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Patricia Phoenix (1923-1986)

  1. Simone Signoret, Room At The Top, 1958.     As the “bold, brassy and larger than life… working man's Raquel Welch,” Phoenix was the greatest soap star in UK TV history. Tied to Granada’s nightly Coronation Street as Elsie Tanner during 1960-1984, she got few and accepted fewer film offers. And the best one went to France… Simone won an Oscar where Pat would have been too typecast and predictable as Alice Aisgill.   On her deathbed, Pat wed actor Anthony Booth - father-in-law of future UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  2. Phyllis Diller, The Adding Machine, 1969.      The feisty Elsie Tanner in the famous UK soap, Coronation Street, was shortlisted for Mrs Zero - the shrewish wife of the a human adding machine (Milo O’Shea) being replaced at work by a mechanical adding machine.
  3. Devin Ratray, Home Alone, 1990.  Co-stars in I Love You to  Death, 199-, and My Own Private Idaho, 1991, Phoenix and Keanu Reeves were the (pricey) favourites for Macauley Culkin’s bullying older brother, Buzz. Enter: actor-singer-songwriter Ratray.
  4. Beryl Reid, Doctor Who #121: Earthshock, 1982.    One of Doc5 Peter Davison’s three favourite shows - despite an unacceptable Reid as Captain Briggs. Then again, Phoenix would have been no better. Critics complained that the style of 80s’ producer, the infamous John Nathan-Taylor,  was either Play For Today or Play Away!  He loved taking chances. Some even worked. 
  5. Brad Pitt, A River Runs Through It, 1992 Disappointed, naturally, when director Robert Redford - who talked about the project during their Sneakers shoot - gave the role to Brad.
  6. Sean Patrick Flanary, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, TV, 1992-1993. Obviously,  George Lucas wanted Phoenix to continue being the young Indy he had been in a flashback during Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1988. But River would not flow back to TV- particularly for 152 weeks in 23 countries, amid 1,500 speaking roles. Alas!  Being under Lucas’ watchful eye might have helped steer him off the drugs that killed him at 23 outside Johnny Depp’s LA club, the Viper Room.  
  7. Brandon Lee, The Crow, 1993.  Also listed for the titular Eric Draven: Johnny Depp, Michael Jackson, Christian Slater. Lee won - and died in a terrible accident  with a gun shooting blanks during the filming of  the hero’s murder on March 31, 1993.  Exactly five months later, Phoenix, himself, was dead, from a drug overose resulting in heart attack outside Johnny Depp’s Viper Room nightclub on LA’s Sunset Strip on October 31. He was 23.
  8. Sean Astin, Safe Passage, 1994. FollowingRiver’s shock death, Astin inherited the role of Izzy Singer, one of Susan Sarandon and Sam Shepard’s dysfunctional family of seven sons.As one of his producers  said: “River  always cared about everything around him and was extremely considerate of others - very cautious and concerned about everybody's safety. He seemed much wiser than his 23 years.”
  9. Christian Slater, Interview With The Vampire,1994.- Leonardo DiCaprio, Total Eclipse, France-UK-Belgium, 1995. Rimbaud!Christopher Hampton’s scenario went from German director Volker Schlondorff and Phoenix-Malkovich as Rimbaud and Verlaine to Poland’s Agnieszka Holland with  DiCaprio-David Thewlis.
  10. Leonardo DiCaprio,  The Basketball Diaries, 1994. When asked what he wanted to do next after his 1989 Best Actor Oscar nomination for Running On Empty, Phoenix  pulled out his battered copy of the 1978 cult novel. "I want to play Jim Carroll." However,  it  took so long to be  made.  Once he reached 22, he announced he was too old for the 15-year-old hero… leading to the (rare) miscasting of Leo.   One year later Phoenix was dead, ODed, on the LA sidewalk outside Johnny Depp’s Viper Room club.
  11. Emile Hirsch, Milk, 2007. More than a decade earlier, director Guys Van Sant first tried to set up the story of Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay public official - assassinated in 1978.  With  his My Own Private Idahostar as the AIDS and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and  transgender) rights activist Cleve Jones.
  12. Callum Turner,  Queen & Country, 2013.   The 25 year gap between John Boorman’s autobiographical Hope and Glory, 1987,  and this sequel was caused by the shock 1993 death of Phoenix, Boorman’s original choice to play  the National Service army days of his alter-ego, Bill Rohan.  Even when Landry Jones signed on, the delay continued… when the UK director found him  better suited to the hellraiser Percy and Turner took over the more shy, well, discreet, Rohan.




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