- John Lurie, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988. How director Martin Scorsese first envisaged the apostle James
- James Le Gros, Drugstore Cowboy, 1989, “[Director] Gus Van Sant photographed everyone - so I did finish up in his book of photos.”
- Jason Alexander, Seinfeld, TV, 1990.
- Harvey Keitel, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Tim Roth, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Chris Penn, Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
- Tom Waits, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992. Francis Coppola’s first choice for RM Renfield simply turned down the great man! Fran ey then thought about UK singer Ian Dury before reverting to his favourite singer, Old Gravel Voice, from One From The Heart, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, between 1981-1984.
- Christian Slater, True Romance, 1993. Before greenlighting Reservoir Dogs, Harvey and Bob, the Miramax Weinsteins, secured True Romance. “Only we didn’t have enough money to make it.” So they exec produced it for Warners, that cast Christian Slater as the geeky hero, Harvey told Tony Scott that Buscemi was a better choice.“Patty Arquette is the angel, right, the girl he’d never get. Slater looks like he goes out with a girl like that every Tuesday... Next day, Warner calls: You’re fired!” From then on everything Miramax did, the Weinsteins ruled.
- Chris Penn, True Romance, 1993. He was also being considered for the detective Nicky Dime….
- Bronson Pinchot, True Romance, 1993. …and the hapless, hopeless Hollywood PA Elliott Blitzer. When Quentin loves ya, Quentin loves ya!
- Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Robert Downey Jr, Natural Born Killers, 1994. Remaining loyal to Quentin, Steve refused any role in Oliver Stone’s version. “My script was pure,” said Tarantino, “I wished he’d left it alone.”
- Tim Roth, Four Rooms, 1995. Ted, the Chateau Marmont bellboy linking the four shorts by Tarantino & Pals was conceived for Mr. Pink and over-mugged by Mr Orange.
- Quentin Tarantino, Desperado, 1995. When QT showed interest in playing The Pick-up Guy, Robert Rodriguez wrote another part for Buscemi named... Buscemi.
- Jon Gries, Get Shorty, 1995. Change of Ronnie Wingate in the good take on Elmore Leonard’s cracking novel. Would have been better still if Jon’s father, Tom Gries (Will Penny,100 Rifles), had directed, Alas, he died in 1977.
- Denis Leary, Two If By Sea, 1996. Australian director Bill Bennet was tightly controlled by his backers and could not hire who he wanted. Buscemi directed himself that year in Trees Lounge.
- George Clooney, From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996. All of Tarantino’a crew were booked elsewhere. As well as Seth Gecko, Buscemi and Tim Roth were too busy for …
- John Hawkes, From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996. …too busy for the liquor store clerk Pete Bottoms.
- William Sanderson, Critics and Other Freaks, TV, 1996. The show’s creator, Lawrence Riggins, wanted Buscmi as Chef Bernie - director Ernie Mirich turned them, down. After his excellent movie career, Buscemi became a top TV star in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, 2010-
- Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996. Hollywood goes Who. Why? For the pilot of a USeries to exhume the BBC science-fiction cult, buried since it ran out of puff after 26 seasons in 1989. As if to prove this was big deal LA in action (!),some 63 actors were listed for Doc8 and a further 71 (well, some were on both lists) for his foe, The Master. Such as James Bond, Dracula, Gandhi, Han Solo, Freddy Krueger, Magnum, Spock, Jean-Luc Picard and - hey, they’re doctors! - Emmett Brown and Frank-N-Furter. Aka… Timothy Dalton, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Robert Englund, Tom Selleck, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry. And a certain Mr Pink…
- Tim Roth, Planet of the Apes, 200l. “In his office, Tim Burton is restless, lots of energy, he could hardly sit down - he was more relaxed during Big Fish, doing what he wanted, making a movie.”
- Eric Bana, Hulk, 2002. Once attached as David Banner until first-timer Jonathan Hensleigh’s budget hit $100m. Bye-bye! Director Ang Lee’s candidates were Billy Crudup, Tom Cruise, David Duchovny, Jeff Goldblum and Edward Norton before (because of Chopper), Bana became Bruce Banner. So did Norton in the 2007 version. (No better).
- Nick Stahl Sin City, 2005. His buddy Robert Rodriguez’s inevitable first thought for Roark Junior, aka The Yellow Bastard. The second was Leonardo DiCaprio.
- John Turturro, Transformers, 2006. Michael Bay, who never wanted to direct “a stupid toy movie” until producer Steven Spielberg reeled him in, wanted his Armageddon star for Agent Simmons. Turturro based his Simmons on Bay. “Simmons is nothing like me,” grumbled Bay.
- Jason Sudeikis, We’re The Millers, 2012. Before the Saturday Night Live regular was signed, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman were also seen for the Jennifer Aniston frolic about a family faked by a veteran dealer transporting a major weed shipment.
- Michael Douglas, Ant-Man, 2014. The micro-superhero had been rolling around Hollywood ever since New World’s 1988 plan was tossed out because Disney was into Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Well, now Disney 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) was chosen over Buscemi, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, 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!) with the obedient Peyton Reed.