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William Shatner

  1. Paul Newman, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, 1958.      The closest Captain Kirk came to movie fame. As Ava Gardner’s husband in the Tennessee Williams piece - refused by director George Cukor because it was “impossible to portray homosexuality honestly in films.” Richard Brooks took over with his own casting: Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.
  2. Richard Chamberlain, Dr Kildare, TV, 1961-1966.      Five years before Star Trek, Shatner beat 30 other actors to the medic made famous by Lew Ayres in the MGMovie series, 1938-1942.   Shatner then withdrew. James Franciscus also passed, being more keen on another series which, ultimately, was never made. Enter: Dr Chamberlain, the superstar of 191 episodes.
  3. Robert Reed, The Defenders, TV, 1961-1965.       The pilot of this award-encrusted ground-breaking legal series by 12 Angry Men Reginald Rose was a double Studio One episode (with a young Steve McQueen) when the Preston lawyers, pere et fils, were played by Ralph Bellamy and Shatner. He got another crack at ground-breaking with Star Trek, TV, 1966-69.
  4. Roy Scheider, The French Connection, 1971.     The budget was as low as the expectations. Suggestions for the NYPD cop ‘'Cloudy' Russo   (based on Sonny Grosso – sunny/cloudy!) included, with a smidgen of desperation… Captain Kirk!  
  5. John Lithgow, Twilight Zone: The Movie, 1982.   For the tribute to Rod Serling’s 1959-1964 TV cult - by fans Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, Steven Spielberg - Shatner was invited to reprise his 1963 Nightmare at 20,000 Feet episode. Another job got in the way. As the head of the show, Spielberg should have had the decency to scrap the entire film after an horrendous helicopter crash killed two Vietnamese children and actor Vic Morow (who had a premonition about such a death) during the Landis shoot on July 23, 1982.
  6. Andy Serkis, Flushed Away, 2006.        The actor who made Peter Jackson’s Gollum and King Kong move beat Robert De Niro and Shatner to voicing Spike.

 





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