- Alan Alda, Moonshine War, 1970. Memorable first meeting of eternal best friends. Zalman King finished his audition and heard Sheen should have worn a suit. "Zalman offered his suit - he took it off and lent it to me." (Sheen and Alda co-starred in the final two seasons, 2004-2006, of The West Wing).
- Al Pacino, The Godfather,1971.
- Robert Duvall, The Godfather,1971.
- James Woods, Kojak, TV, 1973. Sheen - and Richard Dreyfuss - passed, so Jimmy won his fourth TV role, as a thug called Caz on the 13th episode, Death Is Not A Passing Grade, screened on January 30, 1974.
- Don Scardino, Squirm, 1975. Jeff Lieberman, writer-director, wanted Martin as his unlikely (bespectacled) action hero in an el cheapo horror. Until someone (director Jeff Lieberman?) remembered Scardino has been seen by Spielberg the year before for another bespectacled action hero - ichthyologist Matt Hooper in Jaws… the very film inspiring this el cheapo horror about… earthworms! Actually, Lieberman insisted his inspiration was The Birds. Yeah, right!
- Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
- Dennis Hopper, Mad Dog Morgan, 1976.
Because of his 1973 Badlands badass, Sheen was secpnd choice after Stacy Keach for the titular Daniel Morgan, chief inspiration of Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly. “Everybody actually wanted to do it,” said Australian director Philippe Mora - Sheen, Alan Bates, Jason Miller. “Marty would’ve been great... So we ring up Dennis Hopper’s agent to see if he was available, and his agent’s head nearly popped through the telephone, like in a Tim Burton movie: ‘Yeah, he’s available!’ So we took this little plane down to New Mexico, in Taos, and we get out of the plane, and there’s Dennis at the end of the runaway, dressed in tattered Levis, holding a rifle, just standing there and I remember thinking: That’s our Mad Dog! [Laugh]… He brought an insanity to the role and an intensity that most actors would have found impossible to create.” A comeback was born and one of my most memorable Cannes festival interviews on a rainy May 26, 1976. At one point, he and Michael Douglas split for the men’s room, when they returned I’d swear their feet were not touching the ground…
- Louise Fletcher, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, 1976.
- Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1980. Stephen King wanted Marty (and got his way for The Dead Zone, 1983) feeling that Jack had never played an ordinary man “and I’m not sure that he can.” Judging them solely on Taxi Driver and Mork & Mindy., Stanley Kubrick said Robert De Niro was not psychotic enough while Robin Williams was too much so! Although Kubrick’s only choice was Nicholson, Warner Bros also suggested Harrison Ford, Christopher Reeve. Plus Sheen, who had already made it… as Apocalypse Now! Or even the funny Chevy Chase and Leslie Nielsen (what were they smoking?) Author King said “normal looking” Michael Moriarty or Jon Voight going mad would work better than Jack. Didn’t matter who was Jack Torrance as Kubrick, usually so blissfully right about everything, had clearly lost it. He insisted on up to 70 takes for some scenes (three days and 60 doors for “Here’s Johnny!”), reducing Shelley Duvall and grown men, like Scatman Crothers at 69, to tears. “Just what is it that you want, Mr Kubrick?” He didn’t know. He was, quite suddenly, a director without direction. Result: a major disappointment. Not only for Stephen King but the rest of us. Harry Dean Stanton escaped being Lloyd, the bartender. By making a real horror film. Alien.
- James Woods, Salvador, 1986. Approached for the role of the radio dee-jay Dr Rock, Woods cheerfully admits to grabbing the lead by cutting Sheen's feet from under him. “Oh, he’s a great, great actor,” Woods told writer-director Oliver Stone. “Kinda religious, isn’t he? Gee I’m surprised he didn’t have a problem with some of the language...” Stone nodded: “Well, he did have a few things that bothered him.” So, Woods hit back: “Oh. I thought you were going to do this thing for real - go all out? If you’re just going to do another bullshit Hollywood picture...” Stone won Sheen back as Charlie Sheen’s father in Wall Street, 1987.
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- 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.
- Charlie Sheen, Cadence, 1991. Some 15 years before, Clint Eastwood writer Dennis Shryack offered him the script about a of a kid soldier in the stockade,. Now that soldier was Charlie. His older brother, Ramon Estevez, was also featured as Martin directed his first cinema movie - as well as taking over the stockade sergeant's role when Gary Busey dropped out.
- Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996. Hollywood goes Who. Why? For the pilot of a USeries to exhume the BBC science-fiction cult, buried since it ran out of puff after 26 seasons in 1989. As if to prove this was big deal LA in action (!),some 63 actors were listed for Doc8 and a further 71 (well, some were on both lists) for his foe, The Master. Such as James Bond, Dracula, Gandhi, Han Solo, Freddy Krueger, Magnum, Spock, Jean-Luc Picard and - hey, they’re doctors! - Emmett Brown and Frank-N-Furter. Aka… Timothy Dalton, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Robert Englund, Tom Selleck, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry. And Mr Apocalypse Now…
- George Clooney, The Thin Red Line, 1998. Martin arranged (and took part in) the first reading of Terrence Malick’s script for his comeback 20 years after Days of Heaven. And 25 years after Sheen starred in Malick’s debut, Badlands.
- William Sadler, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, TV, 1988-1989. Considered for the recurring role of the Section 31 operative, Sloan, in the best of Trek series (lasting a magic 173 episodes during 1993-1999).
- Christopher Lloyd, My Favourite Martian, 1998. A Martian makes a visit - and friends with Jeff Daniels’s reporter. There goes the neighbourhood (title of another Daniels’ movie, circa 1992. The five possibilities for “Uncle Martin” were Sheen, Michael Douglas, Charlton Heston(!), Bill Murray (a tad obvious) - and Star Trek’s latest skipper, Patrick Stewart.
- Val Kilmer, Mindhunters, 2002. The science fictionist title proves to be Cludeo Meets The FBI on the cliché isolated island in Holland), (no, really), where profilers are being trained… and, as it happens, killed. With a change of tutor Jake Harris for a film minus any lead role. (Try telling that to Kilmer). Actually, the title is FBI slang for its ISU, Investigative Support Unit, assisting US cops in tracking mainly serial killers.
- Robert Duvall, Gods and Generals, 2003. Sheen was, asked to repeat his role of Robert E Lee from Gettysburg, 1993, in this prequel, but was tied to The West Wing. Duvall is actually related to Lee.
- Garry Marshall, Chicken Little, 2004. Sheen lost voicing Chicken Little’s father, Buck Cluck, to a film director - the man behind Pretty Woman.
- Edward Norton, Kingdom of Heaven, 2005. Director Ridley Scott turned him down for King Baldwin IV and made him the Priest, instead.