Paul Scofield (1922-2008)
- Cyril Cusack, Gone To Earth, 1950. Legendary UK director Michael Powell always wished to work with Scofield. Yet all producer David Selznick could say after seeing his screentest was: “Is he queer?” No! But exit Scofield... A great pity, said Powell, feeling the role could have made the public warm to, even love the remote actor.
- James Mason, Julius Caesar, 1952. John Gielgud said Scofield was starring with him in Much Ado About Nothing, when director Joseph Mankiewicz flew to London to sweetalk Gielgud out of his fear of films and into Cassius. Immediately struck by Scofield (who had not yet made a film), Mankiewicz first saw him as Brutus ...
- Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar, 1952. ... and then as Marc Antony. Producer John Houseman felt Scofield was more intellectually than sexually charismatic and remembered Brando's speech over Paul Muni's flag-covered body on-stage in A Flag Is Born... Scofield's test was cancelled as MGM agreed $40,000 for a Brando who was apprehensive but "sick to death of being thought of as a blue-jeaned slobbermouth... Women I go to bed with want Stanley Kowsalski - not me." (Ditto for his male lovers).
- Kenneth Haig, Saint Joan, 1957. Quit the role of Brother Martin at the last minute.
- Anthony Steel, Luna de Miel (Honeymoon), Spain/UK, 1959. Michael Powell tries again... After failing to get Scofield and Moira Shearer off the ground in The Loving Eye, he lost them again, making do with Ludmilla Tcherina and... “Good God... not Anthony Steel, the archetypal British shit... already grooming himself for the English baronet in The Story of O.”
- Rod Taylor, The Time Machine, 1960. Impressed by producer George Pal's version of War of the Worlds, the HG Wells Estate offered him any other story. While making tom thumb in London, he prepared Scofield as his time traveller - eventually made with an Aussie in Hollywood.
- John Mills, The Singer Not The Song, 1961. US director Roy Ward Baker said he was forced into making the film - minus his choices for the Spanish priest and bandito: Scofield and Marlon Brando. Rank was interested only in winning Dirk Bogarde's OK for a new contract.
- Peter O'Toole, Goodbye Mr Chips, 1969. O'Toole succeeded such previous Mr Chipping possibles as Rex Harrison and Scofield.
- Robert Mitchum, Ryan's Daughter, 1970. When he refused the new work by Robert Bolt - who wrote Paul's most shining, Oscar-winning hour, A Man For All Seasons, 1966 - director David Lean suggested going against type. Uninterested, as per usual, Mitchum said he was too busy planning suicide. Do it after the film, said Bolt. (In the 50s, director Michael Powell had planned The Edwardians for Scofield and Mitcum).
- Chief Dan George, Little Big Man. 1970. Among points raised in Thomas Berger’s novel was that white actors were rarely convincing as native Americans. Director Arthur Penn must have missed that page as he started wooing great Shakespereans Scofield and Laurence Olivier to play… Old Lodge Skins. Next? Marlon Brando and Richard Boone. Finally, the lightbulb flickered and Penn decided on the genuine article… the 1951-1963 chief of the Burrard Band of North Vancouver (now the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation). He won an Oscar nomination for beautifully intoning, among other lines, the one pinched by Star Trek’s Klingons): “Today is a good day to die.”
- Jon Finch, Macbeth, 1971. Scofield's version, with Sir Peter Hall, fell through, allowing director Roman Polanski to mount his with rabbit droppings from Playboy.
- Robert Hardy, Demons of the Mind, 1971. Hammer Films’ horrors wererunning out of steam. Itsnew (indeed almost last) villain, Baron Zorn, was also aimed at Dirk Bogarde, and James Mason. They all passed on being impaled on a flaming cross… Eric Porter took it over, then switched to another Hammer vehicle:Hands of the Ripper. . In what proved his final film, Mason substituted an injured Scofield in The Shooting Party, 1984.
- Topol, Follow Me! (US: The Public Eye), 1972. He must have agreed with Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert: "a scandalously bad film, and it's dumb, dumb, dumb. Worse than that, it's boring."
- Max von Sydow, The Exorcist, 1972.
- Albert Finney, Murder on the Orient Express, 1973. Neither Scofield nor first choice Alec Guinness were available to become Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Enter: Albie, much younger at 38 that Poirot’s 55-60. Hence special make-up, padding... and discomfort.
- John Houseman, The Paper Chase, 1975. After everyone - Scofield, Melvyn Douglas, Gielgud, James Mason - passed, director James Bridges had the great idea of coaxing Houseman into his third film only in 35 years. A stage and radio producer, Houseman founded the Mercury Theatre Players with Orson Welles and here he won what always evaded Welles – an Oscar.At 73.
- AlanBates, Nijinsky,1980. No balletomane but a ballet admirer, Scofield was set as Diaghilev opposite Nureyev in Tony Richardson's stillborn 1979 project which later became Harry Saltzman's final production.
- James Mason, The Shooting Party, 1984. Broke an ankle on first day when a horse-drawn brake overturned with six of the cast aboard. Although still shooting BBC-TV's Dr. Fischer of Geneva, Mason filled in on what proved his final film.
- Richard Burton, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1984. Director Michael Radford fought hard to film the Orwell classic in the author’s chosen time span - April-June 1984. Even then, Radford was six weeks into shooting before he found his interrogator, O’Brien. “Burton was always on the list,” Radford told the Den of Geek website, “but I didn’t really want a drunk around the place. Sean Connery ummed and aahed... Rod Steiger’s facelift had gone wrong... Scofield broke his leg... And I said we’d better just go for Burton and hope for the best.
He was great.” In his final role. Scofield got back to Orwell by voicing Boxer in the second cartoon version of Animal Farm, 1999.
- Albert Finney, Nostromo, TV, 1997. He survived all of director David Lean and writer Christopher Hampton's casting switches. "I'd written Monygham with him in mind, with his voice very much in my ear." Lean's dream became Alastair Reid's subdued mini-series.