Johnny Depp


  1. Michael J Fox, Back To The Future, 1984.       Refused by every studio in town, the now iconic role of Marty McFly was always planned for Fox. However, when his TV series, Family Ties, got in the way, his possible successors were Depp, John Cusack, C Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and the Canadian singer Corey Hart – who never made a movie before or since. Filming actually began with Eric Stoltz, who hadn’t got the heavy Mask out of his system. He was fired. That’s when exec producer Steven Spielberg finally brokered a deal with Ties producer Gary David Goldberg… and poor Fox worked as Alex P Keaton all day and Marty McFly all night. And lived to make two sequels!
  2. Willem Dafoe, Platoon, 1985.   Depp, Jeff Bridges, Val Kilmer, Kris Kristofferson, Nick Nolte, Denzel Washington were on parade for Sergeant Grodin, Elias K. 3365664125 USKC-987654,  in the only Vietnam war movie made by a Vietnam war veteran. Auteur Oliver Stone grunted through eight months of ’Nam combat (twice wounded) during 1967-1968 This then, was as viscerally close to the real thing as possible, feasible or desirable – ie, not John Wayne’s spurious propaganda, Green Berets, 1967. Depp was unknown – and too young. He played one of the grunts – the one with  “Sherilyn” written on his helmet. Sherilyn Fenn was his lover at the time.
  3. Robert Rusler, Thrashin’, 1986.    Auditioned for Tommy Hook (ex-Hawk) in the gang wars of… skateboarders! Rusler had scored 62 screen roles by 2018, including one of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchse, where Depp debuted in 1984.
  4. Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986.         And they said no!!! Also rejected as Ferris: Jim Carrey,  Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr,  Michael J Fox,  Eric Stolz.
  5. Charlie Sheen, Platoon, 1986
  6. Adrian Pasdar, Near Dark, 1987.       Auditioned for  farm boy  Caleb who, in order to see more of Jenny Wright, needed to join the undead. 
  7. Patrick Swayze, Ghost,  1990.         Dropped out to wear Edward’s scissorhands.
  8. Brad Pitt,  Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  9.  Christian Slater, Mobsters, 1990.       Wise move, like Matt Dillon before him,  “I can’t point the finger and blame anybody else,” commented  Slater.  “Completely  my  choice.  I  guarantee  you Mobsters  will not be in my DVD library.”
  10. Christian Slater, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1990. Depp passed on Will Scarlett in the all-American Hood.  Depp could have passed for English in the massive hit.   Kevin Costner, Slater, etc, didn’t bother.

  11. Keanu Reeves, Point Break,1990.   The search for young FBI agent Johnny Utah, infiltrating a gonzo surfer gang of bank robbers in ex-President masks – and falling under the spell of their guru-ish leader – covered  Matthew Broderick, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer,  Charlie Sheen and even Patrick Swayze (who played the guru),  But director Kathryn Bigelow  said Reeves had to be Utah or she wouldn’t  make the movie.
  12. Bill Campbell, The Rocketeer, 1991.      Disney wanted him. “He’s a very fine actor but I don’t think he has the vulnerability Bill has, he  doesn’t  have  the  innocence,” said  director (and ex-ILMagic man) Joe Johnston, who obviously knew little of live actors and nothing of Edward Scissorhands.  Depp, Kevin Costner, Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Bill Paxton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell were also in  the frame for Cliff Secord. Of course, Disney finally got Depp – and how! – in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise during  2003-2017.
  13. William Baldwin, Backdraft, 1991.         Phew! What an escape.  (Just like when asked by Paul Reubns  to play his Pee-wee Herman  character in Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie by Paul  Reubens in 2007)’
  14. Keanu Reeves, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992.       Poor Francis Coppola got few of his first choices – like Jeremy Irons for Drac and Depp as Jonathan Harker. The Columbia suits complained Depp was no heartthrob. D’oh! Reeves was juged hot. Doble d’oh!  William Baldwin and Charlie Sheen were in the mix while Christian Slater lost both Drac and Harker and declared: “If you’re not going to play Dracula in Dracula, why bother? I’d already been Robin Hood’s brother.”
  15. Campbell Scott, Singles, 1992.         A reluctant Johnny told Cameron Crowe: “I’m not ready to say ‘I love you’ in a movie the way I would have to say it in Singles.”
  16. Sebastian Roche, Household Saints, 1992.        Vied with Aidan Quinn for the  cameo of… Jesus.
  17. Robert Downey Jr, Chaplin, 1992.   As proved  in Benny & Joonand again in Dead Man, Buster Keaton was more an influence on Depp…. To play Chaplin  was Peter Sellers’ dream role for decades…  The studio wanted to play safe: Billy Crystal or Robin Williams.  UK director Richard Attenborough had even more bizzare ideas for his biopic: Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline (he became Douglas Fairbanks Jr). Plus Nick Nolte as the older Charlie. And one Brit only, the West End stage star Anthony Sher. Oh, and inexplicably, Nicolas Cage!!??? The first time she saw Downey dressed up on-set, Geraldine Chaplin (playing her paternal grandmother Hannah Chaplin) was so choked up she could scarcely breathe.
  18. Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park, 1992.

  19. Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  20. Tim Roth, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  21. Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.

  22. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993. There were 30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even the n Welsh, Mr Die Hard, himself, aka Bruce Willis… to the B group:  Depp, Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney,  Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans Bruce Campbell and Chuck Norris. All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  23. Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  “There’s no way of knowing,” said Bridges,  “if the film you turn down would have been as big if you’d been it.” Charlie Sheen basically offered to make it for free! But Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner (drowning in Waterworld), Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks (busy Forrest Gumping) were in the loop for clever Andy Dufresne – the jailed banker once handled the finances of Kurt Dussander, according to Apt Pupil, another of the filmed short stories from Stephen King’s 1982 collectiopn, Different Seasons.  The title baffled the public (until smashed DVD records). It had been Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and director Frank Darabont was swamped by agents touting their glamour pusses to play Rita… in the 43rd of King’s staggering 313 screen credits (Depp was a writer –  what else? – in  King’s Secret Window, 2003). 

  24. Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal, 1993.   
    First choice after first choice Tom Cruise refused to be the husband selling his wife for a night for $1m  to a  horny tycoon played  by Robert Redford…  aided by porno stud Randy West as his body double.. The suits never wanted Johnny when the budget hit a certain high. “What’s Mel Gibson doing at the moment?”  And then, never had a studio agreed to Depp so eagerly – after his 2004 Pirates of the Caribbean nomination… and box-office.

  25. Charlie Sheen, The Three Musketeers, 1993.       After the Sherwood Forest clash, four musketeer movies were planned. Johnny agreed to D’Artagnan, the most grimy realistic number, by his Benny & Joon-maker Jeremiah Chechik. Tri-Star refused a pay-or-play deal and the Disney project swept through as the winner wanting Depp for Aramis opposite Brad Pitt  (finally O’Donnell) as D’Artagnan..
  26. Brandon Lee, The Crow, 1993.       Also listed for the titular Eric Draven: Michael Jackson, River Phoenix, Christian Slater. Lee won – and died in a terrible accident with a gun shooting blanks during the hero’s murder on March 31, 1993. “It is not without irony that the story involves a hero who returns from the dead,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “just as, in a sense, Lee has with the release of this film.”
  27. Brad Pitt, Legends of the Fall, 1994.         Passed on the fall from innocence.
  28. William Baldwin, Sliver, 1994.          Billy Baldwin never learned about not picking up Depp’s leavings the first time.
  29. Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire,1994.
  30. Linden Ashby, Mortal Kombat, 1994.         Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon,  was set for  Johnny Cage in the $20m debut of the franchise based on the video game, when accidentally shot dead during The Crow, 1993. Next contenders – Depp, Tom Cruise, Gary Daniels and Jean-Claude Van Damme (how did  they get in there?).  They were all bypassed by the Floridian  surfer and martial arts champ.
  31. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Basketball Diaries, 1995.        Interested some years before in Jim Carroll’s semi-autobiography.

  32. Kevin Kline, French Kiss, 1995.         Director Lawrence Larry Kasdan’s  – more Meg Ryan’s – first idea for the passionate Frenchman after Depardieu had no room for it in his packed schedule.
  33. John Leguizamo, To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar,  1995.      Johnny is exactly what was required to stop the drag number  from  being a drag.
  34. Antonio Banderas, Assassins, 1995.      A year earlier, the Sylvester Stallone-Banderas combo was seen as Wesley Snipes-Depp.
  35. Val Kilmer,  Heat, 1995.  Depp, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and even the Danish Carsten Norgaard and the French Jean Reno were on the cards for Chris Shiherlis. Reeves took off to be (or not to be) Hamlet in, of all places, Winnipeg, Canada.  Depp’s  price was too high for a budget already paying for Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and auteur Michael Mann.
  36. William Baldwin, A Pryomaniac’s Love Story, 1995.    Listen:  “A pastry boy and the son of a hair-piece mogul become involved in an arson scandal.” Not a lot of those scripts around. Not even Depp could have saved this one.  CCC’s favourite critic Roger Ebert said:  “It doesn’t have a mean bone in its body or, for that matter, a brain in its head.”
  37. Javier Bardem, Perdita Durango, Mexico-USA-Spain, 1996.        Romeo wherefore art thou…. He had been Javier Bardem, then Depp when Spanish director Bigas Luna prepped the movie – and finally, Bardem again for Alex  de la Iglesia.
  38. Michael J Fox, Mars Attacks! 1996.       Of course, director Tim Burton called on Johnny. And, of course, Johnny said… well, he said No on this occasion. (Very wise).   In 2011, Depp and Burton worked on  their eighth collaboration, Dark Shadows
  39. Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire, 1996.   Super-Tom One, Hanks, was into his helming debut, The Thing That You Do, 1996. Super-Tom Two, Cruise, said: “I may not be right for this but let me just read for you.” And Super-Tom-One added: “It couldn’t have been anyone but Cruise.” Except auteur Cameron Crowe had also considered Depp, Tim Allen (briefly, thankfully), Alec Baldwin, Edward Burns (who recommended his latest co-star, Connie Britton, for Dorothy; they both came second), Sean Penn (from Crowe’s first script, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1981), John Travolta and Bruce Willis.
  40. Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic, 1996. 
  41. Matthew Broderick, Addicted To Love, 1996.     Broderick  and Madonna were ready for the rom-com in 1993.  Warner Bros was not.. By the time it was, the birds had flown. Broderick made it with Meg Ryan.  Chicago ritic Roger Ebert said . “It’s like bright people got together to make the film and didn’t trust the audience to keep up with them.” Little wonder… The project had been among the many suggested to the studio by Sondra Locke as a directing gig in her special $1.5m Warner contract that was never worth the paper it was written on (as her then about to be ex-lover Clint Eastwood reimbursed ther studio!). Yet Warner allowed another actior, Griffin Dunne, to make his helming debut.  Locke’s version would never have been so weak.
  42. Val Kilmer, The Saint, 1997.         Among Roger Moore’s 80s/90s projects was producing a St Pierce Brosnan (!) or being the ageing hero, finding his illegitimate Saint son – nearly Ralph Fiennes for director Sydney Pollack. Fiennes was then asked to be the real Simon Templar by final director Philip Noyce. So were: the terrible Kilmer, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, 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. Kilmer  later admitted to Moore: “We really screwed that up, didn’t we?””
  43. Jude Law, Gattaca, 1997.          Now it was Depp’s directing debut (with Brando!!!). And he was too busy preparing The Brave to play third DNA  banana  to Ethan  Hawke and Uma Thurman.

  44. James Caviezel, The Thin  Red Line, 1998. 
    “Let’s sign this napkin,” Depp told director Terrence Malick at Sunset Boulevard’s Book Soup Bistro. “You tell me where to show up, when, what to play.” Twenty-one years after Days Of Heaven, the new generation longed to join  Malick’s comeback. (Sidney Lumet had come close to filming “the best novel of war.)  Some stars wondered if, after a 21-year lay-off,  Malick still had “it”. He did.  And lost it with one too many iconoclastic/pretentious pieces.

  45. Tom Cruise Eyes Wide Shut, 1998.       A better idea for Bill Hartford. Not that Depp could have saved the old-fashioned mess that proved to be Stanley Kubrick’s final film. And he thought, his greatest.  Didn’t he ever see the 15 others?  (Truth is, it sucked due to Cruise and the misses). Also up for Hartford: Harrison Ford and Steve Martin. 
  46. Michael J Fox, Mars Attacks! 1998.        This once, Depp passed on a Tim  Burton movie  (with reason; it never ignited) and Fox took on the TV journo Jason Stone. In 2011,       Depp and Burton worked on  their eighth collaboration, Dark Shadows
  47. Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Pitt or , 1998.         The score’s composer Don Davis said Depp was first choice of the Wachowski siblings (then brothers Larry and Andy, now sisters Lana and Lilly). Warners voted:  Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer. They passed. OK, said Warners: Depp or Keanu Reeves.
 (As if that was a choice). Also seen for the neo-noir Neo: Nicolas Cage (family commitments), Leonardo DiCaprio (“too many special effects”), David Duchovny (preferred TV’s X-Files), Ewan McGregor (shooting Star Wars: Episode 1), Lou Diamond Phillips (his agent said: instant flop) and the surprisingly honest Will Smith. “I would have messed it up!”
  48. Kevin Kline, Wild, Wild West, 1999.     Director Barry Sonnenfeld was allowed to go for broke to attract Will Smith as West, James West. Had more trouble filling Artemus Gordon’s boots… also looking at Depp, George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey. Like almost everyone else concerned with the enterprise, the star and director (Will Smith and Barry Sonenfeld) hated the movie.
  49. Loren Dean, Mumford, 1999.         Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan sought him as Mumford town’s popular “shrink.”  Dr Mumford.
  50. Tim Roth, Planet of the Apes, 2000.   Depp (well Tim Burton was directing!),  Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman were also in the frame for General Thade – requiring  six weeks in “ape school.”  Poor Roth suffered trapped nerves and two herniated vertebrae in his back from his ape-suit.
  51. James Franco, James Dean, TV, 2001.       In the Jimmy mix with Brendan Fraser, Edward Furlong, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt. Other actors played… Pier Angeli,  Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Julie Harris, Hedda Hopper, Rock Hudson, Louis Jourdan, Elia Kazan, Raymond Massey, Marilyn Monroe, Geraldine Page, Nicholas Ray, George Stevens, Lee Strasberg  – and director Mark Rydell was  Jack Warner   Oh you hadda be there! 

  52. Richard Gere, Unfaithful, 2001.   For Adrian Lyne’s passionate US update of Madame Bovary, Depp, George Clooney, Robert Redford, John Travolta, Bruce Willis were also up for Diane Lane’s husband – unaware she’s playing away. Chicago critic Roger Ebert reported her French lover Olivier Martinez could suspend a woman indefinitely in any position” during sex. French guys adored this commercial for Ze French lurverrrrs!
  53. Russell Crowe, A Brilliant Mind, 2001.   The choice of the right actor to  portray the schizophrenic Noble Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr was vital.  Which had me wondering  why  Keanu Reeves, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta and  Bruce Willis   were on the short-list!  Then again they might have proved as surprising as Crowe. Director Ron Howard’s other candidates included  Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson,  Jared Leto, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt. Nash  liked the  six-Oscar-winner. “But it wasn’t me.”
  54. Sam Rockwell, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, 2002.         Johnny talked to Bryan Singer  about a  fifth true-life role – as Chuck Barris, TV’s Gong Show host  and, so he claimed, a CIAssassin. Singer quit for X-Men II, letting  George Clooney make his (superb) directing debut. Depp stayed around as exec producer.  He could not play every cuckoo in town.

  55. Eric Bana, Hulk, 2002.         Director Ang Lee first played  the Hulk, himself,  using the performance-capture process. During the mid-1990s, Depp was first choice for the green guy.  Next candidates were Steve Buscemi, Billy Crudup, Tom Cruise, David Duchovny, Jeff Goldblum and Edward Norton  before (because of Chopper), Bana became Bruce Banner.  So did Norton in the 2007 reboot. No better.
  56. Leonardo DiCaprio,  Catch Me  If You Can, 2002.       Spielberg’s first choice for the 60s’ ace teenage conman Frank Abagnal Jr – that’s him as a cop  arresting Leo as his screen self in France. Great fun!
  57. Mel Gibson, Signs, 2002.       The Reverend Graham Hess was first scripted as an older guy. This explains why sliding director M Night Shyamalan offered the dog-collar to Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman. But Depp…? Aw c’mon, Johnny can play any age – anything! – you want.
  58. Jamie Foxx, Collateral, 2003.   The cabby driving a hitman to his LA targets changed – from Foxx, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, Cuba Gooding Jr – almost as often as the thriller’s director: Scorsese and Spielberg to Spike Lee and, finally, Michael Mann… who also chose Foxx for Miami Vice, 2005.
  59. Matt Damon, The Brothers Grimm, 2004.       Once planned by MGM for  Depp, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman… Except Tim Burton wasn’t directing.
  60. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator, 2004.       The Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert, planned a Howard Hughes story for their From Hell star. This once, director Martin Scorsese moved faster. 
  61. Kevin Spacey, Beyond The Sea, 2004.        When his 164-page scenario  did  not attract Tom Cruise, auteur Barry Levinson turned (as most people were doing) to Johnny.  Finally. it was Spacey,  the mega Bobby Darin fan, who   wrote, directed acted and sang the biopic – and cut costs by making it (rather well)  in Germany.

  62. Jim Carrey, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, 2004.        No time for the lead role  – three hours of make-up…
  63. Jude Law, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, 2004.     …..nor even to  stick around  as Lemony’s voice narrating the story.
  64. Martin Henderson, Bride and Predujice, 2004.        Gurinder Chadha’s  inevitable first choice for Darcy in her slice of Bollywood Meets Jane Austen. Second choice: Joaquin Phoenix.
  65. Brad Pitt, Mr and Mrs Smith, 2005.       Over-stretched with a mass of projects. If he had not backed out (far too busy and never happy in, well, normal roles monis broad make-up), Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt would never  have been born  to Brad and Angelina Jolie in 2006.  Destiny!
  66. Benicio Del Torrro, Sin City, 2005.      Johnny was reserved for Wallace in Hell And Back until thatFrank Miller tale was dropped. Robert Rodriguez then asked  Depp to be Jackie Boy and then, Depp could not get free. Part of Jackie’s story (when  he was actually dead) was guest-directed by Quentin Tarantino.
  67. Nicolas Cage, Ghost Rider, US-Australia, 2005.  Depp and Eric Bana let  their interest be  known – and loudly –  in the comicbook hero,.  Cage, however, was not about to give up his dream role of Johnny Blaze. A true comics’ fan, Cage named himself after Luke Cage and has his  son after… Jal-El!  Cage was al the Green Goblin in Spider-Man, 2001, and did costume tests for the Tim Burton Supermanthat never flew. – Ethan Hawke, Gattaca, 1997.  Depp passed on the debuty of New Zealand auteur Andrew Niccol in order to direct himself (and Marlon Brando!) in The Brave.  Gattacawas the better movie. By far.
  68. Toby Jones, Infamous, 2006.      Second consecutive film study of Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood, with an even better performance than that of the Oscar-awarded Philip Seymour Hoffman in  Capote, 2005.  Even the  magic Depp could not have bettered Jones.
  69. Jean Reno, Flushed Away, 2006.      Jean Reno proudly beat Johnny, Kevin Kline and Stellan Skarsgard to voicing… wait for it… Le Frog.

  70. Marlon Brando, Superman Returns, 2006.
  71. Kevin Spacey,  Superman Returns, 2006.

  72. Colin Farrell,  Ask The Dust, 2006.      Even with Johnny aboard, Robert Towne’s script was continually shelved by one studio after another muddling the Depression with…  depressing.
  73. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, 2007.
  74. Mathieu Almaric, Le Scaphandre et le papillon, France-US, 2007.       Artist-turned-film-maker Julian Schnabel’s first choice for the paralysed Jean-Dominique Bauby had another date… with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.  Almaric’s brilliance led him to Spielberg and James Bond.
  75. Emile Hirsch, Speed Racer, 2007.       Depp was keen when Mexico’s Alfonso Cuarón were due to direct. He was also happy with Julien Temple in 1995. Not when he wasn’t. Also close to occupying Speed’s driving seat: Zac Efron, Shia Labeouf, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  76. Russell Crowe, State of Play, 2008.       Or, State of Delay as Brad Pitt called it after being stalled so long on it. When he finally walked,   the role of journalist Cal McAffrey was offered to Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Crowe took over – after discussing the film with Ridley Scott… one of the few directors never attached to it.
  77. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen, 2008.    Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? And in the 20 years it took for Alan Moore’s DComic-book to be filmed, directors came and went – from Terry Gilliam to Paul Greengrass. Even Tim Burton was keen – with his usual muse as Edward Morgan Blake aka The Comedian – before they split for Sweeeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. Then Zack Synder went with Morgan because he was that Hollywood rarity, a man’s man. “Grumpy and cool and grizzled… Perfect!”
  78. John Cusack, Shanghai, 2009.      Because he’s made a few, Depp knows a dud when he reads one. Cusack, apparently, does not. Despite a sleek Gong Li and Yun-Fat Cow and a 40s’ setting… Casablanca, it ain’t.
  79. Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine, 2009.
  80. Daniel Craig, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 2010.
  81. Ben Kingsley, Hugo, 2010.        Depp and producer pal Graham King snapped up Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret – as a kids’ film for cinema fans. (Hence, a perfect vehicle for Martin Scorsese). The main character   – after young Hugo – is French silent movie icon  Georges Melies,  the veritable father of Cameron, Jackson, Lucas, Spielberg… and now, Scorsese. Keeping a producer credit, Depp kept a back seat – and sat on  it , playing guitar in the band at at the Gare Monparnasse in Paris.

  82. Sam Riley, On The Road, 2010.    Argentina-Brazil-Canada-France-Germany-Holland-Mexico-UK-US. 2010.    Numerous attempts were made at filming Jack Kerouac’s 1957 “beat” classic. He even mused on playing himself (or his aka Sal Paradise) in 1957 opposite Marlon Brando as Neal Cassady (aka Dean Moriarty). Marlon never replied to his invite, probably thinking it was a fake. 1979: Francis Coppola  bought the rights.  He tried to write a script but “never knew how to do it.” 1995:  Francey  planned a 16mm black-white version with “beat” poet Allen Ginsberg. (Johnny Depp declined in the 90s).2005: Joel Schumacher helming Billy Crudup-Colin Farrell…or Brad Pitt-Ethan Hawke. Finally, Coppola & Son (Roman) and 26 other producers (!) had Brazilian Walter Salles directing English Sam Riley, Australian Garrett Hedlund – and Kristen Stewart  as Mary Lou, once offered to Lindsay Lohan and Winona Ryder. Salles also checked Joseph Gordon-Levitt-James Franco. 

  83. James Franco, Oz, the Great and Powerful, 2011.      When first planning the Wizard of Oz prequel, Disney asked Depp to enter the wizard’s hot-air balloon. Tim Burton wasn’t directing and Johnny was already due as Tonto in the studio’s The Lone Ranger. Downey was just as busy and refusing various offers. Enter: the actor-writer-director-painter-photographer of the moment, studying for a PhD in English at Yale and digital art at the Rhode Island School of Design. A stranger in a stranger land, the ineffectual Franco was basically Dorothy, which is, perhaps, why Depp and Downey were not.
  84. Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman, 2011.     Like Michael Fassbender – among others  – a-hunting, Johnny did not go. Perhaps because the   huntsman went by the rather  Monty Python name of… Eric.
  85. Chris Diamantopoulos, The Three Stooges, 2011.       Benicio Del Toro and Russell Crowe (!) topped the Farrelly brothers’ wish-list for head Stooge Moe Howard. Also seen: Depp, Hank Azaria, even Mel Gibson!! However, it was obvious from the get-go that this idea was a loser. Bobby and Peter adored them (hence their own un-subtle comedies) but there were not many other fans left of the Stooges – and their literal slap-happy boinks, pokes, slaps, nyuk-nyuks and nyaaahhhs. Mel Brooks had backed off from such a project in 1974 for exactly that reason. “It’s so hard to sustain a plot that could withstand their antics for that long.” A handsome fella until suffering the infamous soup-bowl haircut, Diamantopoulos was born five days after Moe died in 1975.  
  86. Pierce Brosnan, A Long Way Down, 2012.    Johnny  nabbed the  rights to Nick Hornby’s fourth book before Nick Hornby’s novel hit Amazon shelves.  But it was Brosnan helping to form a surrogate family on New Year’s Eve with Rosamund Pike, Aaron Paul and Toni Collette.
  87. Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, 2011.
    Some of the names – and heights – up for Lee Child’s craggy ex-military cop-cum-Sherlock-homeless  were absurd.  Jim Carrey, for example. Jim Carrey!  Some 25 others  were Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Cary Elwes,  Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Hugh Wolverine Jackman, Dwayne Johnson (“I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher”),  Avatar’s Stephen Lang, Dolph Lundgren, Edward Norton, Ron (Hellboy) Perlman, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves (he became John Wick x 5),  Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington and the battle-fatigued  Bruce Willis.  Any of them would have been more acceptable than Tom Cruise  – with the exception of Carrey, Depp, Elwes, Reeves and, obviously the Euros. Pitt was best of the pack (remember Fight Club?)… although no one even thought of the obvious choice –   Liam Neeson!  Reacher fans were livid about  the 5ft 5ins Cruise daring to be  the  6ft 5ins  action hero. Reminiscent of Anne Rice’s capitulation over  tiny Tom as her “very tall” Lestat in  Interview With The Vampire, in 1994, author Lee Child declared: “Reacher’s size is a metaphor for an unstoppable force – which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Ah! But then in 2018, after the sequel, Child changed his tune about his child. (They share the same birthday, October 29).  ”Ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom CruiseWe’re rebooting,  we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.” And they did with 6ft. 2ins Alan Richtson – Aquaman in Smallville and Hawk in Supergirl and Titans – for the Amazon series.

  88. Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock, 2012.    One mInute Moe Howard, the next Alfred Hitchcock…!    Yes, Hitch Is back in business!   With two films headlined by UK actors (Anthony Hopkins, Toby Jones) in bad impressions and fat suits. This is the second one: Hopkins directing Psycho. And telling Janet Leigh: “You can call me Hitch. Hold the cock.”   Hitch didn’t look (or sound) like Hitch and  idem for those playing Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, however young James D’Arcy was an uncanny Anthony Perkins.  Apart from Johnny Depp, the casting only seemed interested in avoirdupois over plausibility… Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Murray, Oliver Platt – and, stupidly, only two other Brits, Richard Griffiths and Alfred Molina… but not the perfect Timothy Spall, already up for Hitch in TV’s terrible The Girl about making Tippi Hedren, The Birds and Marnie. Oh and here’s Johnny – having already been in the mixes for Chaplin and Bobby Darin!
  89. Pierce Brosnan, A Long Way Down, 2012.   Depp was quick to grab Nick Hornby’s  book about four suicide wannabes, forming  a surrogate family – Rosamund Pike, Aaron Paul,  Toni Collette – to help each other on New Year’s Eve. . Depp’s Cockney accent would have been better than Brosnan’s  as a disgraced TV star
  90. Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2013.        Wes Anderson’s follow-up to his 2012  summer hit, Moonrise Kingdom, had first been a Johnny Depp vehicle.  He just couldn’t make ’em all.  Pity, this one needed  him (or Peter Sellers).  Fiennes is no light comedian. 

  91. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, 2014.       When the lead role is called Johnny who else would Robert Rodriguez call… JG-L gave up Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy to work with Robert Rodriguez and comic-book writer Frank Miller. Surprised there was room – the credits included 20 exec producers.
  92. 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.  Plus Johnny…  By way of the early-21st century suspects:, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, 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!
  93. James Corden, Into The Woods, 2013.  
  94. Adrien Brody, Houdini, TV, 2014.   More about the role than this actual project.  Paramount considered Edward G Robinson and Orson Welles as Harry Houdini in the 40s. He’s  been  been portrayed  by actors as diverse as Tony Curtis, Harvey Keitell and Guy Pearce.  Richard Dreyfuss was ready for a 1976 biopic. Twenty years on,  Woody Allen sought  GérardDepardieu for a comedy about Houdini consulting Freud about his claustrophobia (!). By 2014, Johnny Depp and Ryan Gosling were tempted by the  Indiana Holmes version in The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. Finally, Oscar-winner Brody headed the A+E network’s two-parter made in Budapest – where Houdini was born. 
  95. Dominic Cooper, Warcraft: The Beginning, 2015.  It’s good to be a king…  And Depp wanted King Llane Wrynn  more than the Legendary suits did for the videogame spin-off. More of a Lord of the Rings knock-off.    Cooper led  four human kingdoms in the Orc-Human war, opposite his wife and TV Preacher co-star, Ruth Negga. 
  96. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.   Probably too strange!  Like Joaquin Phoenix… Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the  portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Mads Mikkelsen  was first choice. But that was in in 2013…  Among those laterflown up the flagpole were TV do Patrick Dempsey, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Tom Hardy, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Vincent Price (in 1986!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise!), Justin Theroux. Oh and two Jokers: 2015’s Jared Leto and 2018’s Joachin Phoenix.  Finally, production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stagetriumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison…  and could be head of the MCU when Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery.
  97. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty, 2015.        In July, Hugh Jackman  slipped out of being the  Mad man whose colleagues try to break his depression. Immediately, PalmStar Media chased Depp, whose agenda reached the 22nd Century. Or thereabouts. By the end of August, Smith jumped into the Madison Avenue elevator.  With Rooney Mara.
  98. Will Smith, Suicide Squad, 2015.     After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director David Ayer  shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not  Depp, Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, 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.
  99. James McAvoy, Split, 2015.
     When Joaquin Phoenix could not reach a deal, auteur M Night Shyamalan met McAvoy by chance at a Comic-Con. The Scottish actor agreed to play the Billy Milligan (1955-2014), diagnosed with 24 multiple personalities (ten desirables,13 no), including two women and a girl of three.  Charged with raping three women in 1977, Milligan was acquitted when his defence argued that the crimes were committed, not by Milligan, but by one of his alternate personalities. “Hitchcock created a masterpiece using the same subject matter to create Psycho,” noted critic Dennis Schwarz, “but Shyamalan is only a so-so director and just comes up with an unpleasant and pointless kidnapping thriller.”  David Fincher and Joel Schumacher were previously attached to another version, The Crowded Room, with such potential Milligans as Jim Carey, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio (producing his version), Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn and  Brad Pitt for the producer called Leo.

  100. Travis Fimmel, Warcraft : The Beginning, 2015.   Based on the series of immensely successful medieval video games – orcs v humans. That was when Sam Raimi was due to direct. Finally, Duncan Jones helmed – with the Aussie TV Tarzan. Jones’ father, David Bowie, died during the production.
  101. James Franco, The Disaster Artist, 2015. Tommy Wiseau wanted Johnny Depp to play him. Well, obviously.   Depp had made/played  Ed Wood, about the worst film-maker of the 20th century. . Now here was a movie about the making of Tommy’s The Room, the worst of the 21st Century, in 2003.  “Or James Franco,” Tommy had added. And Franco, it was, who played Tom, roped in his brother Dave to be his best mate, Greg Sistero,  and packed the huge cast  with roles for co-producer Seth Rogen, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, Sharon Stone. Plus  other  pals,  JJ Abrams, Kristen Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Bryan Cranston, Zac Efron, as themselves and (well, James played him  once) ) James Dean as Jim, Stark  in a Rebel With A Cause clip! Someone’s cup runneth over.  (Not mine). 
  102. Bill Skarsgård, It, 2016.   There was talk over seven years about re-hashing the mini-series of 1990 – when Stellan Skarsgård’s son/Alexander Tarzan Skarsgård’s brother was born. Among his rivals for Pennywise, Stephen King’s shape-shifting horror clown, were the too obvious Depp, Jim Carrey, Tim Curry (no, no, he’d already done It on TV), Willem Dafoe, Jackie Earle Haley. Plus Richard Armitage, Kirk Acevedo (of Oz), Paul Giamatti, Tom Hiddleston, Doug Jones, Ben Mendelsohn (argued over money), Will Poulter (bad scheduling), Channing Tatum, Hugo Weaving… even Tilda Swinton. Only Bill Skarsgård could produce both a child-like and creepy-like Pennywise. “It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown… [that’s] a manifestation of the children’s imaginations, so there’s something child-like about that.” Hence, It: Chapter Two, 2019.
  103. Spencer Rocco LoFranco,  Gotti, 2017.        Depp refused The Son (he’d made his Mafia movies: Donnie Brasco, 1996, and Black Mass, 2015). Also in discussion for Gotti Jr – in what was then Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father – were Robert Downey Jr, Ben Foster, James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Jeremy Renner Foster, Channing Tatum, even the British Dominic Cooper. While Juniors,writers, directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson) and years sped by, John Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don as Gotti Sr was known when the untouchable head of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. Also firm from Day One: Travolta’s wife and daughter, Kelly Preston and Ella Blue Travolta, playing Gotti’s wife and daughter. As for accessories, the ties were Gotti’s; the cars, Travolta’s. Oh, and Canada’s LoFranco was perfect for Travolta… unknown, far from the A List or stealing movies.
  104. Adam Driver, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.
  105. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody, 2017.   Creatve differences with a capital Q for Queen! Sacha Baron Cohen quit, wanting a racier view of singer Freddie Mercury’s salacious life.  Not so, said drummer Roger Taylor. “We didn’t want it to be a joke – we want people to be moved.”  “He was too well-known to play Freddie Mercury,’ added guitarist Brian May.  The two Queen stars, co-producing with the likes of Robert De Niro, admired SBC’s outstanding comedies. “But they’re very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances,” said May. “The man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t that could really happen with Sacha.”  Nor Dominic Cooper, Johnny Depp  or Ben Wishaw. (Daniel Radcliffe was fake news). Then, the unknown Malek began a TV series called Mr Robot…   and won an Oscar as Freddie.
  106. Ben Affleck, Triple Frontier, 2019.   Five buddies take down a South American drug lord. But which magnificent five?  Well, it was only the squad leaders  mentioned – one wrinklie, one younger –as the script lay on the ropes for eight years, going from directors Kathleen Bigelow to JC Chandor and from Paramount to, but of course, Netflix.  Tom Hanks-Johnny Depp were the 2010 duo, followed by Denzel Washington-Sean Penn, Tom Hardy-Channing Tatum, plus Ben Affleck and his bro, Casey. And finally Ben Affleck-Hunnam. Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg also featured in the mixes – minus any cited pardner.
  107. David Tennant, Good Omens, TV, 2019.   As per usual, director Terry Gilliam wasted years trying to film the Neil Gaiman-Terry Prichett novel. He got $50m in his kitty, Robin Williams and Depp as the angels, Aziraphale and Crowley. But all Hollywood studios recited the same message:  Nobody wants to see Depp .  His next film? Pirates of the Caribbean. Douglas Mackinnon made the series with Michael Sheen and  Tennant as the angels,  one diivine, one fallen – so good, they didn’t need all the guest stars: Brian Cox (as Death), Jon Hamm, Michael McKean, Frances McDermond  as God.
  108. Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Invisible Man,  2019.   The  major flops of  Dracula Untold, 2014, and The Mummy (even with Tom Cruise) in  2016, seemed to kill the new Universal Monsters idea.  Certainly, all plans for an invisible Johnny Depp were shred. Then, Blumhouse Productions (makers of Paranormal Activity, 2009) found a whole new take. The title fella is now the villain, a scientist literally haunting and terrorising his ex-lover – a powerhouse performance from the glorious Elisabeth Moss. Armie Hammer and Alexander Skarsgård were touted for Mr Invisible before Londoner OJC – Jonathan Harker in Universal’s Dracula, 2013-2014; Luke Crain in The Haunting of Hill House, 2018-2020; even Prince William in Will & Kate: Before Happily Ever After, 2011.



“He didn’t become an actor to be glamorous; he wanted to become characters. Those are the kinds of people I enjoy working with. They’re not in it for the celebrity or the perks; they’re doing it because they kind of want to hide. (Laughs) That’s why I like him. He’s more like Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff than he is Alan Ladd.” – Tim Burton