- William Katt, Carrie, 1976. Which means, in all Brian De Palma-George Lucas lore, that Woods was seen for Star Wars, as well. And to his immense pleasure, (but not his landlord's), he won neither one.
- Harrison Ford, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, 1976.
- Leigh McCloskey, Inferno, 1979. Dario Argento, Italian chiller-maker, wanted Woods. But so did Canada’sDavid Cronenberg for Videodrome. Nolo contendere.
- Harry Dean Stanton, The Black Marble, 1980. After starring in two films from ex-LAPD cop Joseph Wambaugh's cop-art books - the brilliant Onion Field and the excremental Choirboys - Jimmy (“the lizard”) was obviously in with a chance. “If Jimmy was older,” Wambaugh (“the weasel”) told me, “we'd have cast him as Philo, immediately, because Jimmy is a sleazy 30-year-old! Philo, though, is a sleazy 50-year-old” - and, among, Harry's finest performances.
- Louis Gosset Jr, An Officer and Gentleman, 1982. Tied up elsewhere when the film rolled early to avoid a directors' strike. "Lou won an Oscar. He deserves it. He did a wonderful job by taking a cliché and making it different. Quite frankly, it wouldn't have been as interesting for me as it was for him." They worked together in Diggstown, 1992.
- Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy, 1982. First director Bob Fosse was promised Sammy Davis as the TV talk show host kidnapped by Woods as a comedy star wannabe. Fosse died and Martin Scorsese took over. So, naturally, De Niro became the comic. When Johnny Carson wouldn’t play, well, himself, really, Scorsese thought of Frank Sinatra and the whole Las Vegas/Ocean’s 11 group - “I just love that crowd and their clothes.” He also saw Sammy, plus Joey Bishop, Dean Martin. “And then, of course, Jerry Lewis.”
- Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo) 1982.
- Kurt Russell, Silkwood, 1983. "I just couldn't see myself making a movie about three Okies fucking...," he told me in Cannes. "If California fell into the ocean and I happened to be in New York, the only American actor left alive, they'd have a talent search in Paraguay rather than give me the role."
- Christopher Lloyd, Back To The Future, 1985. On director Robert Zemeckis’ short list for Doc Brown, alongside Jeff Goldlbum, John Lithgow, Dudley Moore. (Ex-President Ronald Reagan was shortlisted for a bit in one of the sequels!)
- James Belushi, Salvador, 1986. Originally approached by writer-director Oliver Stone to be Dr Rock, the radio dee-jay pal of photo-journalist Richard Boyle, Jimmy pushed for the lead. "Such a great role, this man with all his shortcomings and vices... ultimately interested in finding the truth." So began the endless Woods-Stone love affair.
- Tom Berenger, Platoon, 1986. "Oliver Stone offered me whichever role I wanted but I said: Oliver, I love ya, but I just got out of one jungle with you and I'm not ready to go back into another. Quite frankly, I don't like flying in helicopters...
- Willem Dafoe, Platoon, 1986. "... It's one thing if you have Vietnam vets as pilots, it's anotherif you have Filipinos with American translators. He called again and said, totally seriously: I'll even give you your own tent. I said: You sweet-talking devil, Oliver. No wonder you're still a virgin!"
- Charles Dance, Good Morning Babylon, Italy, 1987. The Taviani brothers' choice for DW Griffith. However, it was the summer of heavy Euro-terrorism and Yanks stayed home.
- Jack Nicholson, Batman, 1988.
- Michael J Fox, Casualties of War, 1989. As they passed through directors as varied as Jerry Schatzberg and John Schlesinger, Jimmy tried to get the rights to Daniel Lang's 1969 New Yorker article about the Vietnam rape-murder atrocity in October 1966 - the basis of his film debut role in Elia Kazan's The Visitors, l972. Woods and Fox later made The Hard Way, 1991.
- Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
- Joe Pesci, JFK, 1991.
- Tim Roth, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Peter Coyote, Bitter Moon, France, 1992. Even Alain Delon rejected the erotica of director Roman Polanski - a second thriller with his French wife Emmanuelle Seigner. "I didn't sell out during the 20 years it took to get hot... I'm not going to sell out now."
John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
Jon Polito, Blankman, 1994.
"You've gotta be fuckin' kidding," said Jimmy to his CAAgent… OK, his career was in bad shape, but no way. “After 17 years, I was in the shithouse.It was over. Everything hit me at once. I was trying to build this house, I'd gone through a bad divorce, the work was just horrible,I was getting no representation." He was saved when, without any CAA input, producer Jerry Weintraub offered him another villain but in an A movie, The Specialist, with SylvesterStallone (who had won First Blood (aka Rambo) from Jimmy). "It was a stepping-stone to get back to where I wanted to be."
- Jamey Sheridan, The Stand, TV, 1994. Also seen for Randall Flagg in Stephen King’s US take of Lord of the Rings were Willem Dafoe, Miguel Ferrer, Christopher Walken. Then, it was decided to go with “ a lesser known face.” Oh really! The Broadway award winner had only been Vincent D’Onofrio’s boss, Captain Deakins, for five years of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, from2001.
- David Thewlis, The Island Of Dr Moreau, 1995. Everyone wanted to work with Marlon Brando. At the start… Thewlis (and not Woods, Gary Oldman, Spader or Bruce Willis) replaced Rob Morrow who had swopped roles with Kilmer and then quit when the director Richard Stanley was sacked after a few days. (Numbers differ). Kilmer and Bruce Willis found themselves in divorce battles. Brando’s daughter, Cheynne, committed suicide. And without new helmer John Frankenheimer ever knowing, Stanley had joined the extras... Brando welcomed Thewlis by saying: “Go home, David. This is not a good film to work on. It is cursed.” Thewlis could say much more about the making of the farce - but feared such honesty would kill his career.
- 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 Jimmy Woods…
- Willem Dafoe, American Psycho, 1999. As the cop hunting Leonardo DiCaprio - for the unmade version by one of his favourite film-makers, Oliver Stone. "He's different. Most American directors are happier with robots. They resent actors - they're afraid we’re going to do something to spoil their film."
- Sean Penn, Milk, 2007. Director Gus Van Sant had first planned a film in the early 90s about the first openly gay man elected to US public office – and assassinated for it (with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone) in 1978. Van Sant’s main candidates back then to play Harvey Milk were Woods, Daniel Day-Lewis, Richard Gere, Robin Williams. Penn won his second Best Actor Oscar for, as SF Chronicle Mick LaSalle put it,disappearing into the title role.
- Bruce Willis, The Expendables, 2009. Sylvester Stallone speaks: “The Expendables stands on its own and is really kind of a throwback to earlier films like The Magnificent Seven, The Wild Bunch, when men were willing to risk their lives for friendship rather than money. There were several actors that I wanted such as Jimmy Woods” - his co-star from The Specialist, 1994 - as the McGuffin man, the guy with the laundry list,setting out the mission for Sly’s mercenaries.