Lord Richard Attenborough


  1. Peter Sellers, The Ladykillers, 1955.       At first, director Alexander Mackendrick cauliflower-ear-marked Sellers as the dumb One Round – while his eventual role of Teddy Boy Harry had been reserved for Darling Dickie.  Sellers and Attenborough later co-starred in Only Two Can Play, 1961, and The Dock Brief (aka Trial and Error), 1962. 
  2. Donald Sinden, Twice Round the Daffodils,  1961.   The rights to the play by actor Patrick Cargill and Jack Beale were snapped up fast enough but left to rot until Attenborouigh showed interest in the lead and got the Boulting brothers involved and… zilch. Back to the shelf!  Enter: producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas, registering the title, but first using the same source material for a little something called… Carry On Nurse.  Jill Ireland, Joan Sims  and Kenneth Williams appeared in both films and both ended with the same gag: Colonel: Come come, Matron. Surely you’ve seen a temperature taken like this before? Matron: Yes Colonel. But never with a daffodil!  

  3. Michael Ripper, Richard III, 1955.     Laurence Olivier, the star and director, thought it was an amusing idea to have two of the UK’s most famous WWII movie heroes as the murderers, Forrest and Dighton. John Mills was not amused – “stunt casting!” Attenborough was booked elsewhere. Or, so he said.
  4. Trevor Howard, Operation Crossbow, 1965.    The one touch of reality in a WWII hotchpotch over-boiled by producer Carlo Ponti for the missus. Sophia Loren.
  5. Colin Blakely, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, 1970.      An ideal Dr Watson for a wee while. With Charlton Heston suggested – for an even wee-er while – as Holmes.
  6. Robert Shaw, Young Winston, 1971.   Writer-producer Carl Foreman asked Dickie to direct – and play Winston‘s father, Lord Randolph Churchill. He accepted the helm, not the patriarch.
  7. Max von Sydow, Voyage of the Damned, 1977.    Captain of the boat supposedly taking 937German Jewsto safety in Cuba in 1939.
  8.  Patrick Stewart, Lifeforce, 1984.
  9. Michael Gothard, Lifeforce, 1984.
  10. Aubrey Morris, Lifeforce, 1984.

  11. Frank Finlay, Lifeforce, 1984.
  12. Alan Bates, Dr M, France, 1990.       As if a metal-hearted Dickie would have worked, luvvy!
  13. Arthur Malet, Hook, 1990.       When Darling Dickie’s Gandhi beat Steven Spielberg’s ET to the Best Director and Picture Oscars on April 11, 1983, they chatted – and agreed to work together. Sometime. The usual Oscar night pleasantries.  Spielberg meant it and reserved Tootles for Attenborough in his updated Peter Pan tale. He was, however,  too busy making Chaplin.   But free for his first acting role in 15 years:  John Hammond, the millionaire who built Jurassic Park, 1992. And its first sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1996.
  14. Michael Gambon, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2003.       Dickie and Peter O’Toole plus Lord of the Rings foes Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen were among the veterans tossed into the JK Rowling ring for the gay Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore after the 2002 death of Richard Harris.  
  15. David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.     Among Tim Burton’s Grandpa Joe choices. Two passed before passing: Gregory Peck and Peter Ustinov. Also in the loop: Michael Caine, George Calin (yes, not Carlin), Kirk Douglas, Albert Finney, Richard Griffiths, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lloyd (favourite of author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy), Ron Moody, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Max von Sydow, Eli Wallach, David Warner.  Burton finally gave the role to Kelly (“in three minutes”) on running into him at Pinewood studios on another film.
  16. Charles Dance, Ironclad, 2010.       Bad health meant he had to quit director Jonathan English’s Magna Carta project. “I wish to make it clear that I’m very much alive and kicking. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports regarding the demise of my career have been greatly exaggerated. It remains my intention to take up offers.”But not yet… The 85-year-old Oscar winning peer had to quit his 74th film role of Archbishop Langton, due tonecessary rehabilitation after a fall and coma at the end of 2008.


 Birth year: 1923Death year: 2014Other name: Casting Calls:  16