- Matt McCoy, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, 1992. Getting into movies was hard for the young actor. Spacey wrote to directors and conned his way into meets (and Studio 54) saying: “I’m Johnny Carson’s son.” Mike Nichols, one of his Broadway directors, finally gave him a break - Heartburn, 1986, with Nicholson and Streep. No wonder Spacey passed on this zero role in a film all about Rebecca De Mornay.
- Gabriel Byrne, The Usual Suspects, 1994. At first, Spacey was more keen on being Keaton…
- Chazz Palminteri, The Usual Suspects, 1994. …or Kujan. Before he entered the classic as Keyser Söze, winning a support actor Oscar on March 25, 1996.
- Bill Pullman, Independence Day, 1995.
Producer Dean Devlin wrote the US President for his high school pal, Spacey. Of course, the suits knew better. “The executive, who's no longer there, said he just didn't think Kevin was a movie star,” recalled Devlin. “Kevin had started to become very well known for doing villains and we thought it’d be fantastic if you were actually thinking that the President is going to turn out to be villainous… and the surprise is when he makes the big speech and gets into the plane and leads the troops into battle… There’s no one else who could pull that off like Kevin can. When we couldn’t get him and we got Pullman, who I love, it had to change. Pullman is just so loveable from the first second, so we just decided to just make him the most loveable President in history.” Without question, Spacey would have stolen the thriller from toplined Will Smith…. even if Spacey had phoned his lines in!
- Al Pacino, The Devil's Advocate, 1996. Some years before, director Joel Schumacher had tried to set it up with Brad Pitt as the Grishamesque lawyer finding that his bossis... Satan. Pacino refused it four times until Taylor Hackfordtook overthe helm - and excised most of the supernaturals.
- 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, Caligula, Dracula, Gandhi, Han Solo, Freddy Krueger, Magnum, Jean-Luc Picard, Spock and - hey, they’re doctors! - Emmett Brown and Frank-N-Furter. Aka… Timothy Dalton, Malcolm McDowell, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Robert Englund, Tom Selleck, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Lloyd. Tim Curry. And... Keyser Soze!
- Samuel L Jackson, The Negotiator, 1998. Difficult to say who has the titular role as both men - first Sylvester Stallone-Spacey, then Spacey-Jackson - are trainedhostage negotiators... ahead of each other’s strategies.
- Willem Dafoe, The Boondock Saints, 1999. Having read the script, critically assaulted as “clichéd, inelegant, and slow-witted,”Spacey passed on thegay, opera-loving FBI agent hunting - and envying - a pair of Boston Irish twins knocking off the Mafia, Russian and local. The film was writer-directed by Troy Duffy, mistakenly touted by producer Harvey Weinstein as the new Tarantino - well, the F Word was used 246 times (versus 272 in Reservoir Dogs 265 in Pulp Fiction).
- Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon, 1999. A surprise thoughtfrom Czech director Milos Forman when searching for his Andy Kaufman. And indeed the 1999 Oscar went to Spacey...but for American Beauty.
- Jeff Bridges, K-Pax, 2001. Again, Spacey took over the lead - this time when Will Smith gave up on being a possible alien, with Spacey as the shrink searching for the truth. When Spacey became Prot, the shrink went, cleverly, to... Starman, himself.
- James Caan, City of Ghosts, 2002. Matt Dillon starred in Spacey’s impressive directing debut, Albino Alligator, 1993. Three years on, positions were to be reversed when Dillon flew solo with his Cambodian riff on The Third Man. But he was living in London
- Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2002. ... and he couldn’t take off for another three years because he was extremely busy… running London’s Old Vic Theatre.
- Richard Gere, Chicago, 2002.
- Keanu Reeves, Constantine, 2003. Nic Cage also fled from (for him, yet another)the comic-book movie.
- Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, 2003. Spacey, Antonio Banderas, Michael Crawford (Broadway’s Phantom), Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Meat Loaf, Matthew McConaughey and John Travolta were on the titular list . Scotland won! And Spacey sang for his supper the following year…
- Geoffrey Rush, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, 2004. For the version according to the UK’s top director, Stephen Frears. Instead of bio-ing Andy Kaufman or Sellers, Spacey directed himself as Bobby Darin in Beyond The Sea, 2004.
- Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, 2004. AntonioBanderas, Meat Loaf and John Travolta were on the list for The Phantom.
- Steve Martin, The Pink Panther, 2004. Working title: The Birth of... More like: The Death of... In May 2000, Spacey yelled: Help! He’d had two only chats with MGM but since the Los Angeles Times said he was being courted for the reboot he’d had to answer 8,000 Inspector Clouseau media questions.
- Gary Oldman, Paranoia, 2012. Not even paranoid… in the 35th film with this title since 1967. Passed one warring billionaire to Oldman. A bald Harrison Ford played the other warring billionaire hellbent on destroying each other. Liam Hemsworth was piggy-in-the-middle.