- Ciaran Hinds, Excalibur, 1980. A poor audition, said director John Boorman and ever the gent, he apologised to the future Remington Steele - and James Bond - for not hiring him. Twenty years on, Boorman chose Brosnan for this version of John Le Carré’s 15th novel, The Tailor of Panama. His role, said critic Roger Ebert, was a nasty real-world James Bond. “No gadgets and no scruples.”
- Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights, 1987.
- Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
- 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- Brosnan, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, 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 four 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.
- Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Kevin Kline, Chaplin, 1992. The role suited him well: Douglas Fairbanks Sr. But Pierce was nursing his wife, Cassandra Harris, dying of cancer.
- Don Johnson, Tin Cup, 1995. Commander Bond was first offered the titular burnt out golfing wreck. Costner played him well, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert: unshaven, creased, weather-beaten, in need of a bath. “That’s more or less how he looked in Waterworld, too, but this time there's charm.”
- Paul McGann, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.
- Val Kilmer, The Saint, 1996. Roger Moore was producing in the 80s, but Brosnan passed. Not the right role for a "short-assed, fat-faced Irishman." In the later frame were the awful Kilmer, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Daniel Day-Lewis, Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, Hugh Grant, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus a certain James Healey, the Irish-born Aussie who actually rejected Mad Max for its sparse dialogue (!) in 1978, leaving the superstar route clear for Gibson. Later, Kilmer admitted to Moore: “We really screwed that up, didn’t we?”
- Billy Zane,Titanic, 1997.
- Robert Carlyle, Angela’s Ashes, 1998. It was an Irish book by an Irish writer and his Irish childhood and naturally, a proud Irishman like Brosnan wanted to play father Malachy. He phone author Frank McCourt "to throw my hat in the ring, and he said: Nope. Too handsome. Too handsome!" Worse still, Carlyle is Scottish! That’s the movies. "You're either too short, you're too tall… too this, you're too that," said Brosnan.
- Gerard Butler, Timeline, 2002. Another Irishman. And the first 21st Century, Dracula inherited Michael Chrichton’s time traveller. Brosnan and Butler made Butterfly On A Wheel together in 2007.
- Edward Burns, Confidence, 2002. No, Mr Bond, I expect you to join Mr (Dustin) Hoffman. He could not; besides, Mr Burns was much younger.
- Edward Burns, A Sound of Thunder, 2004. Brosnan quit a second time-travel number when his director, Renny Harlin was dropped for upsetting - ie. rewriting - Ray Bradbury. For his scientist leading millionaire hunters on safaris to kill dinosaurs, new helmer Peter Hyams chose actor-director Burns... about as bad as the “special” effects. The production company went belly-up and Hyams’ ham-fisted result was not seen until 2005.
- Clive Owen, The Pink Panther, 2004. The ha! ha! guest role of ha! ha! 006 inthe ha! ha! re-make was naturally written, ha! ha!, for 007. However, his Eon contract banned him from appearing as a spy in a tuxedo for at least five years after leaving the Bond franchise. Owen was the #1 rumour to replace Brosnan in Casino Royale, 2006 - firmly deniedby Owen. And Eon.
- David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005. Pierce found the shrink role had “distasteful elements” and he had been dark enough, thank you, in Tailor of Panama. Nothing personal, he added, “everyone wants to see Sharon at her finest.” “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience… I’d do it again tomorrow. But I’d do it differently because I’d have different tools in my armoury.”
- Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, 2006.
- Michael Douglas, Ant-Man, 2014. The micro-superhero had been rolling around Hollywood ever since New World’s 1988 plan was tossed because Disney was into Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Well, nowDisney was Marvel and, started prepping in 2006 with the great (Ant Man fan) Edgar Wright writer-directing. By 2013, the script was done, effects tests shot and Douglas (or his Oscar) chosen over Brosnan, Sean Bean (008 in Goldeneye), Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, for Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, mentoring Paul Rudd as his successor. Then, Marvel maven Kevin Feige shook Film City by replacing Wright (for being Edgar Wright!) in 2014 with obedient Peyton Reed.