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Chevy Chase

        

Confession. “I turned down Forrest Gump, I turned down American Gigolo… There are many films - like  Ghostbusters - that I turned down... The first one I did was Foul Play with   Goldie Hawn. But I turned down  Animal House - I turned that down.. So all those I regret only because they made huge amounts of money and I would be very wealthy, but I don't regret working with Goldie, I don't regret the projects that I did do.” [Well, he did once say that Oh Heavenly Dog was the worst film he made.”

 

  1. Tim Matheson, National Lampoon's Animal House, 1978.     Eric 'Otter' Stratton was created for Chase but director John Landis talked him out of it. Two Saturday Night Live stars would make it an SNL movie - meaning SNL getting the kudos, not Landis! And the one SNLer he wanted waw John Belushi. Chase continued to avoid avoided working with Belushi - although twice subbing him after his death.
  2. Robert Hays, Airplane!, 1979.   To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell… “To lose one Animal House may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both it and Animal House in a Plane looks like carelessness.” Such was the fate of Chase and Bill Murray.   Also in the Ted Stryker mix were David Letterman (no, really), Barry Manilow (honestly, I don’t make these things up) and Robert Wuhl.

  3. 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.

  4. Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980.       The suits wanted a US star. Brand new auteur Steve Gordon wanted Dud. Gordon won, made a big hit, but never a second film - he died at 44 in 1982. John Belushi had passed, scared of being typed as a drunk (surely the least of his troubles!). Orion Pictures’ other choices for the titular rich man-child were: Chase, Jeff Bridges, Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad - and one reserve.
  5. 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.
  6. Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark,1980.
  7. Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, 1982.
  8. 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.
  9. Michael Keaton, Mr Mom, 1983.   Fairly rapidly into the A List, Chase found himself up for Teri Garr’s sudden home husband Jack Butler - alongside Michael Douglas, Steve Martin and John Travolta. Ron Howard was due to direct but moved to Splash! - which Keaton left to be Jack.
  10. Tom Hanks, Splash, 1983.   Hanks always claimed he was director Ron Howard’s 11th choice for Allen Bauer in his breakthrough (mermaid) movie. Sorry, Tom - 15th! And here they be: Chase, Jeff Bridges, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg (Howard chose him for Cocoon a year later), John Heard, Michael Keaton (he also refused Alan’s brother, Freddie), Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Dudley Moore, David Morse, Bill Murray (PJ Soles was set for his mermaid), Burt Reynolds, John Travolta (his agent turned him off it!), Robin Williams.

  11. 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.
  12. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  13. 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… Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a toon  was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script (for Chinatown, read Toontown). So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself - Jack Nicholson? No, producer Steven Spielberg could not see beyond Harrison Ford. Too expensive! OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford (Once nearly Philip Marlowe), Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis also considered Charles Grodin, Aussie comic Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies), Joe Pantoliano and voice artist Peter Renaday.   And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud - he would have loved being Valiant. Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. “I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  “I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.”
  14. 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.  
  15. 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.”


  16. Beau Bridges, The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989.   First idea was to turn Chase and Bill Murray into the musical brothers vying for a superb singer Michelle Pfeiffer Making Whoopee on their piano. Texas auteur Steve Kloves then thought of real brothers. Dennis and Randy Quaid passed and the Bridges boys jumped at the rare chance of working together
  17. 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.
  18. Michael Madsen, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  19. Dan Aykroyd, My Girl, 1991.   Chase, Tim Allen, Steve Martin and Bill Murray were in the mix for young Anna Chlumsky’s undertaker father in this little gem. Allen and Chase were siphoned off for not being known for drama. Aykroyd has just tried that route for Driving Miss Daisy - and won an Oscar nod!
  20. 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. Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Martin Short.   Myers also passed on the bookstore clerk who wants to be a poet – and a bachelor 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.”

  21. Bill Murray, Groundhog Day, 1992.   For the acerbic TV weatherman suddenly reliving February 2 over and over again until he gets it right, director Harold Ramis had several ideas, Except they were “far too nice” compared to Murray… in his finest work. “Before he makes the film wonderful,” said Chicago critic Rogert Ebert, “he does a more difficult thing, which is to make it bearable. I can imagine a long list of actors, whose names I will charitably suppress, who could… render it simpering, or inane.” They would have included the nice Chase, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, John Travolta.

  22. Tim Robbins, The Player, 1992.      Before the script reached the tres independent director Robert Altman, Warners talked Chevy out of wanting the lead.  His father, Manhattan book editor Edward Tinsley Chase, had helped get Michael Tolkin’s novel published

  23. Tim Allen,  Toy Story, 1992.    He was much taken with the project but his agent knew better and warned him off it, allowing Allen to say: “I’m Buzz Lightyear and you’re not !” Dunno what fate befell the oh-so-clever agent but the but the movie was the #1 film of 2005 and became a cottage industry of mirth at Pixar.
  24. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.      Written for Bill Murray (“not for me”), Scott Calvin aka Santa was sent to Chase (too busy). Next? Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, even the mighty Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks before TV comic Tim Allen won his film debut. Allen had a record (28 months for attempted dealing) but Disney reluctantly broke its no-ex-cons policy. He’d been punished - and now more so. Stifling in his fat suit and facial prosthetics during the Summer shoot, he needed cooling-off breaks. They didn’t prevent a neck rash from the Santa suit. Come the Toy Story seres, he could voice Buzz Lightyear in his pjs. 
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.    
  28. Kevin Spacey, American Beauty1999.         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.”
  29. George Carlin, Dogma, 1999. Said Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers: Thou shalt not stop laughing… For another of his askew views of the world, New Jersey (over) writer and director Kevin Smith talked to Chase about being… wait for it… Cardinal Glick.
  30. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.      Director Tim Burton’s 29 other fancies for Willy were his ole Beetelgeuse, Michael Keaton, Chase, Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams. And the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favouritefor the chocolatier Willy Wonka - Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!
  31. Jason Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 2006.    For some reason all the A List - Carrey, Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, John Travolta - edged away from being Dave Seville - the chipmunks’ adoptive father, songwriter and supplier of the iconic yell: Allvviinn!!

 

 

 

 

 

 





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