- James Franco, Milk, 2007. Director Gus Van Sant had first planned a film in the early 90s about the first openly gay elected to US public office - assassinated for it (with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone) in 1978. Van Sant’s main candidates back then for Harvey Milk’s lover, Scott Smith, were Bradley and Chris Evans.
- Sam Rockwell, Everybody’s Fine, 2009. One of the most bizarre auditions - Coop taped his own test - with his mother playing Robert De Niro’s role! However, Coop lost the chance to be De Niro’s son. Three years later, this time with him, in the lead role of The Silver Linings Playbook, De Niro played Cooper’s father!
- Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern, 2010. Directors changed (Kevin Smith, Zack Snyder, Quentin Tarantino and even the producer Greg Berlanti) as often as the superhero hero – Jack Black, Nathan Fillion, Brian Austin Green, Emile Hirsch, Jared Leto, Eddie Murphy, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, Sam Worthington. And two Brits: Henry Cavill, Michael Fassbender. Once 007’s Martin Campbell took over, he wanted Cooper and was greatly miffed when the suits signed Reynolds behind his back. The two guys never got on and the film flopped as the 2009 Hangover star joined the next wannabe golden franchise, The A Team. That flopped, too.
- Tom Hardy, This Means War, 2011. Two CIA Buddies fall for the same girl. (Reese Witherspoon ?!!). Mayhem ensues. Not! Cooper was in until his diary ruled him out. Or he read the script again. As Chicago critic Roger Ebert put it: If there’s anything worse than a stupid action comedy, it’s an incompetent stupid action comedy.
- Liam Neeson, The Grey, 2011. After a guest cameo in The Hangover Part I, this was the second time Cooper suggested his buddy from The A Team, 2009, for a movie - this time for Cooper’s role! Even though the big Irishman was 23 years older.
- Sam Worthington, The Texas Killing Fields, 2011. In the mix - then not… Watching John Hurt as The Elephant Man, 1979, is what turned Cooper on to acting. By 2014-2015, he was playing the role, himself, on Broadway and in London’s West End.
- Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby, 2011. Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s first choice for Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan, could not get free. Cooper and Luke Evans were seen before Edgerton was cast. Nothing to do with being another Aussie, of course...
- Zac Efron, The Paperboy, 2011. First Cooper, then Tobey Maguire had to walk from being (really) urinated upon by Nicole Kidman when stung by jelly fish in 1969 Florida. “I just don't find urination shocking,” said Kidman. “I think I peed in the beginning of Eyes Wide Shut, too. I felt shy singing in Moulin Rouge! But peeing - no, not shy.”
- Owen Wilson, You Are Here, 2012. Cooper and Jennifer Aniston were suddenly morphed into Melissa Rauch and Owen Wilson. Not the same charm at all.
- Javier Bardem, The Counselor, 2012. Ridley Scott looked at Cooper and Jeremy Renner before voting Bardem - and his wife, Penelope Cruz, as well, although, for the first time in a film together, they never shared a scene.
- Peter Sarsgaard, Blue Jasmine, 2012. After four years, Woody Allen’s back in the USA! Even if it is (mainly) the West Coast… Cooper was up for a role. That was the problem. He was up for many others. Schedules never meshed, so Peter joined Cate Blanchett in what she called “a part to swing a cat in.”
- Ewan McGregor, Jane Got A Gun, 2013. Producer and star Natalie Portman got her gun but kept losing her villain in what seemed a cursed Western. Michael Fassbender, Jude Law, Bradley Cooper all quit for one reason or another. Cooper’s American Hustle had been delayed by the aftermath of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. And he was already committed to global-pormo for The Hangover 3 and filming with Cameron Crowe, Steven Knight and Steven Spielberg.
- After securing the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993, producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts, four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!), plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 to Tom Cruise three years later. By way of the early-21st century suspects: Cooper, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Alexander Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss. Poor Davis never got it right!
- Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart, TV, 2013. Barbra Streisand spent ten “earnest and passionate” years trying to direct a screen version of the Larry Kramer’s 1985 play. He complained he’d be dead before she managed it - nothing, of course, to do with him insisting on $1m for his script which must be used without changes. He next accused Streisand of making Emma the most important role, when she only offered to play her, as well as helming, to help raise a budget. Kramer couldn’t give it away over the next decade, until TV hot-shot Ryan Glee Murphy talked HBO into a deal.
- Sam Riley, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, 2014. David O Russell had planned Cooper and Scarlett Johansson as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet - battling circa 1813 brain-eaters. What? Oh, you didn’t know about 19th Century zombies? Nor did Jane Austen! Directors and schedules kept changing - losing Natalie Portman as the star but becoming one of seven producrs.
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs, 2015. Christian Bale was in, then out (like Sony Pictures!). Other potential Jobses included Cooper, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. Christian baled for The Accountant andLeo took over another Bale reject, The Revenant… before“a lengthy break from acting.”