Benicio Del Toro
- John Leguizamo, Summer of Sam, 1998. "Beno" and Leonardo DiCaprio were first choices for the leads finally taken by Leguizamo and Adrien Brody in Spike Lee’s look at the victims of the serial killer during the terrifying New York summer of ’77. A film, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, vibrating with fear, guilt and lust.
- Ray Park, Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, 1997.
- Jeanne Tripplehorn, Timecode, 2000. “My character was not originally a lesbian,” laughed Salma Hayek. “[Director] Mike Figgis just couldn’t cast my guy. Benicio couldn’t make it, so my guy became Jeanne.”
- avier Bardem, Before Night Falls, 2002. Preferred The Way of the Gun, directing debut of his friend, The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie
- Alfred Molina, Frida, 2002. Gave up on being Frida’s lover, Diego Rivera. One experience of putting on weight in a hurry was enough - the 40lbs for Doctor Gonzo in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, 1998. Del Toro had a reputation (like Josh Brolin) of being among the worst auditioners.
- Vincent Cassel, Blueberry: L'expérience secrate, France, 2004. When Val Kilmer ran, realisateur Jan Kounen passed his script to Del Toro and Willem Dafoe. But it had damned little to do with the comicbook upon which it was so debased.
- David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005. “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.” Among the 14 others running to Sharon Stone - or from her and the idea of playing her London shrink. Benicio, Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Downey Jr,Aaron Eckhart, Rupert Everett (!), Bruce Greenwood, Jude Law, Ewan McGrgeor, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Perez, Kurt Russell. An obvious flop before one scene was shot in anger... As in: What can she do for an encore?
- Val Kilmer, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005. Beno and Hugh Grant were Warner's early odd couple for writer Shane Black’s directing debut. Actually, Warners wanted Harrison Ford with anyone... but didn’t they all.
- The Rock, Southland Tales, 2005. Director Richard Kelly’s first thought for Boxer Santaros in his Philip K Dick-Andy Warhol graphic novel hybrid.
- Adrian Brody, Hollywoodland, 2005. As the private dick investigating the life and mystery death of the first TV Superman, George Reeves, 1914-1959. For the second time, Brody and Joaquin Phoenix were up for the same role. In 2003, Phoenix won - well, lost, really. The film was The Village, continuing the freefall of Indian director M Night Shymalan.
- Russell Crowe, American Gangster, 2007. Nearly took off in 2004 under director Antoine Fuqua until the Universal suits balked at the budget - not helped by having to pay Denzel Washington and Del Toro their pay-or-play $20m and $5m, respectively. Ridley Scott took it over, with Washington and Crowe.
- Aaron Eckhart, The Rum Diary, 2009. After Johnny Depp’s plans to play gonzo journo Hunter S Thompson a second time rocked but never rolled in 2000, Benicio (to direct, as well) and Josh Harnett were signed for a 2002 version. That didn’t happen either. Depp got his way (and with his leading lady, Amber Heard) in 2009. No that anyone went.
- Ray Liotta, The Iceman, 2011. First plan of Del Toro and James Franco later became Liotta and Chris Evans - on the sidelines of the true story of the Polish-American serial killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). When caught in 1986, hehad slain more than 100 people.
- Chris Diamantopoulos, The Three Stooges, 2011. The Farrelly brothers’ first choice for the trio’s taciturn leader, Moe Howard - opposite, at the time, Sean Penn, Jim Carey as Larry and Curly. ’Twas obvious from the get-go that this idea was a loser. The Farrellys may love and adore them (hence their own un-subtle comedies like Dumb and Dumber) but there are just not that many fans of the Stooges - and their slap-happy boinks, pokes, slaps, nyuk-nyuks, nyaaahhhs - in one US township, let alone the world. A handsome fella until given Moe’ssoup-bowl haircut, .Diamantopoulos was born five days after Moe died in 1975.
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek: Into Darkness 2012. The 12th and most successful Trek - and Leonard Nimoy’s final curtain as Spock. Producer-director JJ Abrams saw his villain, Kahn Noonien Singh, as a mix of The Dark Knight’s Joker, Hannibal Lecter and The Shining’s Jack Torrance. And seemed to search for him, at UNO: American Mickey Rourke, Mexican Demián Bichir, Puerto Rican Benicio Del Toro, Spanish Jordi Mollà, Venezuelian Edgar Ramirez. Before Steven Spielberg suggested… Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch of Hammesmith, London! And he tested in a friend’s kitchen on an iPhone.
- Ray Liotta, The Iceman, 2012. Change of of Roy DeMeo who supposedly introduced the titular New Jersey Mafia hit man to contract killing. When arrested in 1986, Richard Kuklinski admitted to more than 100 hits, then again… maybe 250. Michael Shannon stole all but the actual screen in the title role.
- Adam Driver, Silence, 2016. Martin Scorese’s third religious experience floundered so long in Development Hell that he lost his leads – Del Toro, Daniel Day-Lewis and Gael Garcia Bernal. They became Diver, Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield. Surprising choices for Jesuit priests: Kylo Ren and Qui –Gon Jinn from Star Wars and an ex-Spider Man! Reminiscent of The Mission, 1985 - Best Film at Cannes and the Oscars - the film was Scorsese obsession for 20 years, based on Shusaku Endo’s novel about 17th century Jesuits risking their lives to bring Christianity to Japan.