Sir Daniel Day-Lewis
- Richard Gere, King David, 1985. "I’d seen Daniel on stage in London," recalls Australian director Bruce Beresford, "shot some videos of him and told Paramount it would be better to use him - a complete unknown - than have everyone think of American Gigolo. Richard was mis-cast. And we never solved the script problems." In US cinemas, the film earned less than a tenth of the $22m budget.
- Gary Oldman, Sid and Nancy, 1985.Oldman won the Sid Viciousfrom what auteur Alex Cox termed “another then-unknown London stage actor.” At 27 and 28, Oldman and Day-Lewis were far too old for the Sex Pistol- 19 when he met Nancy (playedby Chole Webb at 30!) and 21 when she was murdered at age 20.
- Richard E Grant, Withnail and I, 1986. Quit for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. While making The Age of Innocence together, he asked Grant if it was true that three words he hated most were: Daniel Day-Lewis! Nonsense exclaimed Grant. "I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the fact that I got Withnail because you turned it down... I owe this man my career!"
- Gary Oldman, Prick Up Your Ears, 1987. Having already tested as gay playwright Joe Orton in the earlier postponed movie, Daniel chased after the same director's My Beautiful Laundrette and told UK director Stephen Frears if he didn't get the role, he would break Frears' legs.
- John Malkovich, Dangerous Liaisons, 1988. It was because of Laundrette, that Stephen Frears first saw him as Valmont.
- Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Alfred Molina, American Friends, 1990. An early thought from the film’s writer-star Michael Palin for his (more womanising) rival for the hand of one of two American ladies met on a Swiss walking holiday in 1861. The tale and Palin’s Oxford don clergyman were based on his own great-grandfather.
- Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.
- Campbell Scott, Dying Young, 1991. Refused. Repeatedly.
- Bruce Willis, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1991. Director Brian De Palma and Warners preferred a wry New York narrator than the British mid-Atlantic tones of Tom Wolfe's originally English journalist.
- Keanu Reeves, My Own Private Idaho, 1991. Sorry but never reads scripts when making a film.
- Lothaire Bluteau, Orlando, 1992. Oscar-generated work ruined plans to associate produce director Sally Potter's script of the first Virginia Woolf novel to be filmed - and to co-star opposite Tilda Swinton as the immortal lead, changing her sex and living through four centuries.
- Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992. Director Francis Coppola's second choice after Jeremy Irons was too busy muscling up to re-tread another classic: The Last of the Mohicans - finally made by Day-Lewis. Coppola looked at everybody, mainly during auditions at his Napa Valley estate… Day-Lewis, Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Nick Cassavetes, Nicolas Cage, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Costas Mandylor, Viggo Mortensen, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Nouri (a long way from Flashdance), Adrian Pasdar, Jason Patric, Aiden Quinn, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting.
- Tom Hanks, Philadelphia, 1993. US director Jonathan Demme’s idea for the AIDS victim in what was then called At Risk (they had earlier tried to make The Stopwatch Gang). Day-Lewis quit for a second Irish film, In The Name of the Father. And another Oscar nod. But it was Tom Hanks’ year(s).
- Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List,1993. Steven Spielberg spent ten years growing up before makingthe Holocaust film and not just because he couldn’t find his Oskar Schindler, the Nazi businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews. The list included Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, Swiss Bruno Ganz, Mel Gibson, Swedish Stellan Skarsgård, Australian Jack Thompson… and his2011 Lincoln. After four previous nominations, this isthe filmthat finally won Spielberg his first Oscar on March 21, 1994. Chicago critic Roger Ebert praised Spielberg’s unique ability of addingartistry to popularity in his serious films - “to say what he wants to say in a way that millions of people want to hear.”
- John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
- Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.
- Brad Pitt, Interview With The Vampire, 1994
- John Travolta, Pulp Fiction, 1994. Chasing after a part, that’s rare. (He would rather cobble shoes). Once he heard that Michael Madsen was unable to be Vincent Vega, Daniel went after it... straight into a brick wall called Tarantino. He insisted on Travolta, even though the word came down from upon high: “The entire list is approved… except for Travolta.” John was so cold, said Tarantino’s agent Mike Simpson, “he was less than zero.” After the rough cut, Harvey joked “I’m so glad I had the idea to cast Travolta.” Instead of… Alec Baldwin, James Gandolfini, Andy Garcia, William Hurt, Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Gary Oldman, Jason Patric, Sean Penn, Denzel Washington - plus Tim Rotth and Bru Willis who got otdhr roles.
- Nick Nolte, Mother Night, 1995. “Are you out of your mind?” said the suits when actor-turned-director Keith Gordon tried top make the Kurt Vonnegut book about a nice Nazi who hangs himself. “We’ll need a major star,” said Fine Line: Day-Lewis Robert De Niro or Nick Nolte. De Niro was busy. Gordon chased Day-Lewis for six months. “We couldn’t even get him to read the script – his agent was like, “Well, he’s backpacking across Europe...” And Nolte’s people said, what else but...”Are you out of your mind?” Gordon reached him by accepting a tiny role in a film Nolte was making, giving him the script, saying: “Listen, this is the reason I took this part. You can have me thrown off the set if you want.” Nolte was not only gracious, but a big fan of Vonnegut.
- Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island,1995.Once again, the newlyestablishedfirm of Fiennes and Day-Lewis was first in the frame to replace the piraticalMichael Douglas - elected American President after Robert Redford resigned.
- Harvey Keitel, To Vlemma tou Odyssea (US: Uylsees' Gaze), Greece, 1995. Unavailable. So were Alain Delon and Al Pacino. Director Theo Angelopoulos struck lucky with the actor he claimed never to have heard of.
- Martin Donovan, The Portrait of a Lady, 1995. For director Jane Campion’s take on the Henry James classic, Day-Lewis was not interested in being the poor little heiress Nicole Kidman’s cousin Ralph Touchett - who hides his loves for her as he’s dying of consumption. (Idem for Ralph Fiennes, John Malkovich).
- Gary Oldman, The Scarlet Letter, 1995. Daniel knows crap when he sees it - even if. usually, so little manure comes his way.Oldman didn’t look comfortable or convincing as the hypocritical preacher who dun Demi Moore wrong on a bed of dried beans.
- Val Kilmer, The Saint, 1996. Roger Moore played Simon Templar for 118 tele-chapters, stayed with the company making Return of the Saint with Ian Ogilvy. His 80s and 90s plans were to produce a St Pierce Brosnan (!) or being the ageing hero, finding his illegitimate Saint son - nearly Ralph Fiennes for director Sydney Pollack. “It was a troubled production,” said Moore. Final director was Philip Noyce and Moore was out -“first time I was paid not to act in a film” - and junior Saints were in. Day-Lewis, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, Hugh Grant, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus a certain James Healey, the Irish-born Aussie who actually rejected Mad Max for its sparse dialogue (!) in 1978, leaving the superstar route clear for Gibson. And finally, horrendously, ego-trippingly, Kilmer. He later admitted to Moore: “We really screwed that up, didn’t we?”
- Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare In Love, 1998. He never talks about a new project while involved in another and, therefore, refused being The Bard when makingIn The Name of the Father for Jim Sheridan, directorof Daniel’sOscar-winning role in My Left Foot. Julia Roberts, due as his Stratford muse, Viola, offered to change his mind over a Dublin weekend. Her wooing failed and she quit while Universal chief Tom Pollack is reputed to have complained: “Couldn’t she have waited to fuck himuntil we had his name on a piece of paper.”
- Johnny Depp, Sleepy Hollow, 1999. Liam Neeson and Brad Pitt were also consideredby Tim Burton.Not for long.
- Johnny Depp, From Hell, 2001.First choice of brothersAllen and Albert Hughes for their major change of pace- hunting Jack The Ripper.
- Viggo Mortensen,The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-03.
- Ben Shenkman, Angels In America, TV, 2003. Rebel director Robert Altman’s choice before Mike Nichols made Tony Kushner’s two plays as an exceptional HBO TV mini-series.
- Jude Law, Cold Mountain, 2003.Too rambling a tale.
- Liam Neeson, Batman Begins, 2004.
- James Caviezel, Passion of the Christ, 2004. Producer-director Mel Gibson was keen (obviously) but felt Daniel looked too European. Besides, there was always the fear thathe would die on the cross. And arise three days later.
- Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2007. During the 30-year history of Warner and the Richard Matheson sf novel (two films - one Italian - ten directors), potentials for the last man on earth also included Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Ted Levine, Kurt Russell, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Smith had nearly made the movie in 2002 with flash-bang-wallop helmer Michael Bay - instead they played safe and flash-banged...well, no, they damp-squibbed Bad Boys II.
- Sean Penn, Milk, 2007. Director Gus Van Sant had first planned a film in the early 90s about the first openly gay elected to US public office – he was assassinated for it (with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone) in 1978. Van Sant’s main candidates back then to play Harvey Milk were DDL, Richard Gere, Robin Williams, James Woods.
- Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shows, 2010. Also in the mix to be Moriarty: Javier Bardem, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt,
- Eddie Redmayne, Birdsong, TV, 2011. It took the one-time 007 book writer Sebastian Faulks more than a decade toget his WW1 novel into cinemas.. In 2006, he reported:“All the original actors are now too old - Ralph Fiennes and before him Daniel Day-Lewis. More recently they were talking about Orlando Bloom... By the time it gets made, the star of Harry Potter could end up being old enough for it - is he a good actor?”Hollywood even insisted upon Jake Gyllenhaal for the UK hero. Finally, Working Title TV made it with BBC and NBC as a mini-series with the Old Etonian of the hour - from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Pillars of the Earth, My Week With Marilyn.
- François Cluzet, Les Intouchables, France, 2011. So good as the artist and writer Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, in My Left Foot, 1988, that not one but both realisateurs considered him perfect for the quadriplegic hero of their comedy triumph. Precisely why Sir Dan passed. Been there, done that, got the Oscar…
- Liam Neeson, Silence, 2016. Swopsies. Again. In 2011, Neeson bowed out of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Day-Lewis became the 16th POTUS. Now it was Day-Lewis’ turn to leave a project - Martin Scorsese’s third and much delayed religious experience - and Spielberg’s Oskar Schlinder took over as Father Ferreira. Reminiscent of The Mission, 1985 - Best Film at Cannes and the Oscars - this was a Scorsese obsession for 20 years based on Shusaku Endo’s1966 novel about 17th century Jesuits risking their lives to bring Christianity to Japan.