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Jeff Bridges


  1. Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970.
  2. Chris Mitchum, Big Jake, 1970.      Old B-director George Sherman chose Bridges after what producer Michael Wayne reported as  55 interviews, 23 readings and three tests. When Jeff backed out, the junior Mitchum (from Chisum and Rio Lobo) saddled for the start of shooting on October 10, 1970. “The man was more of a mentor and a father to me in the business than my own father was,” declared Mitchum about co-star John Wayne. “He did nothing but give me support… took me from a two or three line rôle to co-starring with him. He basically made my career.” Unfortunately it ended acrimonously (politically). To Mitchum’s regret
  3. Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws, 1974.       When Jon Voight refused (“I was too picky”), Steven Spielberg considered either of the two football heroes of the dying town of Anarene, Texas, in The Last Picture Show - Bridges and Timothy Bottoms.Dreyfuss was funnier. He was known as Spielberg’s Tracy… until they re-hashed a Tracy hit as Always, 1989, and then he sure wasn’t.
  4. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1976.   
  5. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1978.
  6. Richard Gere, Yanks, 1978.   “The Americans were over-paid, over-sexed and over here!” That’s how the Brits soon viewed the million-plus Amseric an arriving to join WWII. Bridges passed on being one of them, Matt Dyson. Gere made a superb substitute.
  7.  Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter, 1978.   Director Michael Cimino didn’t get all  his own way. He had wanted Bridges for Nick and Brad Dourif as Steven - in the Oscar-winning film about rather more than just Vietnam.   All three guys starred in Cimino’s next film, Heaven’s Gate - when he did get all his own way resulting in an almighty 1980 flop.
  8. Kurt Russell, Escape from New York, 1980    .Good pals and 1993 Blown Away co-stars, Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones (plus another mate, Nick Nolte) were on auteur John Carpenter’s list for his hero, Snake Plissken.  As were Clint Eastwood and… oh no! Chuck Norris.  Russell based Snake  upon Darth Vader, Robert Ginty’s The Exterminatorand Bruce Lee but mostly on… Clint
  9. Al Pacino, Cruising,1980.     Director Paul Morrissey’s choice when preparing his first movie outside Andy Warhol’s Factory, 1972.
  10. James Keach, The Long Riders, 1980.        The Keach brothers, James and Stacy, played Jesse and Frank James as the Bridges, Jeff and Beau, were booked onanother ride.

  11. Christopher Walken, Heaven’s Gate,1980.       Part of Michael Cimino’s 1974 debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Jeff was always assured of a part (a short one as it turned out - and also called Bridges) when Walken took his role, after being switched from the lead to his rival.
  12. Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980.       The suits wanted a US star. Brand new auteur Steve Gordon wanted Dud. Gordon won, made a big hit, but never a second film - he died at 44 in 1982. John Belushi had passed, scared of being typed as a drunk (surely the least of his troubles!). Orion Pictures’ other choices for the titular rich man-child were: Bridges, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad - and one reserve.
  13. Kurt Russell, The Thing, 1981.    “The ultimate in alien terror.” Bah! Not even close. Which explains why Bridges, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Kevin Kline, Nick Nolte passed on John Carpenter’s unwanted re-hash of the (so-so) 1950 original produced (some say, directed) by Howard Hawks.  This version was very bad. Could have been worse, Universal had wanted Tobe Hooper to direct.When Bridges did work with Carpenter, it was for something much better - Starman,1984. Plus an Oscar nomination.    
  14. Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1981.  The way too busy Jeff Bridges (in three films that year) was director Taylor Hackford’s first Zack Mayo.  Dennis Quaid and Christopher Reeve were seen. John Denver, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Ken Wahl simply refused.Hackford said Eric Roberts’ manager Bill Treusch got in the way of any possible director-actor teamanship. So it was Gere who literally swept Debra Winger off her feet. Denver never looked strong enough to sweep her carpet. Hackford won Bridges for his next outing, Against All Odds, 1983.
  15. Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981.
  16. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo), 1982. 
  17. Nick Nolte, 48 Hrs, 1982.   ''You're gonna be sorry you ever met me'' / 'I'm already sorry.''  Rourke was to be the cop stuck with paroled criminal Gregory Hines, Richard Pryor, Howard E. Rollins Jr or Denzel Washington?  Also in the San Francisco PD mix were Jeff Bridges, Clint Eastwood (he wanted to be the hood), Kris Kistofferson, Michael Lerner, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone.
  18. Tom Hanks, Splash, 1983.      Hanks always claimed he was director Ron Howard’s 11th choice for Allen Bauer in his breakthrough (mermaid) movie. Sorry, Tom - 15th! And here they be: Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg (Howard chose him for Cocoon a year later), John Heard, Michael Keaton (he also refused Alan’s brother, Freddie), Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Dudley Moore, David Morse, Bill Murray (PJ Soles was to be his mermaid), Burt Reynolds, John Travolta (his agent turned him off it!), Robin Williams.
  19. Gregory Harrison, Razorback, 1983.   Australian director Russell Mulcahy wanted Bridges as his hero as an Aussie pig channels King Kong. Producer Hal McElroy said he had no interntionall appeal.  Like we all knew Harrison, right?
  20. John Laughlin, Crimes of Passion, 1984.     Bridges, Alec Baldwin and Patrick Swayze were also seen for the square Bobby Grady getting love and sex lessons from Kathleen Turner’s part-time hooker in Ken Russell’s most outlandish film - although the reason could be the mass of cuts made to get an R and not an X rating. Roger Ebert said that. And this: “You know you're in trouble in a sex movie when you spend more time thinking about the parts they left out than the parts they put in.

  21. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.  When Clint Eastwood passed on  what was first called Dirty Harry IV: Code of Silence, the next rewrite  of George LaFountaine’s 1976 French book, Le Pétard recalcitrant, was  offered to Bridges Charles Bronson, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell and Jon Voight. Coming so soon after Burt Reynolds’ Dirty Harryish Sharkey’s Machine, 1981, this one was put down as Dirty Chuckie.
  22. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, apparently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Bridges, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang).  And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post,  “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”
  23. William Petersen, Manhunter, 1985.    The studio smart-asses wanted director Michael Mann reunited with his Miami Vice star, Don Johnson, as the FBI man inthe first Hannibal Lecter film.Mann preferred the guy from his 1980 movie, The Thief - after some thoughts about Bridges.
  24. Willem Dafoe, Platoon, 1985.     Bridges, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer, Kris Kristofferson,  Nick Nolte, Denzel Washinggton  were on parade for Sergeant Grodin, Elias K. 3365664125 USKC-987654in the only Vietnam war movie made by a Vietnam war veteran.  Auteur Oliver Stone grunted through eight months  of ’Nam combat (twice wounded) during 1967-1968 This then, was as  viscerallyclose to the real thing as possible, feasible or desirable - ie, not John Wayne’s spurious propaganda, Green Berets, 1967. Kilmer became Jim Morrison in Stone’s The Doors, 1991.   Morrison had been the auteur’s first choice for Charlie Sheen’s role of Chris Taylor.
  25. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.      In all, 39 possibilities for the off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs - not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!) Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired:  Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role in The Fly), William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another cop duo in The Hidden), Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops: Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  26. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.  Nobody felt Douglas as average enough to pass for an average husband caught with his pants down... 
  27. Harrison Ford, Frantic, 1987.   Wanted: For a Roman Polanski thriller… An open-faced, all-American boy, honest, trustworthy, fairly strong physically, someone who becomes what he isn’t – frantic - when his wife disappears from their Paris hotel suite - phffft! like that - while he’s in the shower. Polanksi considered Bridges, Kevin Costner, Dustin Hoffman, then had dinner in Paris with ET scenarist Melissa Mathison to discuss Steven Spielbegr’s Tintin project. And she brought hubby along…
  28. Tom Hanks, Big, 1988.     Hanks was suddenly unavailable due to two other movies.De Niro was chased - too pricey - then Jeff also demurred. By which time Hanks was back for $2m - a third of theDe Niro fee.
  29. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
  30. Mel Gibson, Tequila Sunrise, 1988.    The LA buddies on either side of the law - dealer and cop - went from Jeff Bridges-Nick Nolte to Beatty-Scott Glenn to producer Thom Mount’s winning combo. Gibson-Kurt Russell.  Except, as Chicago critic Roger Ebert pointed out about Towne scripts: “Nothing is as it seems. We learn more about the characters when they’re not on the screen.”

  31. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.     UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Bridges, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta and three outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere.  Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
  32. Robert De Niro, Jacknife, 1989.     A heavy, honest apres-Nam drama. Minus the usual revenge subplot.
  33. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall, 1989.   After 42 drafts, no third act and one bankruptcy, Total Recall became another word for jinx in Hollywood… Italian cinemogul Dino De Laurentiis’ never-ending Martian thriller was nearly made by Dreyfuss in Italy, Patrick Swayze in Australia… and William Hurt for Canadian director David Cronenberg… Next up for the heroics were Bridges, Christopher Reeve, Tom Selleck before almost becoming a B-movie with little Matthew Broderick or Mark Harmon (cheapest on the list). Then, Dino went belly-up… enabling Arnold to take over (Dino had refused to audition him!) and move Mars to Mexico where everyone got the touristas except him - he had his food, water, B12 shots flown in from home after a rotten Mexperience during Predator, 1986.
  34. Kevin Costner, Revenge, 1989.     After Clint Eastwood in the late 70s, an 80s plan was his Thunderbolt & Lightfoot cop-star Bridges directed by Walter Hill.   When Costner arrived he wanted to direct, as well. Producer Ray Stark talked him out of it. Try your next one… He did so. Dances With Wolves. Seven Oscars - including Best Director and Best Film - on March 25, 1991.
  35. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.      Country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!
  36. Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
  37. Kevin Costner, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, 1991.     “It’s not worth talking about what you’ve passed on because we’ve all done it.”
  38. Nick Nolte, The Prince of Tides, 1991.     Director and star Barbara Streisand offered him the role of the unemployed, aimless and miserably married Tom Wingo.She got him five years later for The Mirror Has Two Faces.
  39. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  40. Kevin  Kline, Chaplin  1992.  
    Turned down the (bit) role of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.   “I really kind of have to be dragged to the party, as far as making movies,because it’s tough for  me to decide what I’m going to order for lunch, let alone what movie I’m going to do.”

  41. Bruce Willis, Death Becomes Her, 1992.     “Then, once I decide, there’s all kinds of other movies that I’m not going to be able to do, and I don’t even know what they are yet…   ”In this case, Kevin Kline quit to take onJeff’srole inChaplin. So, obviously, director Robert Zemeckis asked Jeff to replace Kevin. No go!
  42. Andy Garcia, Hero, 1992.       "So, I do kind of drag my feet until there's something about the movie that I can't resist that's going to pull me in. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too, thing. You order the steak when you can't have the salmon... because you'll be too full.", sometimes...
  43. Brad Pitt, A River Runs Through It, 1992.      Before Robert Redford got his director hands on Norman Maclean’s fly-fishing-as-life parable, the book had been due as a Bridges’ family reunion.For Lloyd as the Reverend Maclean and his boys, Beau and Jeff, as the Maclean boys.
  44. Tom Cruise, The Firm, 1992.   Early Sydney Pollack casting.“It's hard for me to let one thing go, knowing that I’m not going to be able to do other things. My mother said it'sThe Boolya...  somebody who suffers seriously.”  Jason Patric and Charlie Sheen were seen later but it was Cruise joining the law firm that was (ssh! not a word) run by the Mafia.
  45. Gabriel Byrne, A Dangerous Woman, 1993.     Both Bridges and Jason Patric were discussed as the alcoholic and unprincipled lover - of a somewhat retarded Debra Winger. (And her  aunty).
  46. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993. The original passengers for the Die Hard On A Bus were Bridges opposite a funny Ellen DeGeneres. As Jeff quit for Blown Away with pal Tommy Lee Jones, Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis headed the queue for Jack. Plus other A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze...   to the B group: Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans Bruce Campbell and Chuck Norris. All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  47. Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993. “There’s no way of knowing if the film you turn down would have been as big if you’d been it.” Also the frame (up) for Stephen King’s prisoner #37927, were: Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen. And both Toms.  Cruise and Hanks.
  48. Liam Neeson, Nell, 1994.     “The other guy maybe brought something to the part that was just right; and you would’ve played it differently and it might not have taken.”
  49. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.   Written for Bill Murray (“not for me”), Scott Calvin aka Santa was sent to Chevy Chase (too busy). Next? Bridges, Michael Keaton, even the mighty Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks before TV comic Tim Allen won his film debut. Allen had a record (28 months for attempted dealing) but Disney reluctantly broke its no-ex-cons policy. He’d been punished - and now more so. Stifling in his fat suit and facial prosthetics during the Summer shoot, he needed cooling-off breaks. They didn’t prevent a neck rash from the Santa suit. Come the Toy Story seres, he could voice Buzz Lightyear in his pjs.
  50. Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995.     Most plausibles (Michael Douglas, Daniel Day-Lewis) became overly cautious of a pirate project prepared by Renny Harlinfor his wife, Geena Davis. No survivors when this baby sank.

  51. Brad Pitt, 12 Monkeys, 1995.         Terry Gilliam’s original desire: Jeff, aka Gilliam’s Fisher King.
  52. Liam Neeson, Before And After, 1996.     Columbia’s Mark Canton kept Barbert Schroeder waiting five months- and then some - for a Go on the heavy family drama, mainly because Canton preferred the Bridges of LA county as Meryl Streep’s husband.
  53. Sean Penn, The Game, 1996.       Jodie Foster has this fetish  about changing scripts. David Fincher cast her as Michael Douglas’ sister. No, she said, she wanted to be his daughter. Just 17 years older, Douglas had  already played her  father in the 70s. Both men turned the sister into a brother… first offered to Bridges
  54. Dylan Baker, Happiness, 1998.       All  singing from the same hymn sheet - “compelling and interesting material but... I’m. a father first and an actor second” - a dozen stars fled the therapist who is a pedophile in the bleak script by young New Jersey auteur Todd Solondz.

  55. George Clooney, Three Kings, 1999.
    Bullying director David O Russell never wanted Clooney as Archie Gates. And only agreed (and then got into a fist fight with him) when Nicolas Cage, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson  and Dustin Hoffman never wanted his script! Bridges’ previous film, The Bjg Lebowski, had tanked and Nick Nolte said he was too old. And, apparently, idem for Nicholson. Although respecting his work, Clooney said he’d never work with Russell again. Their fight had been over Russell’s treatment of an extra, throwing him to the ground. Russell  then taunted Clooney. “Hit me!” So, he did.

  56. Liam Neeson, Kinsey, 2003.     Writer-director Bill Condon also looked at Ceorge Clooney and Michael Douglas (!) to play sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey.
  57. Tom Skerritt, Brothers & Sisters, TV, 2006-2009.       Bridges rejected an offer to play the husband of Netty Buckley (in the pilot; Sally Field in the series), the sons and daughter’s father - dead in the opening episode, but still popping up here and again.(Skerritt had substituted Jeff’s father, Lloyd Bridges, in A River Runs Through It, 1992).
  58. Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses, 2010.       Bridges, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman were approached for the supercilious sadist Dave Harken  - one of three bosses from hell, targets of a hit man hired by disgruntled employees in this  masculine take on Nine To Five.
  59. Liam Neeson, Taken, France, 2008.  Frencvh riter-producer Luc Besson wanted a Hollywood hero. He got one - until Bridges had to skidaddle. Then someone mentionewd Neeson. He never had high hopes for the thriller but faniced a few month in Paris, learning kartate and finally playing the kind of action hero he was never asked to be. (He was rejected for James Bond in GoldenEye, 1994). This proved the start of three as ex-CIAgent Bryan Mills. Schindler, he wasn’t, Not with killing 35 people in rescuing his kidnapped daughter.
  60. Tommy Lee Jones,  Hope Springs, 2011.       The guy who co-starred with so many debutantes (Joan Allen, Karen Allen, Rosanna Arquette, Elizabeth Ashley, Belinda Bauer, Lisa Eichorn, Farrah Fawcett, Bianca Jagger, Alice Krige, Jessica Lange, Valerie Perrine, Nancy Travis, Susan Tyrell, Rachel Ward, etc) turned down the chance to co-star with... Meryl Streep!

  61. Bradley Cooper, Jane Got a Gun, 2013.      Natalie Portman’s fifth outing as a producer ran into all kinds of trouble. Michael Fassbender quit (replaced by Joel Edgerton) after clashes with Scots director Lynne Ramsay. Then, she quit. Then, Jude Law quit Edgerton’s original role- Lynne being the only reason why Law agreed to make the Western in Santa Fe. Bridges was the (way) oldest of Law’s potential successors: Joel Edgerton, Jane Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire.
  62. Woody Harrelson, Triple Nine, 2013.     In the mix  (with Chris Pine) for the corrupt cops blackmailed into an “impossible” heist… including killing one of their own. 
  63. John Cusack/Paul Dano, Love & Mercy, 2014.  Over the decades, two actors were usually chosen to portray Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson - and two more did actually play him… Way back in the 80s, Wilson’s therapist, Dr Eugene Landy (and his associates), tried to set up a biopic with William Hurt as Wilson and Richard Dreyfuss as Landy.  In the 90s, Jeff Bridges was to be Wilson. Finally, director Bill Bohlad chose Dano and Cusack as the young and older Wilson in his turbulent years of 1964-1987. Landy was, but of course, Paul Giamatti.










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