Payday Loans
Albert Brooks


  1. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1977.   The subject was horrendous - a prostitute allowing her 12-year-old daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light district of New Orleans, circa 1917.   French director Louis Malle saw 28 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 15 guys for the real life, mis-shapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film.   Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second. Before falling for Carradine, Malle saw Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Malcolm McDowell (the only Brit short-listed), Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve (planning to make us believe a man could fly), John Travolta (more into Grease)… plus such flat out surprises as Joe Pesci, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone (prepping FIST), even Christopher Walken.
  2. Tom Hanks, Dragnet, 1987.   Continually wasted, even wasting himself since a wondrous breakthrough in Broadcast News, 1987,  Brooks was wise in leaving this “crap” alone. It didn't harm Hanks' career. Ah, says Brooks, Tom Hanks is blessed.
  3. Tom Hanks, Big, 1987.    Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne, wrote the script. And Brooks rejected it. But then, so did Harrison Ford - while Fox rejected Gary Busey and… John (Box Office Poison) Travolta. This was Anne’s third and last filmed script, ninth and last producing gig. She’d also acted - in Escape To Nowhere in 1961, when her brother directed. He was 13.
  4. Charles Grodin, Midnight Run, 1988.     Grodin and Brooks are clever writers with with a subtle difference. Brooks is funnier on-screen.
  5. Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally...  1989.    “The West Coast Woody Allen” considered  the scenario was too... Allenesque.
  6. Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  7. Robin Williams, Aladdin, 1991.    Disney’s voice choices for the blue Genie included Brooks, John Candy, Matt Frewer, John Goodman, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short… As if anyone could match Williams’ dazzling 16 hours of improv. (So much ad-lib finished on screen, the toon was denied any adapted script Oscar nomination!). In typical whirlwind manic brilliance (at union scale!), Williams used everyone from Ethel Merman to Groucho Marx, William F Buckley to Carol Channing, Nicholson to De Niro!   “Good but not great,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “with the exception of the Robin Williams sequences, which have a life and energy all their own.” Indeed.
  8. Mike Myers, So I Married an Ax Murderer, 1992.   Charlie, the bookstore clerk who wans to be a poet - and a bachelor - was designed for Chevy Chase. When he passed, so did Brooks, Woody Allen, Martin Short. Myers, however, wanted the switch from Saturday Night Live. He learned a valuable lesson. “Juggling mirth, romance and murder requires a deft touch - think of Hitchcock's Trouble With Harry,” commented Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers. “Axe is a blunt instrument.”
  9. Steve Martin, Sgt  Bilko, 1996.    “Some people can get away with stuff,” runs Albert's philosophy, “and other people can't.”  No one survived this travesty.
  10. Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights, 1996.   “I remember going into a screening room and seeing Paul Thomas Anderson,” recalled Brooks. “No one knew him yet and I watched Hard Eight and thought: Oh this is good, this is someone you would like to take a chance with. But I was getting the money to make The Muse and if you’re writing and directing and starring in a movie, you can’t stop. There were so many movies I turned down as an actor because I was making my own movies.”

  11. Woody Allen, Deconstrcting Harry, 1996.    First, Elliott Gould, then all the A-List refused such a despicable character in Woody’s Wild Strawberries: Robert De Niro, Dennis Hoffman, Dennis Hopper. (Less so when Woody played him, of course). Brooks was asked by “a nice letter.” “It was insane that he didn't do it himself.” In the end, he had to. California with Hell.
  12. Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights, 1997.   Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray and director Sydney Pollack were offered the porno film-maker Jack Horner in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s porno-“family” film. Plus Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, who had been supporters of hardcore star Harry Reems during his lergal hassles. Just as Pollack regretted refusing the role. Reynold regretted accepting it. He rowed with PTA, won the best reviews of his career, a Golden Globe and his one and only Oscar nomination.  Yet he still still fled PTA’s Magnolia, 1999.
  13. George Carlin, Dogma, 1999.    Writer-director Kevin Smith’s early notion for Cardinal Ignatius Glick, the RC church’s PR man behind the “Catholicism Wow” campaign to alter the depressing image of the crucified Jesus with the new Buddy Christ, who smiles, winks and offers a big thumbs-up.  Said Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers: Thou shalt not stop laughing. 
  14. Joshua J Greene, Hoodwinked, 2005.   Brooks passed on the voicing gig - for Jimmy Lizard (charming!) - on The Weinstein Company's first fully-animated feature…computer-animated in the Philippines.
  15. Tony Shalhoub,  Pain & Gain, 2012.  For the bodybuilding-cum-kidnapping actionerfilm that flash-bang director Michael Bay had been trying to make for a dozen years (the Transformerskept getting in the way), Brooks couldn’t get the deal his people wanted. John Turturro took over Victor Kershaw only to hit scheduling problems. Enter: TV’s Monk!



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