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Matt Damon ( -?)

  1. Chris O’Donnell, Scent of a Woman, 1991.  Damon, the new James McArthur (with better roles), described his early years as “fighting for table scraps” with (as here) Ben Affleck, Randall Batinkoff, Leonardo DiCaprio, Stephen Dorff, Brendan Fraser, Cole Hauser, Anthony Rapp, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Serrone. “You'd go in and fight each other. And if you got hold of a role, you’d have to make enough of an impression to get another job.” Such as Charlie, the prep schooler babysitting Al Pacino's eyes in the film that finally won Al his Oscar. Whoo-ah!

  2. Chris O’Donnell, Batman Forever, 1994.

  3. Leonardo DiCaprio , The Quick and the Dead, 1994.    “Yeah, I turned it down. Clearly [laugh], it really derailed Leonardo's career.” The Western’s star and co-producer, Sharon Stone was full of good ideas. Like Russell Crowe as the gunslinger turned preacher - a youngster Damon or David Arquette for The (cocky) Kid. “Damn, I'm fast Is it possible to improve on perfection? ” Stone then switched to DiCaprio - and when the budget couldn’t afford him, she paid him, herself.
  4. Joaquin Phoenix, To Die For, 1995.       “I lost nearly 20 lbs to audition for [director] Gus Van Sant but ‘Wock’ got it.” Which is how director Gus Van Sant knew him (and Ben  Affleck visiting brother Casey on the set) and could reach them when he got hold of their Good Will Hunting  script. “I’m in!  I want to do this right away.” Damon and Affleck  won Oscars for  writing it.
  5. Edward Norton, Primal Fear, 1996.        A total of 2,100 actors auditioned for Aaron Stampler.  “We all knew there was an instant career changer for whoever got it.”  Norton, alone,  thought he should stutter. “It more or less came down to him and me,” recalls Matt,  “and he pretty much put a smokin’ on me.”
  6. Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights, 1997.  .   Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit  (Burt Reynolds’ film-maker and Julianne Moore’s porno star being “the parents”) needed a stud called Dirk Diggler, loosely based on hungalike John C Holmes. Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Matt Damon (!), Ethan Hawke, Jason Lee and Joachim Phoenix refused. Idem for, of all people, Vincent Gallo, seen in a hard-core fellatio scene in his Brown Bunnymovie in 2002. First choice was Leonardo DiCaprio. He loved the script but had a ticket for the Titanicand told PTA: “You should get Mark”... who kept his prosthetic penis. (Gallo plainly didn’t need one).
  7. Mark Wahlberg, Three Kings, 1998.   Damon and Matthew McConaughey rejected the role of Troy Barlow, thereby missing all the rows and punch-ups between director David O Russell and his star, George Clooney. They made up but Clooney still told Vanity Fair in 2003: "I would not stand for him humiliating and yelling and screaming at crew members, who weren't allowed to defend themselves... So my job was then to humiliate the people who were doing the humiliating." That is to say., when Russell foolishly taunted Clooney - “Hit me!”  -m Clooney obliged him. 
  8. Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, 1998.      A surprise winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of…  Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Goodwill Hunting script Oscar), Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach), the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and the star of the 2016 flop, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course,  but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.
  9. Skeet Ulrich, Ride With The Devil, 1999.       Damon, himsedf,  was now smokin' - in films for Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Gus Van Sant. And on fire enough to quit this one to be UK director Anthony Minghella's Talented Mr. Ripley.
  10. Edward Norton, Fight Club, 1999.       Both Damon and Sean Penn were up for The   Narrator. Damon quickly  picked up The Talented Mr Ripely when Norton dropped itin order to make what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called “a thrill ride masquerading as philosophy - the kind of ride where some people puke and others can't wait to get on again.”  Fox Daddy Rupert Murdoch, the great movie know-all, hated it and his studio chief Bill Mechanic was rapidly dumped.

  11. James Marsden, X-Men trlology,1999-2005.  “Mutation: it is the key to our evolution.”  Producer James Cameron and his then wife, director Kathryn Bigelow, chose Michael Biehn  for Cyclops/Scott Summersin the early 90s - and never made the film! James Caviezel won this version before prefering to beDennis Quaid’s son in Frequency. (Nobody’s perfect).  Then, director Bryan Singer looked at pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Thomas Jane (who became Marvel’s The Punisher,in 2003, and opposite Rebecca Romijn, the X-Men’sMystique), Edward Norton (already turned down as Wolverine/Logan), DB Sweeney, Luke Wilson… and Edward Burns, except the last thing a young and opinionated director like Singer wanted on his set was another young and  opinionated director.

  12. Mark Wahlberg, Planet Of The Apes, 2000.      The re-hash from Hell. “My choices are based on how good the scripts were and who was directing them. That's pretty much all the control you can assert over your career: the choices you make and the jobs you take.”
  13. Ethan Hawke, Training Day, 2000.     Due for  the version with Sam Jackson (not Denzel Washington) as the corrupt cop. “Having been on the sidelines out here in LA and watching the ebb and flow of other careers, I was not unaware of the implications of being in a few flops in a row. It was around that time that things really started drying up. Roles I thought I had in movies, suddenly disappeared... For some reason, I was kind of detached about it and didn't take it personally.”

  14. Colin Farrell, Minority Report, 2001.  
    Clashing schedules (due to impending Film City strikes) forced Private Ryan out of his second Steven Spielberg assignment - another big break in the inexplicable rise and rise of the Irish Farrell, unknown until Joel Schumacher's  Tigerland. 2000.  “Getting a call from Steven Spielberg,” recalled Farrell,  “that was huge, no matter how foggy I was. Wow!” His first cinema memory - turning him  to tears - was ET
    . He was invited to the AI set, put into Steven Spielberg’s trailer - “there’s a lunch break in ten minuets and he’ll be here.”    “He arrived….     Steven Spielberg... with a sardine sandwich on a plate.  I love sardines! Hadn’t had a sardine  in years. So we shared a sardine sandwich and talked for a half-hour.   Smart casting… I was supposed to be nipping at Tom’s heels.  And I was, of course, being the new young kid.”

  15. Jim Carrey, The Majestic, 2001.      Would have worked better with Damon.  Carrey fans were anticipating more talking butts, not Martin Guerre Meets Frank Capra.   However, Damon did voice the real Luke Trimbell, or if you prefer Martin Guerre).
  16. Josh Harnett, Pearl Harbor, 2001.     The dream scheme was: Ben Affleck, Damon, Gwyneth Paltrowfor the three pretty leads. Affleck, alone, was available. “I've never taken a job for money,” Damon said in 2013.  “I’ve passed on a lot of huge-money jobs. Money doesn't enter into the decision-making. If I do a big blockbuster, it’s about how big an audience you’ll get, and where you can take them.” (Damon found time for a machine gunner cameo). 
  17. Ben Affleck, Daredevil, 2002.     That was the #1 comic for Damon and Ben Affleck as kids. When the movie came along, Damon admitted he chickened out. “I hadn’t seen the director’s work and I didn’t know. So I just said: No. Ben was like: I gotta do it! And the movie ended up doing very well, even though I don’t think Ben was ultimately very proud of it,” (Affleck later told Playboy magazine that it was the only movie he regretted. “It just kills me. I love that story, that character. And the fact that it got fucked up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that’s part of the motivation to do Batman.”) Their pal, New Jersey auteur Kevin Smith (a one-time Daredevil comicbook writer), recommended Affleck – instead of Edward Norton and Guy Pearce as the blind hero. Affleck proved more dumb than blind. Damon was a far superior action hero in the Bourne franchise. “If Chris Nolan came up to me and said, ‘I want to do Daredevil,’ I would be in.”
  18. Giovanni Risibi, Cold Mountain, 2002.        His dance card was too full to find room for  his Ripley maker Anthony Minghella.
  19. Ben Affleck, Paycheck, 2003.         Left it to Ben as it was too close to his Jason  Bourne hero.  Or then again - not.  After The Bourne Identity’sopening weekend, Matt “had something like 20 film offers, having not had a single one in months. That’s when I got it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nice guy or you’re a prick. If your movies do well, there’s a job waiting for you in Hollywood. It’s not any more  complicated than that.”
  20. Heath Ledger, The Brothers Grimm, 2004.    The brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm swopped  roles and also - for the great US public - became  Wil and Jake. Like the next  LA Hamlet will, be Ham.

  21. Mark Wahlberg, Four Brothers, 2004.    More brothers. But Jason Bourne thought it too violent!!! Ben Affleck also had concerns about the “ultra-violence.” Well, the brothers (two black, two white) were wreaking vengeance for the murder of   adoptive mother. Came across like Death Wishmeets The Sons of Katie Elder(except John Waye and his real siblings were avenging their Dad’s killing in the 1965 Western). A planned Five Brotherssequel never happened. Thankfully.
  22. Josh Zuckerman,  Feast, 2004.       “They're Hungry. You're Dinner.” As the script was developed by Affleck and Matt Damon’s Project Greenlight TV show, there was  moment when the two pals were going to  be brothers Hot Wheels and Bozo against the aliens in the  blood-soaked horror film.  That would have  wound  their clock back…
  23. Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man, 2005.     As corner-men changed from Lasse Hellstrom to Billy Bob Thornton to Ron Howard, it was obvious who’d be Jimmy Braddock, the boxer returning to the ring to feed his Depression age family.
  24. Jason Lee, Clerks II, 2006.    Good to have star pals...  When  Damon could not play Lance Dowds, due to the shooting of The Good Shepherd, Lee turned up during a day off his hit series, My Name Is Earl, 2005-2009.
  25. Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight, 2007.
  26. Will Smith, Hancock, 2007.      Collecting dust on Hollywood shelves for a  decade as Tonight, He Comes, Vincent Ngo’s script  (much darker, with Hancock unable to  to have sex without killing his lovers)  had the finger smudges of Damon and pal Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Leonardo Di Caprio.
  27. Josh Brolin, Milk, 2007.       Matt agreed toy play real-life assassin Dan White for Gus Van Sant (his Good Will Hunting director in 1997) until over-scheduled with Green Zone.  White assassinated San Francisco’s first openly gay public official,  Harvey Milk - and Mayor George Moscone - in 1978.
  28. Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road, 2007.        Damon’s schedule conflict led to a Titantic reunion of Leo and Kate Winslett.
  29. Sam Worthington, Avatar, 2008.      “My worst audition ever,” recalled Chris Pine, when Fox wanted a star - him, Damon or Jake Gyllenhaal - for hero Jake Sully. As if director James Cameron wasn’t The Star! Poor Worthington was reduced to living in his car at the time…
  30. Chris Pine, Star Trek, 2008.

  31. Chris Hemsworth, Star Trek, 2008.  
  32. Christian Bale, The Fighter. 2009.       Wanting  to make a credible boxing film, Mark Wahlberg chose the story of his pal, Boston’s Irish Mickey Ward, being trained to world glory by his ex-boxer/ex-crackhead half-brother - and stuck with it, sparring  every morning for five years, as directors refused (Scorsese) or quit (Aronofsky) as the $50m studio project became a $20m indie. Wahlberg refused any salary and never thought of playing the brother. “There was always one role for me to play, and that was the champ. I wasn’t giving up the belt. Dicky was a flashier role, but it wasn’t about that... but being believable as a guy who could win the welterweight title, and not look like an actor who could maybe box a little.” Damon quit (twice)  as Dickie Eklund. “I look at Christian’s performance and go: My God, the right actor got the part.”  And the self-emaciated Bale won an Oscar.   
  33. Henry  Cavill, The Man From UNCLE,  2013.     Superman Cavill goes Solo.  Napoleon Solo... After securing the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993,  producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts, four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!), plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 to Tom Cruise three years later. By way of the early-21st century suspects: Damon, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Alexander  Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss.  Poor Davis never got it right!
  34. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs, 2015.   Christian Bale was in,  then out (like Sony Pictures!).  Other  potential Jobses  included Damon, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio. Christian baled for The Accountant and Leo took over another Bale reject, The Revenant… before“a lengthy break from acting.”
  35. Jeremy Irons, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015
  36. Will Smith, Suicide Squad, 2015.     After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director David Ayer shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not  Damon, Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jon Hamm.  Nor Oscar Isaac, Joel Kinnaman (he became Rick Flag), Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Statham.  Another Warner/DC flop because Warner wasn’t Marvel and Smith was way  too top-heavy for a team effort.    
  37. Chris Pratt, The Magnificent Seven, 2015.  Costner, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, they also wisely rode away from this Dullard Seven.How is it possible to write a tepid take of either John Sturges’ 1960 Sevenor its 1953 source, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai? Then again, writer Nic Pizzolatto made a similar dog’s breakfast out of his second True Detectiveseason. Antoine Fuqua directing meant Denzel Washington would lead the liberators, but Fuqua had no idea what to do wih Pratt. Really? He was obviously  a new versaion of Vin. Fuqua went overboard, declaring "Pratt is Steve McQueen."  Yeah, and I’m Dolly Parton!
  38. Channing Tatum,  Logan Lucky, 2016.   For his first movie since retiring with Behind the Candelabra,2013, director Steven Soderberg had to change the heister brothers in his “anti-glam version of an Ocean’s movie”- from Damon and Michael Shannon to Tatum and Adam Driver. Made no difference. Daniel Craig still stole the show as the appropriately named bomber Joe Bang.

  39. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea, 2016. 
    Damon was supposed to be the guy coping with the terrible loss of his brother. “I was going to direct it. You talk about those seismic decisions that you make.  The smartest thing I did as a producer was replacing myself!    But it just was clearly a Kenny Lonergan movie. He’d had a horrible experience on Margaret - not creatively but with the subsequent litigation and all that stuff that really robbed him of years of his creative life. And suddenly there was this great screenplay that he'd written, “Wait a minute: You just direct this; you're going to get your movie career back and be the director that everybody knows that you are, and I'll play the role." And so we got it set up, [but] I had The Martian starting. Our preproduction kept collapsing and [producer] Chris [Moore] and I got on the phone, I looked at my schedule, and my dance card had filled - “well, I'm free in two years." And I said, “I will give it up to Casey [Affleck], and he is the only person." And he won an Oscar.

  40. Jesse Eisenberg,  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015.
  41. Jason Momoa, Aquaman, 2017.       Damon, Simon Baker, Matt Damon, even Leo Di Caprio were in the swim over the years before Momoa was announced on October 15, 2014… for 2018 summer release.














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