Martin Lawrence


  1. Chris Rock, New Jack City, 1990.   Tried out for coked-up Pookie. But withdrew on the heart attack death (at 36) of his mentor, stand-up star  Robin Harris. Rock has since been around a long time but never more moving than his performance as the addict-turned-undercover spy.
  2. Mykeltie Williamson, Forrest Gump, 1994.  Stand-up Dave Cjappelle  held his nose – he thought  it would be a stinker.  Then again, Ice Cube, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy (way too gigantic for such a support role),  Chris Rock and Tupac Shakur also passed on Gump’s pal, Bubba. . Hanks heard how Chapelle regretted refusing and asked him to be his  buddy in You’ve Got Mail, 1998.   And that’s all I have to say about that…
  3. Mark Wahlberg, The Big Hit, 1997.   Ace hit man Melvin Smiley was written for Martin Lawrence, who is black… considered for Jason Scott Lee, of Hawaiian-Chinese descent (enough to make the 1992 Bruce Lee biopic, Dragon)… and finally portrayed by the Boston Irish-Swedish Wahlberg. Go figure.
  4. Chris Tucker, Rush Hour, 1998.     The spec script by novelist Ross LaManna in 1995 was first aimed at two black cops, Lawrence – and stand-up Dave Chappelle as Detective James Carter. Then, black and white with Lawrence and Chris Farley (who ODed at 33 in 1997). Next Carters included Eddie Murphy, Tupac Shakur and Will Smith. Disney hated director Brett Ratner’s final Asian/black duo – Jackie Chan, Chris Rock – and the $33m project moved to New Line. And global glory: $244,386,864. Plus sequels for a total of $849,734,89was Sorry about that, Disney.
  5. Ben Stiller, Tower Heist, 2010.      In talks for Josh Kovacs when the leading man Eddie Murphy’s plan was an African American Ocean’s Eleven with Lawrence, Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, Katt Williams… and Chris x 2 = Rock and Tucker. All changed when Ben Stiller took the lead for $15m… double Murphy’s pay-cheque. Times had changed.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  4