- Judge Rheinhold, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981. In the mix (with Tom Hanks and Sean Penn) for Brad Hamilton in Cameron Crowe’s classic scenario…Matt passed bqwhwn his father, actor James Broderick, became terminally ill.
- Michael J Fox, Family Ties, TV, 1982-1989. Ditto. His father died in 1982. Fox said his audition was ”terrible” and he begged creator Gary Goldburg for another chance. And a star was born. His TV father, Michael Gross, walked into the NBC mailroom early in the the first season, “and discovered several Santa-sized sacks of mail for Michael J Fox.”
- Jon Cryer, No Small Affair, 1984. Broderick started his first feature in 1981, shuttered after two weeks following Martin Ritt’s heart attack. Marty died in 1990 after four more movies
- Matt Dillon, The Flamingo Kid, 1984. Offered to Matt One and totally re-orchestrated for Matt Two.
- Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1985. Refused the US Navy pilot ace called Maverick. So did: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, Michael J Fox, Tom Hanks, Matthew Modine, Sean Penn, Patrick Swayze.
- Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1989. The Bedtime Story re-tread for (first) Mick Jagger-David Bowie was being re-prepped when somebody realised that Matthew would look like Steve Martin’s grandson. Or paedophilia victim!
- Christopher Daniel Barnes, The Little Mermaid, 1989. Jim Carrey and Broderick (who later voiced Simba in The Lion King) were in the Disney frame for Prince Eric. Until an ex-kid star won the day - aka Greg in The Brady Bunch movies.
- 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 Jeff Bridges, Christopher Reeve, Tom Selleck before almost becoming a B-movie with little 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.
- James Spader, Bad Influence, 1990. All set at Universal, when “creative executives” called up producer Steve Tisch. “Yes, they wanted it lighter. Ferris Bueller Meets The Devil.”
- Vincent D’Onofrio, The Player, 1992. When director Sidney Lumet was due to film Michael Toklin’s novel. Matthew has starred inLumet’s Family Business, 1989 - as Dustin Hoffman’s son and Sean Connery’s grandson. Oh, Hollywood!
- Steven Weber, Jeffrey, 1995. Evidently, one gay stage role- Torch Song Trilogy - was enough.
- Tobey Maguire, The Cider House Rules, 1999. A few years before Toby, it was set for Matt, 13 years his senior.
- Zach Braff, Chicken Little, 2004. To find the right voice for the hero of the paltry poultry picture, Disney went through Michael J Fox, David Spade - even Holly Hunter when the suits thought of a heroine. Plus Broderick - with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, in the frame for Abby Mallard.
- Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV, 2006-2013. The Showtime cable network shortlisted 14 stars, from the impossible to the plausible (Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, James Spader) for the Miammi Metro PD bloodstain pattern analyst moonlighting as a serial killer... of criminals escaping justice.
- Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, TV, 2008-2013. “Really? Isn’t there anybody else?” said the AMC suits when creator Vince Gilligan named his #1 choice for his anti-hero Walter White. (They leant more towards Broderick or John Cusack). Trouble was they still saw Cranston shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle. So Gilligan showed them Drive, a 1988 X-Files episode, with a desperate Cranston suffering radiation. The deal was done – for many years, Emmy awards and stupendous reviews.
- Jim Carrey,The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2012. Wonderstone is a jaded magician losing ground to the new young thing - also offered to Sacha Baron Cohen before being grabbed by Carrey… his third movie with Steve Carell.