- Mandy Patinkin, Yentl, 1962. 1962. Who was going to be Avigdor, therabbinical student lover of Barbra Streisand as the cross-dressing Yeshiav Boy in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s tale?Trouble was,La Barb was also the director, producer, and “co-writer”...Obvious, therefore,who was going tohave all the closer-ups!So Douglas, Richard Gere, Kevin Klineand Christopher Walken just fled.
- Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970.
- Brad Dourif, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974.
- Mel Ferrer, Lili Marleen, WestGermany,1980. Surprise! Surprise! Oddball German regisseur Rainer Werner Fassbinder had a meeting in LA with Douglas for the major role of David Mendelssohn. Their correspondence showed how seriously Douglas considered the invite
- Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo),1982.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator, 1983. In all, 52 actresses were considered, seen, or tested for the robot assassin’s target, Sarah Connor -but a mereeight guys for the killer from the future, itself. Douglas, Mel Gibson, Kevin Kline, Jürgen Prochnow, Randy Quaid, Tom Selleck… It was when Orion boss Mike Medavoy decided onOJ Simpson as the Terminator and Arnie as Reese, that CameronrealisedSchwarzi was the perfect, coolest Terminator in town.
- Kevin Costner, The Untouchables, 1987. Michael had done his cop time, thank you, almost 100 hours on The Streets of San Francisco, 1972-76. It took him 16 years (and $14m) to return to the SFPD in Basic Instinct.
- Richard E Grant, Warlock, 1988. Sean Connery also said no.
- Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989. UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Douglas, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta… and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
- Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanties, 1990. The idea was yet aother rotten one: Gordon Gekko as Sherman McCoy!
- James Caan, Misery, 1990. "Beatty, Douglas, Dreyfuss… sure, I approached all those people," said director Rob Reiner. "Every single one of those bastards turned me down... As much as I tried to convince them that I'd try to elevate the genre - which I feel we did - they saw it as a Stephen King, blood and guts kinda film." The refusniks also included Jeff Daniels, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Robert Klein, Kevin Kline, Ed O’Neill, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, John Ritter, Denzel Washington. Why did Caan agree? "I think he wanted the work."
- 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.
Kevin Costner , JFK, 1991.
- Tommy Lee Jones, JFK, 1991.
- Michael Ontkean, Making Love, 1992. Worried about the subject matter: a young husband’s bisexuality being aroused by Harry Hamlin. Also fleeing: Harrison Ford, Richard Gere.
- Tom Hanks, Radio Flyer, 1992. Once helmer Richard Donner lowered the ages of the children in the movie, producer Douglas passed on narrating it as the older version of Elijah Wood..
- Robert Duvall, Falling Down, 1992. Swopped roles with Duvall, preferring the bad guy nut-case (in a Spartacus crew-cut) to yet another cop. He also wanted his Basic Instinct fee: $14m. Warners preferred his Shining Through fee: $6m.
- Donald Sutherland, Six Degrees of Separation, 1993. The Broadway couple (Stockard Channing, John Cunningham) became Channing and Douglas, and finally, Channing and Sutherland were the superficial pair taken in by Will Smith’s conman - in playwright John Guare’s excellent adaptation of his stage hit.
- Harrison Ford, The Fugitive, 1993. Last time, Dr Richard Kimble went on the lam, it took him 120 hours during 1963-1967 to prove he didn’t kill his wife. Ford managed it in 130 minutes. After surpassing Douglas, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia and Nick Nolte.
- Craig T Nelson, Take Me Home Again, TV, 1994. After years of searching for a script to do together, Michael and Kirk found this drama of a dying father asking his son to take him back to the old neighbourhood. Michael passed: "I'm doing a film with Demi Moore." Kirk: "You can do that another time." Michael: "Are you crazy?" Said Kirk later: "I've met her now and I can see what he means." He found them another script, with parts for Mom Diana and son Cameron: It Runs in the Family, 2003. Didn’t run that well.
- Charlie Sheen, Terminal Velocity, 1994. The skydiving thriller also interested wee Tom Cruise. For a wee while.
- Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995. Who’s gonna look best in the close-ups...? "It didn't smell good. And I just didn't feel comfortable doing a picture with the director married to the leading lady." Most of The A List agreed, until Renny Harlin and Geena Davis found Modine more keen on playing pirates. No survivors when this baby sank!
- Denzel Washington, Virtuosity, 1995. One of Denzel’s sons talked him into chasing this virtual-reality serial killer. Junior should have been grounded!
- Jon Voight, Mission: Impossible, 1995. Paramount asked the old IMF chief to to play Jim Phelps once more. Peter Graves fled after reading the script and finding Phelps was treated negatively and knocked off at the end. (Immediately, two other old IMF agents, Martin Landau and Greg Morris, backed out of cameos). Douglas, Al Pacino and Robert Redford apparently agreed with Graves and refused the father figure leader.
- Pierce Brosnan, Dante's Peak, 1997. One of the two volcanic numbers in the USummer of '97. He turned down $20m. The current 007 did it for $5m, his injuries delaying the 19th Bond movie.
- John Travolta, The General's Daughter, 1998. Bruce Willis and John Cusack also backed off, allowing Travolta’s Army CID investigator to do quite a James Bond riff.
- Christopher Lloyd, My Favourite Martian, 1998. A Martian makes a visit – and friends with Jeff Daniels’ reporter. There goes the neighbourhood - title of a whole other Daniels’ movie, circa 1992. The five possibilities for “Uncle Martin” were Douglas, Charlton Heston(!), Bill Murray (a tad obvious), Martin Sheen - and Star Trek’s latest skipper, Patrick Stewart.
- Bill Paxton, U-571, 1999. "The film was pushed back too far for my comfort." So was history. The UK’s Royal Navy captured the Nazi Enigma decoding machine aboard a sunken U-boat four months before the US entered WWII.
- Richard Gere, Runaway Bride, 1999. During a decade of changes, everyone (Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson) had a shot at being the journalist probing reluctant brides from Sandra Bullock to Demi Moore.
- Andy Garcia, Ocean's Eleven, 2001. After Bruce Willis and Ralph Fiennes also passed, Garcia did a smooth job of Terry Benedict - the guy who kicked Danny Ocean out of Vegas and wed his gal, Julia Roberts.
- Will Smith, I, Robot, 2004. Went around the block from director Ridley Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Liam Neeson, Kinsey, 2004. Oldest of auteur Bill Condon’s candidates for the world's most famous sexologist.
- Bruce Willis, Sin City, 2004. Initial Robert Rodriguez thinking for John Hartigan in the quite brilliant “translation not adaptation’ of (co-director) Frank Miller’s graphic novel.
- Basic Instinct 2, 2005. “I did a sequel once,” Michael said in 2001, “and I don't see it as anything other than a financial decision.” Hey, fella, you just worked that out now?
- Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006. During 25 years in Development Hell,the titular casting also included Russell Croswe, Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Steve Martin(!), Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most absurd notions were… Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!
- Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2007. During the 30-yearhistory of Warners and the Richard Matheson sf novel (two films - one Italian - ten directors), potentials for the lastman on earth also included Nicolas Cage,Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, Mel Gibson, Ted Levine, Kurt Russell, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, ultimately, Smith, who had first considered making with with director Michael Bay in 2002. (They gaveit up for...Bad Boys II).
- Alex Loughlin, Hawaii Five-0, 2010.Five years earlier there had been a lot of chat about a Five-0 movie - headlined by Douglas, Harrison Ford or Mel Gibson. However,the island cop Steve McGarrett was rebooted (badly) as a new TV series. Dead in the water after ten episodes.
- Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, 2011. Oh, Hollywood… Since the musical’s 1985 London opening, suggestions for Jean Valjean went from the logical - Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline - to the preposterous: Douglas, , Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken. Plus close pals, rarely rivals, Beatty and Jack Nicholson. However, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino were far too short for the hefty hero who, in a signature scene, has to carry Cosette’s lover, away from the battle of the barricades. Pugt it another way, Hollywood’s last Valjean had been Liam Neeson - 6ft. 4in.