- Tim Matheson, National Lampoon's Animal House, 1978. They were Saturday Night Live stars but never pals. Chevy avoided working with John Belushi - although twice subbing him after his death.
Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1979.
Judging them solely on Taxi Driver and Mork & Mindy, Stanley Kubrick said Robert De Niro was not psychotic enough while Robin Williams was too much so! Although Kubrick’s only choice was Nicholson, Warner Bros also suggested Harrison Ford, Christopher Reeve. Plus Martin Sheen (who’d already made it… as Apocalypse Now!). (He later made Stephen King’s Dead Zone in 1983). Or even the funny Chevy Chase and Leslie Nielsen (what were they smoking?) Author King said “normal looking” Michael Moriarty or Jon Voight going mad would work better than Jack. Didn’t matter who was Jack Torrance as Kubrick, usually so blissfully right about everything, had clearly lost it. He insisted on up to 70 takes for some scenes (three days and 60 doors for “Here’s Johnny!”), reducing Shelley Duvall and grown men, like Scatman Crothers at 69, to tears. “Just what is it that you want, Mr Kubrick?” He didn’t know. He was, quite suddenly, a director without direction. Result: a major disappointment. Not only for Stephen King but the rest of us. Harry Dean Stanton escaped being Lloyd, the bartender. By making a real horror film. Alien.
- Bill Murray, Where The Buffalo Roam, 1980. More SNL names were tossed around the gonzo journo ring. Only Bill Murray knew the man - having been once lashed to a cast-iron garden chair and thrown into a pool by Dr Hunter S Thompson.
- Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark,1980.
- Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, 1982.
- Steve Martin, All Of Me, 1983. Written by Phil Auden Robinson for Chevy and Goldie Hawn. Martin met his first wife, Victoria Tenant, on it.
- Bill Murray, Ghost Busters, 1983. Who ya gonna call - at 555-2368...? Not Chevy. Nor Michael Keaton. They both refused to be Dr Peter Venkman. Dan said the script offered him was more scarily dark. That was Ghost Smashers written by Dan Aykroyd for John Belushi and himself, in Abbott & Costello mode. He put it on ice for two years after Belushi’s death - when Chase and Michael Keaton refused to inherit what became Columbia’s #1 money-maker. Murray’s real price was Columbia re-making The Razor’s Edge, 1946. It did. And it bombed.
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988. The zany idea of cartoon characters living alongside humans in 1947 Hollywood and human shamus Eddie Valiant trying to answer to the titular query (no question mark - unlucky in Film City history) and save to toon star Roger and his Ekbergian woman… would ruin Chase’s “family star” image! Please, someone, tell me the twerp was joking… After all, critic Roger Ebert called it “a joyous, giddy, goofy celebration of the kind of fun you can have with a movie camera.”
- Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1989. Author Tom Wolfe’s choice for Sherman McCoy - a self-styled Master of the Universe! - made no more sense than than the first director Mike Nichols voting Steve Martin and, finally, Brian De Palma, choosing Hanks.
Dennis Hopper, Flashback, 1989.
Of course, Dennis was perfect for the old hippy, wanted by the Feds since the 60s - when he uncoupled Spiro T Agnew’s train for a laugh. Now he’s been grassed up. Keither Sutherland’s arrow straight FBI man is sent to collect him. Hopper slips him some acid, cuts own hair and beard, changes duds and when their train pulls in, he’s the agent and the zonked Sutherland is the old (well, not quite old enough) radical. And that’s just the start. Get this if you can find it. Well worth it. As Hopper’s daughter, Marin, always knew. She discovered it and said it was made for Dennis. He contacted his agent and thought he’d lucked out on hearing that Chase and Dan Aykroyd were in the hunt. However, Italian director Franco Amurri, genuflected before St Dennis. As did Chicago critic Roger Ebert: “It’s hard to play a character with charisma, since the charisma has to seem to come from the character and not from the actor, but Hopper does it here. He’s convincing, and his dialogue actually sounds like the sorts of things an unrepentant hippie might say - not like the cliches someone might write for him.”
- John Heard, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford,Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- Michael Madsen, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
Mike Myers, So I Married An Ax Murderer, 1992. SNL - The Next Generation! Chevy was the target until Wayne's World buried Memoirs of an Invisible Man at the box-office.
- Tim Robbins, The Player, 1992. Before the script reached the tres independent director Robert Altman, Warners talked Chevy out of wanting the lead.
- Bill Murray, Groundhog Day,1992. The trouble with Chevy, said director and co-writer Harold Ramis, was: “He’s far too nice.” Likewise Tom Hanks, Steve Martin and John Travolta...
- Tim Allen, Toy Story, 1992. Tom Hanks fell for voicing Woody because, as a kid, he wondered if his toys really lived when there was nobody around. Not so Tim Allen… He jumped at Buzz Lightyear because Chase – one of his idols - had rejected what became the #1 film of 2005 in the US.
- Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994. Conflicting schedules meant Chase could not play Scott Calvin/Santa Clause.
- John Goodman, The Flintstones, 1994. Yabba-dabba-don’t! After ludicrous thoughts of thin guys in fat-suits (Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray) burned up on re-entry to planet Earth, chubby John Candy was set to succeed James Belushi as the Stone Age hero. Not for long. The live action take on the cartoon series (The Simpsons of its days, 1960-1966), would never have happened if Goodman had been unable to squeeze it in during his Roseanne series hiatus. Because, according to co-creator Joseph Barbera: “When John Goodman was born, he was stamped Fred Flintstone right there on his bottom.” The producer agreed. End of debate. ’Cos the producer was Steven Spielberg.
- Tom Hanks, Forest Gump, 1995. Weird thinking... Chevy was among the four actors that producer Wendy Finerman sentthe script to. It’s called The Any Damn Name Will Suffice Syndrome.
- 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 famous family vacationer...
- Kevin Spacey, American Beauty, 1999. Rejected his second Oscar chance as he preferred his kind of family movies. Few other families did. Kevin Costner, Jeff Daniels, Ton Hanks, Woody Harrelson (!), John Travolta and Bruce Willis were also in the mix for the miserable spouse/father, Lester Burnham. UK stage director Sam Mendes fought hard for Spacey. “There’s one thing better than having a really good actor, and that’s having a really good actor who has never done this kind of role before.” Spacey won his second Oscar despite masturbating in the shower - the high point of Lester’s day: “it's all downhill from here.”
- Jason Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 2006. For some reason all the A List - Chase, Tim Allen, Bill Murray, John Travolta - edged back from becoming Dave Seville - the chipmunks’ adoptive father, songwriter and supplier of that iconic yell: Aallvviinn!!