Rollerball, 2002. Lucky to have escaped such a disastrous re-hash. 


21 - Jake Gyllenhaal, Midnight Mile, 2002.        Obviously, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, were happier working with an actor. 

22 - Christian Bale, Batman Begins,  2004.

23 - Brandon Routh, Superman Returns, 2005.

24 - Mark Wahlberg, Shooter, 2006.        According to William Goldman, the film’s script doctor, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford refused the betrayed hero tricked into being another Lee Harvey Oswald. So director Antoine Fuqua went younger, changing Bob Lee Swagger’s betrayal from 70s’ Vietnam to 90s’ Ethiopia. Reeves became first choice...

25 - Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder, 2007.       The idea was born 20 years earlier when autuer Stiller heard his pals in Hamburger Hill and Platoon actually believing their booty camp training made them into real soldiers!!Stiller was first going to play Rick Peck with Reeves in Stiller’s final role of Tugg Speedman -modeled on Sly Stallone The Younger.

26 - Matthew Fox, Speed Racer, 2007.     Turned down the request of his Matrix directors, the Wachowski brothers (by now, brother and sister, Andy and Lana - later sisters Lily and Lana) to play, Racer X from the Japanese anime series. He was right. Film flopped.

27 - Billy Crudup, Watchmen, 2008.       Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? In the 20 years it took to film Alan Moore’s DComic-book, directors came and went - Darren Aronofsky, Michael Bay, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass. So did their choices for Jon Osterman, aka Dr Manhattan: Reeves somehow in the same frame as the musclebound Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

28 - Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.      Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Among those flown up Marvel’s 21st Century flagpole were Reeves (listed but never approached - how wise!), TV doc Patrick Dempsey, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Joachin Phoenix (too strange!), Vincent Price (in 1986), Justin Theroux. Finally, the production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stage triumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison… and should head the MCU when Robert Downey pawns his ironmongery.

29 - Will Smith, Suicide Squad,2015.    After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director David Ayer shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba,  Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jon Hamm. Nor Reeves, Oscar Isaac, Joel Kinnaman (he became Rick Flag), Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Brad Pitt, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Statham. Another Warner/DC flop  because Warner wasn’t Marvel and Smith was way too top-heavy for a team effort.

30 - Chris Prat, Passengers,  2016.   First developed for  Keanu Reeves (and Blunt) at his and Stephen Hamel’s Company Films, the interstellar love story nearly took off at the Weinstein Company (yeah, that long ago) with McAdams or Reese Witherspoon as Reeves’ co-star. Columbia signed Lawrence (for $20m) and Chris Pratt ($12m). They were hot -  yes, but in separate films. Together, they were glacial. Allowing Michael Sheen to steal the proceedings as a robotic barkeep (“across between a puppy and a toaster”) in a copy-Shining bar.   On the Starship Avalon. Hence the bartbot was called… Arthur.



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